1 April. Frederick Denison Maurice, Priest (1805-1872). In the same year that Karl Marx declared religion to be the “opiate of the people,” Frederick Denison Maurice wrote, “We have been dosing our people with religion when what they want is not this but the living God.” Like Marx, Maurice wanted to solve the questions of our complex society; unlike Marx, he called for a radical, but non-violent, reform, by the renewal of “faith in a God who has redeemed mankind, in whom I may vindicate my rights as a man.” Maurice was a founder of the Christian Socialist Movement, which, he wrote, “will commit us at once to the conflict we must engage in sooner or later with the unsocial Christians and unchristian Socialists.” Maurice was born into the family of a Unitarian minister whose life was marked by intense religious controversy. Maurice studied civil law at Cambridge, but refused the degree in 1827, because, as a Dissenter, he could not subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. After several personal crises, however, he became an Anglican and was ordained in 1834. Soon afterwards he was appointed Professor of English Literature and History at King’s College, London, and, in 1846, to the chair of Theology. In his book, The Kingdom of Christ, published in 1838, Maurice investigates the causes and cures of Christian divisions. The book has become a source of Anglican ecumenism. Maurice was dismissed from his professorships because of his leadership in the Christian Socialist Movement, and because of the supposed unorthodoxy of his Theological Essays (1853). Maurice saw worship as the meeting point of time and eternity, and as the fountain of energies for the Church’s mission. He wrote, “I do not think we are to praise the liturgy but to use it. When we do not want it for our life, we may begin to talk of it as a beautiful composition.” After the death of the Christian Socialist Movement in 1854, Maurice founded the Working Men’s College, and resumed teaching at Queen’s College, London. Maurice awakened Anglicanism to the need for concern with the problems of society. In later years, he was honored even by former opponents. He was rector of two parishes, and was professor of Moral Theology at Cambridge from 1866 until his death.
Excerpt from a sermon, “The Sacrifices Which We Owe to God and His Church,” (1862): “I regard the Creeds of the Universal Church, the Catechism, Prayers, Articles of our English Church, as the most blessed witnesses I can find for those eternal truths which bind us together, against those sectarian opinions which rend us asunder. You know also that if I ever object to popular explanations of the Scripture, it is on this ground, that they evade the broad divine message which I read in Lawgivers, Psalmists, Prophets. These Lawgivers, Psalmists, Prophets, declare that a Living God was speaking in acts and words to their generation, and that He would be speaking through similar acts and words to every generation. I have tried to convince you that they said the right thing, and the thing which we want to hear. My friends! What I have said to you about the Creeds and the Bible I have felt more intensely during the last few months than I ever felt it before. I have seen more than I ever saw before how much the family life of England, how much the common morality of England is connected with the acknowledgement of a Father who sent His only-begotten Son to redeem mankind, His Spirit to adopt us as His children, and to make us witnesses to the world of the deliverance which he has wrought for it. I have been at times almost overwhelmed by the thought how much the great message of Redemption is giving place to one of a directly opposite kind, one which practically denies that God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to claim men as His sons and daughters; one which limits God’s truth to those who believe it. I have been convinced that the faith of England and the morality of England must perish together if this teaching drives out the other. I have trembled therefore at any attempts that have been made to graft the theology of the sectarian pulpits upon the theology of the universal Church — that theology which is contained in the Creeds — that theology which was vindicated for us at the Reformation, when the good tidings went forth that we do not make God propitious to us, but that He bestows on us His free mercy in Christ, with power to do His gracious will. But I could not doubt that the old faith will be able now, as it was able then, to shake off the notion and habits which are threatening to destroy it, if we cling, as the Reformers of the 16th century clung, to the books which contain the gradual history of that Redemption whereof the Creeds record the complete result. While our countrymen confess a God who called out a poor idolater to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, while they think that He revealed Himself to the Israelites as the Deliverer of captives, as the enemy of tyranny visible and invisible, the Gospel that Christ accomplished the purpose of His Father by sacrificing Himself for the world will overcome the schemes of sacrifice which men have devised for themselves, the news of a redemption from the Everlasting Death of evil and hatred which the Apostles proclaimed to Jews and Gentiles, will sound clearer and mightier than the most terrible rhetoric concerning a God who is the Author of everlasting death.”
Collect: Almighty God, you restored our human nature to heavenly glory through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ: Keep alive in your Church, we pray, a passion for justice and truth; that, like your servant Frederick Denison Maurice, we may work and pray for the triumph of the kingdom of your Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
2 April. James Lloyd Breck, Missionary, (1818-1876). James Lloyd Breck was one of the most important missionaries of the Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century. He was called “The Apostle of the Wilderness.” Breck was born in Philadelphia, and like many important Churchmen of his time, was greatly influenced by the pastoral devotion, liturgical concern, and sacramental emphasis of William Augustus Muhlenberg. Breck attended Muhlenberg’s school in Flushing, New York, before entering the University of Pennsylvania. Muhlenberg inspired him, when he was sixteen years old, to dedicate himself to a missionary life. The dedication was crystallized when Breck, with three other classmates from the General Theological Seminary, founded a religious community at Nashotah, Wisconsin, which in 1844 was on the frontier. Nashotah became a center of liturgical observance, of pastoral care, and of education. Isolated families were visited, mission stations established, and, probably for the first time since the Revolution, Episcopal missionaries were the first to reach the settlers. Though Nashotah House flourished, and became one of the seminaries of the Episcopal Church, the “religious house” ideal did not. Breck moved on to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he began the work of the Episcopal Church. At Gull Lake, he organized St. Columba’s Mission for the Chippewa. It laid the foundation for work among the Indians by their own native priests, although the mission itself did not survive. In 1855, Breck married, and in 1858 settled in Faribault, Minnesota, where his mission was associated with one of the first cathedrals established in the Episcopal Church in the United States. He also founded Seabury Divinity School, which later merged with Western Theological Seminary, to become Seabury-Western. In 1867, Breck went on to California, inspired principally by the opportunity of founding a new theological school. His schools at Benicia, California, did not survive, but the five parishes which he founded did, and the Church in California was strengthened immensely through his work. He died prematurely, at the age of 55, in 1876.
Excerpt from a letter from James Breck to the children of the Sunday School of Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, from James L. Breck, Nashotah, Wisconsin, December 1848: “You must now, my dear children, be tired, indeed, and I will close with a few remarks relative to our House, whereat those young brethren with us, who are preparing for holy orders are gathered together. This ‘field is white unto the harvest,’ and the only practicable means, whereby laborers may be furnished, is to train up young brethren upon the missionary ground itself, to do the work lying undone all about them. By your alms to Missions you are aiding in this blessed work. God Almighty has been very gracious unto us, in that He has raised us up friends to aid our weak endeavors. He has likewise sent us young brethren, of good hearts and minds, who are proving themselves, with Divine assistance, capable of receiving the true discipline of our Holy Apostolic Church. Those who have already gone forth from this Brotherhood as heralds of the Cross, have remained in the West, and are again proving themselves, through God’s help, to be capable of enduring hardness for Christ. But not only have young brethren been sent to us; devoted clergymen have also been raised up to assist me in the training and education of this House. All this cometh of the Lord. And now, dear children, let me exhort you to labor diligently on the good work of missions, to which your teachers, among other things, I trust, will incline your hearts, and encourage your efforts. I was once, as you are now, a Sunday School scholar, and at a very early age my heart was consecrated to this very scene of my present labors. One of my own Sunday School scholars at the East, has also joined me at Nashotah, and is now proving himself of great value to me in the affairs of this House. If I learn that your interest in missions has been heightened by this Letter, be assured that it will afford me much pleasure to write to you again. With much affection I remain your unworthy missionary of the Cross of Christ.”
Collect: Teach your Church, O Lord, we pray, to value and support pioneering and courageous missionaries, whom you call, as you called your servant James Lloyd Breck, to preach, and teach, and plant your Church on new frontiers; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
3 April. Richard, Bishop of Chichester, (1197-1253). Richard and his older brother Robert were quite young when their parents died, leaving a rich estate with a guardian to manage it. The guardian allowed the estate to dwindle, and Richard worked long hours to restore it. Pressure was put on Richard to marry, but he, who from earliest years had preferred books to almost anything else, turned the estate over to his brother and went to Oxford. Often hungry, cold, and not always sure of his next day’s keep, Richard managed to succeed in his studies under such teachers as Robert Grosseteste. He continued to study law at Paris and Bologna, earned a doctorate, and returned to Oxford to become University Chancellor. Shortly afterward, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Rich, appointed him to be his own chancellor. The friendship between the primate and his young assistant was close: Richard also became his biographer. Conflict with King Henry III eventually forced Archbishop Rich into exile in France, where Richard nursed him in his final illness. After the Archbishop’s death, Richard moved to the Dominican house at Orleans for further study and teaching. He was ordained priest in 1243. He then returned to England, and was elected Bishop of Chichester in 1244. King Henry opposed the election, confiscated all the revenues of the diocese, and even locked Richard out of the episcopal dwelling. Richard was given lodging by a priest, Simon of Tarring. During these years he functioned as a missionary bishop, traveling about the diocese on foot, visiting fishermen and farmers, holding synods with great difficulty, and endeavoring to establish order. Threatened by the Pope, Henry finally acknowledged Richard as Bishop in 1246. For eight years, he served his diocese as preacher, confessor, teacher, and counselor. While campaigning in 1253, for a new crusade against the Saracens, he contracted a fatal fever. Nine years after his death, he was canonized
A prayer by St. Richard:
“Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.”
