1 February.  Brigid (451-523).  Next to Patrick, Brigid is the most beloved of Irish saints.  Born at Fauchart, she may have met Patrick as a young girl.  She was said to be the daughter of Dubhthach, poet laureate of King Loeghaire, and was reared in a Druid household.  She decided early in life to dedicate her life to God alone as a Christian.  She received a nun’s veil from Bishop Macaile of Westmeath.  Gathering around her a group of women, Brigid, in 470, founded a nunnery at Kildare, a place whose name meant “Church of the Oak.”  Here had flourished the cult of a pagan goddess, from which it was said to have derived the sacred fire, which she and her successors maintained.  To secure the sacraments, Brigid persuaded the anchorite Conlaed to receive episcopal ordination and to bring his community of monks to Kildare, thus establishing the only known Irish double monastery of men and women.  Brigid actively participated in policy-making decisions in Church conventions.  One story has it that she received episcopal orders, which may reflect only the fact that she exercised the jurisdictional authority that was customarily wielded by mediaeval abbesses.  Many stories are told of Brigid’s concern for the poor and needy.  When a leper woman asked for milk she was healed also of her infirmity.  Two blind men were given their sight.  Best known is the tale that tells of Brigid’s taming of a wolf at the request of a local chieftain whose pet dog had been killed accidentally by a peasant.  The Gaelic name given to the oyster-catching bird, galle-brigade, attests to her affinity for birds.  Her feast day itself, February 1, was long held sacred as Imbolg, the Celtic festival of Spring.  Brigid died at Kildare, outside whose small cathedral the foundations of her fire-house are still shown to tourists.  Her remains are said to have been re-interred, at the time of the Danish invasions of the ninth century, with those of Patrick, at Downpatrick.  Also known as Bride, Brigid was very popular both in Scotland and England, where many churches have been dedicated to her.  The best known of them is that church which was designed by Christopher Wren on Fleet Street in London.  In Wales, Brigid achieved fame under her Gaelic name Ffraid.  In liturgical iconography and statuary Saint Brigid is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crosier of the sort used by abbots, and a lamp (called a “lamp of learning and wisdom”, as lamps and fire were regarded sacred to the Celts and druids).

 

Collect:  Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of your blessed servant Brigid, and we give you thanks for her life of devoted service.  Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve you all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

2 February.  The Presentation of our Lord.  Today’s Feast is sometimes known as the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, and sometimes as Candlemas.  In the Eastern Church it has been called the Meeting of Christ with Simeon.  Such a variety of names is sufficient testimony to the wealth of spiritual meaning that generations of Christians have discovered in this small incident.  The title, “The Presentation,” reminds us of the Jewish law (Exodus 13:2; 22:29) that every firstborn son had to be dedicated to God in memory of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt, when the firstborn sons of the Egyptians died and those of Israel were spared.  When Mary placed her small son into the arms of Simeon, it was the meeting of the Old and New Dispensations.  The old sacrifices, the burnt offerings and oblations, were done away; a new and perfect offering had come into the temple.  God had provided himself a lamb for the burnt-offering (Genesis 22:8), his only Son.  The offering was to be made once for all on the cross.  At every Eucharist those who are in Christ recall that sinless offering and unite “themselves, their souls and bodies” with the self-oblation of their Lord and Savior.  Inspired the words of the Simeon’s canticle (“a light to the revelation of the Gentiles”), by the 11th century, the custom had developed in the West of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation.  The candles were then lit, and a procession took place through the darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung.  Because of this, the feast became known as Candlemas.

 

From a sermon by Saint Sophronius, bishop:  “Let us receive the light whose brilliance is eternal.  In honor of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ.  Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.  Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light.  Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.  The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness.  We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.  The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness.  This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him.  So let us hasten all together to meet our God.  The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world.  Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light.  Let all of us share in its splendor, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness.  Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal.  Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendor.  Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves.  As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.  By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem.  Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God.  Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel.  Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honor.”

 

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

translated by Digby S. Wrangham:

“Let us, the heart’s shrine preparing

With a heart renewed be sharing

In the old man’s joy again,

Joy, which, held in his embraces,

So his long-felt heart’s wish raises

Once more in the long-lived man.

Set an ensign for the nations.

Shrine with light, song with laudations,

Hearts with glory filleth He;

Now a child for presentation,

When a man, a sin-oblation

On the Cross for sin to be !

Savior ! here, here, Mary lowly I

Holy Son and mother holy !

Move us all to glad delight

By that work of light perfected.

Which we now, for prayer collected.

Image with our tapers bright !

The true light the Word from heaven,

Virgin’s flesh the wax, hath given

To Christ’s candle, bright as day,

Which to hearts that wisdom showeth.

Through which virtue’s path he knoweth,

Who by sin is led astray.

As one, love t’ward Jesus bearing,

In this festal custom sharing.

Doth a waxen taper hold,

So the Father’s Word supernal,

Pledge of purity maternal.

Did old Simeon’s arms enfold.

Joy thou, who thy Father barest !

Pure within, without the fairest !

From all spot or wrinkle free !

Pre-elect of the Beloved !

By the Elect of old approved !

Darling of the Deity !

Beauty of all kinds seems clouded,

Sore defaced and horror-shrouded.

When we see thy beauty shine:

Bitter groweth every savor,

Hateful and of filthy flavor.

After we have tasted thine.

Every scent the sweetest smelling

Seems not sweet, but most repelling,

When thy scents our nostrils fill;

Love of all kinds is rejected

Instantly, or else neglected,

Whilst thy love we cherish still.

Lovely light o’er ocean’s waters !

Mother, peerless ‘mongst earth’s daughters !

Parent true of truth immortal !

Way of life to grace’s portal !

Medicine all the world to heal I

Duct of wine from life’s fount bursting.

For which all men should be thirsting !

Sweet to those in health or sickness !

Health to all, who in sore weakness

For its cheering draught appeal !

Fountain duly

Sealed as holy !

Outpour for us

Rivers o’er us:

Fount of showers

For hearts’ flowers !

Water ever

From thy river

To all thirsting souls impart:

Fount o’erflowing !

Through hearts going,

Grant ablution

From pollution:

Fountain, given

Pure from heaven !

From earth, wholly

Impure, thoroughly

Purify man’s impure heart !”

