1 NovemberFeast of All Saints.  It is believed by many scholars that the commemoration of all the saints on November first originated in Ireland, spread from there to England, and then to the continent of Europe.  That it had reached Rome and had been adopted there early in the ninth century is attested by a letter of Pope Gregory IV, who reigned from 828 to 844, to Emperor Louis “the Pious,” urging that such a festival be observed throughout the Holy Roman Empire.  However, the desire of Christian people to express the intercommunion of the living and the dead in the Body of Christ by a commemoration of those who, having professed faith in the living Christ in days past, had entered into the nearer presence of their Lord, and especially of those who had crowned their profession with heroic deaths, was far older than the early Middle Ages.  Gregory Thaumaturgus (the “Wonder Worker”), writing before the year 270, refers to the observance of a festival of all martyrs, though he does not date it.  A hundred years later, Ephrem the Deacon mentions such an observance in Edessa on May 13; and the patriarch John Chrysostom, who died in 407, says that a festival of All Saints was observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Constantinople at the time of his episcopate.  The contemporary lectionary of the East Syrians set a commemoration of all the saints on Friday in Easter week.  On May 13, in the year 610, the Pantheon in Rome—originally a pagan temple dedicated to “all the gods” — was dedicated as the Church of St. Mary and All Martyrs.  All Saints’ Day is classed, in the Prayer Book of 1979, as a Principal Feast, taking precedence of any other day or observance.  Among the seven so classified, All Saints’ Day alone may be observed on the following Sunday, in addition to its observance on its fixed date.  It is one of the four days recommended in the Prayer Book for the administration of Holy Baptism.

 

From a sermon by Saint Bernard:  “Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints?  What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son?  What does our commendation mean to them?  The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.  Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them.  But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.  Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself.  We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins.  In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints.  But our dispositions change.  The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it.  The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent.  The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.  Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on.  We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven.  Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us.  We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness.  While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory.  Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.  When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning:  that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory.  Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake.  He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins.  As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor.  When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him.  The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendor with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.  Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire.  That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints.  Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.”

 

Sequence for the Feast of All Saints, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),

translated by Digby S. Wrangham:

“The Church on earth those joys portrays,

Which heavenly Mother-Church displays;

Keeping her annual holydays,

For endless ones she sighs and prays.

In this dark vale of woe to-day,

That Mother must her daughter stay;

Here Angel-guardians’ bright array

Must stand beside us in the fray.

The world, the flesh, the devil’s spite

By different methods wars excite:

Such countless phantoms’ rush destroys

The sabbath that the heart enjoys.

This evil kindred hate displays

Alike against all holydays.

As, one and all, they fight and strive

Peace from the face of earth to drive.

Things strangely mingle here below,

Hope, terror, happiness, and pain;

While scarce for half an hour, we know.

Is silence kept in heaven’s domain.

How blest that city is, wherein

Unceasing feast-days still begin !

How happy that assembly, where

Is utter ignorance of care !

Nor languor here, nor age, they know,

Nor fraud, nor terror of a foe:

But with one voice their joy they show;

One ardor makes all hearts to glow.

The angel-citizens on high

There, ‘neath a triple hierarchy,

The Trinity in Unity

Serve and obey rejoicingly.

With wonder, — never giving o’er ! —

They, seeing Him whom they adore,

Enjoy what, craving as before,

They thirst but to enjoy the more.

There all the Fathers stand around.

Ranking as worthy they are found;

The darkness now removed of night,

In light they look upon the light

These Saints, whose feast to-day we grace

With solemn service as of old,

The King, unveiled and face to face,

In all His glory now behold.

There may the virgins’ queen, in light

Transcending far heaven’s orders bright.

Plead our excuses in God’s sight

For all our failures to do right

When this life’s troubles all are past,

Through prayer by them to God addressed,

May Christ’s grace bring us at the last

To where the Saints in glory rest ! Amen.”

 

Collect:  Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:  Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

 

2 November.  Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.  In the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community, and in the Collect for All Saints’ Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense.  From very early times, however, the word “saint” came to be applied primarily to persons of heroic sanctity, whose deeds were recalled with gratitude by later generations.  Beginning in the tenth century, it became customary to set aside another day — as a sort of extension of All Saints—on which the Church remembered that vast body of the faithful who, though no less members of the company of the redeemed, are unknown in the wider fellowship of the Church.  It was also a day for particular remembrance of family members and friends.  Though the observance of the day was abolished at the Reformation, a renewed understanding of its meaning has led to a widespread acceptance of this commemoration among Anglicans, and to its inclusion as an optional observance in the calendar of the Episcopal Church.

 

From a book on the death of his brother Satyrus, by St Ambrose, bishop:  “We see that death is gain, life is loss.  Paul says:  ‘For me life is Christ, and death a gain.’  What does ‘Christ’ mean but to die in the body, and receive the breath of life?  Let us then die with Christ, to live with Christ.  We should have a daily familiarity with death, a daily desire for death.  By this kind of detachment our soul must learn to free itself from the desires of the body.  It must soar above earthly lusts to a place where they cannot come near, to hold it fast.  It must take on the likeness of death, to avoid the punishment of death.  The law of our fallen nature is at war with the law of our reason and subjects the law of reason to the law of error.  What is the remedy?  ‘Who will set me free from this body of death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.’  We have a doctor to heal us; let us use the remedy he prescribes.  The remedy is the grace of Christ, the dead body our own.  Let us then be exiles from our body, so as not to be exiles from Christ.  Though we are still in the body, let us not give ourselves to the things of the body.  We must not reject the natural rights of the body, but we must desire before all else the gifts of grace.  What more need be said?  It was by the death of one man that the world was redeemed.  Christ did not need to die if he did not want to, but he did not look on death as something to be despised, something to be avoided, and he could have found no better means to save us than by dying.  Thus his death is life for all.  We are sealed with the sign of his death; when we pray we preach his death; when we offer sacrifice we proclaim his death.  His death is victory; his death is a sacred sign; each year his death is celebrated with solemnity by the whole world.”  What more should we say about his death since we use this divine example to prove that it was death alone that won freedom from death, and death itself was its own redeemer?  Death is then no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvation.  Death is not something to be avoided, for the Son of God did not think it beneath his dignity, nor did he seek to escape it.  Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature.  God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy.  Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness.  There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited.  Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.  The soul has to turn away from the aimless paths of this life, from the defilement of an earthly body; it must reach out to those assemblies in heaven (though it is given only to the saints to be admitted to them) to sing the praises of God.  We learn from Scripture how God’s praise is sung to the music of the harp: ‘Great and wonderful are your deeds, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not revere and glorify your nature? You alone are holy; all nations will come and worship before you.’  The soul must also desire to witness your nuptials, Jesus, and to see your bride escorted from earthly to heavenly realities, as all rejoice and sing:  All flesh will come before you.  No longer will the bride be held in subjection to this passing world but will be made one with the spirit.  Above all else, holy David prayed that he might see and gaze on this: ‘One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I shall pray for: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and to see how gracious is the Lord.'”

 

Collect:  O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers:  Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

3 November.  Richard Hooker, Priest, (1554-1600).  In any list of Anglican theologians, Richard Hooker’s name would stand high, if not first.  He was born at Heavitree, near Exeter, and was admitted in 1567 to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, of which he became a Fellow ten years later.  After ordination and marriage in 1581, he held a living in Buckinghamshire.  In 1586 he became Master of the Temple, in London.  Later, he served country parishes in Boscombe, Salisbury, and Bishopsbourne near Canterbury.  A controversy with a noted Puritan led Hooker to prepare a comprehensive defense of the Reformation settlement under Queen Elizabeth I.  This work, his masterpiece, was entitled Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.  Its philosophical base is Aristotelian, with a strong emphasis upon natural law eternally planted by God in creation.  On this foundation, all positive laws of Church and State are grounded — from Scriptural revelation, ancient tradition, reason, and experience.  Book Five of the Laws is a massive defense of the Book of Common Prayer, directed primarily against Puritan detractors.  Hooker’s arguments are buttressed by enormous patristic learning, but the needs of the contemporary worshiper are paramount, and he draws effectively on his twenty-year experience of using the Book.  Hooker’s vast learning, and the quality of his style, reveal him to be a man of moderate, patient, and serene character.  Concerning the nature of the Church, Hooker wrote:  “The Church is always a visible society of men; not an assembly, but a Society.  For although the name of the Church be given unto Christian assemblies, although any multitude of Christian men congregated may be termed by the name of a Church, yet assemblies properly are rather things that belong to a Church.  Men are assembled for performance of public actions; which actions being ended, the assembly dissolveth itself and is no longer in being, whereas the Church which was assembled doth no less continue afterwards than before.”  Pope Clement VIII is reported to have said that Hooker’s work “had in it such seeds of eternity that it would abide until the last fire shall consume all learning.”

 

Excerpt from Richard Hooker’s sermon, “A Learned Discourse on Justification”:  “Give me a man, of what estate or condition soever, yea, a cardinal or a pope, whom at the extreme point of his life affliction hath made to know himself, whose heart God hath touched with true sorrow for all his sins, and filled with love toward the Gospel of Christ, whose eyes are opened to see the truth, and his mouth to renounce all heresy and error any way opposite thereunto, this one opinion of merits excepted, which he thinketh God will require at his hands, and because he wanteth, therefore trembleth and is discouraged:  ‘It may be I am forgetful or unskilful, not furnished with things new and old, as a wise and learned scribe should be,’ [Mt 13:52] nor able to allege that whereunto, if it were alleged, he doth bear a mind most willing to yield, and so to be recalled as well from this as from other errors — and shall I think, because of this only error, that such a man toucheth not so much as the hem of Christ’s garment?  If he do, wherefore should not I have hope that virtue may proceed from Christ to save him?  Because his error doth by consequent overthrow his faith shall I therefore cast him off as one who hath utterly cast of Christ, one who holdeth not so much as by a slender thread?  No, I will not be afraid to say unto a cardinal or to a pope in this plight, ‘Be of good comfort, we have to do with a merciful God, ready to make the best of that little which we hold well, and not with a captious sophister who gathereth the worst out of everything wherein we err.’”