Collect: We thank you, Lord God, for all the benefits you have given us in your Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he has borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of your saintly bishop Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
4 April. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader and Martyr, (1929-1968). Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta. As the son and grandson of Baptist preachers, he was steeped in the Black Church tradition. To this heritage he added a thorough academic preparation, earning the degrees of B.A., B.D., and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University. In 1954, King became pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. There, Black indignation at inhumane treatment on segregated buses culminated in December, 1955, in the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. King was catapulted into national prominence as the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott. He became increasingly the articulate prophet, who could not only rally the Black masses, but could also move the consciences of Whites. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to spearhead non-violent mass demonstrations against racism. Many confrontations followed, most notably in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and in Chicago. King’s campaigns were instrumental to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and 1968. King then turned his attention to economic empowerment of the poor and opposition to the Vietnam War, contending that racism, poverty and militarism were interrelated. King lived in constant danger: his home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed, and he was harassed by death threats. He was even jailed 30 times; but through it all he was sustained by his deep faith. In 1957, he received, late at night, a vicious telephone threat. Alone in his kitchen he wept and prayed. He relates that he heard the Lord speaking to him and saying, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice,” and promising never to leave him alone—“No, never alone.” King refers to his vision as his “Mountain-Top Experience.” After preaching at Washington Cathedral on March 31, 1968, King went to Memphis in support of sanitation workers in their struggle for better wages. There, he proclaimed that he had been “to the mountain-top” and had seen “the Promised Land,” and that he knew that one day he and his people would be “free at last.” On the following day, April 4, he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet.
Excerpt from the sermon, “Our God is Marching On!” (25 March 1965; Birmingham, Alabama): “White America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. And from the wells of this democratic spirit, the nation finally forced Congress (Well) to write legislation (Yes, sir) in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of Birmingham. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, (Speak, sir) but without the vote it was dignity without strength. (Yes, sir) Once more the method of nonviolent resistance (Yes) was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. (Yes, sir) And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. Yet, Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. If the worst in American life lurked in its dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. (Yes, sir. Speak) There never was a moment in American history (Yes, sir) more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger (Yes) at the side of its embattled Negroes. The confrontation of good and evil compressed in the tiny community of Selma (Speak, speak) generated the massive power (Yes, sir. Yes, sir) to turn the whole nation to a new course. A president born in the South (Well) had the sensitivity to feel the will of the country, (Speak, sir) and in an address that will live in history as one of the most passionate pleas for human rights ever made by a president of our nation, he pledged the might of the federal government to cast off the centuries-old blight. President Johnson rightly praised the courage of the Negro for awakening the conscience of the nation. (Yes, sir) On our part we must pay our profound respects to the white Americans who cherish their democratic traditions over the ugly customs and privileges of generations and come forth boldly to join hands with us. (Yes, sir) From Montgomery to Birmingham, (Yes, sir) from Birmingham to Selma, (Yes, sir) from Selma back to Montgomery, (Yes) a trail wound in a circle long and often bloody, yet it has become a highway up from darkness. (Yes, sir) Alabama has tried to nurture and defend evil, but evil is choking to death in the dusty roads and streets of this state. (Yes, sir. Speak, sir) So I stand before you this afternoon (Speak, sir. Well) with the conviction that segregation is on its deathbed in Alabama, and the only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists and Wallace will make the funeral. (Go ahead. Yes, sir) [Applause]”
Collect: Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
5 April. Pandita Mary Ramabai, Prophetic Witness and Evangelist in India, (1858-1922). Pandita Rambai faced most of the obstacles a woman could encounter in the India of her lifetime. She was denied access to formal education and was ostracized from society as first an orphan and then a widow. She experienced first-hand the effects of India’s rigid caste system that placed discriminatory walls between social and racial groups. Yet she fought back, first as a Hindu, then as a Christian. Her father was a scholar who taught her both the Sanskrit language and the Vedas, the sources classical Hindu beliefs. An 1876 famine killed most of her family and a few years later a cholera epidemic killed her husband of nineteen months. Acutely aware of the difficulties facing Indian women, Ramabai was increasingly drawn to social work and in 1883 traveled to England where she spent time with the Wantage Sisters, an Anglican religious community near Oxford. She was baptized in 1883 and worked actively in London with a community of nuns whose clientele were former prostitutes. She also attended the Cheltenham Ladies College, an institution that favored women’s suffrage and instructing young women in the same subjects taught in schools for young men. Ramabai returned to India in 1889 and founded the Mukti Mission, a home for abandoned widows and orphans of the Brahmin high priestly caste in Mumbai, (formerly Bombay). When India was again struck by famine in 1896, she extended the mission’s outreach to include women and orphans of all castes, and gradually added a clinic and vocational training courses. Fluent in several languages, Ramabai translated the Bible into Marathi, a West Indian language. Indians who encountered her gave her the title “Pandita,” meaning “the learned one.” Ramabai, like Mother Teresa later, worked tirelessly among India’s poor, depending on the generosity of others to fund her activities. Her evangelical enthusiasm never waned. “What a blessing this burden does not fall on me. But Christ bears it on his shoulders,” she wrote, and “no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden womanhood of India and of every land.”
Collect: Everliving God, you called the women at the tomb to witness to the resurrection of your Son: We thank you for the courageous and independent spirit of your servant Pandita Ramabai, the mother of modern India; and we pray that we, like her, may embrace your gift of new life, caring for the poor, braving resentment to uphold the dignity of women, and offering the riches of our culture to our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
6 April. Daniel G. C. Wu, Priest and Missionary among Chinese Americans, (1883-1956). Work among Chinese Americans in the San Francisco Bay area dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century, but flourished under the leadership of Daniel Gee Ching Wu. His story begins in Hawaii when Deaconess Emma Drant asked Gee Ching Wu to teach her Chinese in exchange for lessons in English. At the time, Wu was reticent toward the faith, but during their time together, Drant’s Christian convictions inspired his conversion. Wu was baptized, taking the name Daniel. Drant left for San Francisco where she began mission work among the Chinese and in 1905 called together a worshiping community to be called True Sunshine Episcopal Mission. After the 1906 earthquake, many residents of San Francisco, including many Chinese, fled across the bay to Oakland, and a second Chinese mission took root there. Needing help, Drant called upon Daniel Wu, to come from Hawaii and support her missionary efforts. From the time of his arrival in 1907, Wu managed the work of the two missions while studying for ordination at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He was ordained in 1912 and became the Vicar of True Sunshine Episcopal Mission in San Francisco and Our Savior Episcopal Mission in Oakland, both of which were already thriving congregations. Daniel Wu devoted his ministry to work among Chinese immigrants. He frequently worked the docks and points of entry, made contact with those newly arrived, and assisted in whatever way possible to ease their transition to their new home. To keep them connected to their heritage, Wu and the people of his congregations offered classes in Chinese to the children, and instruction in English to the adults. They offered a variety of programs that helped newcomers to adjust to their new country without losing the culture and heritage of their homeland. For thirty-six years, Daniel Wu and his people opened their hearts and their churches to generations of Chinese Americans and played a singularly important role in establishing the ministry of the Episcopal Church among those of Asian descent.
Collect: We give you thanks, loving God, for the ministry of Daniel Wu, priest and pioneer church planter among Asian-Americans, and for the stable worshiping communities he established, easing many immigrants’ passage into a confusing new world. By the power of your Holy Spirit, raise up other inspired leaders, that today’s newcomers may find leaders from their diverse communities faithful to our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the same Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
7 April. Tikhon, Patriarch of Russia, Confessor and Ecumenist, (1865-1925). Vasily Ivanovich Belavin (Tikhon’s given name) grew up in a rural area among peasants in a village where his father was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church. Even as a child, he loved religion, and by age thirteen began his seminary training, where his classmates nicknamed him “Patriarch.” At 23, he graduated as a layman and began to teach moral theology. Three years later, he became a monk and was given the name Tikhon. By 1897, he was ordained Bishop of Lublin, and in 1898 became Archbishop of the Aleutians and Alaska, the leader of Slavic Orthodoxy in North America. Tikhon was held in such esteem that the United States made him an honorary citizen. While in this country, he established many new cathedrals and churches, and participated in ecumenical events with other denominations, in particular the Episcopal Church. In 1900, at the ordination of Bishop Reginald Weller as coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, the diocesan, Bishop Grafton, invited Tikhon to sit on his own cathedral. The Archbishop would have participated in the laying-on-of-hands if the Episcopal House of Bishops had not forbidden it. Tikhon later established warm relations with the Diocese of California. In 1907, Tikhon returned to Russia and a decade later was elected Patriarch of Moscow. The outbreak of the Russian Revolution threw the Church into disarray. When a severe famine caused many peasants to starve in 1921, the Patriarch ordered the sale of many church treasures to purchase food for the hungry. Soon the government began seizing church property for itself, and many believers were killed in defense of their faith. The Communists tried to wrest control of the Church from Tikhon, while he, in turn, attempted to shelter his people. To this end, he discouraged the clergy from making political statements that might antagonize the government. He prayed, “May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our sake.” Imprisoned by the Soviets for more than a year, he was criticized both by the Communist Party and by those Orthodox bishops who believed he had compromised too much with the government. On April 7, 1925, he died, worn out by his struggles. In 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon, numbering him among the saints of the Church.
