Archive for the ‘St. John Chrysostom’ Tag

Feast of St. Olympias of Constantinople (December 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Olympias of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT OLYMPIAS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (361/368-JULY 25, 408)

Widow and Deaconess

Also known as Saint Olympias the Younger

Alternative feast day = July 25

St. Olympias the Constantinople had another name–Olympias the YoungerOlympias the Elder, her aunt, had been a fiancée of Emperor Constans I (reigned 337-350) and the Queen of Armenia, then a kingdom subordinate to the Roman Empire.  Our saint came from one of the elite families of the Roman Empire.

St. Olympias the Younger, daughter of Seleucus and Alexander, entered the world in Constantinople no earlier than 361 and no later than 368.  She married Nebridius, who served as the Prefect of Constantinople.  St. Olympias, as a widow, used her wealth well.  She financed a hospital and an orphanage.  She helped monks exiled from Nitria.

St. Olympias, a deaconess as a widow, also befriended St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  The Patriarch had run afoul of Empress Eudoxia, the power behind the throne of Emperor Arcadius (reigned 395-408).  Arcadius, at Eudoxia’s behest, had St. John exiled in 404.  The Patriarch died in exile three years later.

St. Olympias also went into exile in 404, because of her association with the Patriarch.  The empire disbanded the community of non-cloistered women in her home, seized her assets, and sent her on her way.  St. Olympias died in Nicomedia on July 25, 408.

St. Olympias did much for God and other people, especially the poor, orphaned, and sick.  She could have done more, if not for the intervention of Eudoxia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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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 St. Pambo of Nitria, His Proteges and Their Associates, St. Melania the Elder, and Her Family (November 8)   2 comments

Above:  The Eastern Roman Empire

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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SAINT PAMBO OF NITRIA (DIED CIRCA 375)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Pambo of the Nitrian Desert

His feast transferred from July 18

mentor of

SAINT AMMONIUS OF SKETE (DIED CIRCA 403)

Desert Father

His feast = November 8

teacher of

EVAGRIUS OF PONTUS (345-399)

Monk, Theologian, and Deacon

Also known as Evagrius Ponticus and Evagrius the Solitary

teacher of

PALLADIUS OF GALATIA (363/364-420/430)

Monk, and Bishop of Helenopolis

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SAINT DIDYMUS THE BLIND (CIRCA 313-398)

Biblical Scholar

His feast transferred from October 18

teacher of 

SAINT RUFINUS OF AQUILEIA (344/345-411)

Monk and Priest

His feast transferred from October 1

ordained by

SAINT JOHN II (CIRCA 356-JANUARY 10, 417)

Bishop of Jerusalem

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT MACARIUS OF EGYPT (CIRCA 300-391)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Macarius the Elder

His feast transferred from January 15, January 19, and April 4

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SAINT MACARIUS OF ALEXANDRIA (CIRCA 300-395)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Younger

His feast transferred from January 19 and May 1

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SAINT PISHOY (320-JULY 15, 417)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Bishoy

His feast transferred from June 19

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SAINT MELANIA THE ELDER (325-410/417)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from June 8

grandmother of

SAINT MELANIA THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 383-DECEMBER 31, 439)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from December 31

wife of

SAINT PINIAN (DIED IN 420)

Monk

His feast transferred from December 31

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The genesis of this post was the listing of St. Ammonius (of Skete) [feast day = November 8] in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.  One connection led to another until I had thirteen saints, not including some I had added to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days already.

St. Pambo of Nitria

Above:  St. Pambo of Nitria

Image in the Public Domain

St. Pambo of Nitria (died circa 375) was an influential spiritual figure.  He, a disciple of St. Antony of Egypt (d. 356), founded a monastery in the Nitrian Desert of Egypt.  St. Pambo advised, among others, St. Rufinus of Aquileia, St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 295-373), St. Melania the Elder, St. Pishoy, St. John the Dwarf (c. 339-c. 405), and St. Ammonius of Skete and his brothers.  St. Pambo died in the company of St. Melania the Elder.

