1 September. David Pendleton Oakerhater, Deacon and Missionary, (1847-1931). “God’s warrior” is an epithet by which David Pendleton Oakerhater is known among the Cheyenne Indians of Oklahoma. The title is an apt one, for this apostle of Christ to the Cheyenne was originally a soldier who fought against the United States government with warriors of other tribes in the disputes over Indian land rights. By the late 1860s Oakerhater had distinguished himself for bravery and leadership as an officer in an elite corps of Cheyenne fighters. In 1875, after a year of minor uprisings and threats of major violence, he and twenty-seven other warrior leaders were taken prisoner by the U.S. Army, charged with inciting rebellion, and sent to a disused military prison in Florida. Under the influence of a concerned Army captain, who sought to educate the prisoners, Oakerhater and his companions learned English, gave art and archery lessons to the area’s many visitors, and had their first encounter with the Christian faith. The captain’s example, and that of other concerned Christians, from as far away as New York, had their effect on the young warrior. He was moved to answer the call to transform his leadership in war into a lifelong ministry of peace. With sponsorship from the Diocese of Central New York and financial help from a Mrs. Pendleton of Cincinnati, he and three other prisoners went north to study for the ministry. At his baptism in Syracuse in 1878 he took the name David Pendleton Oakerhater, in honor of his benefactress. Soon after his ordination to the diaconate in 1881, David returned to Oklahoma. There, he was instrumental in founding and operating schools and missions, through great personal sacrifice and often in the face of apathy from the Church hierarchy and resistance from the government. He continued his ministry of service, education, and pastoral care among his people until his death on August 31, 1931. Half a century before, the young deacon had told his people: “You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace.”
Letter from David Pendelton Oakerhater to an Episcopal Bishop:
“Cheyenne and Arapahoe
Agency Darlington I Territory
Jan 13th, 1882
Almost a five months has passed since your good letter came to me My Dear Bishop so neatly written and full of kind good feeling. I was very glad to received it and to hear from you and thank to you very much. I have been so busy since my return that I have had no time to write only my thoughts have been much with you all the time I hope you will often think of the poor red people and prayers great deal. Our dear Mr Wicks and myself are very well. I know god likes to hear little children pray to him for it was of these the Savior said, of such is the Kingdom of heaven and very often visit the sick almost every day. I tell about my heathen people I will tell about that he is the son of God. Some old mens to me he say how you know this is the Son of God in heaven. I study I find this Bible Say So. How you know for got good hearts but I say that Holy Bible Said repent Believe and obey. What it means repent he say but
I say I repent believe and obey because I am Baptized and Confirmed and eat Lord Supper. Again I say to them I am an Indian. but my eyes have been opened to see the light I love and go to the Holy house on the Holy day. I love to hear the Holy Book. The Great Spirit words. I have been washed in the water. I have eaten the Bread and drunk the wine of the Holy fellowship I love all the ways of the Great Spirits
laws. I do not know much yet but I will go on to know. Perhaps I will grow up in his knowledge as the tall tree grows up, and up, and up. the white mens who have come to teach us are wise. The sacred men work with their own hands as well as learn and teach from Book. So they are strong and wise and excellent that the Indian people all very much surprised to hear me they think that very good History of Jesus and God that is all I say to you and hope you will please write to me please give my kind regard to all your loving family.
Dear Bishop from your loving boy and friend
Collect: O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 September. The Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942. New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, is still one of the main frontiers of Christian mission, because of its difficult terrain and the cultural diversity of its peoples, who speak some 500 distinct languages. Christian missionaries first began work there in the 1860s and 1870s, with only limited success. The Anglican mission began in 1891, and the first bishop was consecrated in 1898. During World War II, the suffering of missionaries and of native people was severe. This feast day, observed in the Diocese of New Guinea and in many dioceses of the Church of Australia, marks the witness of eight missionaries and two Papuan martyrs, who were betrayed by non-Christians to the Japanese invaders. But the day also includes remembrance of the faith and devotion of Papuan Christians of all Churches, who risked their own lives to care for the wounded, and to save the lives of many who otherwise would have perished.
Collect: Almighty God, we remember before you this day the blessed martyrs of New Guinea, who, following the example of their Savior, laid down their lives for their friends; and we pray that we who honor their memory may imitate their loyalty and faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
3 September. Prudence Crandall, Teacher and Prophetic Witness, (1803-1890). Born to a Quaker family in Rhode Island, Prudence Crandall was educated in arithmetic, the sciences, and Latin at the New England Friend’s Boarding School in Rhode Island. The Quakers, or “Friends,” believed that women should be educated, and it was in the environment of the Friend’s Boarding School that Prudence Crandall’s passion for teaching was first awakened. In 1831, Crandall started a girl’s school in Canterbury, Connecticut, where she educated the daughters of the town’s wealthy families. In 1833 she admitted to her school a young African American girl named Sarah Harris. Harris wanted an education so that she could in turn teach other African American children. The parents of the white children at Crandall’s school were outraged and demanded Harris’s expulsion, but Crandall refused and decided to open a new school for African American girls. Despite repeated attempts by town members to close the school, and even threats to destroy it, Crandall persevered in her labors. She enlisted the help of William Lloyd Garrison, editor of The Liberator, the nation’s major antislavery newspaper. Through his paper and advocacy, Garrison spread awareness of her cause all over the nation. However, later in 1833, the state legislature passed the so-called “Black Law,” which made it a crime to open a school that taught black children from any state other than Connecticut. Crandall, who had received pupils from other states, was arrested, jailed, and tried. She was eventually convicted, but a higher court reversed the decision. Far from subsiding, the harassment she endured grew worse, and, fearing for the safety of her students, she closed her school in 1834. After her husband died in 1874, Crandall moved to Elk Falls, Kansas. In 1886 the Connecticut state legislature awarded her a pension. In a petition signed by more than a hundred citizens of that state, many expressed their regret and shame over her treatment. Mark Twain attempted to persuade the state to buy back her original home in Canterbury. Prudence Crandall died in 1890, and today she is recognized as the official State Heroine of Connecticut.
Excerpt from the writings of Prudence Crandall: “I said in my heart, here are my convictions. What shall I do? Shall I be inactive and permit prejudice, the mother of abominations, to remain undisturbed? Or shall I venture to enlist in the ranks of those who with the Sword of Truth dare hold combat with prevailing iniquity? I contemplated for a while the manner in which I might best serve the people of color. As wealth was not mine, I saw no other means of benefiting them, than by imparting to those of my own sex that were anxious to learn, all the instruction I might be able to give, however small the amount.”
Collect: God, the wellspring of justice and strength: We thank you for raising up in Prudence Crandall a belief in education and a resolute will to teach girls of every color and race, that alongside her they might take their place in working for the nurture and well-being of all society, undaunted by prejudice or adversity. Grant that we, following her example, may participate in the work of building up the human family in Christ, your Word and Wisdom; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
4 September. Paul Jones, (1880-1941). Paul Jones was born in the rectory of St. Stephen’s Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Yale University and the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he accepted a call to serve a mission in Logan, Utah. In 1914 Paul Jones was appointed Archdeacon of the Missionary District of Utah and, later that year, was elected its Bishop. Meanwhile, World War I had begun. As Bishop of Utah, Paul Jones did much to expand the Church’s mission stations and to strengthen diocesan institutions. At the same time he spoke openly about his opposition to war. With the United States entry into the war, the Bishop of Utah’s views became increasingly controversial. At a meeting of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Los Angeles in 1917, Bishop Jones expressed his belief that “war is unchristian,” for which he was attacked with banner headlines in the Utah press. As a result of the speech and the reaction it caused in Utah, a commission of the House of Bishops was appointed to investigate the situation. In their report, the commission concluded that “The underlying contention of the Bishop of Utah seems to be that war is unchristian. With this general statement the Commission cannot agree… ” The report went on to recommend that “The Bishop of Utah ought to resign his office,” thus rejecting Paul Jones’ right to object to war on grounds of faith and conscience. In the spring of 1918, Bishop Jones, yielding to pressure, resigned as Bishop of Utah. For the next 23 years, until his death on September 4, 1941, he continued a ministry within the Church dedicated to peace and conscience, speaking always with a conviction and gentleness rooted in the Gospel. In his farewell to the Missionary District of Utah in 1918, Bishop Jones said: “Where I serve the Church is of small importance, so long as I can make my life count in the cause of Christ … Expediency may make necessary the resignation of a Bishop at this time, but no expedience can ever justify the degradation of the ideals of the episcopate which these conclusions seem to involve.”
Collect: Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
5 September. Gregorio Aglipay, Priest and Founder of the Philippine Independent Church, (1860-1940). Gregorio Agilpay was the principal founder and first Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church. Agilpay was born in 1860 and orphaned at an early age. As a boy he worked in the tobacco fields during the Spanish occupation of his homeland and for the rest of his life bore hard feelings toward the Spanish colonialists. He took a degree in law before embarking on theological studies in preparation for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1890, but seems to have been something of a free spirit from the beginning, illustrated by his joining the Freemasons, an affiliation that was forbidden to Catholic priests. In 1898, the Philippine Revolution began to bring an end to Spanish colonization. Because church and state were deeply intertwined, any revolutionary activity in the state was destined to have impact as well on the church. Matters were compounded by the fact that the Spanish hierarchy did not allow native Filipinos to rise through the ranks of their own church. Agilpay quickly took the side of the Filipino nationalists and recognized that national independence would also mean independence from the Roman Catholic Church because it was strongly allied with Spanish interests. Agilpay called upon his fellow Catholic priests to occupy the parishes and support the revolution. Many followed his lead. Agilpay was at first threatened with excommunication and later he was tempted with a deal that would have made him a Roman Catholic bishop with enormous resources at his personal disposal. Agilpay refused the deal and with his Filipino supporters formed a new national church. Subsequently, Agilpay and the whole of the Philippine Independent Church would be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1960, the Philippine Independent Church entered into full communion with the Episcopal Church and through that affiliation is recognized as being in full communion with the churches of the Anglican Communion.