Homily of St. Tikhon on Forgiveness (Cheesefare) Sunday: ”Today is called “Forgiveness Sunday.” It received this name from the pious Orthodox Christian custom at Vespers of asking each other’s forgiveness for discourtesy and disrespect. We do so, since in the forthcoming fast we will approach the sacrament of Penance and ask the Lord to forgive our sins, which forgiveness will be granted us only if we ourselves forgive each other. “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(Matt. 6. 14, 15) Yet it is said to be extremely difficult to forgive discourtesy and to forget disrespect. Perhaps our selfish nature finds it truly difficult to forgive disrespect, even though in the words of the Holy Fathers it is easier to forgive than to seek revenge. (St. Tikhon of Zadonsk after St. John Chrysostom) Yet everything in us that is good is not accomplished easily, but with difficulty, compulsion and effort. “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”(Matt. 11. 12) For this reason we should not be discouraged at the difficulty of this pious act, but should rather seek the means to its fulfillment. The Holy Church offers many means towards this end, and of them we will dwell on the one which most corresponds to the forthcoming season of repentance. “Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother.” The source of forgiving our neighbors, of not judging them, is included in seeing (acknowledging) our sins. “Imagine,” says a great pastor, who knows the heart of man, Father John of Kronstadt, “picture the multitude of your sins and imagine how tolerant of them is the Master of your life, while you are unwilling to forgive your neighbor even the smallest offense. Moan and bewail your foolishness, and that obstruction within you will vanish like smoke, you will think more clearly, your heart will grow calm, and through this you will learn goodness, as if not you yourself had heard the reproaches and indignities, but some other person entirely, or a shadow of yourself.” (Lessons on a Life of Grace, p. 149) He who admits his sinfulness, who through experience knows the weakness of human nature and its inclination toward evil, will forgive his neighbor the more swiftly, dismissing transgressions and refraining from a haughty judgment of others’ sins. Let us remember that even the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman caught in adultery to Christ were forced to depart, when their conscience spoke out, accusing them of their own sins. (John 8. 9)”
Collect: Holy God, holy and mighty, who has called us together into one communion and fellowship: Open our eyes, we pray, as you opened the eyes of your servant Tikhon, that we may see the faithfulness of others as we strive to be steadfast in the faith delivered to us, that the world may see and know you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be glory and praise to the ages of ages. Amen.
8 April. William Augustus Muhlenberg, Priest (1796-1877) and Anne Ayers (1816-1896), Religious. William Augustus Muhlenberg was born in Philadelphia, into a prominent German Lutheran family, and was drawn to the Episcopal Church by its use of English. He deliberately chose to remain unmarried to free himself for a variety of ministries. He was deeply involved in the Sunday School movement, and was concerned that the church should minister to all social groups. Aware of the limitations of the hymnody of his time, he wrote hymns and compiled hymnals, thus widening the range of music in Episcopal churches. The use of music, flowers, and color, and the emphasis on the church year in worship became a potent influence. In 1846, he founded the Church of the Holy Communion in New York City. Again he was bold and innovative: free pews for everyone, a parish school, a parish unemployment fund, and trips to the country for poor city children. His conception of beauty in worship, vivid and symbolic, had at its heart the Holy Communion itself, celebrated every Sunday. Many of his principles are set forth in the Muhlenberg Memorial to General Convention in 1853.
Anne Ayres was born in London, England, and immigrated to New York in 1836. She began work as a tutor for the children of wealthy New Yorkers, but soon came under the influence of Muhlenberg. She took religious vows on November 1, 1845, and was the founder and First Sister of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, the first Anglican religious order for women in North America. The House of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church formally recognized the Sisterhood in 1852. The companionship in ministry between Muhlenberg and Ayres led to the founding of St. Luke’s Hospital in the City of New York, where Ayres and her sisters looked after most of the patient care and nursing. They also cooperated in establishing St. Johnland on the north shore of Long Island, an attempt to transplant families into an intentional Christian community far from the urban squalor of late nineteenth century New York City.
Excerpt from an “Address by the Rev. Dr. Muhlenberg at the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Church of the Holy Communion.” (Wednesday July 24th, 1844): “Here let there be a sanctuary of Jesus Christ consecrated especially to the great ordinance of his love. This will rebuke all the distinctions of pride and wealth, which the founder of the church designed should never be provided for here. As Christians dare not bring such distinctions to the table of the Lord – -there at least remembering their fellowship in Christ and their common level in redemption, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, kneeling around the sacred board; so let the name brotherhood prevail, let there be no differences of worldly rank, in the Church of the Holy Communion. With this ruling idea, let the church be supported by the offering at the Holy Communion, as churches once were, and will again be when the faithful shall understand that the contributions are really offerings to God! When the spirit of the Offertory is acted out, and almsgiving is regarded as a test and means of Communion with Christ; when the rich and poor man come together in the church; when those whom God hath blessed in their basket and store, have their poor neighbors whom their alms are to relieve kneeling at their side; and when Christians see the minister of God taking their gifts and on bended knees humbly laying them as an offering on the altar of the redeemer, they will not then be sparing of their bounty. It will not then be mere human pity that will make them generous; but a divine faith that to minister to the poor in Christ is to minister to Christ himself, will stir their hearts; and a holy shame save them from sending a scanty pittance to be offered as their alms and oblations on the altar of the Divine Majesty. As far as we live up to this idea, peace and love will prevail within these walls. For where would be the spirit of the Communion in strife and in discord and schism? From one source of contention at least, that of ecclesiastical politics, a church will be free, which will maintain its outward union with the Body at large, only through the union of the Pastor and the people with the Bishop; and so preserve its unity by adhering to the fellowship of the Apostles. Again our idea implies that here should be a house of unceasing Prayer. For what Holy Communion can there be without prayer, especially intercession; which as it is continually offered to the Father by the Beloved Son in behalf of his Church, so is it the constant voice of that Church, going up night and day — each part for the whole, and the whole for each part — the Everlasting Litany,–the patient cry from age to age, Thy kingdom come! Here then let the part be borne in this Catholic Communion of Prayer! Here let there be a house of God, not barred and silent at weekly intervals, but ever open to His worshippers and vocal with their prayers! “Day by day we worship Thee,” let here be said in the unceasing service from the year’s beginning to its end! And if the place be thus truly a house of prayer, may we not hope that it will still further realize its sacred designation, and become a Church in the constant celebration of the Holy Communion! Frequent sacraments require frequent prayers, and frequent prayer begets them. Let the congregation who in time to come may worship here, if they would elevate their Church to its highest honor, make it a Tabernacle of the Holy Eucharist — a Church in which the commemorative sacrifice of our Faith shall be offered continually, ever showing forth the Lords death until he come — where the devout stranger shall never come on a Holyday and find the Table without the Bread, the Altar without the sacrifice. If the congregation should aspire to this glory for their Church, let them aspire to be meet for it: let them abound in all other good works and use faithfully all other means of grace: let their Faith work by love; let them be given to prayer, to fasting, to self-denial, to labors for Christ’s sake. The frequent Communion will then, of course, be part of the life of faith, and communicants will find what they need for the strengthening and refreshing of their souls.”
Collect: God of justice and truth, do not let your Church close its eyes to the plight of the poor and neglected, the homeless and destitute, the old and the sick, the lonely and those who have none to care for them. Give us that vision and compassion with which you so richly endowed William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayers, that we may labor tirelessly to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
9 April. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theologian and Martyr, (1906-1945). Dietrich Bonhoeffer studied at the universities of Berlin and Tübingen. His doctoral thesis was published in 1930 as Sanctorum Communio. From the first days of the Nazi accession to power in 1933, Bonhoeffer was involved in protests against the regime. From 1933 to 1935 he was the pastor of two small congregations in London, but nonetheless was a leading spokesman for the Confessing Church, the center of Protestant resistance to the Nazis. In 1935 Bonhoeffer was appointed to organize and head a new seminary for the Confessing Church at Finkenwald. He described the community in Life Together and later wrote The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer became increasingly involved in the political struggle after 1939, when he was introduced to the group seeking Hitler’s overthrow. Bonhoeffer considered refuge in the United States, but he returned to Germany where he was able to continue his resistance. In May 1942 he flew to Sweden to meet Bishop Bell and convey through him to the British government proposals for a negotiated peace. The offer was rejected by the Allies who insisted upon unconditional surrender. Bonhoeffer was arrested April 5, 1943, and imprisoned in Berlin. After an attempt on Hitler’s life failed April 9, 1944, documents were discovered linking Bonhoeffer to the conspiracy. He was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, then to Schoenberg Prison. On Sunday, April 8, 1945, just as he concluded a service in a school building in Schoenberg, two men came in with the chilling summons, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer … come with us.” He said to another prisoner, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.” Bonhoeffer was hanged the next day, April 9, at Flossenburg Prison. There is in Bonhoeffer’s life a remarkable unity of faith, prayer, writing and action. The pacifist theologian came to accept the guilt of plotting the death of Hitler because he was convinced that not to do so would be a greater evil. Discipleship was to be had only at great cost.
Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship: “Suffering and rejection express in summary form the cross of Jesus. Death on the cross means to suffer and die as one rejected and cast out. It was by divine necessity that Jesus had to suffer and be rejected. Any attempt to hinder what is necessary is satanic. Even, or especially, if such an attempt comes from the circle of disciples, because it intends to prevent Christ from being Christ. The fact that it is Peter, the rock of the church, who makes himself guilty doing this just after he has confessed Jesus to be the Christ and has been commissioned by Christ, shows that from its very beginning the church has taken offense at the suffering Christ. It does not want that kind of Lord, and as Christ’s church it does not want to be forced to accept the law of suffering from its Lord. Peter’s objection is an aversion to submit himself to suffering. That is a way for Satan to enter the church. Satan is trying to pull the church away from the cross of its Lord. So Jesus has to make it clear and unmistakable to his disciples that the need to suffer now applies to them, too. Just as Christ is only Christ as one who suffers and is rejected, so a disciple is a disciple only in suffering and being rejected, thereby participating in crucifixion. Discipleship as allegiance to the person of Jesus Christ places the follower under the law of Christ, that is, under the cross.”