St. Ammonius of Skete (died circa 403), one of a host of saints named “Ammonius,” was one of four brothers who became hermits under St. Pambo in the Nitrian Desert.  Prior to becoming a hermit, St. Ammonius had memorized much of the Old and New Testaments and mastered much of the work of early Christian theologians.  Our saint, a popular spiritual director, taught Evagrius of Pontus, befriended St. John Chrysostom, and knew St. Melania the Elder.  Two of the brothers of St. Ammonius became priests.  A third brother, Dioscorus, became the Bishop of Hermopolis.  St. Ammonius, nearly drafted into the episcopate, protested so vehemently that he remained a monk.  He died circa 403, while visiting Chrysostom.

Evagrius of Pontus, born in Ibora, Asia Minor, in 345, struggled with vanity and lust.  He grew up in a Christian family and studied in Neocaesarea.  His teachers over time included Origen, St. Macarius of Alexandria, St. Macarius of Egypt, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger, St. Melania the Elder, and St. Ammonius of Skete.  St. Basil the Great ordained Evagrius a lector.  In Constantinople, in 380, St. Gregory of Nazainzus the Younger ordained our saint to the diaconate.  The following year, Evagrious participated in the First Council of Constantinople, which revised the Nicene Creed.  Evagrius, struggling with vanity and lust, visited St. Rufinus of Aquileia and St. Melania the Elder in Jerusalem; she advised him to become a monk.  He did, in Jerusalem in 383.  Two years later, Evagrius moved to the Nitrian Desert. Eventually he relocated to Kellia.  Our saint, who taught St. John Cassian and Palladius of Galatia, created a list of eight evils–the antecedent of the Seven Deadly Sins.  He died in Kellia, Egypt, in 399.

Palladius of Galatia (363/364-420/430) wrote of the Desert Fathers.  His Lausaic History (419-420), the archive of the Desert Fathers, has preserved their wisdom for posterity.  Palladius, a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, sided with his teacher in imperial disputes.  Our saint, a monk from 386, was a monk with Evagrius of Pontus and St. Macarius of Alexandria for nine years.  Later, for health-related reasons, Palladius moved to Palestine.  In 400 he became the Bishop of Helenopolis.  Political exile filled 406-412, but our saint returned to his see in 412/413.

St. Didymus the Blind (circa 313-398) was of the school of Origen in Alexandria, Egypt.  St. Didymus, orthodox (at least according tot he standards of his time; human theological orthodoxy shifts sometimes) wrote commentaries on the Bible and on the theology of his teacher, Origen.  The blind ascetic taught St. Rufinus of Aquileia and St. Jerome, who later had harsh words for Origen and Origenists.  St. Didymus also developed a system to help blind people read.

St. Rufinus of Aquileia, born near Aquileia in 344/345, became a monk.  He, raised in Christian family, was a monk in Aquileia in 370, wheen he met St. Jerome.  St. Rufinus studied under St. Didymus the Blind in Alexandria from 373 to 380.  St. Rufinus followed St. Melania the Elder to Jerusalem in 380.  She financed the founding of his new monastery, located on the Mount of Olives.  St. Rufinus studied Greek theology in that monastery.  He resumed his friendship with St. Jerome in 386.  Four years later, St. John II (circa 356-January 10, 417), the Bishop of Jerusalem, ordained St. Rufinus to the priesthood.

The renewed friendship with St. Jerome ended due to the Origenist dispute.  Origen was orthodox, according to the theological standards of his time, but theologians subsequently redefined orthodoxy.  This process made him a heretic ex post factoSt. Jerome, an argumentative individual, lambasted Origen, Origenists, and Origenism.  Two of his targets were St. Rufinus of Alexandria and St. John II of Jerusalem, starting in 394.