 

Collect:  Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

3 February.  The Dorchester Chaplains:  Lieutenant George Fox, Lieutenant Alexander D. Goode, Lieutenant Clark V. Poling, Lieutenant John P. WashingtonOn January 23, 1943, the Dorchester, a converted cruise ship, set sail with a troop convoy from New York City for Greenland with 902 persons on board.  Among them were four U.S. Army chaplains, Lt. George L. Fox (Methodist), Lt. Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), Lt. Clark V. Poling (Dutch-Reformed), and Lt. John P. Washington (Catholic).  George Fox had served as a medical corps assistant in World War I, where he was decorated for heroism.  Alexander Goode joined the National Guard while he was studying for the rabbinate.  Clark Poling’s father told him that chaplains had a high mortality rate.  He prayed for strength, courage and understanding, then joined the Army Chaplains Corps.  John Washington was a gang leader in Newark, New Jersey, when he was called to the priesthood.  On February 3, one day from their destination, a German U-Boat fired torpedoes, striking the boiler room of the Dorchester.  Even though everyone was sleeping with their life jackets, many of the soldiers left them behind as they clambered topside to seek escape and safety.  Unfortunately, only two of the fourteen lifeboats were successfully lowered into the water, making it necessary for most men to dive into the nineteen-degree water.  The four chaplains moved among the men, assisting, calming, and passing out life jackets from the ship’s store to those forced to jump into the freezing ocean.  Having given up their own life vests to save the lives of the soldiers, the chaplains remained on the aft deck, arms linked in prayer until the ship sank, claiming their lives.  Two hundred thirty men were rescued from the icy waters by other ships in the convoy.  Many survived because of the selflessness and heroism of the four chaplains.  Chaplains Fox, Goode, Poling, and Washington responded to a high calling from God to represent his love among men of war.  On the day they died, they personified the words of Jesus found in John 15:13:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

 

Collect:  Holy God, you inspired the Dorchester chaplains to be models of steadfast sacrificial love in a tragic and terrifying time:  Help us to follow their example, that their courageous ministry may inspire chaplains and all who serve, to recognize your presence in the midst of peril; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

4 February.  Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, (801-865).  Anskar was one of those valiant Christians of whom it might be said, “These shall plant the seed, but others shall reap the harvest.”  As Archbishop of Hamburg, he was papal legate for missionary work among the Scandinavians.  The immediate result of his devoted and perilous labors was slight:  two churches established on the border of Denmark and one priest settled in Sweden.  He also participated in the consecration of Gotbert, first bishop in Sweden.  Anskar was born in Corbie, France, and educated in the outstanding monastic school there.  His teaching skill led him to be chosen master of a new monastery school, sent out by Corbie, in Saxon Germany.  His strongest call, however, was to be a missionary.  He was stirred, his biographer Rimbert says, by a prolonged vision, in which a voice said, “Go and return to me crowned with martyrdom.”  When King Harald of Denmark sought missionaries for that country in 826, Anskar was one of those selected.  Rimbert notes that Anskar’s missionary purpose caused astonishment.  Why should he wish to leave his brothers to deal with “unknown and barbarous folk?”  Some of the brethren tried to deter him; others considered him a freak.  Steadfast in his resolve, Anskar established a school and mission in Denmark, working conscientiously but unsuccessfully to convert and evangelize.  He was not totally discouraged.  Another vision appeared, with a voice saying, “Go and declare the work of God to the nations.”  Shortly afterward (about 829), he was called to Sweden and eagerly accepted.  Meager aid both from the monastery and the emperor frustrated his efforts.  While still a young man, Anskar was consecrated Archbishop of Hamburg in 831, and continued his work among the Scandinavians until 848, when he retired to the See of Bremen.  The seeds of his efforts were not to bear fruit until over one hundred years later, when Viking devastation, weakness in the Frankish Church, and the lowest ebb of missionary enthusiasm, came to an end.  The rich harvest of conversion was three generations away.  Nevertheless, Anskar is looked upon by Scandinavians as their apostle.

 

Excerpt from The Life of Anskar, by Rimbert, Chap. XXXV:  “He founded a hospital for the poor at Bremen, to which he assigned the tithes from certain hamlets so that those who were poor and sick might be daily sustained and refreshed.  Throughout the whole of his episcopacy he gave away for the support of the poor a tenth of the animals and of all his revenues and a tenth of the tithes which belonged to him, and whatever money or property of any kind came to him he gave a tenth for the benefit of the poor.  In addition, every fifth year he tithed again all his animals although they had been already tithed in order to give alms.  Of the money that came to the churches in the monasteries he gave a fourth part for this purpose.  He was ever most careful of scholars and of widows and wherever he knew that there were hermits, whether men or women, he endeavored to visit them frequently and to strengthen them in God’s service by gifts, and minister to their wants.  He always carried in his girdle a little bag containing coins, so that, if anyone who was in need came and the dispenser of charity was not there, he might himself be able to give at once.  For in all things he strove to fulfil the saying of the blessed Job, that he would not even cause the eyes of the widow to wait.  Thus did he endeavor to be an eye to the blind, and a foot to the lame and the father of the poor.  He ordered that four indigent persons, two men and two women, should be received and fed daily at Bremen during Lent.  He joined with the brethren in washing the feet of the men; in the case of the women this was done in the above mentioned hospital for the poor by one who was consecrated to God and whom he had himself approved for her devotion to God and her love of religion.  As he went round his parishes after the manner of a bishop, before he came to a meal he ordered that some poor persons should be brought in, and he himself gave them water to wash their hands and blessed the food and drink and gave it to them.  Then a table was placed in front of them and he and his guest began their own meal.  We saw on one occasion an illustration of his compassion and piety which was afforded by the son of a certain widow who with many others had been carried as a captive to a distant land, that is to Sweden, and had been redeemed and brought back by him to his own country.  When his mother was rejoicing at the sight of his return and, as is the habit of women, was weeping for joy as she stood in his presence, the bishop, who was no less moved, begin to weep also.  He then immediately restored to the widowed mother the son to whom he had given his freedom and suffered them to go home rejoicing.”

 

Collect:  Almighty and everlasting God, you sent your servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and enabled him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors:  Keep your Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when you have begun a good work you will bring it to a fruitful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

5 February.  Roger Williams (1603-1683) and Anne Hutchinson(1591-1643), Prophetic Witnesses.  Born in London, Roger Williams was ordained and served as a priest in the Church of England.  Williams found that he could not abide by the rigorous, high-church policies of Archbishop William Laud, and in 1630, he sailed to New England in search of religious liberty.  Upon his arrival in Boston, Williams encountered further obstacles to religious freedom.  In particular, Williams objected to the ability of the civil authorities to punish religious offenses, and he advocated for a “wall of separation” between civil and religious powers.  He believed also in the fundamental right of all people to follow their consciences in matter of religious belief.  He left Massachusetts and founded a nearby settlement called Providence, believing God had guided him to this new land.  He was eventually granted a charter for the colony of Rhode Island, the new constitution of which granted wide religious latitude and freedom of practice.  Williams founded the first Baptist Church in Providence, though he refused to be tied to the tenets of an established church.