 

Collect:  O God of truth and peace, you raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion:  Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

6 November.  William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, (1881-1944).  William Temple was baptized in Exeter Cathedral.  His father, Dr. Frederick Temple, Bishop of Exeter and then of London, became Archbishop of Canterbury when William was fifteen.  Growing up at the heart of the Church of England, William’s love for it was deep and lifelong.  Endowed with a brilliant mind, Temple took a first-class honors degree in classics and philosophy at Oxford, where he was then elected Fellow of Queen’s College.  At the age of twenty-nine he became headmaster of Repton School, and then in quick succession rector of St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, Bishop of Manchester, and Archbishop of York.  Though he never experienced poverty of any kind, he developed a passion for social justice which shaped his words and his actions.  He owed this passion to a profound belief in the Incarnation.  He wrote that in Jesus Christ God took flesh and dwelt among us, and as a consequence “the personality of every man and woman is sacred.”  In 1917 Temple resigned from St. James’s, Piccadilly, to devote his energies to the “Life and Liberty” movement for reform within the Church of England.  Two years later an Act of Parliament led to the setting up of the Church Assembly, which for the first time gave the laity a voice in Church matters.  As bishop and later as archbishop, Temple committed himself to seeking “the things which pertain to the Kingdom of God.”  He understood the Incarnation as giving worth and meaning not only to individuals but to all of life.  He therefore took the lead in establishing the Conference on Christian Politics, Economics and Citizenship (COPEC), held 1924.  In 1940, he convened the great Malvern Conference to reflect on the social reconstruction that would be needed in Britain once the Second World War was over.  At the same time, he was a prolific writer on theological, ecumenical, and social topics, and his two-volume Readings in St. John’s Gospel, written in the early days of the war, rapidly became a spiritual classic.  In 1942 Temple was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury and reached an even wider audience through his wartime radio addresses and newspaper articles.  However, the scope of his responsibilities and the pace he set himself took their toll.  On October 26, 1944, he died after only two and a half years at Canterbury.

 

Excerpt from Temple’s Gifford lecture, “The Sacramental Universe”:  “It may safely be said that one ground for the hope of Christianity that it may make good its claim to be the true faith lies in the fact that it is the most avowedly materialist of all the great religions.  It affords an expectation that it may be able to control the material, precisely because it does not ignore it or deny it, but roundly asserts alike the reality of matter and its subordination.  Its own most central saying is:  “The Word was made flesh”, where the last term was, no doubt, chosen because of its specially materialistic associations.  By the very nature of its central doctrine Christianity is committed to a belief in the ultimate significance of the historical process, and in the reality of matter and its place in the divine scheme.”

 

Collect:  O God of light and love, who illumined your Church through the witness of your servant William Temple:  Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence, and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

7 November.  Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht, Missionary to Frisia, (658-739).  We know about Willibrord’s life and missionary labors through a notice in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History and a biography by his younger kinsman, Alcuin.  He was born in Northumbria, and from the age of seven was brought up and educated at Bishop Wilfrid’s monastery at Ripon.  For twelve years, 678 – 690, he studied in Ireland, where he acquired his thirst for missionary work.  In 690, with twelve companions, he set out for Frisia (the Netherlands), a pagan area that was increasingly coming under the domination of the Christian Franks.  There Bishop Wilfrid and a few other Englishmen had made short missionary visits, but with little success.  With the aid of the Frankish rulers, Willibrord established his base at Utrecht, and in 695 Pope Sergius ordained him a bishop and gave him the name of Clement.  In 698 he founded the monastery of Echternach, near Trier.  His work was frequently disturbed by the conflict of the pagan Frisians with the Franks, and for a time he left the area to work among the Danes.  For three years, 719 – 722, he was assisted by Boniface, who at a later time came back to Frisia to strengthen the mission.  In a very real sense, Willibrord prepared the way for Boniface’s more successful achievements by his relations with the Frankish rulers and the papacy, who thus became joint sponsors of missionary work.  He died at Echternach, November 7, 739.

 

Excerpt from the biography of Willibrord by Alcuin:  “Now this holy man was distinguished by every kind of natural quality:  he was of middle height, dignified mien, comely of face, cheerful in spirit, wise in counsel, pleasing in speech, grave in character, and energetic in everything he undertook for God.  His forbearance is shown by the actions we have recorded above.  How great was his zeal in preaching the Gospel of Christ and how he was sustained in the labor of preaching by the grace of God we need not set forth in writing, since it is vouched for by the testimony of all.  His personal life can be inferred from his vigils and prayers, his fasting and singing of psalms, the holiness of his conduct and his many miracles.  His charity is made manifest in the unremitting labors which he bore daily for the name of Christ.  This holy man, who progressed every day of his life in the work of God, who was pleasing to God and friendly to all the people, was laid to his fathers in the time of the elder Charles, the valiant ruler of the Franks.  He was then an old man coming to the end of his days and was about to receive from God a generous reward for his labors.  He forsook this world to take possession of heaven and to behold Christ for ever in eternal glory, in whose love he had never ceased to labor as long as he lived in our midst.  On the sixth of November, that is, the eighth day before the Ides, he passed from this place of pilgrimage to the eternal country and was buried in the monastery of Echternach, which, as we have said before, he had built to the glory of God.  There to this day, through the mercy of God, miracles of healing are constantly performed beside the relics of the holy priest of God.”

 

Collect:  O Lord our God, you call whom you will and send them where you choose:  We thank you for sending your servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve you, the living God; and we entreat you to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of your service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

10 November.  Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, (400-461).  When Leo was born, the Western Roman Empire was almost in shambles.  Weakened by barbarian invasions and by an inefficient economic and political system, the structure that had been carefully built by Augustus had become a chaos of internal warfare, subversion, and corruption.  The social and political situation notwithstanding, Leo received a good education, and was ordained deacon, with the responsibility of looking after Church possessions, managing the grain dole, and generally administering finances.  He won considerable respect for his abilities, and a contemporary of his, Cassian, described him as “the ornament of the Roman Church and the divine ministry.”  In 440, Leo was unanimously elected Pope, despite the fact that he was absent at the time on a mission in Gaul.  His ability as a preacher shows clearly in the 96 sermons still extant, in which he expounds doctrine, encourages almsgiving, and deals with various heresies, including the Pelagian and the Manichean systems.  In Gaul, Africa, and Spain, Leo’s strong hand was felt as he issued orders to limit the powers of one over-presumptuous bishop, confirmed the rights of another bishop over his vicars, and selected candidates for holy orders.  Leo’s letter to the Council of Chalcedon in 451 dealt so effectively with the doctrine of the human and divine natures of the One Person of Christ that the assembled bishops declared, “Peter has spoken by Leo,” and affirmed his definition as orthodox teaching.  (See page 864 of the Prayer Book.)  With similar strength of spirit and wisdom, Leo negotiated with Attila when the Huns were about to sack Rome.  He persuaded them to withdraw from Italy and to accept an annual tribute.  Three years later, Genseric led the Vandals against Rome.  Again Leo negotiated.  Unable to prevent pillaging by the barbarians, he did dissuade them from burning the city and slaughtering its inhabitants.  He worked, thereafter, to repair the damage, to replace the holy vessels in the desecrated churches, and to restore the morale of the Roman people.

 

From a sermon by St. Leo the Great:  “Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says:  We are all one in Christ.  No difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through lowliness, from the head.  In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our community is undivided.  There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in these words:  And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  And again:  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart.  For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood.  For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God?  And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?  Because, through the grace of God, it is a deed accomplished universally on behalf of all, it is altogether praiseworthy and in keeping with a religious attitude for you to rejoice in this our day of consecration, to consider it a day when we are especially honored.  For indeed one sacramental priesthood is celebrated throughout the entire body of the Church.  The oil which consecrates us has richer effects in the higher grades, yet it is not sparingly given in the lower.  Sharing in this office, my dear brethren, we have solid ground for a common rejoicing; yet there will be more genuine and excellent reason for joy if you do not dwell on the thought of our unworthiness.  It is more helpful and more suitable to turn your thoughts to study the glory of the blessed apostle Peter.  We should celebrate this day above all in honor of him.  He overflowed with abundant riches from the very source of all graces, yet though he alone received much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it.  The Word made flesh lived among us, and in redeeming the whole human race, Christ gave himself entirely.”

 

Collect:  O Lord our God, grant that your Church, following the teaching of your servant Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from your divine Being; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

11 November.  Martin, Bishop of Tours, (330-397).  Martin, one of the patron saints of France, was born at Sabaria, the modern Szombathely in Hungary.  His early years were spent in Pavia in Italy.  After a term of service in the Roman army, he traveled about Europe, and finally settled in Poitiers, whose bishop, Hilary, he had come to admire.  According to an old legend, while Martin was still a catechumen, he was approached by a poor man, who asked for alms in the name of Christ.  Martin, drawing his sword, cut off part of his military cloak and gave it to the beggar.  On the following night, Jesus appeared to Martin, clothed in half a cloak, and said to him, “Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.”  Hilary ordained Martin to the priesthood sometime between 350 and 353, and Martin, inspired by the new monastic movement stemming from Egypt, established a hermitage at nearby Ligugé.  To his dismay, he was elected Bishop of Tours in 372.  He agreed to serve only if he were allowed to continue his strict, ascetic habit of life.  His monastery of Marmoutier, near Tours, had a great influence on the development of Celtic monasticism in Britain, where Ninian, among others, promoted Martin’s ascetic and missionary ideals.  The oldest church in Canterbury, which antedates the Anglo-Saxon invasions, is dedicated to St. Martin.  Martin was unpopular with many of his episcopal colleagues, both because of his manner of life and because of his strong opposition to their violent repression of heresy.  He was a diligent missionary to the pagan folk of the countryside near his hermitage, and was always a staunch defender of the poor and the helpless.  After Martin died on November 11, 397, his shrine at Tours became a popular site for pilgrimages, and a secure sanctuary for those seeking protection and justice.