St. Rufinus, marginalized in ecclesiastical circles because of his defense of Origen, resided in Italy from 397 to 408.  He, St. Melania the Younger, and St. Pinian fled to Sicily, due to the invasion of Alaric, as the Western Roman Empire crumbled.  St. Rufinus died in Sicily in 411.

St. Macarius of Egypt

Above:  St. Macarius of Egypt

Image in the Public Domain

The two St. Macariuses were a team.  St. Macarius of Egypt/the Great/the Elder, born in Shabshear, Lower Egypt, circa 300, eventually found his vocation.  The erstwhile saltpeter smuggler had married because his parents wanted him to do so.  The union was brief; his wife died.  Then our saint’s parents  died.  St. Macarius the Elder gave his money to the poor and became a priest.  Later he visited St. Antony the Great in the desert, and became a monk.  At the age of 40 years, St. Macarius became the abbot at Skete.

St. Macarius the Younger/of Alexandria, born in Alexandria, Egypt, circa 300, found his vocation in mid-life.  He, a merchant until he was 40 years old, accepted baptism and became an ascetic in the desert.  He, ordained to the priesthood became the prior of a monastery between Nitria and Skete.  One influence on St. Macarius the Younger was St. Pachomius the Great (292-346/348), the Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism.

In the fourth century C.E., Roman imperial politics was, for a time, inseparable from the conflict between Arians and orthodox Christians.  The Emperor Valens (reigned 364-378), an Arian, exiled the two St. Macariuses to an island in the Nile River.  They evangelized the inhabitants.  Our saints returned to the Nitrian Desert when the political situation changed.  Two of the people who greeted them were St. John the Dwarf and St. Pishoy.

St. Macarius the Elder died in 391.

St. Macarius the Younger in 395.

St. Pishoy, born in Shansa, Egypt, in 320, was another disciple of St. Pambo of Nitria.  St. Pishoy, raised in a Christian home, became a monk under St. Pambo at the age of 20 years.  St. John the Dwarf ordained St. Pishoy, who became a hermit in 375, after St. Pambo died.  St. Pishoy, known for his wisdom, kindness, and orthodoxy, founded a monastery at Skete.  The Berber invasion forced him to move in 408.  St. Pishoy founded a new monastery on the Mountains of Ansena, in Egypt.  He died there on July 15, 417.

St. Melania the Elder

Above:  St. Melania the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

St. Melania the Elder (born in 325), whose life intersected with many other lives, came from an extremely wealthy family.  They owned estates throughout the Roman Empire.  Her father, Marcellinus, married her off when she was 14 years old.  St. Melania the Elder’s husband was Valerius Maximus Basilius (circa 330-after 364), the Proconsul of Achaea (361-363).  He and two of their three children died when St. Melania the Elder was 22 years old.  She and her remaining son, Valerius Publicola, moved to Rome.  St. Melania the Elder converted to Christianity and raised her son as a Christian.

St. Melania the Elder, aged 32 years, left her son in the care of a guardian and took servants with her to Nitria, where she visited for a few months.  She became a traveling student of theology and patron of monasticism.  In 373, for example, St. Melania the Elder provided financial support for the orthodox monks exiled to Diocaesarea.  She and St. Rufinus of Aquileia settled in Jerusalem in 380.  There St. Melania the Elder financed a convent, where she lived, as well as a monastery, for St. Rufinus.

St. Melania the Elder, a cousin of St. Paulinus of Nola, was also an Origenist.  St. Jerome did not spare her from his poison pen.

St. Melania the Younger

Above:  St. Melania the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Valerius Publicus (died in 406) grew up and had a family in Rome.  He married Caeionia Albinus, daughter of a consul.  They had a daughter, St. Melania the Younger, born in 383.  At the age of 14 years she married a cousin, Valerius Pinanus, a.k.a. St. Pinian (died in 420).  They were an extremely wealthy couple.  After their two children died young, Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian embarked on lives of celibacy.