Collect: Eternal God, you called Gregorio Aglipay to witness to your truth in the renewal of your Church in the Philippines: Help us, like him, to be guided by your Holy Spirit, that people everywhere may hear the saving words of our Savior, so that all may believe and find eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
7 September. Elie Naud, Huguenot Witness to the Faith, (1661-1722). Elie Naud was a French Huguenot (French Reformed). It was an era when French Roman Catholicism was dominant and the persecution of Protestants was becoming more violent. Naud fled France and landed in England, where he sojourned briefly before settling permanently in New York. During his early years in New York, he traveled frequently to Europe to raise money for Huguenot causes, having to survive in stowage because he was not a Roman Catholic. His unwillingness to renounce his French Reformed faith resulted in his imprisonment for nearly two years in the infamous Chateau d’If. In New York he became acquainted with Episcopalians and fell in love with The Book of Common Prayer. He became a member of Trinity Church, Wall Street, where he served for fifteen years as a catechist among black slaves and native Americans, preparing them for baptism. He was later a member of L’Eglise du Saint-Esprit, a French-speaking Episcopal parish in New York City. Naud founded a school for the children of the poor and for the children of slaves. Upon the recommendation of the Rector of Trinity Church, the Bishop of London, acting for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), licensed Naud as a missioner “to slaves and ragged people in the New World.” Naud also got involved in colonial politics by trying to influence Parliament for the passage of British laws that would demand Christian instruction for the children of slaves and Native Americans as well as the formation of schools for their education. It was only through these means, he believed, that an equal and free society could be created. During the New York slave riot of 1712, Naud remained faithful to his vision. The outraged people of New York who believed education of slaves fueled such uprisings threatened him with death. Naud continued to write hymns and poetry in his native French throughout his life. He died in 1722, and was buried in the churchyard at Trinity Church, Wall Street.
Collect: Blessed God, whose Son Jesus calmed the waves and knelt to serve his disciples: We honor you for the witness of the Huguenot Elie Naud, remembered as Mystic of the Galleys and Servant of Slaves; and we pray that we, with him, may proclaim Christ in suffering and joy alike, and call others to join us in ministry to those littlest and least, following Jesus who came not to be ministered to but to minister; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, to whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
8 September. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sacred Scripture does not record Mary’s birth. The earliest known writing regarding Mary’s birth is found in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), which is a non-canonical writing from the late second century. What matters is not the historicity of the account, but the significance of Mary’s and of every person’s birth. In Mary’s case, the early Church grew more and more interested in the circumstances surrounding the origin of Christ. Discussion about Mary throws light on the discussion about the identity of Jesus Christ. The Church usually celebrates the passing of a person, that is, the person’s entry into eternal life. Besides the birth of Christ, the Christian liturgy celebrates only two other birthdays: that of St. John the Baptist and of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It is not the individual greatness of these saints that the Church celebrates, but their role in salvation history, a role directly connected to the Redeemer’s own coming into the world. Mary’s birth lies at the confluence of the two Testaments — bringing to an end the stage of expectation and the promises and inaugurating the new times of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ. Mary, the Daughter of Zion and ideal personification of Israel, is the last and most worthy representative of the People of the Old Covenant but at the same time she is “the hope and the dawn of the whole world.” With her, the elevated Daughter of Zion, after a long expectation of the promises, the times are fulfilled and a new economy is established. The birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Savior. Her existence is indissolubly connected with that of Christ: it partakes of a unique plan of predestination and grace. God’s mysterious plan regarding the Incarnation of the Word embraces also the Virgin who is His Mother. In this way, the Birth of Mary is inserted at the very heart of the History of Salvation. The Byzantine Daily Worship gives us the following prayer: “Come, all you faithful, let us hasten to the Virgin: for long before her conception in the womb, the one who was to be born of the stem of Jesse was destined to be the Mother of God. The one who is the treasury of virginity, the flowering Rod of Aaron, the object of the prophecies, the child of Joachim and Anne, is born today and the world is renewed in her. Through her birth, she floods the church with her splendor. O holy Temple, Vessel of the Godhead, Model of virgins and Strength of kings: in you the wondrous union of the two natures of Christ was realized. We worship Him and glorify your most pure birth, and we magnify you.”
Sequence for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),
translated by Digby S. Wrangham:
“Hail to thee, our Savior’s mother !
Vessel, honored o’er all other I
Chosen vessel of God’s grace !
Vessel, known before creation !
Noble vessel, whose formation
‘Neath the All-wise hand took place !
Hail, the world’s own mother holy !
Sprung from thorns, but thornless thoroughly !
Flower a thornbrake’s glory born !
We the thornbrake are, surrounded
With sin’s thorns, and by them wounded.
But thou art without a thorn.
Closed gate ! fount through gardens pouring !
Storehouse, precious spikenard storing I
Store of unguents sweet to smell !
Cinnamon’s sweet-scented reed,
Incense, balsam, myrrh, indeed
Thou in fragrance dost excel !
Hail, fair type of maiden grace;
Mediatrix of man’s race !
Of salvation brought to bed !
Continence’s myrtle-tree !
Rose of love and clemency I
Nard whence sweetest scents are shed !
Lowliest of valleys thou,
Soil that never felt the plough,
Which to God himself gave birth !
Meadow-flower ! lily fair !
Which the valley, peerless, bare !
Christ of thee was born on earth !
O thou paradise in heaven !
Lebanon no axe hath riven,
Breathing sweetness all around !
Virgin whiteness, beauty’s brightness,
Finest flavors, sweetest savors,
Plenteously in thee abound !
Thou the wise king’s throne appearest.
Which, in shape and substance, fairest,
‘Mongst all thrones hath ever been:
Chastity in ivory’s whiteness,
Charity in red gold’s brightness,
Shadowed forth, therein are seen.
Peerless is the palm thou bearest,
Peerless thou on earth appearest,
And in heaven amongst the blest:
As the praise of all man’s race,
Thee peculiar virtues grace,
Given to thee above the rest.
As the sun outshines the moon.
And the moon each twinkling star,
Mary is than every one
Of God’s creatures worthier far !
Light, that no eclipse can know.
Is her virgin chastity;
Heat, which ne’er will cease to glow,
Her love’s deathless constancy !
(As the venerable Adam was saluting the Blessed
Virgin Mary in the following stanza he was himself
in return saluted and thanked by her.)
Mother of fair love, we name thee !
Famed triclinium we proclaim thee,
Which the Trinity all share;
Though thou dost a special dwelling
For the majesty excelling
Of the Incarnate Word prepare !
Mary, Star o’er ocean glowing !
Rival none in honor knowing !
Foremost in precedence going
‘Mongst all ranks around God’s throne !
Placed in highest heaven, commend us
To thine Offspring to befriend us,
And from fear of foes defend us,
Lest by guile we be overthrown.
Safe, in battle-line extended,
May we be, by thee defended;
May foes’ force and shrewdness blended
Bow before thy virtues splendid,
And their craft ‘neath thy foresight.
Christ the Word, God’s generation !
Guard Thy mother’s congregation;
Pardon guilt, grant free salvation.
And with the illumination
Of Thy glory make us bright ! Amen.”
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who stooped to raise fallen humanity through the child-bearing of blessed Mary: grant that we, who have seen your glory revealed in our human nature and your love made perfect in our weakness, may daily be renewed in your image and conformed to the pattern of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
8 September. Nikolai Grundtvig, Bishop and Hymnwriter, (1783-1872). Nikolai Grundtvig and Søren Kierkegaard were the most influential Danes of the nineteenth century both in theological and philosophical circles and in civic life. The son of a Lutheran pastor, Grundtvig inherited from his father a lifelong appreciation for classical Lutheran orthodoxy rooted in sacramental practice, a stark contrast from the dry rationalism common to Danish Lutheranism at the time. From his mother, Grundtvig received a fascination with the literature, legends, and poetry of the Norse. Grundtvig was a student all his life. His academic passions were largely in history and theology, but education, he believed, opened one’s heart and mind to a vigorous love of life. Grundtvig also believed in the power of poetry. He thought that poetry had the capacity to speak to the souls of human beings more deeply than prose, particularly in matters of the heart and the life of faith. During his lifetime he composed more than a thousand hymns, a number of which are still sung today: “Built on a rock the Church doth stand,” “O day full of grace,” and “God’s word is our great heritage.” Grundtvig’s father was pastor of a large congregation and as he aged he needed assistance. Grundtvig preached a trial sermon at his father’s church during which he launched a scathing attack on Danish rationalism. The sermon met with a severe response and he was widely denounced. Nonetheless he survived the resulting spiritual crisis and was ordained in 1811. He served as his father’s curate until his father’s death in 1813. After a long season with no work, Grundtvig served several short-term pastorates that usually came to an end because of his commitment to a Lutheran orthodoxy rooted in sacraments and liturgy. He believed that the dry, rational, almost gloomy approach favored at the time did not penetrate the depths of the human soul. Toward the end of his life, Grundtvig’s vision was taking hold and his influence upon both church and nation continued to increase. He was made a bishop in 1861. He died in 1872.
Collect: Almighty God, you built your Church upon a rock: Help us remember, with your hymn writer Nikolai Grundtvig, that though steeples may fall and buildings made by hands may crumble, Jesus makes our bodies his temple through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Help us to recognize Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life, that we may join our voices to the eternal alleluia; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
8 September. Søren Kierkegaard, Teacher and Philosopher, (1813-1855). One of the most influential philosophers of the nineteenth century, Søren Kierkegaard, the son of a devout Lutheran, spent most of his life in Copenhagen. As a young man, he studied Latin, history, and theology, though he was particularly drawn to philosophy and literature, and his works are remarkable in part for his deft blending and treatment of theological, literary, and philosophical themes. In 1841 he proposed to Regine Olsen, but self-doubt about his suitability for marriage led him to break off the engagement. The event was greatly influential on his life and his works. From 1843 until his death in 1855, Kierkegaard was a prolific writer. Sometimes referred to as the “Father of Existentialism,” Kierkegaard is known for his concept of “the leap of faith,” his understanding of how a person’s beliefs and actions are based not on evidence, of which there can never be enough, but on the willingness to take the leap despite that lack of evidence. He explored this theme in works such as Fear and Trembling, Repetition, and Stages on Life’s Way. For most of his life, Kierkegaard was critical of established religion, which he felt substituted human desire for God’s law. In 1854, he published several articles which attacked what he saw as the selfishness of many leaders of the institutional church. His criticism of the church as an institution, however, should not be confused with the absence of faith or the lack of trust in the ethical teachings of the Christian Gospel. His religious and theological works, such as Practice in Christianity and Christian Discourses, though sometimes overlooked, show his profound understanding of the significance of the teaching and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and of the human call to live in imitation of the selfless, sacrificial life of Jesus. His work was influential on philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and on theologians such as Karl Barth. His challenges to the Church remain powerful reminders of the institution’s call to pattern its common life according the teaching of its founder, Jesus Christ.