 

From a letter of Sulpicius Severus:  “Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near.  Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes.  The clergy of that church were quarrelling, and he wished to reconcile them.  Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.  He spent some time in Candes, or rather in its church, where he stayed.  Peace was restored, and he was planning to return to his monastery when suddenly he began to lose his strength.  He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying.  All who heard this were overcome with grief.  In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice:  ‘Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone?  Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down?  We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed.  You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us.’  Thereupon he broke into tears, for he was a man in whom the compassion of our Lord was continually revealed.  Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: ‘Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.’  Here was a man words cannot describe.  Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him.  He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live.  With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer.  It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side.  He answered:  ‘Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.’  As he spoke these words, he saw the devil standing near.  ‘Why do you stand there, you bloodthirsty brute?’ he cried.  ‘Murderer, you will not have me for your prey. Abraham is welcoming me into his embrace.’  With these words, he gave up his spirit to heaven.  Filled with joy, Martin was welcomed by Abraham.  Thus he left this life a poor and lowly man and entered heaven rich in God’s favor.”

 

Sequence for the Feast of St. Martin, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),

translated by Digby S. Wrangham:

“Sion ! rejoice, that celebratest here

The day, when Martin, the Apostles’ peer,

The world o’ercome, doth, ranked with angels, wear

A crown of light.

This Martin, once a poor man, mean and low,

But a wise servant and true steward, now

To wealth in heaven is raised from earth below.

As angel bright

This Martin in his catechumen’s years

One naked clothes, when suddenly appears

To him the following night the Lord, who wears

That very dress.

This Martin, who a soldier’s life had left,

Prepares all foes to meet, of arms bereft,

When he hath once obtained that precious gift,

Baptismal grace.

This Martin, as he celebrateth Mass,

Glows with an inward ardor by God’s grace;

While, resting on his head, they also trace

A ball of fire.

This Martin, who to heaven unlocks the way,

Rules o’er the sea, and o’er the land holds sway,

Doth sickness heal and dreadful monsters slay,

Illustrious Sire !

This Martin neither held grim death in fear,

Nor yet refused the toil of life to bear;

Himself thus wholly to God’s will, whilst here,

Surrendering.

This Martin, who ne’er gave a creature pain.

This Martin, who to all the world brought gain,

This Martin, who well pleased Him who doth reign

As Triune King;

This Martin ’tis, whose death by God of old

To Severinus in a dream was told.

While from the lips of angel cohorts rolled

Sweet melodies.

This Martin ’tis, whose life Sulpitius writes,

Whose burial also Ambrose’ eyes delights.

Who, with clear conscience, enters heaven’s far heights

Above the skies.

O Martin, famed ‘mongst pastors here below !

The comrade of angelic cohorts now !

Against the rage of rabid wolf do thou

Our guardian be !

O Martin ! do, as thou art wont to do,

And, offering prayer to God, for us still sue !

Remember those thou leftest not, life through,

Thy family ! Amen.”

 

Collect:  Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the catholic faith:  Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

12 November.  Charles Simeon, Priest, (1759-1836).  The historian Thomas Macaulay said about Charles Simeon, “If you knew what his authority and influence were, and how they extended from Cambridge to the most remote corners of England, you would allow that his real sway in the Church was far greater than that of any primate.”  Simeon’s conversion, in 1779, while still a student, occurred as he was preparing himself to receive Holy Communion, an act required of undergraduates at the University.  His first Communion had been a deeply depressing and discouraging experience, because of his use of the popular devotional tract, “The Whole Duty of Man”, which emphasized law and obedience as the means of receiving the Sacrament worthily.  When he was again preparing for Communion before Easter, he was given a copy of Bishop Thomas Wilson’s “Instructions for the Lord’s Supper”.  Here was a quite different approach, which recognized that the law could not make one righteous, and that only the sacrifice of Christ, perceived by faith, could enable one to communicate worthily.  This time, the experience of Holy Communion was one of peace and exhilaration, a new beginning of a Christian life whose influence is difficult to exaggerate.  Simeon’s influence and authority developed slowly, but he soon became the recognized leader of the evangelical movement in the Church of England.  He helped to found the Church Missionary Society, and was active in recruiting and supporting missionaries, including Henry Martyn (October 19).  As a preacher, he ranks high in the history of Anglicanism.  His sermons were unfailingly biblical, simple, and passionate.  The influence of Simeon and his friends was thus described by the historian William Edward Hartpole Lecky:  “They gradually changed the whole spirit of the English Church.  They infused into it a new fire and passion of devotion, kindled a spirit of fervent philanthropy, raised the standard of clerical duty, and completely altered the whole tone and tendency of the preaching of its ministers.”

 

Excerpt from Sermon II from The Excellence of the Liturgy:  Four Discourses Preached before the University of Cambridge in November 1811:  “At the commencement of the Reformation, the most lamentable ignorance prevailed throughout the land; and even those who from their office ought to have been well instructed in the Holy Scriptures, themselves needed to be taught what were the first principles of the oracles of God.  If then the pious and venerable Reformers of our Church had not provided a suitable form of prayer the people would still in many thousands of parishes have remained in utter darkness; but by the diffusion of this sacred light throughout the land, every part of the kingdom became in a good measure irradiated with scriptural knowledge and with saving truth.  The few who were enlightened might indeed have scattered some partial rays around them; but their light would have been only as a meteor, that passes away and leaves no permanent effect.  Moreover, if their zeal and knowledge and piety had been suffered to die with them, we should have in vain sought for compositions of equal excellence from any set of governors from that day to the present hour:  but by conveying to posterity the impress of their own piety in stated forms of prayer, they have in them transmitted a measure of their own spirit which, like Elijah’s mantle, has descended on multitudes who have succeeded them in their high office.  It is not possible to form a correct estimate of the benefit which we at this day derive from having such a standard of piety in our hands; but we do not speak too strongly if we say that the most enlightened among us, of whatever denomination they may be, owe much to the existence of our Liturgy; which has been, as it were, the pillar and ground of the truth in this kingdom, and has served as fuel to perpetuate the flame, which the Lord himself, at the time of the Reformation, kindled upon our altars.”

 

Collect:  O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love:  Grant us in all things to see your hand; that, following the example and teaching of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

14 November.  Samuel Seabury, First American Bishop, (1729-1796).  Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut.  After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned, as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey.  In 1757, he became rector of Grace Church, Jamaica, Long Island, and in 1766 rector of St. Peter’s, Westchester County.  During the American Revolution, he remained loyal to the British crown, and served as a chaplain in the British army.  After the Revolution, a secret meeting of Connecticut clergymen in Woodbury, on March 25, 1783, named Seabury or the Rev. Jeremiah Leaming, whichever would be able or willing, to seek episcopal consecration in England.  Leaming declined; Seabury accepted, and sailed for England.  After a year of negotiation, Seabury found it impossible to obtain episcopal orders from the Church of England because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to the crown.  He then turned to the non–juring bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland.  On November 14, 1784, in Aberdeen, he was consecrated by the Bishop and the Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Ross and Caithness, in the presence of a number of the clergy and laity.  On his return home, Seabury was recognized as Bishop of Connecticut in Convocation on August 3, 1785, at Middletown.  With Bishop William White, he was active in the organization of the Episcopal Church at the General Convention of 1789.  With the support of William Smith of Maryland, William Smith of Rhode Island, William White of Pennsylvania, and Samuel Parker of Boston, Seabury kept his promise, made in a concordat with the Scottish bishops, to persuade the American Church to adopt the Scottish form for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  In 1790 Seabury became responsible for episcopal oversight of the churches in Rhode Island; and at the General Convention of 1792 he participated in the first consecration of a bishop on American soil, that of John Claggett of Maryland.  Seabury died on February 25, 1796, and is buried beneath St. James’ Church, New London.

 

Excerpt from the pamphlet, A View of the Controversy between Great-Britain and her Colonies (1774):  “You have taken some pains to prove what would readily have been granted you — that liberty is a very good thing, and slavery a very bad thing.  But then I must think that liberty under a King, Lords and Commons is as good as liberty under a republican Congress:  And that slavery under a republican Congress is as bad, at least, as slavery under a King, Lords and Commons:  And upon the whole, that liberty under the supreme authority and protection of Great-Britain, is infinitely preferable to slavery under an American Congress.  I will also agree with you, “that Americans are intitled to freedom.”  I will go further:  I will own and acknowledge that not only Americans, but Africans, Europeans, Asiaticks, all men, of all countries and degrees, of all sizes and complexions, have a right to as much freedom as is consistent with the security of civil society.”

 

Collect:  Eternal God, you blessed your servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America:  Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by your holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic  zeal; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

15 November. George Whitefield (1714-1770) and Francis Asbury (1745-1816), Evangelists,  Two of the great figures to emerge from out of the religious fervor of colonial and post-revolutionary America, George Whitefield and Francis Asbury, shared a common tie to the Methodist movement of John Wesley.  George Whitefield entered Pembroke College, Oxford as a servitor, one unable to pay tuition and who thus served higher ranked students in exchange for free tuition.  There he came under the influence of John and Charles Wesley and was a member of the “Holy Club.”  In 1736, he was ordained a deacon, and in 1738, he followed John Wesley to Savannah, Georgia.  He returned to England in 1739 to obtain priest’s orders and to raise funds for his Bethesda orphanage in Georgia.  His preaching attracted a wide following in England, Wales, and Scotland.  Whitefield, who subscribed to the Calvinist position then prevalent in the Church of England, broke with the Wesleys, the latter being theologically drawn to Arminianism.  Whitefield formed and was president of the first Methodist conference, but left that position after a short time to focus on evangelistic efforts.  Whitefield returned to America several times, and his preaching sparked the Great Awakening of 1740.  Whitefield preached to thousands throughout the colonies, riding from New York to Charleston on horseback.