St. Melania the Elder, visiting her family in Rome circa 400, influenced her granddaughter to follow her back to Jerusalem.  Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian moved, donated generously to the Church and the poor, and eventually became monastics in Messina, Sicily, starting in 408.  As Sts. Melania the Younger, Pinian, and Rufinus of Aquileia had fled Itlay because of the invasion of Alaric, as the Western Roman Empire crumbled.  Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian were on Sicily until 410.  That year they met and befriended St. Augustine of Hippo, and mutually founded a convent in northern Africa, with St. Melania the Younger serving as the Mother Superior.

After St. Melania the Elder died in 410/417, Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian relocated to Palestine, where they founded another convent.  St. Pinian died in 420.  Afterward, St. Melania the Younger founded another monastery and church in Jerusalem.

She died in that city on December 31, 439.

Thank you, O reader, for taking his multi-saint journey through holiness with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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O God, by whose grace your servants

Saint Pambo of Nitria,

Saint Ammonius of Skete,

Evagrius of Pontus,

Palladius of Galatia,

Saint Didymus the Blind,

Saint Rufinus of Aquileia,

Saint John II of Jerusalem,

Saint Macarius the Elder,

Saint Macarius the Younger,

Saint Pishoy,

Saint Melania the Elder,

Saint Melania the Younger,

and Saint Pinian,

became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light, 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.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Feast of Sts. Junia and Andronicus (May 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sts. Junia and Andronicus with St. Athanasius of Christianoupolis

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS JUNIA AND ANDRONICUS (FIRST CENTURY C.E.)

Missionaries and Martyrs

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Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

–Romans 16:7, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Chrysostom, preaching on this passage, saw no difficulty in a woman-apostle; nor need we.

–C. H. Dodd, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932; paperback, 1959), page 241

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Romans 16:7 is the only Biblical reference to these saints.

“Junia” is a female Latin name present in more than 250 inscriptions found in Rome.  Some ancient manuscripts give the name as “Julia” instead.  The main alternative to “Junia,” however, is “Junias,” which is masculine.

I consulted my library of Biblical translations.  The following versions had “Junias”:

  1. American Standard Version,
  2. An American Translation,
  3. Confraternity Version,
  4. Douay-Rheims Version,
  5. The Jerusalem Bible,
  6. The Living Bible,
  7. The New American Bible (1970),
  8. New American Standard Bible,
  9. New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition,
  10. The New English Bible,
  11. The New Jerusalem Bible,
  12. The New Testament in Modern English (J. B. Phillips),
  13. The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition (J. B. Phillips),
  14. Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée,
  15. Revised Standard Version,
  16. Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition,
  17. Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition, and
  18. Revised Standard Version–Second Edition.

The following translations had “Junia”:

  1. Authorised Version/King James Version,
  2. The New American Bible (1986),
  3. The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011),
  4. New King James Version,
  5. The New Revised Standard Version,
  6. The New Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition, and
  7. The Revised English Bible.

Recognition of St. Junia as female has been part of Christian tradition for a long time.  Origen, St. Jerome, and St. John Chrysostom described the apostle (traveling evangelist) as female.  Since the 600s the Orthodox Church has recognized Sts. Junia and Andronicus (likely married) as missionaries and martyrs who traveled widely.  Some sources have speculated that the two might have been siblings, not spouses.  Nevertheless, St. Paul the Apostle worked with the married couple Sts. Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 28:18, 26 and Romans 16:3).

The probability that Sts. Junia and Andronicus were a married couple is high.  One might conclude that the origin of “Junias” is sexism to a degree that even certain patriarchal ecclesiastical institutions do not stoop.

As of A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) this feast is new to The Episcopal Church.  The feast is a fine addition to the official calendar and to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Tony Hendra, in Father Joe:  The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004), wrote that Father Joe said that Holy Mother Church had not canonized enough married couples.  That was a valid criticism.

May we then agree with St. Joseph the Hymnographer (d. 886), who wrote in praise of Sts. Junia and Andronicus:

With piety we will honor the Bright stars and holy

Apostles Junia and the God-inspired Andronicus.