Excerpt from Kierkegaard’s writings: “At the altar what counts above everything else is to hear his voice. It is true that a sermon should also bear witness to God, proclaiming his word, and his teaching, but for all that a sermon is not his voice. If you do not hear his voice, you have come in vain to the altar. Even if the Lord’s minister speaks every word precisely as it was handed down from the fathers; even if you hear precisely every word, if you do not hear his voice, provocations you have come in vain to the altar. Even though you are seriously resolved to take the preacher’s word to heart and to order your life accordingly – if you do not hear his voice, you have come in vain to the altar. It must be his voice you hear. For at the altar there can be no talk about him; there he himself is personally present, it is he that speaks – if not, then you are not at the altar.”
Collect: Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, you are always with us, that, with your philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which you have prepared for those who love you; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
9 September. Constance, Nun, and Her Companions, Commonly called “The Martyrs of Memphis,” 1878. In August, 1878, Yellow Fever invaded the city of Memphis for the third time in ten years. By the month’s end the disease had become epidemic and a quarantine was ordered. While 30,000 citizens had fled in terror, 20,000 more remained to face the pestilence. As cases multiplied, death tolls averaged 200 daily. When the worst was over ninety percent of the population had contracted the Fever; more than 5,000 people had died. In that time of panic and flight, many brave men and women, both lay and cleric, remained at their posts of duty or came as volunteers to assist despite the terrible risk. Notable among these heroes were Constance, Superior of the work of the Sisters of St. Mary in Memphis, and her Companions. The Sisters had come to Memphis in 1873, at Bishop Quintard’s request, to found a Girls School adjacent to St. Mary’s Cathedral. When the 1878 epidemic began, George C. Harris, the Cathedral Dean, and Sister Constance immediately organized relief work among the stricken. Helping were six of Constance’s fellow Sisters of St. Mary; Sister Clare from St. Margaret’s House, Boston; the Reverend Charles C. Parsons, Rector of Grace and St. Lazarus Church, Memphis; and the Reverend Louis S. Schuyler, assistant at Holy Innocents, Hoboken. The Cathedral group also included three physicians, two of whom were ordained Episcopal priests, the Sisters’ two matrons, and several volunteer nurses from New York. They have ever since been known as “The Martyrs of Memphis,” as have those of other Communions who ministered in Christ’s name during this time of desolation. The Cathedral buildings were located in the most infected region of Memphis. Here, amid sweltering heat and scenes of indescribable horror, these men and women of God gave relief to the sick, comfort to the dying, and homes to the many orphaned children. Only two of the workers escaped the Fever. Among those who died were Constance, Thecla, Ruth and Frances, the Reverend Charles Parsons and the Reverend Louis Schuyler. The six martyred Sisters and priests are buried at Elmwood Cemetery. The monument marking the joint grave of Fathers Parsons and Schuyler bears the inscription: “Greater Love Hath No Man.” The beautiful High Altar in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Memphis, is a memorial to the four Sisters.
Collect: We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death: Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
10 September. Alexander Crummell, (1819-1898). Born in New York City, Alexander Crummell struggled against racism all his life. As a young man, he was driven out of an academy in New Hampshire, dismissed as a candidate for Holy Orders in New York, and rejected for admittance to General Seminary. Ordained in 1844 as a priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts, he left for England after being excluded from participating in diocesan convention. After receiving a degree from Cambridge, he went to Liberia as a missionary. The African race, Crummell believed, possessed a “warm, emotional and impulsive energy,” which in America had been corrupted by oppression. The Episcopal Church, with its emphasis on rational and moral discipline, was especially fitted for the moral and spiritual regeneration of Afro-Americans. A model Christian republic seemed possible in Liberia. European education and technology, combined with traditional African communal culture, and undergirded by a national Episcopal Church headed by a black bishop, was the vision espoused by Crummell. He traveled extensively in the United States urging blacks to immigrate to Liberia and support the work of the Church there. On returning to Liberia, he worked to establish a national Episcopal Church. Political opposition and a loss of funding finally forced him to return to the United States. He concentrated his efforts on establishing a strong urban presence of independent black congregations that would be centers of worship, education and social service. When southern bishops proposed that a separate missionary district be created for black congregations, Crummell created a national convocation to fight the proposal. The Union of Black Episcopalians is an outgrowth of that organization. Crummell’s ministry spanned more than half a century and three continents. Everywhere, at all times, he labored to prepare his people and to build institutions that would serve them and provide scope for the exercises of their gifts in leadership and creativity. His faith in God, his perseverance in spite of repeated discouragement, his perception that the Church transcended the racism and limited vision of its rulers, and his unfailing belief in the goodness and greatness of black people are the legacy of this Afro-American pioneer.
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
11 September. Harry Thacker Burleigh, Composer, (1866-1949). Henry (Harry) Thacker Burleigh was an American singer, composer and arranger who did more than anyone else up to his time to make available the musical and spiritual riches of the American Negro spiritual to vast audiences. Burleigh was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. His grandfather, Hamilton Waters, had been a slave who had been blinded by a savage beating, but passed along old songs by singing them to his grandson, Harry. Burleigh had a natural voice and sang when and where he could. In 1892, with some difficulty, he won admission to the National Conservatory of Music where he studied voice and music theory. Although never directly a pupil of Antonin Dvorak, the director of the Conservatory at the time, he worked for Dvorak copying orchestral parts. It was Burleigh who suggested to Dvorak some of the themes that would become Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9: From the New World. To support himself while at Conservatory, Burleigh became the baritone soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City. The presence of a black man in the choir initially caused dissension, but it died down when J. Pierpont Morgan, a member of the parish, took a clear stand on the matter. Even after gaining other employment and becoming a successful composer, Burleigh continued to sing in the choir at St. George’s for many years and became a beloved part of the congregation. Burleigh composed original music, mostly for voice, and was a well-respected arranger and music editor in New York. His art songs were musical settings of the poetry of such great African American poets as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, among others. His greatest achievement, and that for which he will always be celebrated, was recovering and arranging many Negro spirituals for solo voice and piano so they could be widely heard on the concert stage. Various choral versions of the spirituals had been well known in the black churches, but it was Burleigh’s arrangements that made this distinctively American music available to the masses.
Collect: God our strong deliverer, we bless your Name for the gifts of grace given to Harry Thacker Burleigh to gather and preserve the good heritage of African-American music and to lift up in song the struggles of his people. Let that Spirit of love which spurred him draw us also to join hands throughout the earth in Christ’s one great fellowship of love; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
12 September. John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, (1775-1830). John Henry Hobart was one of the leaders who revived the Episcopal Church, following the first two decades of its independent life after the American Revolution, a time that has been described as one of “suspended animation.” Born in Philadelphia, Hobart was educated at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Princeton, graduating from the latter in 1793. Bishop William White, his longtime friend and adviser, ordained him deacon in 1798 and priest in 1801. After serving parishes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Long Island, Hobart became assistant minister of Trinity Church, New York City, in 1800. He was consecrated Assistant Bishop of New York on May 29, 1811. Five years later he succeeded Bishop Benjamin Moore, both as diocesan bishop and as rector of Trinity Church. He died at Auburn, New York, September 12, 1830, and was buried beneath the chancel of Trinity Church in New York City. Within his first four years as bishop, Hobart doubled the number of his clergy and quadrupled the number of missionaries. Before his death, he had planted a church in almost every major town of New York State and had opened missionary work among the Oneida Indians. He was one of the founders of the General Theological Seminary, and the reviver of Geneva, now Hobart, College. A strong and unbending upholder of Church standards, Hobart established the Bible and Common Prayer Book Society of New York, and was one of the first American Churchmen to produce theological and devotional manuals for the laity. These “tracts,” as they were called, and the personal impression he made on the occasion of a visit to Oxford, were an influence on the development of the Tractarian Movement in England. Both friends and foes respected Hobart for his staunch faith, his consuming energy, his personal integrity, and his missionary zeal.
Excerpt from A Companion for the Altar (pp 156-157): “The devout participation of the Ordinances of the Church, the appointed method of Salvation. No truth can be more evident to reason, than that God has a right to prescribe what method he pleases for the salvation of mankind. Dependent upon him as their Creator and their Judge, deriving from him life and all its enjoyments, which they hold by the dependent tenure of his sovereign will, they are bound by every tie of duty, interest, and gratitude, implicitly to fulfil his injunctions. By obedience to his commands, they acknowledge his supreme authority over them, and attain that perfection and happiness for which they were destined. By resistance to his will, they forfeit that purity and bliss, which are only to be found in the enjoyment of his favor. When we further consider man as a fallen creature, subject to the punishment of his offended Judge, we shall be compelled to acknowledge, that he can have no hope of forgiveness but on those terms and conditions which God may prescribe. If then, God hath seen fit to dispense his mercy and grace through the ordinances of a church, by communion with which guilty and condemned man is to be restored to virtue and happiness — who is he that will resist his will? To dispute the propriety of his institutions, to doubt the efficacy of the means which he hath established, would be a presumptuous contempt of his mercy and power, a willful rejection of his proffered grace. Contemning the means which he hath instituted for our salvation, we should aggravate to the deepest dye the guilt of rebellion against our almighty Sovereign and Judge; and without any plea to extenuate our guilt, we should sink under the avenging arm of his justice. That in order to our deliverance from the condemnation and wrath which our sins have incurred, and to our restoration to the favor of God, we must humbly and devoutly participate of the ordinances of the church, is a truth, therefore, which rests on the simple fact, that God hath instituted these ordinances as the means of salvation, the channels of mercy and grace.”
Collect: Revive your Church, Lord God of hosts, whenever it falls into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like your servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember today; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken your people to your message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
13 September. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, (347-407). John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, is one of the great saints of the Eastern Church. He was born about in Antioch, Syria. As a young man, he responded to the call of desert monasticism until his health was impaired. He returned to Antioch after six years, and was ordained a priest. In 397, he became Patriarch of Constantinople. His episcopate was short and tumultuous. Many criticized his ascetical life in the episcopal residence, and he incurred the wrath of the Empress Eudoxia, who believed that he had called her a “Jezebel.” He was twice exiled, and he died during the second period of banishment, on September 14, 407. Thirty-one years later, his remains were brought back to Constantinople, and buried on January 27. John, called “Chrysostom,” which means “the golden-mouthed,” was one of the greatest preachers in the history of the Church. People flocked to hear him. His eloquence was accompanied by an acute sensitivity to the needs of people. He saw preaching as an integral part of pastoral care, and as a medium of teaching. He warned that if a priest had no talent for preaching the Word, the souls of those in his charge “will fare no better than ships tossed in the storm.” His sermons provide insights into the liturgy of the Church, and especially into Eucharistic practices. He describes the liturgy as a glorious experience, in which all of heaven and earth join. His sermons emphasize the importance of lay participation in the Eucharist. “Why do you marvel,” he wrote, “that the people anywhere utter anything with the priest at the altar, when in fact they join with the Cherubim themselves, and the heavenly powers, in offering up sacred hymns?” His treatise, Six Books on the Priesthood, is a classic manual on the priestly office and its awesome demands. The priest, he wrote, must be “dignified, but not haughty; awe-inspiring, but kind; affable in his authority; impartial, but courteous; humble, but not servile, strong but gentle … ”
The most famous homily by St. John Chrysostom is the “Easter Homily”, which is today proclaimed on Easter morning in the liturgies of the Orthodox church:
“If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions”.