Collect: Gracious God, the Beyond in the midst of our life, you gave grace to your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer to know and to teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and to bear the cost of following him: Grant that we, strengthened by his teaching and example, may receive your word and embrace its call with an undivided heart; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
10 April. William Law, Priest (1686-1761). “If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day. If we are to live unto God at any time or in any place, we are to live unto him in all times and in all places. If we are to use anything as the gift of God, we are to use everything as his gift.” So wrote William Law in 1728 in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. This quiet schoolmaster of Putney, England, could hardly be considered a revolutionary, yet his book had near-revolutionary repercussions. His challenge to take Christian living very seriously received more enthusiastic response than he could ever have imagined, especially in the lives of Henry Venn, George Whitefield, and John Wesley, all of whom he strongly influenced. More than any other man, William Law laid the foundation for the religious revival of the eighteenth century, the Evangelical Movement in England, and the Great Awakening in America. Law came to typify the devout parson in the eyes of many. His life was characterized by simplicity, devotion, and works of charity. Because he was a Non-Juror, who refused to swear allegiance to the House of Hanover, he was deprived of the usual means of making a living as a clergyman in the Church of England. He therefore worked as a tutor to the father of Edward Gibbon, the historian, from 1727 to 1737. He organized schools and homes for the poor. He stoutly defended the Sacraments and Scriptures against attacks of the Deists. He spoke out eloquently against the warfare of his day. His richly inspired sermons and writings have gained him a permanent place in Christian literature.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life: “The religion or devotion which is to govern the ordinary actions of our life is to be found in almost every verse of Scripture. Our blessed Lord and his Apostles are wholly taken up in doctrines that relate to common life; they call us to renounce and differ in every part of our conduct from the spirit and way of the world; to be as new-born babes that are born in a new state of things; to live as pilgrims in spiritual watching, in holy fear and heavenly aspirings after another life; to take up our daily cross; to deny ourselves; to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit; to forsake the pride and vanity of riches; to live in the deepest humility; to rejoice in worldly sufferings; to reject the lusts of the flesh; to forbear injuries; to forgive and bless our enemies, and to love mankind as God loveth them; to give up our whole hearts and affections to God, and strive to enter through the straight gate into a life of eternal glory.”
Collect: O God, by whose grace your servant William Law, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
10 April. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Scientist and Military Chaplain, (1881-1955). Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a ground-breaking paleontologist and Christian mystic whose vision encompassed the evolution of all matter toward a final goal in which material and spiritual shall coincide and God shall be all in all. In 1899, Teilhard entered the Jesuit novitiate, moving to England in 1902 when French law nationalized the properties of religious orders. After taking a degree in literature in 1902, he went to Egypt to teach chemistry in the Jesuit College in Cairo. There he fell in love with the east. Teilhard moved back to England in 1908 and began to synthesize his already vast knowledge of evolution, philosophy and theology. He was ordained priest in 1911. Teilhard did research at the Natural History Museum in Paris, leading to the Sorbonne (University of Paris) where he completed his doctorate in paleontology. He went to China where, with other researchers, he made public the famous “Peking Man” hominid in 1926. Teilhard developed a vision of creation which held that evolution was the process by which matter inexorably arranges itself toward greater complexity until recognizable consciousness emerges. For Teilhard, this described a continuing process of human evolution that moves toward a new level of consciousness in which the universe will come to perfect unity and find itself one with God. God, then, is the highest point of pure consciousness, always “pulling” the evolutionary process towards its promised destiny, which he called the “Omega Point.” Teilhard struggled with the Roman Church that was suspicious of his seemingly radical and heterodox writings. He was forbidden to teach and had to defend himself against charges of heresy. Teilhard remained loyal. After his death, many came to recognize his vision as a deeply Christian one that sought to reconcile the Biblical vision of God’s final triumph over sin and disunity with the undeniable discoveries of evolutionary science. Shortly before he died, he prayed: “O God, if in my life I have not been wrong, allow me to die on Easter Sunday”. He died on April 10, 1955: Easter Sunday.
Excerpt from The Future of Man: “The great superiority over Primitive Man which we have acquired and which will be enhanced by our descendants in a degree perhaps undreamed-of by ourselves, is in the realm of self-knowledge: in our growing capacity to situate ourselves in space and time, to the point of becoming conscious of our place and responsibility in relation to the Universe. Surmounting in turn the illusions of terrestrial flatness, immobility and autocentricity, we have taken the unhopeful surface of the earth and “rolled it like a little ball; we have set it on a course among the stars; we have grasped the fact that it is no more than a grain of cosmic dust; and we have discovered that a process without limit has brought into being the realms of substance and essence. Our fathers supposed themselves to go back no further than yesterday, each man containing within himself the ultimate value of his existence. They held themselves to be confined within the limits of their years on earth and their corporeal frame. We have blown asunder this narrow compass and those beliefs. At once humbled and ennobled by our discoveries, we are gradually coming to see ourselves as a part of vast and continuing processes; as though awakening from a dream, we are beginning to realize that our nobility consists in serving, like intelligent atoms, the work proceeding in the Universe. We have discovered that there is a Whole, of which we are the elements. We have found the world in our own souls.”
Collect: Eternal God, the whole cosmos sings of your glory, from the dividing of a single cell to the vast expanse of interstellar space: We bless you for your theologian and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who perceived the divine in the evolving creation. Enable us to become faithful stewards of your divine works and heirs of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
11 April. George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand, and of Lichfield, (1809-1878). George Augustus Selwyn was born at Hampstead, London. He was prepared at Eton, and in 1831 was graduated from St. John’s College, Cambridge, of which he became a Fellow. Ordained in 1833, Selwyn served as a curate at Windsor until his selection as first Bishop of New Zealand in 1841. On the voyage to his new field, he mastered the Maori language and was able to preach in it upon his arrival. In the tragic ten-year war between the English and the Maoris, Selwyn was able to minister to both sides, and to keep the affection and admiration of both natives and colonists. He began missionary work in the Pacific islands in 1847. Selwyn’s first general synod in 1859 laid down a constitution, influenced by that of the American Church, which was important for all English colonial Churches. After the first Lambeth Conference in 1867, Selwyn was reluctantly persuaded to accept the See of Lichfield in England. He died on April 11, 1878, and his grave in the cathedral close has been a place of pilgrimage for the Maoris to whom he first brought the light of the Gospel. Bishop Selwyn twice visited the Church in America, and was the preacher at the 1874 General Convention.
Extract from a letter from the Bishop of New Zealand (The Times of December 10, 1849): ”To pass on to the higher and more important branches of your plan: the provision for education and religion. The example of the China bishopric is a warning how long good plans may be delayed if you wait till the Endowment Fund be complete. The American system seems to be the best. Have a bishop, at all events. It is not at all certain that you will get a better man for 1000/ than for 100/ a-year. Such matters are no question of money. Let him get his money as he can for a time — whether as warden of the college or as a parish priest — till the growth of endowments and the increase of duties lead naturally to a subdivision of labor. A colonial bishop in a new colony cannot at first be fully occupied with the duties of his office. If he confines himself to them, he may grow an idle man, without knowing why. But in the practical working, as well as superintending institutions not strictly within his own duties, he will find the means of keeping up that habitual energy which his own office will require before many years are past. If you can find a bishop of all work, he ought to be the first clergyman to land in New Zealand. Your plan would seem to infer the necessity of the bishop being the Ω of the clerical body. I hope that you will find it possible to make him the Α. The same principle applies to the college. Begin it at once — if you can find a man who can reflect what Oxford was when Alfred’s students read almost illegible MSS. by the light of paper lanterns. We are still far from Tennyson’s perpetual afternoon of literature, dreamy, armchairy, dressing-gowny. The academic life of a colony is to work when you must, and to read when you can. It is a practical example of Horace’s wager with his bailiff, which could do most in clearing land or extirpating error. Every year that you delay the beginning, it will become more difficult to begin at all. A full-grown college cannot be exported at once, for if you cannot expect to bring forth at once Minerva’s body, much less her wisdom. Mark out a good extent of land, and put up a wooden building; people are very tolerant, and will call it ‘The College;’ and why should they not, when even an infirmary for sick horses may enjoy that name? By degrees the plan would be developed under active and judicious management; teachers and pupils will flow in; subscriptions and legacies will increase; and the only fear will be, that the corporate body will become too rich, and that wealth will lead to luxury, and luxury to laziness, and laziness to contempt. Beyond the first striking a key-note, I would advise you to hurry nothing. Send out a few very fit men, and wait patiently until you can obtain others. The mere name of a college, with a good but insufficient body, is far better than a full staff of incapables. In the former case, every kind of right principle may be established from the first, and gradually developed in practice as assistance is obtained; but in the latter, when good men are found at length, they will have to work up against a host of evil habits and false principles, which will have been bequeathed to them by their predecessors. The public will have formed their own idea of a collegiate institution from the corrupt model which they have seen in operation, and will look upon its errors with that kind of prescriptive dotage with which college cherishes its privilege of ignorance. The new comers, like the Dauphin’s fresh oysters, will be better in reality, but they will be less relished than the stale.”