The Blessed Paul proclaims you both as truly distinguished

Among the Apostles, and blessed in the Church.

–Quoted in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 19:  THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF HENRY LASCALLES JENNER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DALRYMPLE MACLAGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, whose Son, the risen Christ, sent forth your apostles

Andronicus and Junia to proclaim the gospel and extend your reign:

send us forth in your Holy Spirit, that women and men may

minister as one faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

in perfect unity, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

1 Samuel 3:1-10

Psalm 63:1-8

Ephesians 4:11-16

Matthew 9:35-38

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Feast of Sts. John Cassian and John Climacus (February 29)   2 comments

Vatican Flag

Above:  The Vatican Flag

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN CASSIAN (360-435)

Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, and Spiritual Writer

His feast = February 29

influenced

SAINT JOHN CLIMACUS (CIRCA 570 OR 579-MARCH 649)

Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Spiritual Writer

Also known as Saint John of the Ladder, Saint John Scholasticus, and Saint John the Sinaita

His feast transferred from March 30

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st-john-cassian

Above:  St. John Cassian

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Cassian was an influential figure in both Eastern and Western Christianity.  He, from what is now Romania, entered the world in 360.  Our saint came from a wealthy family and received an excellent education.  For about three years he and Germanus, a friend, were monks at Bethlehem.  Next the duo pursued monastic life in Egypt.  Circa 399 they and about 300 other monks left for Constantinople after St. Theophilus, the Pope of Alexandria (reigned 384-412) and successor of St. Mark the Apostle, wrote a letter opposing Origen‘s noncorporeal understanding of God.  The monks sought the protection of the Alexandrian Pope’s rival, St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  At the imperial capital St. John Cassian became a deacon.  In 404, following the deposition of St. John Chrysostom, St. John Cassian traveled to Rome to defend the patriarch to the Bishop of Rome.

St. John Cassian spent the rest of his life in the West.  He, ordained to the priesthood, settled at Marseilles, Gaul.  Circa 415 our saint founded a monastery and a convent at that city.  He also wrote about monasticism in the Institutes and the Conferences.  St. Benedict of Nursia (circa 480-circa 550) was so impressed with the Conferences that he listed it as one of the books for reading aloud after supper.

the-ladder-of-divine-ascent

Above:  Icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Cassian, who died at Marseilles in 435, influenced St. John Climacus, born in Syria circa 579.  He became a monk at Mt. Sinai at the age of 16 years.  Eventually our saint became an anchorite then an abbot there.  Finally, shortly before his death, St. John Climacus resigned his abbotcy to become a hermit again.  His second name, “Climacus,” came from his influential book, translated into English as The Ladder to Paradise and as The Ladder of Divine Ascent.  He wrote of the 30 steps to moral perfection, with each step corresponding to a year of Christ’s life from birth to baptism.  The steps were:

  1. On the renunciation of the world;
  2. On detachment;
  3. On exile or pilgrimage;
  4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience;
  5. On painstaking and true repentance which constitute the life of holy convicts; and about the prison;
  6. On remembrance of death;
  7. On mourning which causes joy;
  8. On freedom from anger and on meekness;
  9. On remembrance of wrongs;
  10. On slander or calumny;
  11. On talkativeness and silence;
  12. On lying;
  13. On despondency;
  14. On the clamorous, yet wicked monster–the stomach;
  15. On incorruptible purity and chastity to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat;
  16. On the love of money or avarice;
  17. On poverty (that hastens heavenward);
  18. On insensibility, that is, deadening the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body;
  19. On sleep, prayer, and psalm-singing in the chapel;
  20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil and how to practice it;
  21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice;
  22. On the many forms of vainglory;
  23. On mad pride, and, in the same Step, on unclean blasphemous thoughts;
  24. On meekness, simplicity, guilelessness which come not from nature but from habit, and about malice;
  25. On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual feeling;
  26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues;
  27. On holy solitude of body and soul;
  28. On holy and blessed prayer, mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer;
  29. Concerning heaven on earth, or godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection; and
  30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues.