 

Like Whitefield, Francis Asbury was also renowned for his preaching, and also like Whitefield, he rode many miles on horseback each year and preached throughout the colonies.  Asbury was sent to America by John Wesley in 1771 and was the only Methodist minister to remain in America when the War for Independence broke out.  When the newly independent Methodist Episcopal Church was formed, he and Thomas Coke served as its first two bishops.  Like his mentor John Wesley, Asbury preached in courthouses, public houses, tobacco fields, or wherever a large crowd could be gathered to hear him.  Among those he ordained was Richard Allen (March 26), the former slave and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

 

Excerpt from the Journal of Francis Asbury for 17 July 1792:  I was born in Old England, … in the year of our Lord 1745.  My father’s name was Joseph, and my mother’s, Elizabeth Asbury: they were people in common life; were remarkable for honesty and industry, and had all things needful to enjoy; had my father been as saving as laborious, be might have been wealthy.  As it was, it was his province to be employed as a former and gardener by the two richest families in the parish.  My parents had but two children, a daughter called Sarah, and myself.  My lovely sister died in infancy; she was a favorite, and my dear mother being very affectionate, sunk into deep distress at the loss of a darling child, from which she was not relieved for many years.  It was under this dispensation that God was pleased to open the eyes of her mind, she living in a very dark, dark, dark day and place.  She now began to read almost constantly when leisure presented the opportunity.  When a child, I thought it strange my mother should stand by a large window poring over a book for hours together.  From my childhood I may say, I have neither ” dar’d an oath, nor hazarded a lie.”  The love of truth is not natural ; but the habit of telling it I acquired very early, and so well was I taught, that my conscience would never permit me to swear profanely.  I learned from my parents a certain form of words for prayer, and I well remember my mother strongly urged my father to family reading and prayer; the singing of psalms was much practiced by them both.  My foible was the ordinary foible of children — fondness for play; but I abhorred mischief and wickedness, although my mates were amongst the vilest of the vile for lying, swearing, fighting, and whatever else boys of their age and evil habits were likely to be guilty of; from such society I very often returned home uneasy and melancholy; and although driven away by my better principles, still I would return, hoping to find happiness where I never found it.  Sometimes I was much ridiculed, and called Methodist Parson because my mother invited any people who had the appearance of religion to her house.  I was sent to school early, and began to read the Bible between six and seven years of age, and greatly delighted in the historical part of it.  My school-master was a great churl, and used to beat me cruelly; this drove me to prayer, and it appeared to me, that God was very near to me.  My father having but the one son, greatly desired to keep me at school, he cared not how long ; but in this design he was disappointed; for my master, by his severity, had filled me with such horrible dread, that with me anything was preferable to going to school.  I lived some time in one of the wealthiest and most ungodly families we had in the parish: here I became vain, but not openly wicked.  Some months after this I returned home; and made my choice, when about thirteen years and a half old, – to learn a branch of business, at which I thought about years and a half: daring this time I enjoyed great liberty, and in the family was treated more like a son or an equal than an apprentice.  Soon after I entered on that business, God sent a pious man, not a Methodist, into our neighborhood, and my mother invited him to our house; by his conversation and prayers, I was awakened before I was fourteen years of age.  It was now easy and pleasing to leave my company, and I began to pray morning and evening, being drawn by the cords of love, as with the bands of a man. I soon left our blind priest, and went to West-Bromwick church: here I heard Ryland, Stillingfleet, Talbot, Bagnall, Mansfield, Hawes, and Venn, great names, and esteemed Gospel-ministers.  I became very serious; reading, a great deal — Whitefield and Cennick’s Sermons, and every good book I could meet with.  It was not long before I began to inquiry of my mother who, where, what were the. Methodists; she gave me a favorable account, and directed me to a person that could take me to Wednesbury to hear them. I soon found this was not the church — but it

was better.  The people were so devout — men and women kneeling down — laying Amen, — Now, behold! they were singing hymns — sweet sound ! Why, strange to tell ! the preacher had no prayer-book, and yet he prayed wonderfully  I What was yet more extraordinary, the man took his text, and had no sermon-book: thought I, this is wonderful indeed !  It is certainly a strange way, but the best way.  He talked about confidence, assurance, &c. — of which all my flights and hopes fell short.  I had no deep convictions, nor had I committed any deep known sins.  At one sermon, some time after, my companion was powerfully wrought on:  I was exceedingly grieved that I could not weep like him ; yet I knew myself to be in a state of unbelief.  On a certain time when we were praying in my father’s barn, I believe the Lord pardoned my sins, and justified my soul; but my companions reasoned me out. of this belief, saying, “Mr. Mather said a believer was as happy as if he was in heaven.” I thought I was not as happy as I would be there, and gave up my confidence, and that for months; yet I was happy; free from guilt and fear, and had power over sin, and felt great inward joy.  After this, we met for reading and prayer, and had large and good meetings, and were much persecuted, until the persons at whose houses we held them were afraid, and they were discontinued.  I then held meetings frequently at my father’s house, exhorting the people there, as also at Sutton-Cofields, and several souls professed to find peace through the gospel.”

 

 

Collect:  Holy God, you so inspired Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a Great Awakening among those who heard them:  Inspire us, we pray, by your Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share your Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

16 November.  Margaret, Queen of Scotland, (1045-1093).  Shakespeare made familiar the names of Macbeth and Macduff, Duncan and Malcolm; but it is not always remembered that Malcolm married an English princess, Margaret, about 1070.  With considerable zeal, Margaret sought to change what she considered to be old-fashioned and careless practices among the Scottish clergy.  She insisted that the observance of Lent, for example, was to begin on Ash Wednesday, rather than on the following Monday, and that the Mass should be celebrated according to the accepted Roman rite of the Church, and not in barbarous form and language.  The Lord’s Day was to be a day when, she said, “we apply ourselves only to prayers.”  She argued vigorously, though not always with success, against the exaggerated sense of unworthiness that made many of the pious Scots unwilling to receive Communion regularly.  Margaret’s energies were not limited to reformation of formal Church practices.  She encouraged the founding of schools, hospitals, and orphanages, and used her influence with King Malcolm to help her improve the quality of life among the isolated Scottish clans.  Together, Margaret and her husband rebuilt the monastery of Iona and founded Dunfermline Abbey, under the direction of Benedictine monks.  In addition to her zeal for Church and people, Margaret was a conscientious wife and the mother of eight children.  Malcolm, a strong-willed man, came to trust her judgment even in matters of State.  She saw also to the spiritual welfare of her large household, providing servants with opportunity for regular worship and prayer.  Margaret was not as successful as she wished to be in creating greater unity in faith and works between her own native England and the Scots.  She was unable, for example, to bring an end to the bloody warfare among the highland clans, and after her death in 1093, there was a brief return to the earlier isolation of Scotland from England.  Nevertheless, her work among the people, and her reforms in the Church, made her Scotland’s most beloved saint.  She died on November 16, and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.

 

An excerpt from The Life of Saint Margaret, by Turgot, Bishop of St. Andrews:  “The queen now raised another point; she asked them to explain why it was that on the festival of Easter they neglected to receive the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ according to the usage of the Holy and Apostolic Church?  They answered her thus:  “The Apostle when speaking of persons who eat and drink unworthily, says that they eat and drink judgment to themselves.  Now, since we admit that we are sinners, we fear to approach that mystery, lest we should eat and drink judgment to ourselves.”  “What!” said the queen to them; “Shall no one that is a sinner taste that holy mystery?  If so, then it follows that no one at all should receive it, for no one is pure from sin; no, not even the infant, who has lived but one day upon the earth.  And if no one ought to receive it, why did the Lord make this proclamation in the Gospel?  ‘Except you shall eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you.’  But if you would understand the passage which you have quoted from the Apostle according to the interpretation of the Fathers, then you must give it quite a different meaning.  The Evangelist does not hold that all sinners are unworthy of the sacraments of salvation; for after saying ‘He eateth and drinketh judgment to himself,’ he adds, ‘Not discerning the Body of the Lord;’ that is, not distinguishing it by faith from bodily food.  It is the man who, without confession and penance, and carrying with him the defilements of his sins presumes to approach the sacred mysteries, such a one, I say it is, who eats and drinks judgment to himself.  Whereas we who many days previously have made confession of our sins and have been cleansed from their stains by chastening penance, by trying fasts, by almsgiving and tears-approaching in the Catholic faith to the Lord’s Table on the day of His Resurrection, receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the immaculate Lamb, not to judgment but to the remission of our sins, and as a health-giving preparation for eternal happiness.”  To these arguments they could not answer a word, and knowing now the meaning of the Church’s practices, observed them ever after in the sacrament of salvation.”

 

Collect:  O God, you called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people:  Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

17 November.  Hugh (1140-1200), and Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253), Bishops of Lincoln.  Hugh was born into a noble family at Avalon in Burgundy (France).  He became a canon regular at Villard-Benoit near Grenoble.  About 1160 he joined the Carthusians, the strictest contemplative religious order, becoming the procurator of their major house, the Grande Chartreuse.  With reluctance, he accepted the invitation of King Henry II to become prior of a new foundation of Carthusians in England at Witham, Somerset.  With even greater hesitation, Hugh accepted the King’s appointment to the See of Lincoln in 1186.  He died in London, November 16, 1200, and is buried in Lincoln Cathedral, of which he laid the foundation.  As a bishop, Hugh continued to live as much as possible under the strict discipline of his order.  His humility and tact, his total lack of self-regard, and his cheerful disposition made it difficult to oppose him.  His people loved him for his unrelenting care of the poor and oppressed.  Steadfastly independent of secular influences, he was never afraid to reprove his king for unjust treatment of the people.  Hugh refused to raise money for King Richard’s foreign wars.  Yet Richard said of him, “If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift his head against them.”