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant George Augustus Selwyn, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of New Zealand and Melanesia, and to lay a firm foundation for the growth of your Church in many nations. 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.
12 April. Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burma, (1788-1850). Adoniram Judson is remembered as the first American missionary to devote his life and work to proclaiming the Gospel in a distant land. He served as an American Baptist missionary to Burma, presently Myanmar, for nearly forty years. Born into a devout Congregationalist family in Massachusetts, Judson demonstrated an unusual intellectual ability from an early age. A voracious reader and excellent student, he graduated first in his class at the College of Rhode Island, now Brown University, and further studied at Andover Theological School. Early on he was drawn toward preparing for missionary work. Judson discovered a particular gift for languages that served him well throughout his missionary endeavors. In 1811, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions appointed Judson a missionary to the east. Early in 1812, he married his beloved Ann, and together they set sail, stopping first in India before proceeding to Burma. Upon arrival in 1813, they immersed themselves in three years of intensive study of the Burmese language. Burma was a difficult context for mission work. It was some years before the first convert to Christianity and by the early 1820’s, only a modest handful of people—about a dozen—claimed the Christian faith. It was during this time that Judson began his monumental work of translating the Bible into Burmese and creating a Burmese grammar book that remains a standard reference work. During the first war between Britain and Burma in the mid-1820’s, Judson was imprisoned and tortured, and his wife, Ann, though not imprisoned, suffered the indignities of being a Christian woman living under a decidedly anti-Christian regime. It was only after the war and Judson’s imprisonment that the evangelical witness among the Burmese began to take hold. Judson’s desire to call forth a hundred converts soon bore fruit in more than a hundred congregations and thousands of converts. On Judson’s shoulders a new generation of missionaries and local pastors led unbelievers to the gospel in record numbers and Burma became a stronghold of Christian witness in the east.
Adoniram Judson’s “Rules of Holy Living”:
- Be diligent in secret prayer, every morning and evening.
- Never spend a moment in mere idleness.
- Restrain natural appetites within the bounds of temperance and purity. “Keep thyself pure.”
- Suppress every emotion of anger and ill will.
- Undertake nothing from motives of ambition, or love of fame.
- Never do that which, at the moment, appears to be displeasing to God.
- Seek opportunities of making some sacrifice for the good of others, especially of believers, provided the sacrifice is not inconsistent with some duty.
- Endeavor to rejoice in every loss and suffering incurred for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s, remembering that though, like death, they are not to be willfully incurred, yet, like death, they are great gain.“
Collect: Eternal God, we thank you for the ministry of Adoniram Judson, who out of love for you and your people translated the Scriptures into Burmese. Move us, inspired by his example, to support the presentation of your Good News in every language, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
14 April. Edward Thomas Demby (1869-1957) and Henry Beard Delany, Bishops, (1858-1928). Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, two of the first African-American bishops in the Episcopal Church, were instrumental in the struggle of minorities to take their place in the highest positions of leadership in a church often hostile to their presence. Born in Delaware, Edward Demby attended Howard University and became an Episcopalian while serving as the Dean of Students at Paul Quinn College in Texas. Bishop John Spalding recognized Demby’s gifts for ministry and sent him to work in the Diocese of Tennessee. Ordained a deacon in 1898 and a priest the next year, he served parishes in Illinois, Missouri, and Florida. In 1907, he returned to Tennessee as rector of Emmanuel Church in Memphis. He was also appointed as the Archdeacon for Colored Work, with responsibilities for the segregated “colored convocations” in the South. While serving as Archdeacon, Demby was elected Bishop Suffragan for Colored Work in the Diocese of Arkansas and the Province of the Southwest. A major contributor to the westward expansion of the Episcopal Church, Demby drew African Americans into the church through his work with black hospitals, schools, and orphanages. Despite the difficulties he encountered among the white leadership in the South, Demby worked his whole life toward the full recognition of African Americans in the Episcopal Church. Henry Beard Delany was ordained to the episcopate the same year as Edward Demby. Born a slave in St. Mary’s, Georgia, Delany also served as Archdeacon for Colored Work, working in the Diocese of North Carolina. He was called to be Bishop Suffragan for Colored Work in the Diocese of North Carolina, but his ministry extended into the dioceses of East and Western North Carolina, South Carolina, and Upper South Carolina. Delany was a strong advocate for the integration of African American Episcopalians into the wider church despite the Jim Crow laws of the day and the efforts of many leaders of the white majority in the church who viewed the presence of men like Demby and Delany as threats to their power and authority.
Collect: Loving God, we thank you for the ministries of Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, bishops of your Church who, though limited by segregation, served faithfully to your honor and glory. Assist us, we pray, to break through the limitations of our own time, that we may minister in obedience to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
15 April. Damien, Priest and Leper, (1840-1889) and Marianne of Molokai, Religious, (1838-1918). Joseph de Veuster was born in 1840 in Belgium, the son of a farmer. At the age of 18, he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He made his first vows in 1859 and took the name Damien, after the ancient physician and martyr. When his older brother became ill and was unable to join the mission endeavor in Hawaii, Damien volunteered to take his place. As Father Damien began his ministry in Hawaii, leprosy was spreading rapidly throughout the Islands. In 1863, King Kamehameha V ordered those with leprosy to be sent to Kalaupapa, an isolated peninsula on the northern coast of Molokai. There, on the side of the peninsula known as Kalawao, those afflicted by the disease were left with no aid. Damien was among the first priests to arrive in Kalawao, and he remained there for the rest of his life, building houses, an orphanage, a church, and a hospital. He ate with those he served, worshipped with them, and invited them into his home. He eventually contracted leprosy, later known as Hansen’s disease, and died in 1889. Like Father Damien, Marianne Cope aspired to the religious vocation at an early age. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York, in 1862, and in 1870 she began work as a nurse administrator at St. Joseph’s hospital in Syracuse, where she was criticized for accepting alcoholics and other undesirable patients. In 1883, she received a letter from a priest in Hawaii asking for help managing the hospitals and ministry to leprosy patients. She arrived in Honolulu in 1883 and immediately took over supervision of the Kaka’ako Branch Hospital, which served as a receiving center for leprosy patients from all over the islands. She also opened a care center for the healthy children of leprosy victims. In 1884, she met Father Damien, and in 1886, she alone ministered to him when his illness made him unwelcome among church and government leaders. She continued her work with hospitals and sufferers of Hansen’s disease until her death in 1918.
Excerpt from a letter written by Damien in 1885 to the superior of his order: “”I am a leper. Blessed be the good God. I only ask one favor of you. Send someone to this tomb to be my confessor. … I have been decorated by the royal Cross of Kalakaua and now the heavier and less honorable cross of leprosy. Our Lord has willed that I be stigmatized with it … I am still up and taking care of myself a little. I will keep on working.”
Collect: God of compassion, we bless your Name for the ministries of Damien and Marianne, who ministered to the lepers abandoned on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands. Help us, following their examples, to be bold and loving in confronting the incurable plagues of our time, that your people may live in health and hope; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
16 April. Mary (Molly) Brant (Konwatsijayenni), Witness to the Faith among the Mohawks, (1736-1796). Mary, or Molly Brant, known among the Mohawks as Konwatsijayenni, was an important presence among the Iroquois Confederacy during the time of the American Revolution. Baptized and raised as an Anglican due to the British presence in her tribal area, she spoke and wrote in English, and she sought to keep the Mohawks, as well as the other tribes of the Iroquois Nation, loyal to the British government during the Revolution. Born to Peter Tehonwaghkwangeraghkwa and his wife Margaret, she moved west to Ohio with her family and lived there until her father’s death. She and her brother Joseph took the name of their stepfather, Brant Kanagaradunkwa, who married their mother in 1753. Her stepfather was a friend of Sir William Johnson, the British Superintendent for North Indian Affairs. Mary met Sir William in 1759, and though they could not legally marry, she became his common law wife, and together they had nine children. She exerted influence among both the British and the Mohawks, and her voice was often sought among tribal councils and in treaty efforts. Following her husband’s death, the Oneidas and the Americans, in retaliation for her loyalty to the British and to the Anglican Church, destroyed her home. She and her children fled and were protected by the principal chief of the Five Nations, whose leaders respected her word and counsel. In 1783, she moved to Kingston, Ontario, where the British Government rewarded her for her loyalty. A lifelong Anglican, she helped found St. George’s Anglican Church in Kingston. At her death her tribesmen as well as the British with whom she had worked mourned her.
Collect: Maker and lover of all creation, you endued Molly Brant with the gifts of justice and loyalty, and made her a wise and prudent clan mother in the household of the Mohawk nation: Draw us also toward the goal of our faith, that we may at last attain the full dignity of our nature in our true native land, where with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
19 April. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, (954-1012). Alphege (or Aelfheah) gave his witness in the troubled time of the second wave of Scandinavian invasion and settlement in England. After serving as a monk at Deerhurst, and then as Abbot of Bath, he became in 984, through Archbishop Dunstan’s influence, Bishop of Winchester. He was instrumental in bringing the Norse King Olaf Tryggvason, only recently baptized, to King Aethelred in 994 to make his peace and to be confirmed at Andover. Transferred to Canterbury in 1005, Alphege was captured by the Danes in 1011. He refused to allow a personal ransom to be collected from his already over-burdened people. Seven months later he was brutally murdered, despite the Viking commander Thorkell’s effort to save him by offering all his possessions except his ship for the Archbishop’s life. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates that the Danes were “much stirred against the Bishop, because he would not promise them any fee, and forbade that any man should give anything for him. They were also much drunken … and took the Bishop, and led him to their assembly, on the eve of the Saturday after Easter … and then they shamefully killed him. They overwhelmed him with bones and horns of oxen; and one of them smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow. And his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his sacred soul was sent to the realm of God.”