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered heaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
Collect: O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
14 September. Holy Cross Day. The historian Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine, tells how that emperor ordered the erection of a complex of buildings in Jerusalem “on a scale of imperial magnificence,” to set forth as “an object of attraction and veneration to all, the blessed place of our Savior’s resurrection.” The overall supervision of the work—on the site where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands — was entrusted to Constantine’s mother, the empress Helena. In Jesus’ time, the hill of Calvary had stood outside the city; but when the Roman city which succeeded Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina, was built, the hill was buried under tons of fill. It was during the excavations directed by Helena that a relic, believed to be that of the true cross, was discovered. Constantine’s shrine included two principal buildings: a large basilica, used for the Liturgy of the Word, and a circular church, known as “The Resurrection” — its Altar placed on the site of the tomb—which was used for the Liturgy of the Table, and for the singing of the Daily Office. Toward one side of the courtyard which separated the two buildings, and through which the faithful had to pass on their way from Word to Sacrament, the exposed top of Calvary’s hill was visible. It was there that the solemn veneration of the cross took place on Good Friday; and it was there that the congregation gathered daily for a final prayer and dismissal after Vespers. The dedication of the buildings was completed on September 14, 335, the seventh month of the Roman calendar, a date suggested by the account of the dedication of Solomon’s temple in the same city, in the seventh month of the Jewish Calendar, hundreds of years before (2 Chronicles 7:8–10).
An excerpt from Oration 10 by St. Andrew of Crete (650-726) on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: “We are celebrating the feast of the cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light. As we keep this feast, we are lifted up with the crucified Christ, leaving behind us earth and sin so that we may gain the things above. So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure. Rightly could I call this treasure the fairest of all fair things and the costliest, in fact as well as in name, for on it and through it and for its sake the riches of salvation that had been lost were restored to us. Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be cancelled, we should not have attained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled. Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honorable. It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation – very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory. The cross is honorable because it is both the sign of God’s suffering and the trophy of his victory. It stands for his suffering because on it he freely suffered unto death. But it is also his trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered; the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world. The cross is called Christ’s glory; it is saluted as his triumph. We recognize it as the cup he longed to drink and the climax of the sufferings he endured for our sake. As to the cross being Christ’s glory, listen to his words: ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and in him God is glorified, and God will glorify him at once.’ And again: ‘Father, glorify me with the glory I had with you before the world came to be.’ And once more: ‘Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again.’ Here he speaks of the glory that would accrue to him through the cross. And if you would understand that the cross is Christ’s triumph, hear what he himself also said: ‘When I am lifted up, then I will draw all men to myself.’ Now you can see that the cross is Christ’s glory and triumph.”
Sequence for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),
translated by Digby S. Wrangham:
“Hail, O Cross ! tree of life ! noble and noted !
Banner, throne, altar to Jesus devoted !
Cross ! to unholy
Men both death and terror,
To Christians truly
Art thou virtue’s mirror,
Safety, victory, all-divine !
Thou, when he hurried
Against Maxentius’ horde;
Thou, when he carried
By Danube’s shores the sword.
Glory wast to Constantine
Chosroes and his son
Through thee were overthrown,
For Heraclius fighting:
Well may Christians glory
In this tree’s true story,
In such balms delighting !
Length and breadth, Cross I blending
With height, depth, far-reaching,
Thou, four ways extending,
Precious truths thus teaching,
Savest earth’s four quarters.
Balm with true health gifted I
On the Cross-scales lifted,
Christ was there extended.
As the price expended
To redeem death’s charters.
The Cross the balance is to weigh our right.
Our Monarch’s scepter and His rod of might;
The sign of Heaven’s own victory in the fight.
Our strength in war and glory’s palm-branch bright !
Ladder ! raft ! upbearing
Hearts through grief despairing !
Their last plank, when drowning !
Thou Christ’s beauty sharest.
Since His limbs thou barest
Cross ! the crown kings crowning.
Through thee, Cross ! with blessings freighted I
Cross, by Christ’s blood consecrated !
May the grace of God most high
Deathless joys to us supply ! Amen.”
Collect: Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
15 September. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, (c. 200-258). Cyprian was a rich, aristocratic, and cultivated rhetorician in North Africa. He was converted to Christianity about 246, and by 248 was chosen Bishop of Carthage. A year later, in the persecution under the Emperor Decius, Cyprian went into hiding. For this he was severely criticized. Nonetheless, he kept in touch with his Church by letter, and directed it with wisdom and compassion. In the controversy over what to do with those who had lapsed during the persecution, Cyprian held that they could be reconciled to the Church after suitable periods of penance, the gravity of the lapse determining the length of the penance. His moderate position was the one that generally prevailed in the Church, over that of the rigorist Novatian, who led a group into schism at Rome and Antioch over this question. In another persecution, under the Emperor Valerian, Cyprian was placed under house arrest in Carthage, and, on September 14, 258, he was beheaded. Many of Cyprian’s writings have been preserved. His Letter No. 63 contains one of the earliest affirmations that the priest, in offering the Eucharist (“the sacrifice”), acts in the place of Christ, imitating his actions. In his treatise, On the Lord’s Prayer, he wrote: “We say ‘Hallowed be thy Name,’ not that we want God to be made holy by our prayers, but because we seek from the Lord that his Name may be made holy in us, … so that we who have been made holy in Baptism may persevere in what we have begun to be.” While in hiding, Cyprian wrote his book, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, which affirms the unity of the college of bishops and the sin of schism. “The episcopate is a single whole,” he wrote, “in which each bishop’s share gives him a right to, and a responsibility for, the whole. So is the Church a single whole, though she spreads far and wide into a multitude of Churches … If you leave the Church of Christ you will not come to Christ’s rewards, you will be an alien, an outcast, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father unless you have the Church for your Mother.”
From the Proconsular Acts of the Martyrdom of Saint Cyprian: “On the morning of the fourteenth of September, a great crowd gathered at Villa Sexti, in accordance with the order of the governor Galerius Maximus. That same day, the governor commanded that Bishop Cyprian be brought before him for trial in the court of Sauciolum. After Cyprian was brought in, the governor asked him: “Are you Thascius Cyprian?” And the bishop replied: “Yes, I am.” The governor Galerius Maximus said: “Have you posed as the pontiff of a sacrilegious group?” The bishop answered: “I have.” Then the governor said: “Our most venerable emperors have commanded you to perform the religious rites.” Bishop Cyprian replied: “I will not do so.” Galerius Maximus said: “Consider your position.” Cyprian replied: “Follow your orders. In such a just cause, there is no need for deliberation.” Then Galerius Maximus, after consulting with his council, reluctantly issued the following judgment: “You have long lived with your sacrilegious convictions, and you have gathered about yourself many others in a vicious conspiracy. You have set yourself up as an enemy of the gods of Rome and our religious practices. The pious and venerable emperors: the Augusti, Valerian and Gallienus, and Valerian, the most noble of Caesars, have been unable to draw you back to the observance of their holy ceremonies. Since you have been discovered as the author and leader of these heinous crimes, you will consequently be held forth as an example for all those who have followed you in your crime. By your blood the law shall be confirmed.” Next he read the sentence from a tablet: “It is decided that Thascius Cyprian should die by the sword.” Cyprian responded: “Thanks be to God!” After the sentence was passed, a crowd of his fellow Christians said: “We should also be killed with him!” There arose an uproar among the Christians, and a great mob followed after him. Cyprian was then brought out to the grounds of the Villa Sexti, where, taking off his outer cloak and kneeling on the ground, he fell before the Lord in prayer. He removed his dalmatic and gave it to the deacons, and then stood erect while waiting for the executioner. When the executioner arrived, Cyprian told his friends to give the man twenty‑five gold pieces. Cloths and napkins were being spread out in front of him by the brethren. Then the blessed Cyprian put on the blindfold with his own hands, but since he was not able to tie the ends by himself, the priest Julian and the subdeacon Julian fastened them for him. In this way the blessed Cyprian suffered, and his body was laid out at a nearby place to satisfy the curiosity of the pagans. During the night, Cyprian’s body was triumphantly borne away in a procession of Christians who praying and bearing tapers and torches, carried the body to the cemetery of the governor Macrobius Candidianus, which lies on the Mappalian Way near the fish ponds. Not many days later, the governor Galerius Maximus died. The most blessed martyr Cyprian suffered on the fourteenth of September under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, in the reign of our true Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belong honor and glory for ever. Amen.”
Collect: Almighty God, who gave to your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
15 September. James Chisholm, Priest, 1855. James Chisholm was the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. In 1855, an aggressive yellow fever epidemic swept through tidewater Virginia. Many of the region’s wealthy citizens were able to escape the area to avoid exposure and contamination. In most cases the physicians and clergy who served them departed as well. This left the area’s poor bereft of doctors, caregivers and, in some cases, the basic provisions of food and water to sustain life. James Chisholm sent his family away to safety, staying behind to provide whatever care for the sick he could. Chisholm provided food, amateur medical assistance, and pastoral care. He was even known to have dug graves for those who had died. As the ravages of the plague were beginning to subside, Chisholm, weary to the point of exhaustion from his faithful priestly service, contracted the yellow fever and died. An account of Chisholm’s sacrifice, written only months after his death, marvels at the inner strength that Chisholm discovered that enabled him to stay behind and serve the people many of whom were only waiting to die. Before the crisis, Chisholm was not thought of as a particularly strong man in body, and was described as having been retiring to the point of bashfulness, delicate, weak, and lacking much fortitude. When faced, however, with the call of these priestly duties in the face of great hardship, Chisholm showed a strength and courage few knew he possessed.