 

Robert Grosseteste was a distinguished scholar of law, medicine, languages, sciences, and theology, having risen to prominence from humble beginnings.  He was a commentator and translator of Aristotle, but sought to refute many of Aristotle’s ideas in favor of those of Augustine.  Because of Grosseteste’s influence, Oxford began to give greater weight to the study of science, particularly geometry, physics, and mathematics.  Roger Bacon, an important progenitor of scientific method, was a pupil of Grosseteste, and John Wycliffe was strongly influenced by him as well.  He became Bishop of Lincoln in 1235.  He is remembered for the diligence with which he visited the clergy and people of his diocese, teaching, preaching, and celebrating the sacraments, thus refusing to be isolated from the lives of those under his care.  He was a steadfast defender of diocesan prerogatives whether against the papacy or the state.

 

Excerpt from the Commentary by Robert Grosseteste on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics:  “Because the purity of the eye of the soul is obscured and weighed down by the corrupt body, all the powers of this rational soul born in man are laid hold of by the mass of the body and cannot act and so in a way are asleep.  Accordingly, when in the process of time the senses act through many interactions of sense with sensible things, the reasoning is awakened mixed with these very sensible things and is borne along in the senses to the sensible things as in a ship.  But the functioning reason begins to divide and separately consider what in sense were confused.  …But the reasoning does not know this to be actually universal except after it has made this abstraction from many singulars, and has reached one and the same universal by its judgement taken from many singulars.”

 

Poem about Robert Grosseteste by Robert Manning of Bourne, “Handling Synne” (1303):

Of Lyncolne so seyth the geste:

He loved moche to here the harpe,

For mannes wit it makyth sharpe;

Next hys chamber, besyde hys study

Hys harper’s chamber was fast the by.

Many tymes, by nightes and dayes,

He hadd solace of notes and layes.

On asked hyme the reason why

He had delyte in mynstrelsy;

He answered hym in this manere

Why he held the harpe so dere:

The virtu of the harpe, through skyll and ryght,

Will destrye the fendy’s myght;

And to the cros, by gode skeyl,

Ys the harpe lykened well.”

 

Collect:  Holy God, our greatest treasure, you blessed Hugh and Robert, Bishops of Lincoln, with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of your Word to rich and poor alike:  Grant that all who minister in your Name may serve with diligence, discipline and humility, fearing nothing but the loss of you and drawing all to you through Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you in the communion of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

18 November.  Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, (614-680).  “Hilda’s career falls into two equal parts,” says the Venerable Bede, “for she spent thirty-three years nobly in secular habit, while she dedicated an equal number of years still more nobly to the Lord, in the monastic life.”  Hilda, born in 614, was the grandniece of King Edwin.  She was instructed by Paulinus (one of the companions of Augustine of Canterbury) in the doctrines of Christianity in preparation for her baptism at the age of thirteen.  She lived, chaste and respected, at the King’s court for twenty years, and then decided to enter the monastic life.  She had hoped to join the convent of Chelles in Gaul, but Bishop Aidan was so impressed by her holiness of life that he recalled her to her home country, in East Anglia, to live in a small monastic settlement.  One year after her return, Aidan appointed her Abbess of Hartlepool.  There, Hilda established the rule of life that she had been taught by Paulinus and Aidan.  She became renowned for her wisdom, eagerness for learning, and devotion to God’s service.  Some years later, she founded the abbey at Whitby, where both nuns and monks lived in strict obedience to Hilda’s rule of justice, devotion, chastity, peace, and charity.  Known for her prudence and good sense, Hilda was sought out by kings and other public men for advice and counsel.  Those living under her rule devoted so much time to the study of Scripture and to works of righteousness that many were found qualified for ordination.  Several of her monks became bishops; at least one pursued further studies in Rome.  She encouraged the poet Caedmon, a servant at Whitby, to become a monk and to continue his inspired writing.  All who were her subjects or knew her, Bede remarks, called her “mother.”  In 663, Whitby was the site of the famous synod convened to decide divisive questions involved in the differing traditions of Celtic Christians and the followers of Roman order.  Hilda favored the Celtic position, but when the Roman position prevailed she was obedient to the synod’s decision.  Hilda died on November 17, 680, surrounded by her monastics, whom, in her last hour, she urged to preserve the gospel of peace.

 

Excerpt from the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Chapter XXIII:  On the Life and Death of the Abbess Hilda:  “In the year of the incarnation of our Lord 680, the most religious servant of Christ, Hilda, abbessof the monastery that is called Streaneshalch, … after having performed many heavenly works on earth, passed from thence to receive the rewards of the heavenly life, on the 17th of November, at the age of sixty-six years; the first thirty-three of which she spent living most nobly in the secular habit; and more nobly dedicated the remaining half to our Lord in a monastic life.  For she wasnobly born, being the daughter of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin, with which king she also embraced the faith and mysteries of Christ, at the preaching of Paulinus, the first bishop of the Northumbrians, of blessed memory, and preserved the same undefiled till she attained to the sight of him in heaven.  Resolving to quit the secular habit, and to serve him alone, she withdrew into the province of the East Angles, for she was allied to the king; being desirous to pass over from thence into France, to forsake her native country and all she had, and so live a stranger for our Lord in the monastery of Cale, that she might with more case attain to the eternal kingdom in heaven; because her sister … , at that time living in the same monastery, under regular discipline, was waiting for her eternal reward.  Being led by her example, she continued a whole year in the aforesaid province, with the design of going abroad; afterwards, Bishop Aidan being recalled home, he gave her the land of one family on the north side of the river Wear; where for a year she also led a monastic life, with very few companions.  After this she was made abbess in the monastery called Heruteu, which monastery had been founded, not long before, by the religious servant of Christ, Heiu, who is said to have been the first woman that in the province of the Northumbrians took upon her the habit and life of a nun, being consecrated by Bishop Aidan; but she, soon after she had founded that monastery, went away to the city of Calcacestir, and there fixed her dwelling.  Hilda, the servant of Christ, being set over that monastery, began immediately to reduce all things to a regular system, according as she had been instructed by learned men; for Bishop Aidan, and other religious men that knew her and loved her, frequently visited and diligently instructed her, because of her innate wisdom and inclination to the service of God.  When she had for some years governed this monastery, wholly intent upon establishing a regular life, it happened that she also undertook either to build or to arrange a monastery in the place called Streaneshalch [Whitby], which work she industriously performed; for she put this monastery under the same regular discipline as she had done the former; and taught there the strict observance of justice, piety, chastity, and other virtues, and particularly of peace and charity; so that, after the example of the primitive church, no person was there rich, and none poor, all being in common to all, and none having any property.  Her prudence was so great, that not only indifferent persons, but even kings and princes, as occasion offered, asked and received her advice; she obliged those who were under her direction to attend so much to reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to exercise themselves so much in works of justice, that many might be there found fit for ecclesiastical duties, and to serve at the altar.  … Hilda at length, being desirous to attain to greater perfection, he went into Kent, to Archbishop Theodore, of blessed memory; where having spent some more time in sacred studies, he also resolved to go to Rome, which, in those days, was reckoned of great moment: returning thence into Britain, he took his way into the province of the Wiccii, where King Osric then ruled, and continued there a long time, preaching the word of faith, and making himself an example of good life to all that saw and heard him. At that time, Bosel, the bishop of that province, labored under such weakness of body, that he could not perform the episcopal functions; for which reason, this Oftfor was, by universal consent, chosen bishop in his stead, and by order of King Ethelred, consecrated by Bishop Wilfrid, of blessed memory, who was then bishop of the Midland Angles, because Archbishop Theodore was dead, and no other bishop ordained in his place.  Before the aforesaid man of God, Bosel Tatfrid, a most learned and industrious man, and of excellent ability, had been chosen bishop there, from the same abbess’s monastery, but had been snatched away by an untimely death, before he could be ordained.  Thus this servant of Christ, Abbess Hilda, whom all that knew her called Mother, for her singular piety and grace, was not only an example of good life, to those that lived in her monastery, but afforded occasion of amendment and salvation to many who lived at a distance, to whom the fame was brought of her industry and virtue; for it was necessary that the dream which her mother, Bregusuit, had, during her infancy, should be fulfilled.  At the time that her husband, Hereric, lived in banishment, under Cerdic, king of the Britons, where he was also poisoned, she fancied, in a dream, that she was seeking for him most carefully, and could find no sign of him anywhere; but, after having used all her industry to seek him, she found a most precious jewel under her garment, which, whilst she was looking on it very attentively, cast such a light as spread itself throughout all Britain; which dream was brought to pass in her daughter that we speak of, whose life was a bright example, not only to herself, but to all who desired to live well.

When she had governed this monastery many years, it pleased Him who has made such merciful provision for our salvation, to give her holy soul the trial of a long sickness, to the end that, according to the apostle’s example, her virtue might be perfected in infirmity.  Falling into a fever, she fell into a violent heat, and was afflicted with the same for six years continually; during all which time she never failed either to return thanks to her Maker, or publicly and privately to instruct the flock committed to her charge; for by her own example she admonished all persons to serve God dutifully in perfect health, and always to return thanks to Him in adversity, or bodily infirmity. In the seventh year of her sickness, the distemper turning inwards, she approached her last day, and about cock-crowing, having received  the holy communion to further her on her way, and called together the servants of Christ that were within the same monastery, she admonished them to preserve evangelical peace among themselves, and with all others; and as she was making her speech, she joyfully saw death approaching, or if I may speak in the words of our Lord, passed from death to life.  That same night it pleased Almighty God, by a manifest vision, to make known her death in another monastery, at a distance from hers, which she had built that same year, and is called Hackness.  There was in that monastery, a certain nun called Begu, who, having dedicated her virginity to God, had served Him upwards of thirty years in monastic conversation.  This nun, being then in the dormitory of the sisters, on a sudden heard the well known sound of a bell in the air, which used to awake and call them to prayers, when any one of them was taken out of this world, and opening her eyes, as she thought, she saw the top of the house open, and a strong light pour in from above; looking earnestly upon that light, she saw the soul of the aforesaid servant of God in that same light, attended and conducted to heaven by angels.  Then awaking, and seeing the other sisters lying round about her, she perceived that what she had seen was either in a dream or a vision; and rising immediately in a great fright, she ran to the virgin who then presided in the monastery instead of the abbess, and whose name was Frigyth, and, with many tears and sighs, told her that the Abbess Hilda, mother of them all, had departed this life, and had in her sight ascended to eternal bliss, and to the company of the inhabitants of heaven, with a great light, and with angels conducting her.  Frigyth having heard it, awoke all the sisters, and calling them to the church, admonished them to pray and sing psalms for her soul; which they did during the remainder of the night; and at break of day, the brothers came with news of her death, from the place where she had died.  They answered that they knew it before, and then related how and when they had heard it, by which it appeared that her death had been revealed to them in a vision the very same hour that the others said she had died. Thus it was by Heaven happily ordained, that when some saw her departure out of this worId, the others should be acquainted with her admittance into the spiritual life which is eternal.”