Collect: O loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
21 April. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, (1033-1109). Anselm was born in Italy and took monastic vows in 1060 at the Abbey of Bec in Normandy. He succeeded his teacher Lanfranc as Prior of Bec in 1063, and as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His episcopate was stormy, in continual conflict with the crown over the rights and freedom of the Church. His greatest talent lay in theology and spiritual direction. As a pioneer in the scholastic method, Anselm remains the great exponent of the so-called “ontological argument” for the existence of God: God is “that than which nothing greater can be thought.” Even the fool, who (in Psalm 14) says in his heart “There is no God,” must have an idea of God in his mind, the concept of an unconditional being than which nothing greater can be conceived; otherwise he would not be able to speak of “God” at all. And hence this something, “God,” must exist outside the mind as well; because, if he did not, he would not in fact be that than which nothing greater can be thought. Since the greatest thing that can be thought must have existence as one of its properties, Anselm asserts, “God” can be said to exist in reality as well as in the intellect, but is not dependent upon the material world for verification. To some, this “ontological argument” has seemed mere deductive rationalism; to others it has the merit of showing that faith in God need not be contrary to human reason. Anselm is also the most famous exponent of the “satisfaction theory” of the atonement. Anselm explains the work of Christ in terms of the feudal society of his day. If a vassal breaks his bond, he has to atone for this to his lord; likewise, sin violates a person’s bond with God, the supreme Lord, and atonement or satisfaction must be made. Of ourselves, we are unable to make such atonement, because God is perfect and we are not. Therefore, God himself has saved us, becoming perfect man in Christ, so that a perfect life could be offered in satisfaction for sin. Undergirding Anselm’s theology is a profound and traditional piety. He emphasizes the attitude of loving reverence which must be cultivated towards the Lord and exacts a high standard of obedience: it must be thorough, true, and really interior – a total offering of self. The reward for such austerity will be a feeling of inward peace and security, of confidence and love. One is conscious in Anselm’s writing of his confidence in reason. It disappoints him finally in his longing to love God, yet it is a help to the spiritual man in him, turning him to fervent prayer. In Anselm there is the struggle of the conflict between love and the intellect’s search: the austere asceticism of the thinker always hungry for knowledge and always unsatisfied.
An excerpt from chapters 121-122 of Anselm’s Proslogion. “O God, let me know you and love you, so that I may find my joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love, and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth, let me learn to know you better, so that in heaven I may know you fully; let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I may love you fully. On earth then I shall have great joy in hope, and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope. Meanwhile, let this hope of mine be in my thoughts and on my tongue; let my heart be filled with it, my voice speak of it, my whole being yearn for it, until I enter the joy of the Lord, who is Three in One, blessed for ever. Amen.”
Collect: Almighty God, you raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
22 April. John Muir, Environmentalist, Naturalist and Writer (1838-1914) and Hudson Stuck, Priest and Environmentalist, (1863-1920). Born in Scotland, John Muir immigrated to the United States in 1849, settling in Wisconsin. Muir sought the spiritual freedom of the natural world. As a college student Muir studied botany, of which he later said, “This fine lesson charmed me and sent me flying to the woods and meadows with wild enthusiasm.” In 1868, Muir arrived in Yosemite Valley, California, which he called “the grandest of all the special temples of nature.” During a hiking trip through the Sierras, Muir developed theories about the development and ecosystem of the areas. Some years later, Muir took up the cause of preservation, eventually co-founding the Sierra Club, an association of environmental preservationists. Muir, an ardent believer in the national parks as “places of rest, inspiration, and prayers,” adamantly opposed the free exploitation of natural resources for commercial use. This position put him at odds with conservationists who saw natural forests as sources of timber and who wanted to conserve them for that reason. Muir was influential in convincing President Theodore Roosevelt that federal management and control were necessary to insure the preservation of the national forests. Today, he is revered as an inspiration for preservationists and his life’s work stands as a powerful testament to the majesty and beauty of God’s creation. Hudson Stuck was an Episcopal priest and explorer. Born in England, he came to the United States in 1885. He graduated from The University of the South in 1892. From 1894 to 1904, Stuck was Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas, Texas. In 1905 he moved to Fort Yukon, Alaska, where he spent the rest of his life, serving as archdeacon of the Diocese of Alaska. With a group of fellow explorers, Stuck was the first to completely ascend Denali (Mt. McKinley). He later wrote of the experience as a “privileged communion” to be received in awe and wonder. Upon reaching the pinnacle of Denali, Stuck led the climbers in prayer and thanksgiving. Archdeacon Stuck died in 1920.
Excerpt from John Muir’s A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf: “The world, we are told, was made especially for man – a presumption not supported by all the facts. A numerous class of men are painfully astonished whenever they find anything, living or dead, in all God’s universe, which they cannot eat or render in some way what they call useful to themselves. They have precise dogmatic insight into the intentions of the Creator, and it is hardly possible to be guilty of irreverence in speaking of their God any more than of heathen idols. He is regarded as a civilized, law-abiding gentlemen in favor either of a republican form of government or of a limited monarchy; believes in the literature and language of England; is a warm supporter of the English constitution and Sunday schools and missionary societies; and is as purely a manufactured article as any puppet at a half- penny theater. With such views of the Creator it is, of course, not surprising that erroneous views should be entertained of the creation. To such properly trimmed people, the sheep, for example, is an easy problem – food and clothing “for us,” eating grass and daisies white by divine appointment for this predestined purpose, on perceiving the demand for wool that would be occasioned by the eating of the apple in the Garden of Eden. In the same pleasant plan, whales are storehouses of oil for us, to help out the stars in lighting our dark ways until the discovery of the Pennsylvania oil wells. Among plants, hemp, to say nothing of the cereals, is a case of evident destination for ships’ rigging, wrapping packages, and hanging the wicked. Cotton is another plain case of clothing. Iron was made for hammers and ploughs, and lead for bullets; all intended for us. And so of other small handfuls of insignificant things. But if we should ask these profound expositors of God’s intentions, How about those man-eating animals – lions, tigers, alligators – which smack their lips over raw man? Or about those myriads of noxious insects that destroy labor and drink his blood? Doubtless man was intended for food and drink for all these? Oh no! Not at all! These are unresolvable difficulties connected with Eden’s apple and the Devil. Why does water drown its lord? Why do so many minerals poison him? Why are so many plants and fishes deadly enemies? Why is the lord of creation subjected to the same laws of life as his subjects? Oh, all these things are satanic, or in some way connected with the first garden. Now, it never seems to occur to these far- seeing teachers that Nature’s object in making animals and plants might possibly be first of all the happiness of each one of them, not the creation of all for the happiness of one. Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation? And what creature of all that the Lord has taken the pains to make is not essential to the completeness of that unit – the cosmos? The universe would be incomplete without man; but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge. From the dust of the earth, from the common elementary fund, the Creator has made Homo sapiens. From the same material he has made every other creature, however noxious and insignificant to us. They are earth-born companions and our fellow mortals. The fearfully good, the orthodox, of this laborious patch-work of modern civilization cry ‘Heresy’ on every one whose sympathies reach a single hair’s breadth beyond the boundary epidermis of our own species. Not content with taking all of earth, they also claim the celestial country as the only ones who possess the kind of souls for which that imponderable empire was planned. This star, our own good earth, made many a successful journey around the heavens ere man was made, and whole kingdoms of creatures enjoyed existence and returned to dust ere man appeared to claim them. After human beings have also played their part in Creation’s plan, they too may disappear without any general burning or extraordinary commotion whatever. Plants are credited with but dim and uncertain sensation, and minerals with positively none at all. But why may not even a mineral arrangement of matter be endowed with sensation of a kind that we in our blind exclusive perfection can have no manner of communication with? But I have wandered from my subject. I stated a page or two back that man claimed the earth was made for him and I was going to say that venomous beasts, thorny plants, and deadly diseases of certain parts of the earth prove that the whole world was not made for him. When an animal from a tropical climate is taken to high latitudes, it may perish of cold, and we say that such an animal was never intended for so severe a climate. But when man betakes himself to sickly parts of the tropics and perishes, he cannot see that he was never intended for such deadly climates. No, he will rather accuse the first mother of the cause of the difficulty, though she may never have seen a fever district; or will consider it a providential chastisement for some self-invented form of sin. Furthermore, all uneatable and uncivilized animals, and all plants which carry prickles, are deplorable evils which, according to closes researches of clergy, require the cleansing chemistry of universal planetary combustion. But more than aught else mankind requires burning, as being in great part wicked, and if that transmundane furnace can be so applied and regulated as to smelt and purify us into conformity with the rest of the terrestrial creation, then the tophetization of the erratic genius Homo were a consummation devoutly to be prayed for. But, glad to leave these ecclesiastical fires and blunders, I joyfully return to the immortal truth and immortal beauty of Nature.”