 

Like Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson also immigrated to Massachusetts in hope of finding religious freedom.  She was an outspoken advocate of the rights and equality of women, challenging the dominant views of the Puritan leadership.  She held Bible studies in her home for the women of her community, at which she welcomed critical examination of the faith.  As a result of her activities, she found herself at odds with not only the religious authorities, but with the state civil authorities as well, and in 1638, she was tried by the General Court of Massachusetts, presided over by Governor John Winthrop, and was branded as a dangerous dissenter and banished from the colony.  Anne eventually relocated to what is now Bronx, New York, where she and her family were killed, save one daughter, by a group of Siwanoy Indians in 1643.  Today, both Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson are remembered as early champions of religious liberty in this nation and as prophets of the individual’s freedom of fellowship with the Creator.

 

Excerpt from The hirelings ministry none of Christs, or, A discourse touching the propagating the Gospel of Christ Jesus humbly presented to such pious and honourable hands whom the present debate thereof concerns by Roger Williams.  “A few Queries subjoyned as to the former high Question, of propagating the Gospel or glad Newes of a Saviour.  1. First, whether the yet remaining Division of the whole Land, into Nationall and Parish Churches, and the centuring and assembling of People into a Parish Church, be suitable to the true Religion and Testament of Christ Iesus:  Or rather an invention of Satan and An∣tichrist, to divide the Land for gaine, into Nationall, Provinciall, Diocesan, Parochiall, so that there is not a foot of land left in the whole Nation, for the holiest or the highest (without some extraordinary priviledge) where to finde a resting place out of such a Church compasse.  And whether is not such a Profession of Christ Iesus, a denyall of Christ Iesus, whether is it not to make a State-Religion and the ministry thereof (like the Dutch) state Ministers, as it was truly said of late, that the Bishops were the Kings Bishops:  And if so, since the Head of the Nationall Church, or Parishes is civill, the body be not so likewise, and consequently the whole frame of Worship, but civill and Politicall, and consequently the Grand Idoll of Iealousie, before the flaming eyes of the Son of God.  2.  Whether this Nationall and Parishionall Forme of Worship be a State-Act, and so removeable at their pleasure.  Or is it the Peoples Act and choise, and not removeable without the peoples free consent:  To which end, can the Nation give, or the Parliament take a power of framing and imposing a Religion upon the people, any more (if not comparably so much) then of choosing and imposing Husbands and Wives (in way of Marriage) to all the people of this Nation:  And whether therefore to inforce an Vniformity of a Nation to one Religion or Worship (after the Jewish patterne) be not a soul oppression and usurpation, not after Moses, much lesse after Christ Iesus the Son of God.”

 

Collect:  O God our light and salvation, we thank you for Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ made them brave prophets of religious tolerance in the American colonies; and we pray that we also may follow paths of holiness and good conscience, guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

6 February.  The Martyrs of Japan, 1597.  The introduction of Christianity into Japan in the sixteenth century, first by the Jesuits under Francis Xavier, and then by the Franciscans, has left exciting records of heroism and self-sacrifice in the annals of Christian missionary endeavor.  It has been estimated that by the end of that century there were about 300,000 baptized believers in Japan.  Unfortunately, these initial successes were compromised by rivalries among the religious orders; and the interplay of colonial politics, both within Japan and between Japan and the Spanish and Portuguese, aroused suspicion about western intentions of conquest.  After a half century of ambiguous support by some of the powerful Tokugawa shoguns, the Christian enterprise suffered cruel persecution and suppression.  The first victims were six Franciscan friars and twenty of their converts who were crucified at Nagasaki, February 5, 1597.  By 1630, what was left of Christianity in Japan was driven underground.  Yet it is remarkable that two hundred and fifty years later there were found many men and women, without priests, who had preserved through the generations a vestige of Christian faith.

 

Collect:  O God our Father, source of strength to all your saints, you brought the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of eternal life:  Grant that we, encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith we profess, even to death itself; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

7 February.  Cornelius the Centurion.  All that we know about Cornelius is contained in the Acts of the Apostles (chapters 10–11).  He was the first Gentile converted to the Christian faith, along with his household.  A centurion was commander of a company of one hundred men in the Roman army, responsible for their discipline, both on the field of battle and in camp.  A centurion was a Roman citizen, a military career man, well-paid, and generally noted for courage and competence.  Some centurions, such as Cornelius, and those whom we know about from the Gospel narratives, were men of deep religious piety.  The author of Acts considered Cornelius’ conversion momentous for the future of Christianity.  He records that it occurred as the result of divine intervention and revelation, and as a response to the preaching of Peter the chief apostle.  The experience of Cornelius’ household was regarded as comparable to a new Pentecost, and it was a primary precedent for the momentous decision of the apostolic council, held in Jerusalem a few years later, to admit Gentiles to full and equal partnership with Jewish converts in the household of faith.  According to tradition, Cornelius was the second Bishop of Caesarea, the metropolitan see of Palestine.  Undoubtedly, Cornelius and his household formed the nucleus of the first Church in this important city, a Church that was gathered by Philip the Evangelist (Acts 8:40 and 21:8).

 

Collect:  O God, by your Spirit you called Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles:  Grant to your Church such a ready will to go where you send and to do what you command, that under your guidance it may welcome all who turn to you in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

11 February.  Frances Jane (Fanny) Van Alstyne Crosby, Hymnwriter, (1820-1915).  Fanny Crosby was the most prolific writer of hymn texts and gospel songs in the American evangelical tradition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  She wrote more than eight thousand sacred texts in addition to other poetry.  Frances Jane Crosby was born in Putnam County, New York.  Although not born blind, she lost her sight as an infant as a result of complications from a childhood illness.  At the age of fifteen, she entered the New York Institute for the Blind, where she would later teach for a number of years.  In 1858, she married Alexander van Alstyne, a musician in New York who was also blind.  Crosby was a lifelong Methodist.  Crosby’s texts were so popular that nearly every well-known composer of gospel music of the period came to her for words to accompany their melodies.  In most hymn writing, the words come first and then a composer sets them to music, but for Crosby the words came so quickly and naturally that composers would often take her their tunes and she would immediately begin to shape words that fit the music.  Perhaps the best example of this process led to the creation of Crosby’s most well known hymn “Blessed Assurance”.  On a visit to the home of a friend, the composer Phoebe Knapp, a newly composed tune was played for Crosby.  After listening to the tune several times, the text began to take shape, and in a very short time one of the world’s most popular gospel hymns was born.  The American gospel song is a unique genre of sacred music that combines words expressive of the personal faith and witness with tunes that are simple and easily learned.  Fanny Crosby’s contribution to this genre is unequaled.  Dozens of her hymns continue to find a place in the hymnals of Protestant evangelicalism around the world.