Collect: Merciful God, you called your priest James Chisholm to sacrifice his life in working to relieve his parishioners and the people of his city during a yellow fever epidemic: Help us remember that in giving up our lives to your service, we win the eternal crown that never fades away in that heavenly kingdom where, with Jesus Christ our Savior and the Holy Spirit, you reign, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
16 September. Ninian, Bishop in Galloway, c. 430. The dates of Ninian’s life, and the exact extent of his work, are much disputed. The earliest, and possibly the best, account is the brief one in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History. Ninian was a Romanized Briton, born in the latter half of the fourth century in southern Scotland. He is said to have been educated in Rome and to have received episcopal ordination. But the main influence on his life was Martin of Tours, with whom he spent some time, and from whom he gained his ideals of an episcopal-monastic structure designed for missionary work. About the time of Martin’s death in 397, Ninian established his base at a place called Candida Casa (“White House”) or Whithorn in Galloway, which he dedicated to Martin. Traces of place names and church dedications suggest that his work covered the Solway Plains and the Lake District of England. Ninian seems also to have converted many of the Picts of northern Scotland, as far north as The Moray Firth. Ninian, together with Patrick, is one of the links of continuity between the ancient Roman-British Church and the developing Celtic Christianity of Ireland and Scotland.
From the Life of Saint Ninian, by Aelred of Rivaulx (Chap 8): “It sometimes pleased the most holy Ninian to visit his flocks and the huts of his shepherds, wishing that the flocks, which he had gathered together for the use of the brethren, the poor and the pilgrims, should be partakers of the episcopal blessing. Therefore, all the animals being gathered into one place, when the servant of the Lord had looked upon them, he lifted up his hand and commended all that he had to the Divine protection. Going, therefore, round them all, and drawing as it were a little circle with the staff on which he leant, he enclosed the cattle, commanding that all within that space should that night remain under the protection of God. Having done all this, the man of God turned aside to rest for the night at the house of a certain honorable matron. When, after refreshing their bodies with food and their minds with the word of God, all had gone to sleep, certain thieves appeared, and seeing that the cattle were neither enclosed by walls, nor protected by hedges, nor kept in by a ditch, they looked to see if anyone was watching, or if anything else resisted their attempt. And when they saw that all was silent, and that nothing was present that by voice or movement or barking might frighten them, they rushed in and crossed the bounds which the saint had fixed for the cattle, wishing to carry them all off. But the Divine power was present resisting the ungodly, nay, casting them down, using against those, who, as brute beasts, minded their bellies and not their reason, the instrumentality of an irrational animal. For the bull of the herd rushed upon the men in fury, and striking at the leader of the thieves, threw him down, pierced his belly with his horns, sending forth his life and his entrails together. Then tearing up the earth with his hoofs, he smote with mighty strength a stone which happened to be under his foot, and in a wonderful way, in testimony of the miracle, the foot sunk into it as if into soft wax, leaving a footmark in the rock, and by the footmark giving a name to the place. For to this day the place in the English tongue is named Farres Last, that is, the Footprint of the Bull. Meanwhile, the most blessed father having finished the solemn service of prayer, went aside, and finding the man disemboweled and lying dead among the feet of the cattle, and seeing the others rushing about hither and thither as if possessed by furies, moved with compassion, and turning earnestly to God, besought Him to raise the dead. Nor did he cease from tears and entreaties till the same power which had slain him restored him not merely to life, but made him safe and sound. For, verily, the power of Christ, for the merit of the saint, smote him and healed him, killed and restored him to life, cast him down to hell and raised him again. Meanwhile the others, whom, running about the whole night, a certain madness had enclosed within the circle which the saint had made, seeing the servant of God, cast themselves with fear and trembling at his knees imploring pardon. And he, benignantly chiding them and impressing upon them the fear of God and the judgment prepared for the rapacious, giving them his benediction, granted them permission to depart.”
Collect: O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant and bishop Ninian you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we pray, that having his life and labors in remembrance we may show our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
17 September. Hildegard, (1098-1179). Hildegard of Bingen, born in the lush Rhineland Valley, was a mystic, poet, composer, dramatist, doctor, and scientist. Her parents’ tenth child, she was tithed to the Church and raised by the anchoress Jutta in a cottage near the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg. Drawn by the life of silence and prayer, other women joined them, finding the freedom, rare outside women’s religious communities, to develop their intellectual gifts. They organized as a convent under the authority of the abbot of Disibodenberg, with Jutta as abbess. When Jutta died, Hildegard, then 38, became abbess. Later she founded independent convents at Bingen (1150) and Eibingen (1165), with the Archbishop of Mainz as her only superior. From childhood, Hildegard experienced dazzling spiritual visions. At 43, a voice commanded her to tell what she saw. So began an outpouring of extraordinarily original writings illustrated by unusual and wondrous illuminations. These works abound with feminine imagery for God and God’s creative activity. In 1147, Bernard of Clairvaux recommended her first book of visions, Scivias, [Know the Ways] to Pope Eugenius III, leading to papal authentication at the Synod of Trier. Hildegard became famous, eagerly sought for counsel, a correspondent of kings and queens, abbots and abbesses, archbishops and popes. She carried out four preaching missions in northern Europe, unprecedented activity for a woman. She practiced medicine, focusing on women’s needs; published treatises on natural science and philosophy; wrote a liturgical drama, The Play of the Virtues, in which personified virtues sing their parts and the devil, condemned to live without music, can only speak. For Hildegard, music was essential to worship. Her liturgical compositions, unusual in structure and tonality, were described by contemporaries as “chant of surpassing sweet melody” and “strange and unheard-of music.” Hildegard lived in a world accustomed to male governance. Yet, within her convents, and to a surprising extent outside them, she exercised a commanding spiritual authority based on confidence in her visions and considerable political astuteness. When she died in 1179 at 81, she left a rich legacy which speaks eloquently across the ages. Although the history of her formal recognition as a saint is complicated, she has been recognized as a saint by parts of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor [Teacher] of the Church.
Excerpt from The Book of Divine Works: “And I saw as amid the airs of the South in the mystery of God a beautiful and marvelous image of a human figure; her face was of such beauty and brightness that I could more easily have stared at the sun. On her head she had a broad band of gold. And in that golden band above her head there appeared a second face, like an old man, whose chin and beard touched the top of the first head. Wings protruded from behind the neck of the figure on either side, and rising up clear of the golden band their tips met and joined overhead. On the right, above the sweep of the wing, was an image of an eagle’s head, and I saw it had eyes of fire in which there appeared the brilliance of angels as in a mirror. On the left, above the sweep of the wing, was the image of a human face, which shone like the brightness of the stars. These faces were turned towards the East. But from each of her shoulders, a wing extended down to the knee. And she wore a tunic like the glory of the sun and in her hands she carried a lamb like the bright light of day. But beneath her feet she trampled a monster of dreadful appearance, black and venomous, and also a serpent, which had fixed its teeth into the right ear of the monster and wound the rest of its body across its own head, and had stretched its tail on the left side. The figure spoke: I am the supreme fire and energy. I have kindled all the sparks of the living, and I have breathed out no mortal things, for I judge them as they are. I have properly ordained the cosmos, flying about the circling circle with my upper wings, that is with wisdom. I am the fiery life of divine substance, I blaze above the beauty of the fields, I shine in the waters, I burn in sun, moon, and stars. And I awaken all to life with every wind of the air, as with invisible life that sustains everything. For the air lives in greenness and fecundity. The waters flow as though they are alive. The sun also lives in its own light, and when the moon has waned it is rekindled by the light of the sun and thus lives again; and the stars shine out in their own light as though they are alive. I established the pillars that support the whole circle of the earth. I made the winds, and, subject to them, the wings of the winds, which are lesser winds. Through their gentle force, these contain the stronger winds and prevent them from showing their full strength with great danger; in the same way the body covers the soul and contains it lest it breathe out and expire. And conversely also, just as the breath of the soul strengthens and sustains the body so that it does not weaken, in the same way the stronger winds energize the subsidiary winds to carry out their appropriate tasks. Thus I am concealed in things as fiery energy. They are ablaze through me, like the breath that ceaselessly enlivens the human being, or like the wind-tossed flame in a fire. All these things live in their essence, and there is no death in them, for I am life. I also am rationality, who holds the breath of the resonant word by which the whole of creation was created; and I have breathed life into everything, so that nothing by its nature may be mortal, for I am life. And I am life: not the life struck from stone, or blossoming from branches, or rooted in a man’s fertility, but life in its fullness, for all living things have their roots in me.”
Collect: God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
18 September. Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, (1800-1882). The revival of High Church teachings and practices in the Anglican Communion, known as the Oxford Movement, found its acknowledged leader in Edward Bouverie Pusey. Born near Oxford, August 22, 1800, Pusey spent all his scholarly life in that University as Regius Professor of Hebrew and as Canon of Christ Church. At the end of 1833 he joined Keble and Newman in producing the Tracts for the Times, which gave the Oxford Movement its popular name of Tractarianism. His most influential activity, however, was his preaching — catholic in content, evangelical in his zeal for souls. But to many of his more influential contemporaries it seemed dangerously innovative. A sermon preached before the University in 1843 on “The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent” was condemned without his being given an opportunity to defend it, and he himself was suspended from preaching for two years — a judgment he bore most patiently. His principles were thus brought before the public, and attention was drawn to the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. From another University sermon, on “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent,” may be dated the revival of private confession in the Anglican Communion. When Newman converted to the Church of Rome in 1845, Pusey’s adherence to the Church of England kept many from following, and he defended them in their teachings and practices. After the death of his wife in 1839, Pusey devoted much of his family fortune to the establishment of churches for the poor, and much of his time and care to the establishment of sisterhoods. In 1845, he established the first Anglican sisterhood since the Reformation. It was at this community’s convent, Ascot Priory in Berkshire, that Pusey died on September 16, 1882. His body was brought back to Christ Church and buried in the cathedral nave. Pusey House, a house of studies founded after his death, perpetuates his name at Oxford. His own erudition and integrity gave stability to the Oxford Movement and won many to its principles. His gentle approach to the introduction of greater ceremonial is revealed in this excerpt from a letter written in 1849 to Father Prynne of Plymouth: “Certainly one should be glad that greater reverence could be restored: but I have long felt that we must first win the hearts of the people, and then the fruits of reverence will show themselves. To begin with outward things seems like gathering flowers, and putting them in the earth to grow. If we win their hearts, all the rest would follow. I have never had the responsibility of a parish, but while I could not but feel sympathy with those who held themselves bound by every rubric, I could not but think myself that since the Church of England had virtually let them go into disuse, we were bound to use wisdom in restoring them, so as not, in restoring them, to risk losing what is of far more moment, the hearts of the people.”