 

Collect:  O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church:  Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women, that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

19 November.  Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, (1207-1231).  Elizabeth’s charity is remembered in numerous hospitals that bear her name throughout the world.  She was born at Pressburg (now Bratislava), daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary, and was married in 1221 to Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia, to whom she bore three children.  At an early age she showed concern for the poor and the sick, and was thus attracted to the Franciscans who came to the Wartburg in 1223.  From them she received spiritual direction.  Her husband was sympathetic to her almsgiving and allowed her to use her dowry for this purpose.  During a famine and epidemic in 1226, when her husband was in Italy, she sold her jewels and established a hospital where she cared for the sick and the poor.  To supply their needs, she opened the royal granaries.  After her husband’s death in 1227, the opposition of the court to her “extravagances” compelled her to leave the Wartburg with her children.  For some time Elizabeth lived in great distress.  She then courageously took the habit of the Franciscans—the first of the Franciscan Tertiaries, or Third Order, in Germany.  Finally, arrangements with her family gave her a subsistence, and she spent her remaining years in Marburg, living in self-denial, caring for the sick and needy.  She died from exhaustion, November 16, 1231, and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX four years later.  With Louis of France she shares the title of patron of the Third Order of St. Francis.

 

From a letter of Conrad of Marburg, Saint Elizabeth’s spiritual director:  “From this time onward Elizabeth’s goodness greatly increased.  She was a lifelong friend of the poor and gave herself entirely to relieving the hungry.  She ordered that one of her castles should be converted into a hospital in which she gathered many of the weak and feeble.  She generously gave alms to all who were in need, not only in that place but in all the territories of her husband’s empire.  She spent all her own revenue from her husband’s four principalities, and finally she sold her luxurious’ possessions and rich clothes for the sake of the poor.  Twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, Elizabeth went to visit the sick.  She personally cared for those who were particularly repulsive; to some she gave food, to others clothing; some she carried on her own shoulders, and performed many other kindly services.  Her husband, of happy memory, gladly approved of these charitable works.  Finally, when her husband died, she sought the highest perfection; filled with tears, she implored me to let her beg for alms from door to door.  On Good Friday of that year, when the altars had been stripped, she laid her hands on the altar in a chapel in her own town, where she had established the Friars Minor, and before witnesses she voluntarily renounced all worldly display and everything that our Savior in the gospel advises us to abandon.  Even then she saw that she could still be distracted by the cares and worldly glory which had surrounded her while her husband was alive.  Against my will she followed me to Marburg.  Here in the town she built a hospice where she gathered together the weak and the feeble.  There she attended the most wretched and contemptible at her own table.  Apart from those active good works, I declare before God that I have seldom seen a more contemplative woman.  When she was coming from private prayer, some religious men and women often saw her face shining marvelously and light coming from her eyes like the rays of the sun.  Before her death I heard her confession.  When I asked what should be done about her goods and possessions, she replied that anything which seemed to be hers belonged to the poor.  She asked me to distribute everything except one worn out dress in which she wished to be buried.  When all this had been decided, she received the body of our Lord.  Afterward, until vespers, she spoke often of the holiest things she had heard in sermons.  Then, she devoutly commended to God all who were sitting near her, and as if falling into a gentle sleep, she died.”

 

Collect:  Almighty God, by your grace your servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world:  Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

20 November.  Edmund, King of East Anglia, (841-869).  Edmund ascended the throne of East Anglia at the age of fifteen, one of several monarchs who ruled various parts of England at that period in her history.  The principal source of information about the martyrdom of the young king is an account by Dunstan, who became Archbishop of Canterbury ninety years after Edmund’s death.  Dunstan had heard the story many years before from a man who claimed to have been Edmund’s armor bearer.  Edmund had reigned as a Christian king for nearly fifteen years when Danish armies invaded England in 869.  Led by two brothers, Hinguar and Hubba, the Danes moved south, burning monasteries and churches, plundering and destroying entire villages, and killing hundreds.  Upon reaching East Anglia, the brothers confronted Edmund and offered to share their treasure with him if he would acknowledge their supremacy, forbid all practice of the Christian faith, and become a figurehead ruler.  Edmund’s bishops advised him to accept the terms and avoid further bloodshed, but the king refused.  He declared that he would not forsake Christ by surrendering to pagan rule, nor would he betray his people by consorting with the enemy.  Edmund’s small army fought bravely against the Danes, but the king was eventually captured.  According to Dunstan’s account, Edmund was tortured, beaten, shot through with arrows, and finally beheaded.  By tradition, the date of his death is November 20, 869.  The cult of the twenty-nine-year-old martyr grew very rapidly, and his remains were eventually enshrined in a Benedictine monastery in Bedericesworth—now called Bury St. Edmunds.  Through the centuries Edmund’s shrine became a traditional place of pilgrimage for England’s kings, who came to pray at the grave of a man who remained steadfast in the Christian faith and loyal to the integrity of the English people.

 

Sequence from the Sarum Missal:

“May the joyful choirs sing,

May the earth applaud

At the Birthday of King Edmund.

Whom the heavenly King loved

So that he may he His witness

In noble martyrdom.

Strong in faith, the blessed king

Was invited to [follow] the footsteps

Of the praiseworthy highest King.

He rejected the leader of the pagans,

And followed the true light

Through the shame of death.

The enemies, used to evil deed,

Pierced the body of the gentle king,

Who was bound to a tree

With terrible arrows

And on the body spiked with arrows

The arrows only made way to more arrows.

The holy head was cut off

And hid from them

In a pathless forest.

Something wondrous to say happens:

There one hears shouting

In the English language.

O what great wonder,

The holy head is found

Guarded by a wolf.

His precious body is buried

And becomes famous

Through manifold signs.

So the king and martyr

Entered the senate, in which lives

The court of heavens.

Through his prayer, may we enjoy

The true light, and may the King of Glory

Become our leader.”

 

Collect:  O God of ineffable mercy, you gave grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for your Name:  Bestow on us your servants the shield of faith with which we can withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

21 November.  John Merbecke (1510-1585), Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), William Byrd (1540-1623), Musicians.  John Merbecke was born in 1510 and nothing is known of his childhood.  As a young man he was a chorister at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, and from 1541 until near the time of his death in 1585, he served as chapel organist.  Only a small handful of works by Merbecke have survived, most notably the Booke of Common Praier Noted, 1550, composed to accompany the 1549 Book.  The appearance of the 1552 Prayer Book made it obsolete, but more recently, Merbecke’s musical setting has been widely used.

 

Thomas Tallis was born near the beginning of the fifteenth century and very little is known of his early life.  After a succession of appointments as a church musician, he spent most of his vocation in service to the Crown as musician to the Chapels Royal under four successive monarchs, both Catholic and Protestant.  Although always a Roman Catholic, Tallis had the political savvy to survive the shifts in ecclesial loyalties and the musical acumen to respond to the changing needs of the Church of England.  He is regarded as the father of English Church music since the Reformation.

 

William Byrd was a student, colleague, business partner, and successor of Thomas Tallis.  Most likely born in Lincolnshire in 1540, he was appointed organist and choirmaster of Lincoln Cathedral in 1563 and served until he joined Tallis as a gentleman of the Chapels Royal in 1572.  Like Tallis, he was a lifelong Roman Catholic but was successful in winning the support for his music among Anglicans of Puritan tendencies, though not without occasional difficulties.  His liturgical compositions cover a variety of musical forms:  mass settings, motets, graduals, psalm settings, English anthems, and occasional music for the great feasts of the church.  Byrd composed for the keyboard and wrote works perhaps best described as consort music for the more popular enjoyment of the court.  Tallis and Byrd collaborated on a number of projects and together held the Crown Patent for the printing of music and lined music paper for twenty-one years.

 

Collect:  O God most glorious, whose praises are sung night and day by your saints and angels in heaven:  We give you thanks for William Byrd, John Merbecke and Thomas Tallis, whose music has enriched the praise that your Church offers you here on earth.  Grant, we pray, to all who are touched by the power of music such glimpses of eternity that we may be made ready to join your saints in heaven and behold your glory unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

22 November.  Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c. 230.  Cecilia is the patron saint of singers, organ builders, musicians and poets.  She is venerated as a martyr.  Many of the details of her life are unknown and much of what we do know comes from later periods.  She is among the women named in the Roman Canon of the Mass.  According to fifth century sources, Cecilia was of noble birth and was betrothed to a pagan who bore the name Valerian.  Cecilia’s witness resulted in the conversion of Valerian and his brother, Tiburtius.  Because of their conversion, the brothers were martyred and while Cecilia was burying them, she too was arrested.  After several failed attempts to put her to death, she died from injuries sustained by the ordeal.  The date of her martyrdom is generally believed to be 230 during the Roman persecution of Christians under Alexander Severus, although some scholars have dated it earlier.  Remembered for the passion with which she sang the praises of God, Cecilia is first depicted in Christian art as a martyr, but since the fourteenth century she is often shown playing the organ, a theme picked up my Raphael in his famous altarpiece for San Giovanni-in-Monte, Bologna, painted around 1516.  Her story has inspired centuries of artistic representations in paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and stained glass.  Composers such as Handel, Purcell, Howells, and Britten have written choral works and mass settings in her honor.  Many music schools, choral societies, and concert series bear her name.  In the ninth century, during the pontificate of Pope Paschal I, the remains of Cecilia were uncovered in the catacombs of Callixtus.  On orders from the pope, the sarcophagus containing her remains was transferred to the new basilica in the Trastevere region of Rome.  Built on what was believed to be the site of Cecilia’s home, a church named in her honor had existed on the site since at least the fifth century, and perhaps as early as the late third century, one of the original churches of the City of Rome.