Climacus, who died in March 649, became an influential figure in both Eastern and Western monasticism via his book.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF BLESSED KAZIMIERZ TOMAS SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom, and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servants Sts. John Cassian and John Climacus,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth we have seen

in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of St. Maruthas (December 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of the Sassanid Empire in the 400s

SAINT MARUTHAS (DIED CIRCA 415)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Maypherkat and Missionary to Persia

His feast transferred from December 4

In this post I repeat the pattern of writing about foundational figures.  Today’s great man was a saint who risked his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and founded many churches.

St. Maruthas (died circa 415, although some sources claim that he lived into the early 420s) was the Bishop of Maypherkat, in Roman Mesopotamia (Syria in those days; southwestern Turkey these days), near the border with Persia, then called the Sassanid Empire (224-651).  Sassanid policy had been to persecute Christians, killing many of them, ruthlessly.  Then Yezdegerd I (reigned 399-420) came to power.  St. Maruthas, who functioned as a Roman diplomat as well as a bishop, sought the permission of Emperor Arcadius (reigned 383-408) to ask Yezdegerd I to change this policy.  Alas, Arcadius was too busy harassing St. John Chrysostom to have time for such a request.

A few years later, however, St. Maruthas had his opportunity.  He, while on a diplomatic mission for Emperor Theodosius II (reigned 402-450), obtained Yezdegerd’s permission to found churches anywhere in the Sassanid Empire.  Thus the saint began to establish an ecclesiastical infrastructure there.  Apparently, the saint impressed the Sassanid monarch with this expertise in medicine.

The saint was talented in other ways.  He also composed hymns, wrote an account of Persian martyrs, and composed theological treatises.

It is worth noting that Yezdegerd I’s approval of the Christian mission offended many Zoroastrians.  That faith tradition, as I understand it, affirms life–everything from gardening to enjoying life to procreating.  Anything deemed destructive–from being perpetually grumpy to taking life–is bad, according to Zoroastrianism.  In fact, one traditional label of Zoroastrianism is “the good religion.”  Yet, in the name of “the good religion,” Persian monarchs supervised bloody persecutions.  I am not surprised, however, for there is a long history of people killing and oppressing others in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH CARDINAL BERNARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Saint Maruthas, who made the good news known in Persia.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

Feast of Sts. Proclus of Constantinople and Rusticus of Narbonne (October 25)   1 comment

Above:  Orthodox Cross

SAINT PROCLUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED 446)

Archbishop of Constantinople

His feast transferred from October 24

contemporary of

SAINT RUSTICUS OF NARBONNE (DIED CIRCA 461)

Bishop of Narbonne

His feast transferred from October 26

This is my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’s Days and Holy Days, so I get to assign feast days.  Usually I follow the leads of ecclesiastical calendars.  Yet today I follow another pattern:  moving and merging feasts.  These two saints opposed the same heresy:  Nestorianism.  And, since their feast days are so close to each other on the Roman Catholic calendar, I have decided to combine them and place them on the day which separates them on that calendar.

Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 428 to 431.  His theology led to his ouster from that position.  His great heresy was to make a distinction between the human Jesus and the divine Christ, claiming that the two natures were separate and conjoined.  Thus, he argued, one ought to call St. Mary of Nazareth  the Christotokos (‘Christ-bearer”), not the Theotokos (“God-bearer”), for a mere mortal could not have given birth to the Logos of God.  In other words, according to Nestorius, Mary gave birth to the human nature of Jesus only.

Official Church teaching, developed more fully to refute Nestorianism, argues a different position.  Historical accounts tell us of the Council of Ephesus (431) and the more detailed repudiation of Nestorianism which the Council of Chalecedon (451) issued.  According to Chalecedon, the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ are

…without confusion, without change, without division, without separation….