Excerpt from Tracts for the Times, Vol. 6 (No 90). p 79. “Accordingly, even granting for argument’s
sake, that the English Church violated a duty in the 16th century, in releasing itself from the Roman supremacy, still it did not thereby commit that special sin, which cuts off from it the fountains of grace, and is called schism. It was essentially complete without Rome, and naturally independent of it; it had, in the course of years, whether by usurpation or not, come under the supremacy of Rome ; and now, whether by rebellion or not, it is free from it; and as it did not enter into the Church invisible by joining Rome, so it was not cast out of it by breaking from Rome. These were accidents in its history, involving, indeed, sin in individuals, but not affecting the Church as a Church.”
Collect: Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
19 September. Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, (602-690). Theodore was born in Saint Paul’s native city, Tarsus in Asia Minor. He was ordained Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Vitalian on March 26, 668. A learned monk of the East, Theodore was residing in Rome when the English Church, decimated by plague, and torn with strife over rival Celtic and Roman customs, was in need of strong leadership. Theodore provided this for a generation, beginning his episcopate at an age when most people are ready to retire. When Theodore came to England, he established a school at Canterbury that gained a reputation for excellence in all branches of learning, and where many leaders of both the Irish and the English Churches were trained. His effective visitation of all England brought unity to the two strains of tradition among the Anglo-Saxon Christians. For example, he recognized Chad’s worthiness and regularized his episcopal ordination. Theodore gave definitive boundaries to English dioceses, so that their bishops could give better pastoral attention to their people. He presided over synods that brought about reforms, according to established rules of canon law. He also laid the foundations of the parochial organization that still obtains in the English Church. According to Bede, Theodore was the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed, and possibly to no other leader does English Christianity owe so much. He died in his eighty-eighth year, September 19, 690, and was buried, with Augustine and the other early English archbishops, in the monastic Church of Saints Peter and Paul at Canterbury.
Collect: Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
20 September. John Coleridge Patteson and his Companions, Bishop of Melanesia, Martyrs, 1871. The death of Bishop Patteson and his companions at the hands of Melanesian islanders, whom Patteson had sought to protect from slave-traders, aroused the British government to take serious measures to prevent piratical man-hunting in the South Seas. Their martyrdom was the seed that produced the strong and vigorous Church which flourishes in Melanesia today. Patteson was born in London, April 1, 1827, of a Devonshire family. He attended Balliol College, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1849. After travel in Europe and a study of languages, at which he was adept, he became a Fellow of Merton College in 1852, and was ordained the following year. While serving as a curate of Alphington, Devonshire, near his family home, he responded to Bishop G. A. Selwyn’s call in 1855 for helpers in New Zealand. He established a school for boys on Norfolk Island to train native Christian workers. It is said that he learned to speak some twenty-three of the languages of the Melanesian people. On February 24, 1861, he was consecrated Bishop of Melanesia. On a visit to the island of Nakapu, in the Santa Cruz group, Patteson was stabbed five times in the breast, in mistaken retaliation for the brutal outrages committed some time earlier by slave-traders. In the attack, several of Patteson’s company were also killed or wounded. Bishop Selwyn later reconciled the natives of Melanesia to the memory of one who came to help and not to hurt.
Collect: Almighty God, you called your faithful servant John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
21 September. Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples, is probably to be identified with Levi, a tax collector (“publican”) mentioned by Mark and Luke. In the Gospel according to Matthew, it is said that Matthew was seated in the custom-house when Jesus bade him, “Follow me.” When Jesus called him, he at once left everything, followed the Master, and later gave a dinner for him. Mark and Luke also note that Levi was a tax collector. In all three accounts, Jesus is severely criticized for eating at the same table with tax collectors and other disreputable persons. Tax collectors were viewed as collaborators with the Roman State, extortioners who took money from their own people to further the cause of Rome and to line their own pockets. They were spurned as traitors and outcasts. The Jews so abhorred them that pious Pharisees refused to marry into a family that had a publican as a member. Clearly, Matthew was hardly the type of man that a devout Jew would have had among his closest associates. Yet Jesus noted that it was the publican rather than the proud Pharisee who prayed the acceptable prayer, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” There is frequent favorable reference to publicans in the many sayings of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew. Matthew was called early in Jesus’ ministry, but that he wrote the Gospel that bears his name is seriously doubted by scholars. It is, however, generally accepted that his “logia” or “sayings of Jesus” have been included in that Gospel. It may be that the author of the First Gospel took from Matthew’s work some of the numerous parables and comments that make that Gospel so popular a source for homilies and teaching. Through this Gospel, especially, Jesus speaks not only of faith and eternal life, but of duties toward one’s neighbors, family, and even enemies. Tradition has it that Matthew, having converted many persons to Christianity in Judea, traveled to the East; but there is no certain evidence for this. He has been venerated as a martyr, but the time and circumstances of his death are unknown.
From a homily by St Bede the Venerable, priest: “Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me. Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men. He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. St. John tells us: Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. And he rose and followed him. There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift. As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit. To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realize that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Savior attests to this: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.”
Collect: We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
22 September. Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, (1775-1852). Born the youngest of fifteen children in Cornish, New Hampshire, Philander Chase attended Dartmouth College, where he prepared to become a Congregationalist minister. While at Dartmouth, he happened upon a copy of the Book of Common Prayer. Next to the Bible, he thought it was the most excellent book he had ever studied, and believed that it was surely inspired by God. At the age of nineteen he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Following graduation from Dartmouth, Chase worked as a schoolteacher in Albany, New York, and read for Holy Orders. Ordained a deacon in 1798, he began mission work on the northern and western frontiers among the pioneers and the Mohawk and Oneida peoples. The first of the many congregations he founded was at Lake George in New York State. Ordained a priest in 1799, at the age of twenty-three, Chase served as rector of Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, New York, until 1805. He then moved to New Orleans, where he organized the first Protestant congregation in Louisiana. That parish now serves as the cathedral church for the Diocese of Louisiana. In 1810 he returned north to Hartford, Connecticut, where he served for six years as rector of Christ Church, now the cathedral church of the Diocese of Connecticut. In 1817 he accepted a call to be the first rector of St. John’s Church in Worthington, Ohio. A year later he was elected the first Bishop of Ohio. He immediately began founding congregations and organizing the diocese. He also established Kenyon College and Bexley Hall Seminary. In 1831 Chase resigned as Bishop of Ohio and began ministering to Episcopalians and the unchurched in southern Michigan. In 1835 he was elected the first Bishop of Illinois and served in this office until he died on September 20, 1852. During his time in Illinois he founded numerous congregations, together with Jubilee College, which included a seminary. As the senior bishop in the Episcopal Church, he served as the Presiding Bishop from 1843 until his death. At a meeting of the House of Bishops in 1835, Bishop Doane of New Jersey said of him: “A veteran soldier, a Bishop of the Cross, whom hardships never have discouraged, whom no difficulties seem to daunt.”
Collect: Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give you heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of your servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of your Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
25 September. Sergius, Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392. To the people of Russia, Sergius is a national hero and their patron saint. He was born at Rostov, about 1314. Civil war in Russia forced Sergius’ family to leave the city and to live by farming at Radonezh near Moscow. At the age of twenty, he and his brother began a life of seclusion in a nearby forest, from which developed the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, a center of revival of Russian Christianity. There Sergius remained for the rest of his life, refusing higher advancement, such as the see of Moscow, in 1378. Sergius’ firm support of Prince Dimitri Donskoi helped to rally the Russians against their Tartar overlords. Dimitri won a decisive victory against them at the Kulikovo Plains in 1380, and laid the foundation of his people’s independent national life. Sergius was simple and gentle in nature, mystical in temperament, and eager to ensure that his monks should serve the needs of their neighbors. He was able to inspire intense devotion to the Orthodox faith. He died in 1392, and pilgrims still visit his shrine at the monastery of Zagorsk, which he founded in 1340. The city contains several splendid cathedrals and is the residence of the Patriarch of Moscow. The Russian Church observes Sergius’ memory on September 25. His name is familiar to Anglicans from the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, a society established to promote closer relations between the Anglican and Russian Churches.
Excerpt from The Life of St. Sergius (part 4): “One day the saint, in accordance with his usual rule, was keeping vigil and praying for the brotherhood late at night when he heard a voice calling, “Sergius!” He was astonished, and opening the window of the cell he beheld a wondrous vision. A great radiance shone in the heavens; the night sky was illumined by its brilliance, exceeding the light of day. A second time the voice called: “Sergius! Thou prayest for thy children; God has heard thy prayer. See and behold great numbers of monks gathered together in the name of the Everlasting Trinity, in thy fold, and under thy guidance.” The saint looked and beheld a multitude of beautiful birds, flying, not only on to the monastery, but all around; and he heard a voice saying, “As many birds as thou seest by so many will thy flock of disciples increase; and after thy time they will not grow less if they will follow in thy footsteps.” Anxious to have a witness of this vision the saint called aloud for Simon, he being the nearest. Simon ran to him with all haste, but he was not found worthy to behold this vision; he saw no more than a ray of its light, but even so was greatly astonished. Filled with awe and wonder at this glorious vision, they rejoiced together.
One day some Greeks arrived from Constantinople, sent by the patriarch to visit the saint. Making a deep obeisance they said to him, “The all-powerful Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus, sends you his blessing” and they presented him with gifts from the patriarch, a cross and a “paramand,” and also handed him a letter from him. The saint asked: “Are you sure you have not been sent to someone else? How can I, a sinner, be worthy of such gifts from the most illustrious patriarch? They replied, “We have indeed been sent to you, holy Sergius.” The elder went then to see the metropolitan, Aleksei and took with him the epistle brought from the patriarch. The metropolitan ordered the epistle to be read to him. It ran. “By the Grace of God, the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarch Philotheus, by the Holy Spirit, to our son and fellow servant Sergius. Divine grace and peace, and our blessing be with you. We have heard tell of your godly life dedicated to God, wherefore we greatly praise and glorify God. One thing, however, has not been established: you have not formed a community. Take note, Blessed One, that even the great prophet and our father in God, David, embracing all things with his mind, could not bestow higher praise than when he said, ‘But now, however good and however perfect, yet, above all, is abiding together in brotherly love.’ Wherefore I counsel you to establish a community. That God’s blessing and his grace be always upon you.” The elder inquired of the metropolitan, “Revered teacher, what would you have us do?” The metropolitan replied, “With all our heart we approve, and return thanks.” From henceforth life on the basis of community was established in the monastery.
The saint, wise pastor, appointed to each brother his duties, one to be cellarer, others to be cooks and bakers, another to care for the sick, and for church duties, an ecclesiarch, and a subecclesiarch, and sacristans, and so forth. He further announced that the ordinances of the holy fathers were to be strictly observed; all things were to be possessed in common, no monk was to hold property of his own. His community having been established with much wisdom, the numbers of his followers soon increased. Also, the larger the supply of offerings to the monastery, the more hospitality‚ was extended. No person in need ever left the monastery empty-handed; and the saint gave orders that the poor and all strangers were to be allowed to rest in the monastery, and no suppliant to be refused, adding, “If you will follow my precepts and continue in them faithfully, God will reward you, and when I leave this life our monastery will prosper and continue to stand with the Lord’s blessing for many years.” And to the present day it has remained standing.”