 

From a discourse on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop:  “Sing to God with songs of joy.  Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!  Sing to him a new song.  Rid yourself of what is old and worn out, for you know a new song.  A new man, a new covenant; a new song.  This new song does not belong to the old man.  Only the new man learns it:  the man restored from his fallen condition through the grace of God, and now sharing in the new covenant, that is, the kingdom of heaven.  To it all our love now aspires and sings a new song.  Let us sing a new song not with our lips but with our lives.  Sing to him a new song, sing to him with joyful melody.  Every one of us tries to discover how to sing to God.  You must sing to him, but you must sing well.  He does not want your voice to come harshly to his ears, so sing well, brothers!  If you were asked, ‘Sing to please this musician,’ you would not like to do so without having taken some instruction in music, because you would not like to offend an expert in the art.  An untrained listener does not notice the faults a musician would point out to you.  Who, then, will offer to sing well for God, the great artist whose discrimination is faultless, whose attention is on the minutest detail, whose ear nothing escapes?  When will you be able to offer him a perfect performance that you will in no way displease such a supremely discerning listener?  See how he himself provides you with a way of singing.  Do not search for words, as if you could find a lyric which would give God pleasure.  Sing to him ‘with songs of joy.’  This is singing well to God, just singing with songs of joy.  But how is this done?  You must first understand that words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart.  Take the case of people singing while harvesting in the fields or in the vineyards or when any other strenuous work is in progress.  Although they begin by giving expression to their happiness in sung words, yet shortly there is a change.  As if so happy that words can no longer express what they feel, they discard the restricting syllables.  They burst out into a simple sound of joy, of jubilation.  Such a cry of joy is a sound signifying that the heart is bringing to birth what it cannot utter in words.  Now, who is more worthy of such a cry of jubilation than God himself, whom all words fail to describe?  If words will not serve, and yet you must not remain silent, what else can you do but cry out for joy?  Your heart must rejoice beyond words, soaring into an immensity of gladness, unrestrained by syllabic bonds.  Sing to him with jubilation.”

 

Collect:  Most gracious God, whose blessed martyr Cecilia sang in her heart to strengthen her witness to you:  We give you thanks for the makers of music whom you have gifted with Pentecostal fire; and we pray that we may join with them in creation’s song of praise until at the last, with Cecelia and all your saints, we come to share in the song of those redeemed by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

 

22 November.  Clive Staples Lewis, Apologist and Spiritual Writer, (1898-1963).  “You must make your choice,” C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity.  “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up as a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.”  Lewis did not always believe this.  Born in Belfast, Lewis was raised as an Anglican but rejected Christianity during his adolescent years.  After serving in World War I, he started a long academic career as a scholar in mediaeval and renaissance literature at both Oxford and Cambridge.  He also began an inner journey that led him from atheism to agnosticism to theism and finally to faith in Jesus Christ.  “Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully,” he later wrote of his conversion to theism in Surprised by Joy.  “Dangers lie in wait for him on every side … Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God’.  To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.  You must picture me all alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.  That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.  In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed:  perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”  Two years later, his conversion was completed:  “I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken.  I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning.  When we set out, I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did.”  Lewis’s conversion inaugurated a wonderful outpouring of Christian apologetics in media as varied as popular theology, children’s literature, fantasy and science fiction, and correspondence on spiritual matters with friends and strangers alike.  In 1956 Lewis married Joy Davidman, a recent convert to Christianity.  Her death four years later led him to a transforming encounter with the Mystery of which he had written so eloquently before.  Lewis died at his home in Oxford on November 22, 1963.  The inscription on his grave reads:  “Men must endure their going hence”.

 

On hiding our talents, from The Four Loves, by C S Lewis:  “To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. … The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

 

Collect:  O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike.  Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

23 November.  Clement, Bishop of Rome, c. 100.  According to early traditions, Clement was a disciple of the Apostles and the third Bishop of Rome.  He is generally regarded as the author of a letter written about the year 96 from the Church in Rome to the Church in Corinth, and known as “First Clement” in the collection of early documents called “The Apostolic Fathers.”  The occasion of the letter was the action of a younger group at Corinth who had deposed the elder clergy because of dissatisfaction with their ministrations.  The unity of the Church was being jeopardized by a dispute over its ministry.  Clement’s letter sets forth a hierarchical view of Church authority.  It insists that God requires due order in all things, that the deposed clergy must be reinstated, and that the legitimate superiors must be obeyed.  The letter used the terms “bishop” and “presbyter” interchangeably to describe the higher ranks of clergy, but refers to some of them as “rulers” of the Church.  It is they who lead its worship and “offer the gifts” of the Eucharist, just as the duly appointed priests of the Old Testament performed the various sacrifices and liturgies in their time.  Many congregations of the early Church read this letter in their worship, and several ancient manuscripts include it in the canonical books of the New Testament, along with a second letter, which is actually an early homily of unknown authorship.  The text of First Clement was lost to the western Church in the Middle Ages, and was not rediscovered until 1628.  Clement writes: “The apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus the Christ was sent from God.  Thus Christ is from God and the apostles from Christ.  In both instances, the orderly procedure depends on God’s will.  So thereafter, when the apostles had been given their instructions, and all their doubts had been set at rest by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, they went forth in the confidence of the Holy Spirit to preach the good news of the coming of God’s kingdom.  They preached in country and city, and appointed their first converts, after testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers.”

 

Excerpt from Clement’s Lettr to the Corinthians:  “Beloved, how blessed and wonderful are God’s gifts!  There is life everlasting, joy in righteousness, truth in freedom, faith, confidence, and self-control in holiness.  And these are the gifts that we can comprehend; what of all the others that are being prepared for those who look to him.  Only the Creator, the Father of the ages, the All-Holy, knows their grandeur and their loveliness.  And so we should strive to be found among those who wait for him so that we may share in these promised gifts.  And how is this to be, beloved brothers?  It will come about if by our faith our minds remain fixed on God; if we aim at what is pleasing and acceptable to him, if we accomplish what is in harmony with his faultless will and follow the path of truth, rejecting all injustice, viciousness, covetousness, quarrels, malice and deceit.

This is the path, beloved, by which we find our salvation, Jesus Christ, the high priest of our sacrifices, the defender and ally in our helplessness.  It is through him that we gaze on the highest heaven, through him we can see the reflection of God’s pure and sublime countenance, through him the eyes of our hearts have been opened, through him our foolish and darkened understanding opens toward the light, and through him the Lord has willed that we should taste everlasting knowledge.  He reflects God’s majesty and is as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.  Let us then serve in his army, brothers, following his blameless commands with all our might.  The great cannot exist without the small nor the small without the great; they blend together to their mutual advantage.  Take the body, for example.  The head is nothing without the feet, just as the feet are nothing without the head.  The smallest parts of our body are necessary and valuable to the whole.  All work together and are mutually subject for the preservation of the whole body.  Our entire body, then will be preserved in Christ Jesus, and each of us should be subject to his neighbor in accordance with the grace given to each.  The stronger should care for the weak, and the weak should respect the stronger.  The wealthy should give to the poor, and the poor man should thank God that he has sent him someone to supply his needs.  The wise should manifest their wisdom not in words but in good deeds, and the humble should not talk about their own humility, but allow others to bear witness to it.  Since, therefore, we have all this from him, we ought to thank him for it all. Glory to him for ever. Amen”

 

Collect:  Almighty God, you chose your servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability:  Grant that your Church may be grounded and settled in your truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; reveal to it what is not yet known; fill up what is lacking; confirm what has already been revealed; and keep it blameless in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

25 November.  James Otis Sargent Huntington, Priest and Monk, (1854-1935).  In the Rule for the Order of the Holy Cross, James Huntington wrote:  “Holiness is the brightness of divine love, and love is never idle; it must accomplish great things.”  Commitment to active ministry rooted in the spiritual life was the guiding principle for the founder of the first permanent Episcopal monastic community for men in the United States.  James Otis Sargent Huntington was born in Boston.  After graduation from Harvard, he studied theology at St. Andrew’s Divinity School in Syracuse, New York, and was ordained deacon and priest by his father, the first Bishop of Central New York.  In 1880 and 1881 he ministered in a working-class congregation at Calvary Mission, Syracuse.  While attending a retreat at St. Clement’s Church, Philadelphia, Huntington received a call to the religious life.  He considered joining the Society of St. John the Evangelist, which had by that time established a province in the United States, but he resolved to found an indigenous American community.  Huntington and two other priests began their common life at Holy Cross Mission on New York’s Lower East Side, ministering with the Sisters of St. John Baptist among poor immigrants.  The taxing daily regimen of Eucharist, prayer, and long hours of pastoral work soon forced one priest to leave for reason of health.  The other dropped out for lack of a vocation.  Huntington went on alone; and on November 25, 1884, his life vow was received by Bishop Potter of New York.  As Huntington continued his work among the immigrants, with emphasis on helping young people, he became increasingly committed to the social witness of the Church.  His early involvements in the single-tax movement and the labor union movement were instrumental in the eventual commitment of the Episcopal Church to social ministries.  The Order attracted vocations, and as it grew in the ensuing years the community moved, first to Maryland, and, in 1902, to West Park, New York, where it established the monastery which is its mother house.  Huntington served as Superior on several occasions, continuing his energetic round of preaching, teaching and spiritual counsel until his death on June 28, 1935.