–quoted in Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought, Revised and Expanded Edition (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1995), page 74

Most of us who call ourselves Christians in 2012 are heirs of the formulas of Ephesus and Chalcedon, even if we do not know it.  Theology did not fall from Heaven or grow on trees so that people saw it, recognized it immediately, and accepted it universally; no, theological doctrines which many of us (including the author of this post) accept as truth emerged from debates, synods, and councils. And today’s saints were present at creation and enunciation.  They also did their share of enunciating.

St. Proclus (died 446), a native of Constantinople, studied under St. John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople.  Archbishop Atticus, whose secretary St. Proclus was, ordained him to the priesthood.  The saint opposed Archbishop Nestorius and succeeded the heretic’s immediate successor, Archbishop Maximian, in 434.  St. Proclus, the author of theological treatises, maintained his opposition to perceived heresies while retaining tact, something many other defenders of orthodoxy have failed to do.  He also functioned as a humanitarian and a good pastor, ministering to the people of Constantinople after an earthquake.

St. Rusticus of Narbonne (died circa 461) was a Gallic contemporary of St. Proclus.  The Bishop of Narbonne was the son of a bishop, one Bonosus.  The former monk became Bishop of Narbonne in 427.  During his tenure he resisted the spread of Arianism through his diocese, built a cathedral, and approved Pope St. Leo I (“the Great”)‘s  denunciation of Nestorianism.

We Christians of today stand on the shoulders of giants–foundational figures–such as these.  May we give them the attention they deserve.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK

THE FEAST OF VIDA DUTTON SCUDDER, WRITER

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servants

Saint Proclus of Constantinople and Saint Rusticus of Narbonne,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following their examples and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace grow into the full stature of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

or

Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops and leaders of your church.

May the memory of their lives be a source of joy for us

and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve you and confess your name before the world;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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

Psalm 84

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

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

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), page 38

Feast of St. Nectarius of Constantinople (October 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Orthodox Cross

SAINT NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED 397)

Archbishop of Constantinople

St. Nectarius of Constantinople, Archbishop of Constantinople, succeeded one notable saint, Gregory of Nazianzus the Theologian (lived circa 329-389)  and preceded another famous saint, John Chrysostom, in the office.  The life of St. Nectarius reflected firmness in what he understood to be right, whether that was opposing some theological position or being gracious to heretics.  It was a fine example.

The saint, son of a Roman Senator, was born at Tarsus, Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey).  He served as praetor at Constantinople before Emperor Theodosious I “the Great” (reigned 379-395) chose his name by chance from a list of candidates to become Archbishop of Constantinople.  At the time St. Nectarius was married and unbaptized, so he was an unlikely choice.

But he was a good one.  He banned the practice of public penance.  The saint also opposed Arianism.  Some Arians took such great offense at him that they burned down his house in 388.  Novationism was another heresy the saint opposed.  Novation (died in 258), a priest and martyr, had insisted that Pope St. Cornelius was wrong to have absolved penitent Christians who had lapsed during the Decian persecution.  Those who followed Novation (into the 600s)

held that, in cases of idolatry through fear of persecutions, the church could not absolve the penitents; later they extended this doctrine to all grievous sins.  They claimed for themselves a character of especial purity and insisted on the rebaptism of converts to their views.

Encyclopedia Americana (1962), Volume 20, page 503

According to many of his critics, St. Nectarius was too lenient with the Novatianists.  These critics forget or never knew that people can disagree without resorting to harsh measures.

St. Nectarius died on September 11, 397.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANNA E. B. ALEXANDER, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN X OF DENMARK AND HAAKON VII OF NORWAY, BROTHERS AND KINGS

THE FEAST OF PAULINE SPERRY, POLITICAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MCAFEE BROWN, ECUMENIST

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops in your church,

including Saint Nectarius of Constantinople.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

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

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

Psalm 84

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60