 

Collect:  O God, the blessed assurance of all who trust in you:  We give you thanks for your servant Fanny Crosby, who, though blind from infancy, beheld your glory with great clarity of vision and spent her life giving voice to your people’s heartfelt praise; and we pray that we, inspired by her words and example, may rejoice to sing of your love, praising our Savior all the day long; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God in perfect harmony, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

12 February.  Charles Freer Andrews, Priest and “Friend of the Poor” in India, (1871-1940).  Affectionately called “Christ’s Faithful Apostle” by his friend, the Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Freer Andrews dedicated his life’s work to relief and justice for the oppressed and poor in India and around the globe.  Born in Birmingham, England, he converted to the Church of England while studying at Cambridge and was ordained a priest in 1897.  An active member of the Christian Social Union since his college days, Andrews was inspired by the cause of social justice throughout the British Empire, particularly in India.  In 1904 he joined the Cambridge Brotherhood in India and began to teach philosophy at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.  His Indian students and colleagues, with whom he had grown close, referred to him as Deenabandhu, or “Friend of the Poor.”  Andrews openly criticized the racist mistreatment of the Indian people by British officials and, in 1913, he successfully mediated a cotton worker’s strike in Madras which had the potential to become violent.  He traveled to South Africa to help the Indians there in their dispute with the Government, and it was then that he met a young lawyer named Mohandas Gandhi.  Andrews was impressed with Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence and with his knowledge of the Christian faith, and helped him establish an ashram, or Indian hermitage, devoted to the practice of peace.  In 1915, Andrews helped convince Gandhi to return to England with him.  He also aided Gandhi in his efforts to negotiate matters of Indian autonomy with the British Government.  Andrews’ work also took him to Fiji, where he advocated for indentured Indian workers and for the rights of oppressed sugar workers.  He eventually returned to England, where he continued to teach about social justice and radical discipleship until his death in 1940.

 

Excerpt from Non-Co-operation, by C. F. Andrews:  “I am, in principle, today a strong believer in non-co-operation.  Need I say to you, who are a Christian, that I am a Christian also, — a believer in love, as the final remedy for all the evils of the world.  We are, both of us, taught by Christ to love even our enemies.  We are taught, that the whole commandment of life is contained in two words, — to love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as our own self.  We have, both of us, learnt the golden rule of Christ, —

” Whatsoever ye would that man should do unto you, even so do unto them; for this is the law and the prophets.”  And yet, — and yet, — I am resolutely going to defend this principle of Non-Co-operation from a certain standpoint.  I would add one word further.  I would say, that Christ himself was the example, for all time, of the principle involved in it.  For he unflinchingly refused to compromise with evil.  He declared, that it profited a man nothing, if he gained the whole world and lost his own soul.  The soul of India was being lost in the mechanical civilization of the modern world which has invaded both East and West alike.  But now she has been called by a prophetic voice of one of her noblest children to a pathway of self-purification.  India was rapidly losing her own individuality.  She was forfeiting that supremely delicate and beautiful nature and character, which had been God’s handiwork in her history all down the centuries.  She was rapidly taking in its stead, without true assimilation, the barren nature of a foreign culture.  Now she is realizing that to go forward any further along that course, is to follow the path of suicide and destruction.  Therefore, she is definitely making the Great Refusal, which is called Non-Cooperation.  Even if England offer her wealth, plenty, peace, protection, prosperity, within the Spacious British Empire and, as the price of it, this compromise with her own inner nature, India will refuse.  She will refuse to co-operate on such a basis.  She knows, in her heart of hearts, that she has compromised far too long, and now that she has an inspiring personality to give her unity and spiritual strength, she is determined to compromise no longer.”

 

Collect:  Gracious God, you called Charles Freer Andrews to empty himself, after the example of our Savior, so that he might proclaim your salvation to the peoples of India and the Pacific Islands:  By your Holy Spirit inspire us with like zeal to bring together people of every race and class, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

13 February.  Absalom Jones, Priest, (1746-1818).  Absalom Jones was born a house slave in Delaware.  He taught himself to read out of the New Testament, among other books.  When sixteen, he was sold to a store owner in Philadelphia.  There he attended a night school for Blacks, operated by Quakers.  At twenty, he married another slave, and purchased her freedom with his earnings.  Jones bought his own freedom in 1784.  At St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, he served as lay minister for its Black membership.  The active evangelism of Jones and that of his friend, Richard Allen, greatly increased Black membership at St. George’s.  The alarmed vestry decided to segregate Blacks into an upstairs gallery, without notifying them.  During a Sunday service when ushers attempted to remove them, the Blacks indignantly walked out in a body.  In 1787, Black Christians organized the Free African Society, the first organized Afro-American society, and Absalom Jones and Richard Allen were elected overseers.  Members of the Society paid monthly dues for the benefit of those in need.  The Society established communication with similar Black groups in other cities.  In 1792, the Society began to build a church, which was dedicated on July 17, 1794.  The African Church applied for membership in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania on the following conditions:  1, that they be received as an organized body; 2, that they have control over their local affairs; 3, that Absalom Jones be licensed as lay reader, and, if qualified, be ordained as minister.  In October 1794 it was admitted as St. Thomas African Episcopal Church.  Bishop White ordained Jones as deacon in1795 and as priest on September 21, 1802.  Jones was an earnest preacher.  He denounced slavery, and warned the oppressors to “clean their hands of slaves.”  To him, God was the Father, who always acted on “behalf of the oppressed and distressed.”  But it was his constant visiting and mild manner that made him beloved by his own flock and by the community.  St. Thomas Church grew to over 500 members during its first year.  Known as “the Black Bishop of the Episcopal Church,” Jones was an example of persistent faith in God and in the Church as God’s instrument.

 

Conclusion of the sermon by Absalom Jones given on the 1st January, 1808, A Thanksgiving Sermon:  “Let the first of January, the day of the abolition of the slave trade in our country, be set apart in every year, as a day of public thanksgiving for that mercy.  Let the history of the sufferings of our brethren, and of their deliverance, descend by this means to our children, to the remotest generations; and when they shall ask, in time to come, saying, What mean the lessons, the psalms, the prayers and the praises in the worship of this day? let us answer them, by saying, the Lord, on the day of which this is the anniversary, abolished the trade which dragged your fathers from their native country, and sold them as bondmen in the United States of America.  Oh thou God of all the nations upon the earth!  We thank thee, that thou art no respecter of persons, and that thou hast made of one blood all nations of men.  We thank thee, that thou hast appeared, in the fullness of time, in behalf of the nation from which most of the worshipping people, now before thee, are descended.  We thank thee, that the sun of righteousness has at last shed his morning beams upon them.  Rend thy heavens, O Lord, and come down upon the earth; and grant that the mountains, which now obstruct the perfect day of thy goodness and mercy towards them, may flow down at thy presence.  Send thy gospel, we beseech thee, among them.  May the nations, which now sit in darkness, behold and rejoice in its light.  May Ethiopia soon stretch out her hands unto thee, and lay hold of the gracious promise of thy everlasting covenant.  Destroy, we beseech thee, all the false religions which now prevail among them; and grant, that they may soon cast their idols, to the moles and the bats of the wilderness.  O, hasten that glorious time, when the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea; when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them; and, when, instead of the thorn, shall come up the fir tree, and, instead of the brier, shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name and for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.  We pray, O God, for all our friends and benefactors, in Great Britain, as well as in the United States: reward them, we beseech thee, with blessings upon earth, and prepare them to enjoy the fruits of their kindness to us, in thy everlasting kingdom in heaven: and dispose us, who are assembled in thy presence, to be always thankful for thy mercies, and to act as becomes a people who owe so much to thy goodness.  We implore thy blessing, O God, upon the President, and all who are in authority in the United States.  Direct them by thy wisdom, in all their deliberations, and O save thy people from the calamities of war.  Give peace in our day, we beseech thee, O thou God of peace! and grant, that this highly favored country may continue to afford a safe and peaceful retreat from the calamities of war and slavery, for ages yet to come.  We implore all these blessings and mercies, only in the name of thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  And now, O Lord, we desire, with angels and arch-angels, and all the company of heaven, ever more to praise thee, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty: the whole earth is full of thy glory.  Amen.”