Collect: Blessed Creator of the earth and all that inhabits it: We thank you for your prophets John Muir and Hudson Stuck, who rejoiced in your beauty made known in the natural world; and we pray that, inspired by their love of your creation, we may be wise and faithful stewards of the world you have created, that generations to come may also lie down to rest among the pines and rise refreshed for their work; in the Name of the one through whom you make all things new, Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
23 April. George, Soldier and Martyr, c. 304. George is the patron saint of England by declaration of King Edward II in 1347. He is remembered as a martyr, having given his life in witness to the gospel during the persecution of the church in the early fourth century. Very few details of his life have survived and his story is replete with legend. By the middle of the fifth century he was commemorated in local calendars and historical records of the period. George was a soldier by vocation, serving as an officer in the Roman army. It is said that he “gave his goods to the poor, and openly confessed Christianity before the court.” George’s initial notoriety may well have resulted from his faithfulness and witness to Christ during the Diocletian persecutions, 303-304, a particularly destructive period through which the church suffered. Much of the legend of George dates back only to the eighth century, and more of it developed in the centuries that followed. The infamous story of George slaying the dragon, probably developed from Greek mythology, is not associated with him until the twelfth century. The inclusion of George’s story in the thirteenth century manuscript, The Golden Legend, accounts for his growing popularity in the Middle Ages. In the twelfth century George was recognized as the patron saint of soldiers and he was called upon in support of those who would fight in the Crusades. The shield under which his soldiers fought became a symbol of national pride for the English and in time was adapted into the national flag. Interestingly, the “St. George’s Shield”—white shield emblazoned with a red cross—is the basis of the Episcopal Church flag and seal.
Sequence from the Sarum Missal:
“With many voiced modulations let us now sing for the feast of George,
Rendering to the Lord with voices of all kinds the songs we owe him,
Who is in his saints more than wonderful.
who furnisheth and wonderfully adorneth them
with the flower of manifold virtues.
For in them, as if in some musical instruments,
the Faith playeth with its finger, the Faith sonorous in virtues.
It goeth through the great number of them, one by one,
and joineth the individuals to the perfect harmony in honey-flowing melody.
This is caused by that mother of virtues [Faith],
who rendereth the other, fittingly arranged, as a sweet harmony.
Without her everything
and also frivolous.
With her everything
and also useful.
Through her the just, those of good nature,
Those who in the right way
Strive for the stars of heaven,
Sing with passion new canticles
With the cithara of the Thracian [Orpheus].”
Collect: Almighty God, you commissioned your holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
23 April. Toyohiko Kagawa, Prophetic Witness in Japan, (1888-1960). The Japanese evangelist, advocate of social change, and pacifist, Toyohiko Kagawa, was a major twentieth century religious figure often compared to Mahatma Gandhi. Kagawa was the son of a wealthy Kobe Buddhist business entrepreneur-politician and his concubine, both of whom died when Kagawa was four years old. The youth was raised by Presbyterian missionaries and had a conversion experience at age fifteen. “O God, make me like Christ” he prayed repeatedly. Kagawa studied at theological seminaries in Japan and at Princeton University and Princeton Seminary, but was increasingly drawn to an evangelism of social reform, seeking to apply Christ’s teachings directly to Japan’s poor in a theologically uncomplicated way. He lived for much of the 1910 – 1924 period in a six foot square windowless shed in Kobe’s slums. A skilled organizer, he helped found trade unions and credit unions among dock workers, factory laborers, and subsistence farmers. Trade unions were forbidden at the time, and Kagawa was twice imprisoned. He was also a pacifist and organized the National Anti-War League in 1928. Kagawa was arrested in 1940 for publicly apologizing to the people of China for Japan’s invasion of that country. An advocate for universal male suffrage (granted in 1925), he later became a voice for women’s right to vote as well. A prolific author, his autobiographical novel, Crossing the Death Line (1920) became a best seller, and many of his other novels and writings in a Christian Socialist vein were translated into English. He used the revenues from his substantial book sales to fund his extensive slum work. Although Kagawa was under police surveillance much of his life, the Japanese government called on him to organize the rebuilding of Tokyo after a 1923 earthquake and again at the end of World War II to serve as head of the country’s social welfare programs. Although some knew him best as a social reformer and pacifist, Kagawa saw himself first of all an evangelist. “Christ alone can make all things new,” he said. “The spirit of Christ must be the soul of all real social reconstruction.”
Excerpt from Toyohiko Kagawa’s Love, the Law of Life: ”Conscience is the sword point of evolution. Thus, where men can believe that by their own strength the world can become just a bit better, there evolutionary history begins to be made. After evolution is thus inwardly accepted, it receives outer certification. The ancients knew nothing of objective natural history, but they knew the story of conscience emergent within the ego. The history of conscience has been recorded most solemnly by the Hebrew people, and this history is today transmitted to us in the Bible. From within the cosmos come bursting the buds of goodness and conscience. Such is the teaching of the chronicles of the Bible. Wherefore, the folk of old, who knew nothing of evolution, escaped pessimism because they believed in the forces of goodness and conscience working within the individual. They were evolutionists without knowing evolutionary doctrine. In a word, ‘God’ signifies this power of evolution operating through conscience. Conscience and God are not to be confused; conscience is relative, while the power of evolution is absolute, operating through, both the objective and the subjective. Belief in the power of evolution is uniquely experienced in the conscience function, which has the capacity for consciously knowing the good; for conscience is a function, not a force. God is power. God is absolute. Conscience is simply the individual’s equipment functioning. Through the operation of conscience man is first able to approach the reality of free self-existence. That is, conscience is the sole process for leading man to God. In conscience alone God is perfectly revealed. Summing up, then, the sole Power which can bring man closer to the realm of free self-existence is thought of as God. Other forces set up as deities are valueless. In man it is conscience alone that draws him toward self-existence. Wherefore, it is right that in conscience God be adored.”
Collect: We bless your Name, O God, for the witness of Toyohiko Kagawa, reformer and teacher, who was persecuted for his pacifist principles and went on to lead a movement for democracy in Japan; and we pray that you would strengthen and protect all who suffer for their fidelity to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
24 April. Genocide Remembrance. This day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide: the systematic and intentional destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people. This day is chosen for the commemoration because the international community recognizes April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people during and just after World War I. On April 24, 1915, more than 250 Armenian notables—civic and political leaders, teachers, writers, and members of the clergy—were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Before the cessation of conflict, it is estimated that as many as one-and-a-half million Armenians perished, many as the result of forced marches, deliberate starvation, and heinous massacres. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Armenian Genocide to be the greatest crime of World War I. The close relationships between Anglicans and Episcopalians and our sisters and brothers in the Armenian Church make the remembrance of this day a particular sign of our fellowship in the body of Christ. Tragically, human history is littered with such atrocities and the Armenian Genocide was far from the last such mass extermination of people in the twentieth century. One need only mention Croatia, Nazi Germany, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Kurdish Iraq, and Tibet, and this is by no means a comprehensive list. The unflinching resolve of people of faith, in prayer and in action, is critical if the travesty of human genocide is to be curbed and eventually stopped.
Collect: Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
25 April. Saint Mark the Evangelist. A disciple of Jesus, named Mark, appears in several places in the New Testament. If all references to Mark can be accepted as referring to the same person, we learn that he was the son of a woman who owned a house in Jerusalem, perhaps the same house in which Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples. Mark may have been the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul refers to “Mark the cousin of Barnabas,” who was with him in his imprisonment. Mark set out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but he turned back for reasons which failed to satisfy Paul (Acts 15:36–40). When another journey was planned, Paul refused to have Mark with him. Instead, Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus. The breach between Paul and Mark was later healed, and Mark became one of Paul’s companions in Rome, as well as a close friend of Peter’s. An early tradition recorded by Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor at the beginning of the second century, names Mark as the author of the Gospel bearing his name. This tradition, which holds that Mark drew his information from the teaching of Peter, is generally accepted. In his First Letter, Peter refers to “my son Mark,” which shows a close relationship between the two men (1 Peter 5:13). The Church of Alexandria in Egypt claimed Mark as its first bishop and most illustrious martyr, and the great Church of St. Mark in Venice commemorates the disciple who progressed from turning back while on a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas to proclaiming in his Gospel Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God, and bearing witness to that faith in his later life as friend and companion to the apostles Peter and Paul.
An excerpt from Book 1, Chapter 10, of Against Heresies, by St. Irenaeus: “The Church, which has spread everywhere, even to the ends of the earth, received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. By faith, we believe in one God, the almighty Father who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became man for out salvation. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets foretold God’s plan: the coming of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, his birth from the Virgin, his passion, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven, and his final coming from heaven in the glory of his Father, to recapitulate all things and to raise all men from the dead, so that, by a decree of his invisible Father, he may make a just judgment in all things and so that every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth to Jesus Christ our Lord and our God, our Savior and our King, an every tongue confess him. The Church, spread throughout the whole world, received this preaching and this faith and now preserves it carefully, dwelling as it were in one house. Having one soul and one heart, the Church holds this faith, preaches and teaches it consistently as though by a single voice. For though there are different languages, there is but one tradition. The faith and the tradition of the churches founded in Germany are no different from those founded among the Spanish and the Celts, in the East, in Egypt, in Libya and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world. Just as God’s creature, the sun, is one and the same the world over; so also does the Church’s preaching shine everywhere to enlighten all men who want to come to a knowledge of the truth. Now of those who speak with authority in the churches, no preacher however forceful will utter anything different — for no one is above the Master — nor will a less forceful preacher diminish what has been handed down. Since our faith is everything the same, no one who can say more augments it, nor can anyone who says less diminish it.”
Sequence from the Sarum Missal:
“Praise from a pious mind
With the choir singing together
And glory be to Christ,
Who marked the Evangelists,
The teachers of the truth,
Out with grace.
Each of them, following his habit,
Giveth light from his shine
Through the regions of the earth,
When he elected these,
Through whom he then subjected,
Heresies and divisions.
These twice two fonts,
Watered through a stream.