 

Excerpt from Huntington’s The Work of Prayer:  “True prayer requires a true knowledge of God, such as results from faith in Him as He made Himself known to us  But, then, further the questions comes, “Are the praises that I offer to God, or the petitions I present, really such as God can accept?  Are they not too cold and weak to win His attention and approval?”  And there is only one way in which this second difficulty in the life of prayer can be met.  That is by an act of hope.  Not hope in ourselves, but hope in the purpose and power of the Holy Ghost to “pray the prayer within us that to Heaven shall rise,” to “sing the song that angels sing above the skies.”

 

Collect:  O loving God, by your grace your servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ:  Send your blessing on all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look upon him and be saved; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

26 November.  Isaac Watts, Hymn writer, (1674-1748).  Isaac Watts is remembered as the father of English hymnody.  He was born in Southampton, England, the eldest child of a devout Nonconformist family.  His academic capabilities and particularly his ability with the English language were recognized at an early age.  He was offered the resources to enroll at Oxford or Cambridge and pursue ordination in the Church of England, but Watts remained faithful to his background and in 1690 enrolled in a Nonconformist academy at Stoke Newington.  In 1702, Watts was ordained and served the Mark Lane independent congregation in London for a decade before his health made it impossible to continue.  As a hymn writer, Watts wrote more than six hundred hymns, about a quarter of which continue in popular use.  Among his works was his Psalms of David, a metrical psalter that versified the psalms in English for hymnic use.  Perhaps his most enduring contribution in this genre is “O God, our help in ages past”, based upon the opening verses of Psalm 90.  Watts also wrote a wide variety of other hymns and spiritual songs that are well beloved.  The attractiveness of his texts is often said to be reflective of Watts’ own personal faith:  gentle, quiet, sturdy, and deeply devout.  Due to ill health, Watts spent the last decades of his life in semi-seclusion, rarely preaching, but devoted his time to writing, as he was able.  During this period, his writings take a new turn and he completed books on logic, human nature, and the English language, in addition to sermons, devotional literature, works for children, and more poetry and hymns.  Watts died in 1748.  He is honored with a memorial in Westminster Abbey.

 

Excerpt from a sermon on the Knowledge of God, by Isaac Watts:  “The Knowledge of God, which is attainable by the Light of Nature, hath its various Uses -, of which this is one, that it is a Witness for God and his Goodness among Men.  Yet this Knowledge of God, by the Light of “Nature” hath great Defects and Imperfections in it.  Notwithstanding all this Knowledge, which is within the reach of Men, yet all the Nations of Mankind besides the Jews, continued to walk in their own Ways, their Ways of Idolatry, of wild Superstition and various Wickedness.  It is iaid indeed, – that God suffered them to walk thus -, not that he ever permitted them to do it as a Governor -, but as a Creator and a Sovereign, he neither restrained them from it by his Almighty Power, nor by such special Revelations of Grace, as he made to the Jewish Nation.”

 

Collect:  God of truth and grace, you gave Isaac Watts singular gifts to present your praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for your Church:  Give us grace joyfully to sing your praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

26 November.  Thanksgiving Day.  Agricultural festivals are of great antiquity, and common to many religions.  Among the Jews, the three pilgrimage feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, each had agricultural significance.  Mediaeval Christianity also developed a number of such observances, none of which, however, was incorporated into the Prayer Book.  Our own Thanksgiving Day finds its roots in observances begun by colonists in Massachusetts and Virginia, a tradition later taken up and extended to the whole of the new American nation by action of the Continental Congress.

 

Collect:  Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.  Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

28 November.  Kamehameha (1834-1863) and Emma (1836-1885), King and Queen of Hawaii.  Within a year of ascending the throne in 1855, the twenty-year-old King Kamehameha IV and his bride, Emma Rooke, embarked on the path of altruism and unassuming humility for which they have been revered by their people.  The year before, Honolulu, and especially its native Hawaiians, had been horribly afflicted by smallpox.  The people, accustomed to a royalty which ruled with pomp and power, were confronted instead by a king and queen who went about, “with notebook in hand,” soliciting from rich and poor the funds to build a hospital.  Queen’s Hospital, named for Emma, is now the largest civilian hospital in Hawaii.  In 1860, the king and queen petitioned the Bishop of Oxford to send missionaries to establish the Anglican Church in Hawaii.  The king’s interest came through a boyhood tour of England where he had seen, in the stately beauty of Anglican liturgy, a quality that seemed attuned to the gentle beauty of the Hawaiian spirit.  England responded by sending the Rt. Rev. Thomas N. Staley and two priests.  They arrived on October 11, 1862, and the king and queen were confirmed a month later, on November 28, 1862.  They then began preparations for a cathedral and school, and the king set about to translate the Book of Common Prayer and much of the Hymnal.  Kamehameha’s life was marred by the tragic death of his four-year-old son and only child, in 1863.  He seemed unable to survive his sadness, although a sermon he preached after his son’s death expresses a hope and faith that is eloquent and profound.  His own death took place only a year after his son’s, in 1864.  Emma declined to rule; instead, she committed her life to good works.  She was responsible for schools, churches, and efforts on behalf of the poor and sick.  She traveled several times to England and the Continent to raise funds, and became a favorite of Queen Victoria’s.  Archbishop Longley of Canterbury, remarked upon her visit to Lambeth:  “I was much struck by the cultivation of her mind … But what excited my interest most was her almost saintly piety.”  The Cathedral was completed after Emma died.  It was named St. Andrew’s in memory of the king, who died on that saint’s day.  Among the Hawaiian people, Emma is still referred to as “our beloved Queen.”

 

Collect:  O Sovereign God, who raised up (King) Kamehameha (IV) and (Queen) Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and inspired and enabled them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of your Church:  Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

30 November.  St. Andrew the Apostle.  Most biographical notes on this Apostle begin “Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother,” and he is so described in the Gospels.  Identifying Andrew as Peter’s brother makes it easy to know who he is, but it also makes it easy to overlook the fact of Andrew’s special gift to the company of Christ.  The Gospel according to John tells how Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, was one of two disciples who followed Jesus after John had pointed him out, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God”  (John 1:29).  Andrew and the other disciple went with Jesus and stayed with him, and Andrew’s first act afterward was to find his brother and bring him to Jesus.  We might call Andrew the first missionary in the company of disciples.  Though Andrew was not a part of the inner circle of disciples (Peter, James, and John), he is always named in the list of disciples, and appears prominently in several incidents.  Andrew and Peter were fishermen, and Matthew’s Gospel records Jesus’ calling them from their occupation, and their immediate response to his call.  Andrew was the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus for the feeding of the multitude.  We hear little of Andrew as a prominent leader, and he seems always to be in the shadow of Peter.  Eusebius, the Church historian, records his going to Scythia, but there is no reliable information about the end of his life.  Tradition has it that he was fastened to an X-shaped cross and suffered death at the hands of angry pagans.  Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.

 

From a homily on the gospel of John by St John Chrysostum:  “After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother.  Notice what Andrew said to him:  We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ.  Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time.  They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth.  They reveal the zeal and concern of men preoccupied with this question from the very beginning.  Andrew’s words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others.  To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection.  Notice, too, how, even from the beginning, Peter is docile and receptive in spirit.  He hastens to Jesus without delay.  He brought him to Jesus, says the evangelist.  But Peter must not be condemned for his readiness to accept Andrew’s word without much weighing of it.  It is probable that his brother had given him, and many others, a careful account of the event; the evangelists, in the interest of brevity, regularly summarize a lengthy narrative.  Saint John does not say that Peter believed immediately, but that he brought him to Jesus.  Andrew was to hand him over to Jesus, to learn everything for himself.  There was also another disciple present, and he hastened with them for the same purpose.  When John the Baptist said: This is the Lamb, and he baptizes in the Spirit, he left the deeper understanding of these things to be received from Christ.  All the more so would Andrew act in the same way, since he did not think himself able to give a complete explanation.  He brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that he would not delay even for a moment.”

 

Sequence for Feast of the St. Andrew by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),

translated by Digby S. Wrangham:

“Let us, shouts of gladness raising,

Now delighted to be praising

The Apostle Andrew be:

Whose faith, life, and doctrine precious,

With his mighty works for Jesus,

Should be honored worthily.

He, who first the true light’s glowing

Saw, at John the Baptist’s showing,

Peter led the faith to see!

Then are Peter and his brother

Called along with one another

At the Sea of Galilee.

Fishermen till then, both preachers

Of the word become and teachers

Of the rules of righteousness:

Now a net to catch men loose they,

And a wary forethought use they

The young Church to guard and bless.

Andrew soon his brother leaves,

When commission he receives,

And is in Achaia placed:

Of which province a great part,

By God’s grace convinced in heart,

To the nets of Andrew haste.

By his faith, life, signs, and speeches

This great, good, man’s doctrine reaches

And reforms the people’s heart.

When Aegeas findeth out

All that Andrew thus had wrought,

Forth his bitter wrath-stings start.

His staid heart and manly spirit,

Who in this life saw no merit,

Stronger from endurance grow.

Flattering or tormenting either,

His insensate judge by neither

Can his strength of mind o’erthrow.

When he sees the cross preparing.

Like his Master, suffering sharing,

The disciple longs to be;

For Christ’s death he pays his own,

And for its triumphal crown

On the cross seeks eagerly.

Upon the cross he lived two days,

Thenceforth to live in heaven always;

Nor, when the people wished, would he

Be lifted from the fatal tree.

Nigh half an hour upon that height

Bathed in a light exceeding bright.

In light, exulting at the sight.

He passes to the halls of light

Andrew, crowned with endless glory !

Rich in prayer propitiatory!

Of whose brilliant death the story

Tis so sweet in thought to trace !

From this vale of woe exceeding

To that light such radiance shedding,

Loving shepherd, spirits feeding !

O transport us by thy grace!  Amen.”

 

Collect:  Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him:  Give us, who are called by your Holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.