 

Collect:  Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

14 February.  Cyril (827-869), Monk, and Methodius (815-869), Bishop, Missionaries to the Slavs.  Cyril and Methodius, brothers born in Thessalonica, are honored as apostles to the southern Slavs and as the founders of Slavic literary culture.  Cyril was a student of philosophy and a deacon, who eventually became a missionary monastic.  Methodius was first the governor of a Slavic colony, then turned to the monastic life, and was later elected abbot of a monastery in Constantinople.  In 862, the King of Moravia asked for missionaries who would teach his people in their native language.  Since both Cyril and Methodius knew Slavonic, and both were learned men — Cyril was known as “the Philosopher” — the Patriarch chose them to lead the mission.  As part of his task among the Moravians, Cyril invented an alphabet to transcribe the native tongue, probably the “glagolithic,” in which Slavo-Roman liturgical books in Russian and Serbian are still written.  The so-called “cyrillic” alphabet is thought to have been originated by Cyril’s followers.  Pressures by the German clergy, who opposed the brothers’ teaching, preaching, and writing in Slavonic, and the lack of a bishop to ordain new priests for their people, caused the two brothers to seek foreign help.  They found a warm welcome at Rome from Pope Adrian II, who determined to ordain both men bishops and approved the Slavonic liturgy.  Cyril died in Rome and was buried there.  Methodius, now a bishop, returned to Moravia as Metropolitan of Sirmium.  Methodius, still harassed by German bishops, was imprisoned at their behest.  Eventually, he was released by Pope John VIII, on the condition that Slavonic be used only for preaching.  Later, the enmity of the Moravian prince caused Methodius to be recalled to Rome on charges of heresy.  Papal support again allowed him to return to Moravia and to use Slavonic in the liturgy.  Methodius completed a Slavonic translation of the Bible and of Byzantine ecclesiastical law, while continuing his missionary activities.  At his funeral, celebrated in Greek, Latin, and Slavonic, “the people came together in huge numbers … for Methodius had been all things to all people that he might lead them all to heaven.”

 

Excerpt from Methodius’ Oration Concerning Simeon and Anna:  On the day that they met in the Temple, Sec. 3:  “Do thou, therefore, O lover of this festival, when thou has considered well the glorious mysteries of Bethlehem, which were brought to pass for thy sake, gladly join thyself to the heavenly host, which is celebrating magnificently thy salvation.  As once David did before the ark, so do thou, before this virginal throne, joyfully lead the dance.  Hymn with gladsome song the lord, who is always and everywhere present, and Him who from Teman, as says the prophet, hath thought fit to appear, and that in the flesh, to the race of men.  Say, with Moses, ‘He is my God, and I will glorify Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.’  Then, after thine hymn of thanksgiving, we shall usefully inquire what cause aroused the King of Glory to appear in Bethlehem.  His compassion for us compelled Him, who cannot be compelled, to be born in a human body in Bethlehem.  But what necessity was there that He, when a suckling infant, that He who, though born in time, was not limited by time, that He, who though wrapped in swaddling clothes, was not by them held fast, what necessity was there that He should be in exile and a stranger from His country?  Should you, forsooth, with to know this, ye congregation most holy, and upon whom the Spirit of God hath breathed, listen to Moses proclaiming plainly to the people, stimulating them, as it were, to the knowledge of this extraordinary nativity, and saying, ‘every male that openeth the womb, shall be called holy to the Lord.’  O wondrous circumstance!  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of god!’ It became indeed the Lord of the law and the prophets to do all things in accordance with His own law, and not to make void the law, but to fulfill it, and rather to connect with the fulfillment of the law the beginning of His grace.  There it is that the mother, who was superior t the law, submits to the law.  And she, the holy and undefiled one, observes that time of forty days that was appointed for the unclean.  And He who makes us free from the law, became subject to the law; and there is offered for Him, who has sanctified us, a pair of clean birds, in testimony of those who approach clean and blameless.”

 

Collect:  Almighty and everlasting God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people.  Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

15 February.  Thomas Bray, Priest and Missionary, (1658-1730).  In 1696, Thomas Bray, an English country parson, was invited by the Bishop of London to be responsible for the oversight of Church work in the colony of Maryland.  Three years later, as the Bishop’s Commissary, he sailed to America for his first, and only, visitation.  Though he spent only two and a half months in Maryland, Bray was deeply concerned about the neglected state of the American churches, and the great need for the education of clergymen, lay people, and children.  At a general visitation of the clergy at Annapolis, before his return to England, he emphasized the need for the instruction of children, and insisted that no clergyman be given a charge unless he had a good report from the ship he came over in, “whether … he gave no matter of scandal, and whether he did constantly read prayers twice a day and catechize and preach on Sundays, which, notwithstanding the common excuses, I know can be done by a minister of any zeal for religion.”  His understanding of, and concern for, Native Americans and Blacks were far ahead of his time.  He founded thirty-nine lending libraries in America, as well as numerous schools.  He raised money for missionary work and influenced young English priests to go to America.  Bray tried hard to have a bishop consecrated for America, but failed.  His greatest contributions were the founding of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, both of which are still effectively in operation after two and a half centuries of work all over the world.  From 1706 to 1730, Bray was the rector of St. Botolph Without, Aldgate, London, where, until his death at the age of 72, he served with energy and devotion, while continuing his efforts on behalf of Black slaves in America, and in the founding of parochial libraries.  When the deplorable condition of English prisons was brought to Bray’s attention, he set to work to influence public opinion and to raise funds to alleviate the misery of the inmates.  He organized Sunday “Beef and Beer” dinners in prisons, and advanced proposals for prison reform.  It was Thomas Bray who first suggested to General Oglethorpe the idea of founding a humanitarian colony for the relief of honest debtors, but he died before the Georgia colony became a reality.