The valleys and mountains,
Going out from paradise
They illustrate the world
With an undivided word.
The divine vision
With twice two living beings,
Which were seen by some
Although different in shape,
Equal in movement,
Decorated with feathers,
Lifted up from earth,
Moving with wheels.
With shining face,
Full of Eyes
The messengers of God’s word.
In them can be understood
The four rings
Through which the Ark [of Covenant] is carried.
Their healthy doctrine
Is sowed everywhere
By the Samaritan
[In John 8:42 the Jews call Christ
As if with such a cart
Came the woman from the South [Saba]
In such a Quadriga
The Lamb is the coachman
That died for us.
In these twice two
Christ, who completeth everything
Is the head and the end.
Through their witness
Through their instruction
The Church standeth in flower.
Through their prayer
May Christ’s grace deliver
From accusation leading to death.
Through their teaching,
May divine power
Lead us to heaven.”
Collect: Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
26 April. Robert Hunt, Priest and First Chaplain at Jamestown, (1568-1607). Robert Hunt was born in England. He was a parish priest in Reculver, Kent, beginning in 1594, and in 1604 became vicar of Heathfield Parish in the Diocese of Chichester. In 1607, Hunt accompanied Captain John Smith and the Jamestown colonists, serving as their priest and chaplain. The first celebration of the Holy Eucharist recorded in what would be the British Colonies took place on May 24, 1607, and Hunt is believed to have presided. Captain Smith’s diary notes another celebration of the Holy Eucharist on June 21, 1607, and Hunt is more clearly indicated as the presiding priest. In Captain Smith’s journal, the following tribute to Robert Hunt and his ministry may be found: “He was an honest, religious and courageous divine. He preferred the service of God in so good a voyage to every thought of ease at home. He endured every privation, yet none ever heard him repine. During his life our factions were oft healed and our great extremities so comforted that they seemed easy in comparison with what we endured after his memorable death. We all received from him the Holy Communion as a pledge of reconciliation for we all loved him for his exceeding goodness.” Hunt died sometime prior to April 10, 1608. A memorial has been erected by the National Park Service in Historic Jamestown.
Collect: Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and witness of Robert Hunt, first chaplain to the Jamestown colony, whose community knew him as an honest, religious and courageous divine who, in his short life, endured great hardships without complaint. Help us, like him, to work for reconciliation and healing wherever we may be placed; through Jesus Christ your Son, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
27 April. Christina Rossetti, Poet, (1830-1884). Christina Rosetti, among the more important poets of the nineteenth century, was born to a professor and his devout, evangelical wife. Her eldest sister, Maria, entered an Anglican convent and her poet-painter brother, Dante, was a leading figure in the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the nineteenth century. She suffered from poor health most of her life, being diagnosed variously with tuberculosis or angina and led a retiring, somewhat cloistered life. In spite of this she produced an enormous quantity of verse and was in lively and ongoing conversation with members of Dante’s “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.” She died of cancer in 1884. Mid-nineteenth century England, during the Industrial Revolution and the establishment of the British Empire, experienced enormous political and cultural change and social displacement. The old, agrarian society was being swept away by the movement to cities and the creation of a new middle class. Many people, even those who had greatly benefitted from these changes, were revolted by the ugliness and misery that attended urban slums and abandoned rural areas alike. One response was a nostalgic attempt to recover England’s mythic and legendary past. This produced a rather romantic interest in the Mediaeval. “Gothic,” originally a derogatory term meaning rude or barbaric, became both a term of approval and a style of architecture and decoration that swept the country. The Tractarian or Oxford Movement shared these concerns and protested against modernity by seeking a recovery of much of the doctrine and sacramental practice of the Mediaeval Church. Tractarian emphasis on the sacramental taught that the ordinary things of nature: water, oil, bread and wine were the means of God’s grace and indeed God’s presence. They also taught that a life of personal holiness dedicated to the service of others is the road to union with Christ. Unlike some of the Pre-Raphaelites with whom she was in relationship, Rosetti embraced Christian faith and practice. Over five hundred of her poems were devotional. They were related to the liturgy, to the feasts and fasts of the liturgical year, and to biblical “dialogues” with Christ. This is her poem, “The Lowest Place.”
Give me the lowest place: not that I dare
Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share
Thy glory by Thy side.
Give me the lowest Place: of if for me
That lowest place too high, make one more low
Where I may sit and see
My God and love Thee so.
Collect: O God, whom heaven cannot hold, you inspired Christina Rossetti to express the mystery of the Incarnation through her poems: Help us to follow her example in giving our hearts to Christ, who is love; and who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
29 April. St. Catherine of Siena, (1347-1380). Catherine Benincasa was the youngest of twenty-five children of a wealthy dyer of Siena. At six years of age, she had a remarkable vision that probably decided her life’s vocation. Walking home from a visit, she stopped on the road and gazed upward, oblivious to everything around her. “I beheld our Lord seated in glory with St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John.” She went on to say, later, that the Savior smiled on her and blessed her. From then on, Catherine spent most of her time in prayer and meditation, despite her mother’s attempts to force her to be like other girls. To settle matters, Catherine cut off her hair, her chief beauty. The family harassed her continually; but in the end, convinced that she was deaf to all opposition, her father let her do as she would: close herself away in a darkened room, fast, and sleep on boards. Eventually, she was accepted into a Dominican lay order of penitence. Catherine had numerous visions, and was also tried severely by temptations and degrading images. Frequently, she felt totally abandoned by the Lord. At last, in 1366, the Savior appeared with Mary and the Heavenly Host, and espoused her to himself, so ending her years of lonely prayer and struggle. She became a nurse, as Dominicans regularly did, caring for patients with leprosy and cancer whom other nurses disliked to treat. Opinion in Siena was sharply divided about whether she was a saint or a fanatic, but when the Bishop of Capua was appointed her confessor, he helped her to win full support from the Dominican Mother House. Catherine was a courageous worker in time of severe plague; she visited prisoners condemned to death; she constantly was called upon to arbitrate feuds and to prepare troubled sinners for confession. During the great schism of the papacy, with rival popes in Rome and Avignon, Catherine wrote tirelessly to princes, kings, and popes, urging them to restore the unity of the Church. She even went to Rome to press further for the cause. Besides her many letters to all manner of people, Catherine wrote a Dialogue on Divine Revelation, a mystical work dictated in ecstasy. Exhausted and paralyzed, she died at the age of thirty-three. Catharine’s spirituality is reflected in the Dialogue, which she wrote in 1377-78. Her whole cast of mind was that of a mystic and an apostle; she had no interest in theoretical questions. The soul of her religion was her interior Master, to whom she gave herself wholeheartedly. She never forgot the immense distance between Christ and herself, which gave her a sense of nothingness before the magnificence of God and expressed itself in a profound humility. In contrast to many contemplatives of her time, her chief preoccupation was not the ascent of her own soul to God, but rather what her union with Christ could do for the conversion of the world and for the growth of the Church. In her mind, as long as there is one soul to be saved, there can be no rest for those who have understood the redeeming love of Christ and his cross.
An excerpt from chapter 6 of the Dialogue on Divine Providence. “I wish also that you should know that every virtue is obtained by means of your neighbor, and likewise, every defect; he, therefore, who stands in hatred of Me, does an injury to his neighbor, and to himself, who is his own chief neighbor, and this injury is both general and particular. It is general because you are obliged to love your neighbor as yourself, and loving him, you ought to help him spiritually, with prayer, counseling him with words, and assisting him both spiritually and temporally, according to the need in which he may be, at least with your goodwill if you have nothing else. A man therefore, who does not love, does not help him, and thereby does himself an injury; for he cuts off from himself grace, and injures his neighbor, by depriving him of the benefit of the prayers and of the sweet desires that he is bound to offer for him to Me. Thus, every act of help that he performs should proceed from the charity which he has through love of Me.”
Collect: Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
30 April. Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, Editor and Prophetic Witness, (1788-1879). Sarah Josepha Buell was born in New Hampshire to Captain Gordon Buell and Martha Buell, both of whom were advocates for equal education for both sexes. In 1813 she married David Hale, a promising lawyer who shared her intellectual interests. In 1822, David died four days before the birth of their fifth child. Sarah Buell Hale wore black for the rest of her life and to support her family she turned to her considerable literary skills. In a year a volume of poetry appeared, followed by a successful novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, which was the first American novel by a woman and one of the first dealing with slavery. The success generated by Northwood enabled her to edit the popular Ladies’ Magazine, which she hoped would aid in educating women, as she wrote, “not that they may usurp the situation, or encroach upon the prerogatives of man; but that each individual may lend her aid to the intellectual and moral character of those within her sphere.” In 1830, she published a book of verses for children aimed at the Sunday school market; it included the now-famous “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” originally called “Mary’s Lamb.” Following the examples of her parents, she labored consistently for women’s education and helped found Vassar College. Her publications, including the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book, promoted concern for women’s health, property rights, and opportunities for public recognition. Hale’s influence was widespread, particularly for middle-class women, in matters of child-rearing, morality, literature, and dress. Although the editor of Godey’s instructed her to avoid party politics in the publication, she dedicated much energy to causes which could unite North and South across party lines. She worked diligently to preserve Bunker Hill and George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon, as American monuments. She is perhaps most famous for the nationalization of the Thanksgiving holiday, toward which she worked many years and which finally received presidential sanction under Abraham Lincoln. Her work, in both the women’s and national spheres, was exemplary for its conciliatory nature, its concern for the unity of the nation, and for her desire to honor the work and influence of women in society.
Collect: Gracious God, we bless your Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for your many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.