Collect: O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Sergius of Moscow, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
26 September. Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, (1555-1626). Lancelot Andrewes was the favorite preacher of King James I. He was the author of a great number of eloquent sermons, particularly on the Nativity and the Resurrection. They are “witty,” grounded in the Scriptures, and characterized by the kind of massive learning that the King loved. This makes them difficult reading for modern people, but they repay careful study. T. S. Eliot used the opening of one of Andrewes’ Epiphany sermons as the inspiration for his poem, “The Journey of the Magi: ”
A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year
For a Journey, and such a long journey:
The way deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
Andrewes was also a distinguished biblical scholar, proficient in Hebrew and Greek, and was one of the translators of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. He was Dean of Westminster and headmaster of the school there before he became a bishop, and was influential in the education of a number of noted Churchmen of his time, in particular, the poet George Herbert. Andrewes was a very devout man, and one of his most admired works is his Preces Privatae (“Private Devotions”), an anthology from the Scriptures and the ancient liturgies, compiled for his own use. It illustrates his piety and throws light on the sources of his theology. He vigorously defended the catholicity of the Church of England against Roman Catholic critics. He was respected by many as the very model of a bishop at a time when bishops were held in low esteem. As his student, John Hacket, later Bishop of Lichfield, wrote about him: “Indeed he was the most Apostolical and Primitive-like Divine, in my Opinion, that wore a Rochet in his Age; of a most venerable Gravity, and yet most sweet in all Commerce; the most Devout that I ever saw, when he appeared before God; of such a Growth in all kind of Learning that very able Clerks were of a low Stature to him.”
Excerpt from the Devotions of Bishop Andrewes (Praise): “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, to Him be glory in the Church in Christ unto all generations world without end. Amen. Blessed, and praised, and celebrated, and magnified, and exalted, and glorified, and hallowed, be Thy Name, O Lord, its record, and its memory, and every memorial of it; for the all‑honorable senate of the Patriarchs, the ever‑venerable band of the Prophets, the all‑glorious college of the Apostles, the Evangelists, the all‑illustrious army of the Martyrs, the Confessors, the assembly of Doctors, the Ascetics, the beauty of Virgins, for Infants the delight of the world, — for their faith, their hope, their labors, their truth; their blood, their zeal, their diligence, their tears, their purity; their beauty. Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee, glory to Thee who didst glorify them, among whom we too glorify Thee. Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord, the God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, O King of Saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy Name? for Thou only art holy, for all the nations shall come and worship before Thee, for Thy judgments are made manifest. Praise our God, all ye His servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great, Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth; let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him. Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them; and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there shall be no more death; neither crying, neither pain any more, for the former things are passed away.”
Collect: Almighty God, you gave your servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of your Holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of your people: Perfect in us what is lacking in your gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of your grace and glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
26 September. Wilson Carlile, Priest, (1847-1942). Born in Brixton, England, Wilson Carlile was from an early age afflicted with spinal disease, which made his education difficult. He entered his grandfather’s business at the age of thirteen and soon became fluent in French, which he used in his own silk trading endeavors in Paris. His business was eventually ruined in the economic depression of the 1870’s. The collapse of his business resulted in physical and emotional distress, and it was during this time that Carlile turned to religion for comfort and a new sense of direction. After serving as an organist in Dwight L. Moody’s evangelistic missions, Carlile was ordained a priest in 1881, serving his curacy at St. Mary Abbots, the parish church in Kensington. He had long been concerned with the church’s lack of presence among the poor and working classes, and as a curate, he encouraged soldiers, grooms, coachmen, and other working laymen to preach the gospel among the residents of some of the worst slums of London. Many among the church establishment accused Carlile of “dragging the church into the gutter.” In 1882 he resigned his curacy and devoted himself to the formal establishment of the Church Army, an organization dedicated to the proclamation of the gospel among the least of society. Despite great resistance, he sought official approval for his organization and its work from the Church of England Congress in 1883. In 1885, the Upper Convocation of Canterbury passed a resolution officially approving and recognizing the Church Army. Carlile served as rector of St. Mary-at-Hill, Eastcheap, London, from 1892-1926, where he continued his administration of the Army’s ministry. In 1905 he was honored as a Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Today, Church Army evangelists are admitted to their offices on behalf of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, both of whom are vice-presidents of the society. They are licensed to operate within the Anglican system by individual diocesan bishops within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Collect: God of boundless energy and light: We thank you for the courage and passion of Wilson Carlile who, after the example of your Son, sought new ways to open your Church to diverse leaders as beacons of the Gospel of Christ. Quicken our hearts to give bold witness to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
27 September. Vincent de Paul, Religious, and Prophetic Witness, (1580-1660). Born in France to a peasant family, Vincent took his theological studies at Toulouse and was ordained in 1600. When called to hear the confession of a dying man, Vincent was shocked by the spiritual naiveté of the penitent. In response, Vincent preached sermons on confession in the village chapel of Folleville, calling people to the necessity of repentance. So persuasive were his sermons, that villagers stood in line to go to confession. Vincent had underestimated their spiritual hunger. In 1626, Vincent and three priests pledged to “aggregate and associate to ourselves and to live together as a Congregation … and to devote ourselves to the salvation of the people.” Vincent devoted great energy to conducting retreats for clergy because of the widespread deficiencies in theological education and priestly formation. He was a pioneer in the renewal of theological education and was instrumental in establishing seminaries. For Vincent, charity was a predominant virtue that was to be extended to all. He established charitable confraternities to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the poor and sick. He called upon the women of means in Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects particularly hospitals to serve the poor. Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became tender and affectionate, very sensitive to the needs of others. He had an extraordinary capacity to connect with all types of people and to move them to be empowered by the gospel of Jesus. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. At Vincent’s funeral, the preacher declared that Vincent had just about “transformed the face of the Church.” “The Apostle of Charity” breathed his last in Paris, on September 27, 1660, at the age of eighty. He is honored in the tradition as the patron saint of charitable causes.
From a writing by Saint Vincent de Paul, priest (Epist. 2546): “Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor. Although in his passion he almost lost the appearance of a man and was considered a fool by the Gentiles and a stumbling block by the Jews, he showed them that his mission was to preach to the poor: He sent me to preach the good news to the poor. We also ought to have this same spirit and imitate Christ’s actions, that is, we must take care of the poor, console them, help them, support their cause. Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also loves those who love the poor. For when one person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to be understanding where they are concerned. We sympathize with them so fully that we can echo Paul’s words: I have become all things to all men. Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbors’ worries and distress. We must beg God to pour into our hearts sentiments of pity and compassion and to fill them again and again with these dispositions. It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. Since she is a noble mistress, we must do whatever she commands. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.”
Collect: Loving God, we thank you for your servant Vincent de Paul, who gave himself to training clergy to work among the poor and provided many institutions to aid the sick, orphans and prisoners. May we, like him, encounter Christ in the needy, the outcast and the friendless, that we may come at length into your kingdom where you reign, one God, holy and undivided Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
27 September. Thomas Traherne, Priest, (1636-1674). Though not as well known as John Donne or George Herbert, Thomas Traherne was one of the seventeenth century’s most searching, inventive poets and theologians. Traherne was among about twelve Anglican lyricists dubbed by the rather prosaic Samuel Johnson as “the Metaphysical Poets.” Johnson meant this to imply that their poetry was pretentious and obscure. What he missed was not only their erudition but their subtlety and their profound awareness of the depths of Divine Mystery through which they tried to articulate the Christian Faith in a world which was changing from the sure faith of the Middle Ages to the bewildering maze of conflicting opinion which was the “Modern”. Born the son of a humble shoemaker in Hereford, Traherne went to Oxford thanks to the generosity of a prosperous relative. He was awarded the B.A. in 1656 and later the M.A. and B.D. He was ordained priest in 1660. From 1667 on he was the chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Keeper of the Great Seal. At 37 he died in his patron’s house. Traherne’s poetry was unpublished and unknown until it was found in manuscript in a London bookseller’s stall at the beginning of the twentieth century. In all the Metaphysical Poets we find the attempt, often through startling images and seemingly contradictory metaphors, to express the inter-penetration of the sacred and the profane, the mortal human and the immortal divine, the verities of the new sciences and the eternal verities of God’s revelation in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Traherne was particularly taken with the paradox that the naive grandiosity and self-centeredness of a small child was, in fact, a kind of window into the Divine Being. In reading his poetry it is sometimes not clear whether he is speaking of himself as a small child or of the Christ-Child. In fact, he is often inferring both, by which he means us to understand that in the Incarnation, God assumed our humanity and so our humanity is in fact, our blessed access to God.
A poem by Thomas Traherne:
In making bodies Love could not express
Itself, or art, unless it made them less.
O what a monster had in man been seen,
Had every thumb or toe a mountain been!
What worlds must he devour when he did eat?
What oceans drink! yet could not all his meat,
Or stature, make him like an angel shine;
Or make his Soul in Glory more Divine.
A Soul it is that makes us truly great,
Whose little bodies make us more complete.
An understanding that is infinite,
An endless, wide, and everlasting sight,
That can enjoy all things and nought exclude,
Is the most sacred greatness may be viewed.
‘Twas inconvenient that his bulk should be
An endless hill; he nothing then could see:
No figure have, no motion, beauty, place,
No color, feature, member, light, or grace.
A body like a mountain is but cumber.
An endless body is but idle lumber:
It spoils converse, and time itself devours,
While meat in vain, in feeding idle powers;
Excessive bulk being most injurious found,
To those conveniences which men have crowned:
His wisdom did His power here repress,
God made man greater while He made him less.
Collect: Creator of wonder and majesty, you inspired your poet Thomas Traherne with mystical insight to see your glory in the natural world and in the faces of men and women around us: Help us to know you in your creation and in our neighbors, and to understand our obligations to both, that we may ever grow into the people you have created us to be; through our Savior Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in everlasting light. Amen.