 

Collect:  O God of compassion, you opened the eyes of your servant Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World, and led him to found societies to meet those needs:  Make the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

 

16 February.  Charles Todd Quintard, Bishop of Tennessee, (1824-1898).  Charles Todd Quintard was the second bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee and the first Vice Chancellor of The University of the South at Sewanee.  Quintard was born in Stamford, Connecticut.  In 1847 he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of New York University and worked at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.  After a brief episode of practicing medicine in Athens, Georgia, Quintard became the professor of anatomy and physiology at Memphis Medical College and an editor of the Memphis Medical Reporter.  In 1848, Quintard married Katherine Isabella Hand, a native of Roswell, Georgia, and together they were the parents of three children.  It was while he was in Memphis that Quintard came to know Bishop James Hervey Otey, the first bishop of Tennessee.  Under Otey’s personal tutelage, Quintard prepared for holy orders.  He was ordained to the diaconate on New Year’s Day 1855 and to the priesthood on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1856.  He served as rector of the Church of the Advent, Nashville, until his election as the second bishop of Tennessee in October 1865.  He served as bishop until his death in 1898.  During the Civil War, Quintard played dual roles in the Confederate Army as both chaplain and surgeon.  Following the war, he was instrumental in bringing together the previously divided factions and extending the reach of the Episcopal Church, particularly among African Americans.  Bishop Quintard was a strong advocate of education at every level and played a major role in the establishment of schools.  Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the rebuilding of the University of the South at Sewanee after its destruction during the Civil War.  He made several successful trips to England to raise the funds to secure the future of the University.  From February 1867 to July 1872, Quintard served as the reconstituted University’s first Vice Chancellor.  Quintard believed that a great Episcopal university was essential, not just to the church in Tennessee and the southeast, but to the whole church, and thus devoted much of his ministry to Sewanee.

 

Excerpt from the Preface of Quintard’s Balm for the Weary and Wounded (1864):  ”The following work has been arranged for such of our soldiers as have, by reason of wounds or disease, been compelled to exchange active service in the field for the harder and more wearying service in the hospital, or on the bed of sickness and pain.  If it be true that- “They also serve, who only stand and wait,” surely they serve who suffer and endure.  Sickness is as truly a “state of life into which it pleases God to call us” as is health, and it is to be used for the same end — His glory, and our own good.  Suffering, endurance, whether of pain or trials, is as much a vocation as is the full exercise of the powers of mind and body in the active duties of life.  It is what God calls us to — it is His work, and He will bless it. It may be the work of lying still, of not stirring hand or foot, of scarcely speaking, scarcely showing life. Still it is His work.  Some must suffer, and some must serve; but each one is necessary to the other; “the whole body is fitly framed together by that which every joint supplieth.”  Some learn more quickly in the school of sickness and sorrow than others, because they take great pains to learn, and are never satisfied with present progress; they are ever seeking to know more, to practice more, to rise higher.  Our soldiers know very well how to labor and do for their country, and they can certainly learn to wait and to endure.  Let them resolve to bear their trials, of every sort, with manly fortitude, and employ their periods of retirement and suffering in laying, broad and deep, the foundations of a genuine Christian character, and they will never lack the most efficient means of promoting our national independence.”

 

Collect:  Mighty God, we bless your Name for the example of your bishop Charles Todd Quintard, who opposed the segregation of African Americans in separate congregations and condemned the exclusion of the poor; and we pray that your Church may be a refuge for all, for the honor of your Name; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

17 February.  Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, and Martyr, (1922-1977).  Janani Luwum was born at Acholi in Uganda, near the Sudanese border.  After his early years as a teacher and lay reader in Gulu, he was sent to St. Augustine’s College, Canterbury.  He was ordained priest in 1956 and returned to Uganda to assume responsibility for twenty-four congregations.  After several years of service that included work at a local theological college, Luwum returned to England on scholarship for further study at the London College of Divinity.  In 1969 Luwum became Bishop of Northern Uganda, where he was a faithful visitor to his parishes as well as a growing influence at international gatherings of the Anglican Communion.  In 1974 he was elected Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire.  Luwum’s new position brought him into direct contact and eventual confrontation with the Ugandan military dictator, Idi Amin, as the Archbishop sought to protect his people from the brutality of Amin’s regime.  In August of 1976, Makerere University was sacked by government troops.  With Archbishop Luwum as their chair, the Christian leaders of the country drafted a strong memorandum of protest against officially sanctioned rape and murder.  In early February 1977, the Archbishop’s residence was searched for arms by government security forces.  On February 16 President Amin summoned Luwum to his palace.  He went there, accompanied by the other Anglican bishops and by the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop and a senior leader of the Muslim community.  After being accused of complicity in a plot to murder the President, most of the clerics were allowed to leave.  However, Archbishop Luwum was ordered to remain behind.  As his companions departed, Luwum said, “They are going to kill me.  I am not afraid.” He was never seen alive again.  The following day the government announced that he had been killed in an automobile accident while resisting arrest.  Only after some weeks had passed was his bullet-riddled body released to his family for burial.  Early in his confrontation with the Ugandan government, Archbishop Luwum answered one of his critics by saying, “I do not know how long I shall occupy this chair.  I live as though there will be no tomorrow … While the opportunity is there, I preach the Gospel with all my might, and my conscience is clear before God.”

 

Collect:  O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep:  We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example, gave up his life for the people of Uganda.  Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

18 February.  Martin Luther, Theologian, (1483-1546).  Martin Luther was born in southeastern Germany.  His intellectual abilities were evident early, and his father planned a career for him in law.  Luther’s real interest lay elsewhere, however, and in 1505 he entered the local Augustinian monastery.  He was ordained a priest April 3, 1507.  In October 1512 Luther received his doctorate in theology, and shortly afterward he was installed as a professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg.  His lectures on the Bible were popular, and within a few years he made the university a center for biblical humanism.  As a result of his theological and biblical studies, he called into question the practice of selling indulgences.  On the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517, he followed traditional academic custom in posting on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg the notice of a debate on indulgences, listing 95 theses for discussion.  As the effects of the theses became evident, the Pope called upon the Augustinian order to discipline their member.  After a series of meetings, political maneuvers, and attempts at reconciliation, Luther, at a meeting with the papal legate in 1518, refused to recant.  Luther was excommunicated on January 3, 1521.  The Emperor Charles V summoned him to the meeting of the Imperial Diet at Worms.  There Luther resisted all efforts to make him recant, insisting that he had to be proved in error on the basis of Scripture.  The Diet passed an edict calling for the arrest of Luther.  Luther’s own prince, the Elector Frederick of Saxony, however, had him spirited away and placed for safekeeping in his castle, the Wartburg.  Here Luther translated the New Testament into German and began the translation of the Old Testament.  He then turned his attention to the organization of worship and education.  He introduced congregational singing of hymns, composing many himself, and issued model orders of services.  He published his large and small catechisms for instruction in the faith.  During the years from 1522 to his death in 1546, Luther wrote a prodigious quantity of books, letters, sermons and tracts.

 

Excerpt from Luther’s Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans:  “You must get used to the idea that it is one thing to do the works of the law and quite another to fulfill it.  The works of the law are every thing that a person does or can do of his own free will and by his own powers to obey the law.  But because in doing such works the heart abhors the law and yet is forced to obey it, the works are a total loss and are completely useless.  That is what St. Paul means in chapter 3 when he says, ‘No human being is justified before God through the works of the law.’  From this you can see that the schoolmasters and sophists are seducers when they teach that you can prepare yourself for grace by means of works.  How can anybody prepare himself for good by means of works if he does no good work except with aversion and constraint in his heart?  How can such a work please God, if it proceeds from an averse and unwilling heart?  But to fulfill the law means to do its work eagerly, lovingly and freely, without the constraint of the law; it means to live well and in a manner pleasing to God, as though there were no law or punishment.  It is the Holy Spirit, however, who puts such eagerness of unconstrained love into the heart, as Paul says in chapter 5.  But the Spirit is given only in, with, and through faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul says in his introduction.  So, too, faith comes only through the word of God, the Gospel, that preaches Christ:  how he is both Son of God and man, how he died and rose for our sake. Paul says all this in chapters 3, 4 and 10.  That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith it is that brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ.  The Spirit, in turn, renders the heart glad and free, as the law demands.  Then good works proceed from faith itself.  That is what Paul means in chapter 3 when, after he has thrown out the works of the law, he sounds as though the wants to abolish the law by faith.  No, he says, we uphold the law through faith, i.e. we fulfill it through faith.”

 

Collect:  O God, our refuge and our strength:  You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word.  Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

20 February.  Frederick Douglass, Prophetic Witness (1818-1895).  Born as a slave, Frederick Douglass was separated from his mother at the age of eight and given by his new owner, Thomas Auld, to his brother and sister-in-law, Hugh and Sophia Auld.  Sophia attempted to teach Frederick to read, along with her son, but her husband put a stop to this, claiming, “it would forever unfit him to be a slave.”  Frederick learned to read in secret, earning small amounts of money when he could and paying neighbors to teach him.  In 1838, Frederick Bailey (as he was then known) escaped and changed his name to Frederick Douglass.  At the age of 14, he had experienced a conversion to Christ in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and his recollection of that tradition’s spiritual music sustained him in his struggle for freedom:  “Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds.”  An outstanding orator, Douglass was sent on speaking tours in the Northern States by the American Anti-Slavery Society.  The more renowned he became, the more he had to worry about recapture.  In1845 he went to England on a speaking tour.  His friends in America raised enough money to buy out his master’s legal claim to him so that he could return to the United States in safety.  Douglass eventually moved to New York and edited the pro-abolition journal North Star, named for the fleeing slave’s nighttime guide.  Douglass was highly critical of churches that did not disassociate themselves from slavery.  Challenging those churches, he quoted Jesus’ denunciation of the Pharisees:  “They  bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Mt 23:4).  A strong advocate of racial integration, Douglass disavowed black separatism and wanted to be counted as equal among his white peers.  When he met Abraham Lincoln in the White House, he noted that the President treated him as a kindred spirit without one trace of condescension.

 

Excerpt from Douglass’ speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”:  “Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them.  If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, ‘may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!’  To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.  My subject, then fellow-citizens, is American Slavery.  I shall see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view.  Standing, there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July!  Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting.  America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.  Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America!  ‘I will not equivocate; I will not excuse;’ I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.”

 

Collect:  Almighty God, whose truth makes us free:  We bless your Name for the witness of Frederick Douglass, whose impassioned and reasonable speech moved the hearts of a president and a people to a deeper obedience to Christ.  Strengthen us also to be outspoken on behalf of those in captivity and tribulation, continuing in the Word of Jesus Christ our Liberator; who with you and the Holy Spirit dwells in glory everlasting.  Amen.

 

21 February.  John Henry Newman, Priest and Theologian, (1801-1890).  John Henry Newman was among the founders of the Oxford Movement and a prolific tractarian, having authored two dozen of the Tracts of the Times, the series of pamphlets setting forth the tenets of the movement.  Most notably, Newman is remembered as the author of Tract 90, in which he sought to reconcile the teaching of Roman Catholicism with the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.  Newman was born in London and was educated at Oxford.  While a Fellow and Tutor at Oriel College, his evangelical upbringing gave way to a more catholic understanding of the Christian faith.  He was ordained in 1826 and within two years became the Vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Oxford.  Newman was an avid student of the writings of the early church.  Although he could be critical of the teachings of the Roman Church in his day, he was even more troubled by the theological state of the Church of England, particularly when weighed against what he understood to be the standards of the ancient church.  His passionate interests in the texts of the early centuries of Christianity led Newman to question the position of Scripture as the unchecked rule and standard of the church’s faith.  For Newman, Scripture was of critical importance but it could not stand alone; it had to be held in balance with the writings of the early church and the theological tradition of the church through the ages.  Although the other leaders of the Oxford Movement remained loyal to the Anglican tradition, spending their vocations advocating positions similar to his, Newman found it difficult to withstand the furor of the church’s infighting, particularly after the publication of Tract 90.  In 1845, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church and soon thereafter went to Rome, where he was ordained to the priesthood.  He became a member of the Congregation of the Oratory.  Upon his return to England he established a house of the Oratory near Birmingham where he lived for the rest of his life.  Although his relationship with the Roman Church in England was at times problematic, Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal in 1877.

 

Conclusion to Tract 90:  “What lately has taken place in the political world will afford an illustration in point.  A French minister, desirous of war, nevertheless, as a matter of policy, draws up his state papers in such moderate language, that his successor, who is for peace, can act up to them, without compromising his own principles.  The world, observing this, has considered it a circumstance for congratulation; as if the former minister, who acted a double part, had been caught in his own snare.  It is neither decorous, nor necessary, nor altogether fair, to urge the parallel rigidly; but it will explain what it is here meant to convey.  The Protestant Confession was drawn up with the purpose of including Catholics; and Catholics now will not be excluded.  What was an economy in the reformers, now a protection to us.  What would have been a perplexity to us then, is a perplexity to Protestants now.  We could not then have found fault with their words; they cannot now repudiate our meaning.”