28 September. Richard Rolle (1290-1349), Walter Hilton (1340-1396), and Margery Kempe (1373-1438), Mystics. Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, and Margery Kempe were three early and prominent figures associated with Christian mysticism in the Church of England. Richard Rolle was an English hermit about whose early life we know little. At the age of 18 he gave up his studies at Oxford for the ascetic life, out of which grew a ministry of prayer, writing, and spiritual direction. Rolle lived his final years near the Cistercian convent near Hampole. Among his chief writings are several scriptural commentaries, some theological writings originally written in Latin and translated into English, and many poems. Though criticized by many for promoting a highly subjective form of religion, he was an ardent defender of the contemplative life he practiced. Similarly, we know little of the early life of Walter Hilton, though evidence suggests that he studied at Cambridge. Hilton spent time as a hermit before becoming an Augustinian canon at Thurgarton Priory in Nottinghamshire late in the fourteenth century. In his great work, The Scale of Perfection, he develops his understanding of the “luminous darkness” which marks the transition between self-love and the love of God. Similarities between his work and The Cloud of Unknowing have convinced some to attribute that latter work to him. Hilton’s spirituality and writings were highly influential on figures such as Anselm of Canterbury. Margery Kempe, who wrote the book bearing her name, and from which we attain most of our knowledge of her, was a mystic who experienced intense visions followed by a period of emotional disturbance, subsequent to which she went on pilgrimage to Canterbury. She later made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Santiago de Compostela and was encouraged in her efforts by Julian of Norwich. She describes these travels as well as her mystical experiences in the Book of Margery Kempe. In it, she describes long periods of consciousness of and communion with Jesus, experiences that developed in her deep compassion of the sins of humanity.
From Walter Hilton’s The Scale of Perfection, Part III, Chapter 6, Section 2: “But now peradventure thou beginnest to be afraid for that which I have said, that charity cannot be gotten by any work that thou canst do; how shalt thou then do? To this I answer, that there is nothing so hard to get as charity; this is truth, as to the getting of it by our own travail and labor. And, on the contrary, I say that there is no gift of God that may so lightly or easily be had as charity, for our Lord giveth no gift so freely, nor so gladly, nor so commonly, as He doth it. How shalt thou, then, have it, sayest thou? Be meek and lowly in spirit and thou shalt have it; and what is lighter to be done than to be humble? Soothingly nothing. Then it followeth that there is nothing so lightly to be had as charity, and, therefore, thou need not be much afraid; be humble, and have it. Thus saith St James: Our Lord resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Which grace is properly charity; for according to the measure of thy humility, so shalt thou have charity. If thou have humility imperfectly only in will, not in affection, then hast thou imperfect charity, which indeed is good, for it sufficeth for salvation, as David saith: Lord, with the eyes of mercy thou seest my imperfection. But if thou have humility perfectly, then shalt thou have perfect charity, and this is best. The other we must necessarily have if we will be saved. This we should ever desire and
labor for. If thou ask me now who is perfectly humble, I shall tell thee no more concerning humility at this time but this: He is humble that truly knoweth himself as he is.”
Collect: Gracious God, we give you thanks for the lives and work of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, and Margery Kempe, hermits and mystics, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld your glory. Help us, after their examples, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
29 September. Saint Michael and All Angels. The scriptural word “angel” (Greek: angelos) means, literally, a messenger. Messengers from God can be visible or invisible, and may assume human or non-human forms. Christians have always felt themselves to be attended by healthful spirits — swift, powerful, and enlightening. Those beneficent spirits are often depicted in Christian art in human form, with wings to signify their swiftness and spacelessness, with swords to signify their power, and with dazzling raiment to signify their ability to enlighten. Unfortunately, this type of pictorial representation has led many to dismiss the angels as “just another mythical beast, like the unicorn, the griffin, or the sphinx.” Of the many angels spoken of in the Bible, only four are called by name: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael. The Archangel Michael is the powerful agent of God who wards off evil from God’s people, and delivers peace to them at the end of this life’s mortal struggle. “Michaelmas,” as his feast is called in England, has long been one of the popular celebrations of the Christian Year in many parts of the world. Michael is the patron saint of countless churches, including Mont Saint-Michel, the monastery fortress off the coast of Normandy that figured so prominently in mediaeval English history, and Coventry Cathedral, England’s most famous modern church building, rising from the ashes of the most devastating war of our time.
From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot: “’He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways.’ Let them thank the Lord for his mercy; his wonderful works are for the children of men. Let them give thanks and say among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them. O Lord, what is man that you have made yourself known to him, or why do you incline your heart to him? And you do incline your heart to him; you show him your care and your concern. Finally, you send your only Son and the grace of your Spirit, and promise him a vision of your countenance. And so, that nothing in heaven should be wanting in your concern for us, you send those blessed spirits to serve us, assigning them as our guardians and our teachers. ‘He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways.’ These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need. So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honor them as much as we can and should. Yet all our love and honor must go to him, for it is from him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect. We should then, my brothers, show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our co-heirs just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the Father. We are God’s children although it does not seem so, because we are still but small children under guardians and trustees, and for the present little better than slaves. Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are loyal, prudent, powerful. Why then are we afraid? We have only to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven.”
Sequence for the Feast of the St. Michael and All Angels, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),
translated by Digby S. Wrangham:
“Let our love break forth in praises,
And the hymn our choir upraises
In the holy angels’ sight !
Praise is pleasant, praise befitting,
When our hearts, no sin committing,
With our lips in praise unite.
Michael let all men be lauding,
None of us ourselves defrauding
Of the gladness of to-day;
Happy day, for ever telling
Of the triumph all-excelling
Of the Angels’ bright array !
Off is the old dragon driven.
And his legion, foes of heaven.
Put to ignominious flight:
In confusion the confuser
Is expelled, and man’s accuser
Hurled from heaven’s utmost height.
Whene’er Michael’s help is given,
Peace on earth and peace in heaven,
Praise and jubilation, reign;
‘Tis his valor, might commanding,
For the common weal upstanding,
Triumphs on the battle-plain.
Prompting to sin’s disgrace,
Thrust out from heaven’s race.
Through the air’s boundless space
Satan walks to and fro:
Watching with many a wile,
Breathes he in poison vile,
But guards at hand his guile
Hierarchies three in heaven
Are to ceaseless worship given.
And to ceaseless harmony:
Neither doth their adoration.
Nor their hymns without cessation,
Stay their ceaseless ministry.
O what wondrous love’s volition
Is this thrice threefold division
Of the heavenly kingdom’s host !
Man so loving and protecting.
As from men to be selecting
What it of its own hath lost !
As ‘mongst mankind we see
Diversities of grace,
So orders will there be
Of varied rank and place,
The righteous’ glorious meed:
One glory hath the sun,
Another pale moonlight;
The stars shine forth, each one
With its own glory bright;
So shall the risen dead !
Let the old man, and the earthy,
Be renewed in fashion worthy
Of angelic innocence:
He may hope then in the sequel
To be crowned as their co-equal.
Though not pure from all offence.
Never ceasing to obey them.
Let us pious honor pay them.
That we may their help obtain;
All devotion so sincere
To the angels brings us near,
And God’s love for us will gain.
Therefore, breaking silence never
On heaven’s secret things meanwhile.
Thither let us lift up ever
Hearts with hands all pure from guile;
That co-heirs the courts of heaven
Thus may deem us fit to be,
And by both due praise be given
To Divine grace equally !
To the Head all glory be,
‘Mongst the members unity ! Amen.”
Collect: Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
30 September. Jerome, Priest, and Monk of Bethlehem, (347-420). Jerome was the foremost biblical scholar of the ancient Church. His Latin translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, known as the Vulgate version, along with his commentaries and homilies on the biblical books, have made him a major intellectual force in the Western Church. Jerome was born in the north Italian town of Stridon, and was converted and baptized during his student days in Rome. On a visit to Trier, he found himself attracted to the monastic life, which he tested in a brief but unhappy experience as a hermit in the desert of Syria. At Antioch in 378, he reluctantly allowed himself to be ordained a priest, and there continued his studies in Hebrew and Greek. The following year he was in Constantinople as a student of Gregory of Nazianzus. From 382 to 384 he was secretary to Pope Damasus I in Rome, and spiritual director of many noble Roman ladies who were becoming interested in the monastic life. It was Damasus who set him to the task of making a new translation of the Bible into Latin — the vulgar tongue, as distinguished from the classical Greek. (Hence the name of his translation, the Vulgate.) After the Pope’s death, Jerome returned to the East, and established a monastery at Bethlehem, where he lived and worked until his death on September 30, 420. He was buried in a chapel beneath the Church of the Nativity, near the traditional place of our Lord’s birth. Jerome’s irascible disposition, pride of learning, and extravagant promotion of asceticism involved him in many bitter controversies over both theological and exegetical questions. Yet he was candid at times in admitting his failings, and was never ambitious for churchly honors. A militant champion of orthodoxy, an indefatigable worker, and a stylist of rare gifts, Jerome was seldom pleasant, but at least he was never dull.
From the prologue of the Commentary on Isaiah by St Jerome, Priest: “I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: ‘Search the Scriptures,’ and ‘Seek and you shall find.’ Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: ‘You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God.’ For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of Gods, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old, and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: ‘I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved.’ In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet, but an evangelist and an apostle as well. For he says about himself and the other evangelists: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace.’ And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle: ‘Whom shall I send, who will go to my people?’ And he answers: ‘Here I am; send me.’ No one should think that I mean to explain the entire subject matter of this great book of Scripture in one brief sermon, since it contains all the mysteries of the Lord. It prophesies that Emmanuel is to be born of a virgin and accomplish marvelous works and signs. It predicts his death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the Savior of all men. I need say nothing about the natural sciences, ethics and logic. Whatever is proper to holy Scripture, whatever can be expressed in human language and understood by the human mind, is contained in the book of Isaiah. Of these mysteries the author himself testifies when he writes: ‘You will be given a vision of all things, like words in a sealed scroll. When they give the writings to a wise man, they will say: Read this. And he will reply: I cannot, for it is sealed. And when the scroll is given to an uneducated man and he is told: Read this, he will reply: I do not know how to read.’ Should this argument appear weak to anyone, let him listen to the Apostle: ‘Let two or three prophets speak, and let others interpret; if, however, a revelation should come to one of those who are seated there, let the first one be quiet.’ How can they be silent, since it depends on the Spirit who speaks through his prophets whether they remain silent or speak? If they understood what they were saying, all things would be full of wisdom and knowledge. But it was not the air vibrating with the human voice that reached their ears, but rather it was God speaking within the soul of the prophets, just as another prophet says: ‘It is an angel who spoke in me;’ and again, ‘Crying out in our hearts, Abba, Father,’ and ‘I shall listen to what the Lord God says within me.'”
Collect: O Lord, O God of truth, your Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give you thanks for your servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we pray that your Holy Spirit will overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, will transform us according to your righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.