 

Collect:  God of all wisdom, we thank you for John Henry Newman, whose eloquence bore witness that your Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and who made his own life a pilgrimage towards your truth.  Grant that, inspired by his words and example, we may ever follow your kindly light till we rest in your bosom, with your dear Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, where heart speaks to heart eternally; for you live and reign, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

22 February.  Eric Liddell, Missionary to China, (1902-1945).  Eric Henry Liddell achieved international renown as an Olympic gold medalist, as an avid rugby player, and as a person totally devoted to his faith in Jesus Christ.  Liddell was born in China, the second son of missionary parents.  At the age of six he was sent with his older brother to Eltham College, Blackheath, a boarding school for the children of missionaries.  Liddell remained there until he enrolled in Edinburgh University.  Liddell excelled in athletics throughout his educational career.  Liddell won a position on the British track and field team for the Paris Olympic games of 1924.  Liddell won the gold in the 400 meter, setting a world record, and a bronze in the 200 meter.  His best event as a university athlete was the 100 meter and he was highly favored to win gold in the Olympics.  Liddell, however, chose not to run the 100 meter because the heat was to be held on Sunday.  He chose not to break his personal commitment to keeping a weekly Sabbath, even if that meant not running in his best event in the Olympics.  The award-winning film, Chariots of Fire, is the story of Eric Liddell and his participation in Olympiad VIII.              After his graduation from Edinburgh, Liddell returned to North China, near his birthplace, and served as a missionary from 1925-1943.  He was ordained in 1932 and in 1934 married Florence Mackenzie, the daughter of Canadian missionaries to China.  Together they had three daughters.  Because of ongoing conflict between China and Japan in the 1930’s, Liddell and his family endured significant hardships.  In 1941, after the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor, the British government advised expatriates to leave the country.  Florence Liddell took the children and fled to Canada.  Eric Liddell and his brother Rob stayed on and continued their work.  In 1943, Liddell was interned in the Japanese concentration camp at Weihsein.  Having won the respect of his captors, Liddell is remembered by camp survivors for his ministry among them.  He died in 1945 shortly before the camp’s liberation.

 

Excerpt from Liddell’s The Disciplines of the Christian Life:  “A disciple is one who knows God personally, and who learns from Jesus Christ, who most perfectly revealed God.  One word stands out from all others as the key to knowing God, to having his peace and assurance in your heart; it is obedience.  Obedience to God’s will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight.  It is not willingness to know, but willingness to do (obey) God’s will that brings enlightenment and certainly regarding spiritual truth.  ‘If any man will do [obey] his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself’ (John 7:17).  Here are some questions to ask yourself .  If I know something to be true, am I prepared to follow it even though it is contrary to what I want, to what I have previously said or held to be true?  Will I follow it even if it means loss of face, owning that I was wrong?  Will I follow it if it means being laughed at by friend or foe, if it means personal financial loss or some kind of hardship?  Following truth leads to God, for truth is of God.  Obedience is the secret of being conscious that God guides you personally.  If in the quiet of your heart, you feel something should be done, stop and consider whether it is in line with the character and teaching of Jesus.  If so, obey that impulse to do it, and in doing so you will find it was God guiding you.  Every Christian should live a God-guided life.  If you are not guided by God, you will be guided by someone or something else.  The Christian who hasn’t the sense of guidance in his life is missing something vital.  To obey God’s will was like food to Jesus, refreshing his mind, body, and spirit.  ‘My meat is to do the will of whim that sent me.’ (John 4:34)  We can all have the same experience if we make God’s will the dominant purpose of our lives.”

 

Collect:  God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings:  We rejoice in remembering your athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom you gave courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

23 February.  Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna, (69-156).  Polycarp was one of the leaders of the Church who carried on the tradition of the apostles through the troubled period of Gnostic heresies in the second century.  According to Irenaeus, who had known him in his early youth, Polycarp was a pupil of John, “the disciple of the Lord,” and had been appointed a bishop by “apostles in Asia.”  We possess a letter from Polycarp to the Church in Philippi.  It reveals his firm adherence to the faith, and his pastoral concern for fellow Christians in trouble.  An authentic account of the martyrdom of Polycarp on February 23 is also preserved.  It probably occurred in the year 156.  The account tells of Polycarp’s courageous witness in the amphitheater at Smyrna.  When the proconsul asked him to curse Christ, Polycarp said, “Eighty- six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”  The account reports that the magistrate was reluctant to kill the gentle and harmless old man, but his hand was forced by the mob, who clamored that he be thrown to wild beasts, as was the fate of other Christians on that dreadful day.  Polycarp was burned at the stake.

 

From a Letter on the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp by the Church of Smyrna:  “A rich and pleasing sacrifice.  When the pyre was ready, Polycarp took off all his clothes and loosened his under-garment.  He made an effort also to remove his shoes, though he had been unaccustomed to this, for the faithful always vied with each other in their haste to touch his body.  Even before his martyrdom he had received every mark of honor in tribute to his holiness of life.  There and then he was surrounded by the material for the pyre.  When they tried to fasten him also with nails, he said:  ‘Leave me as I am.  The one who gives me strength to endure the fire will also give me strength to stay quite still on the pyre, even without the precaution of your nails’.  So they did not fix him to the pyre with nails but only fastened him instead.  Bound as he was, with hands behind his back, he stood like a mighty ram, chosen out for sacrifice from a great flock, a worthy victim made ready to be offered to God.  Looking up to heaven, he said:  ‘Lord, almighty God, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have come to the knowledge of yourself, God of angels, of powers, of all creation, of all the race of saints who live in your sight, I bless you for judging me worthy of this day, this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ, your anointed one, and so rise again to eternal life in soul and body, immortal through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May I be received among the martyrs in your presence today as a rich and pleasing sacrifice.  God of truth, stranger to falsehood, you have prepared this and revealed it to me and now you have fulfilled your promise.  I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal priest of heaven, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son.  Through him be glory to you, together with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.’  When he had said ‘Amen’ and finished the prayer, the officials at the pyre lit it.  But, when a great flame burst out, those of us privileged to see it witnessed a strange and wonderful thing.  Indeed, we have been spared in order to tell the story to others.  Like a ship’s sail swelling in the wind, the flame became as it were a dome encircling the martyr’s body.  Surrounded by the fire, his body was like bread that is baked, or gold and silver white-hot in a furnace, not like flesh that has been burnt.  So sweet a fragrance came to us that it was like that of burning incense or some other costly and sweet-smelling gum.”

 

Collect:  O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith:  Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

24 February.  Saint Matthias the Apostle.  In the nine days of waiting between Jesus’ Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, the disciples remained together in prayer.  During this time, Peter reminded them that the defection and death of Judas had left the fellowship of the Twelve with a vacancy.  The Acts of the Apostles records Peter’s proposal that “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21–22).  Two men were nominated, Joseph called Barsabbas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  After prayer, the disciples cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, who was then enrolled with the eleven.  Nothing further is told of Matthias after his selection.  According to tradition he was an exemplary Apostle, but we know nothing more.  Matthias seems an appropriate example to Christians of one whose faithful companionship with Jesus qualifies him to be a suitable witness to the resurrection, and whose service is unheralded and unsung.

 

From a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop.  “Make known to us, Lord, the one you choose.  In those days, Peter, stood up in the midst of the disciples and said… As the fiery spirit to whom the flock was entrusted by Christ and as the leader in the band of the apostles, Peter always took the initiative in speaking:  My brothers, we must choose from among our number.  He left the decision to the whole body, at once augmenting the honor of those elected and avoiding any suspicion of partiality.  For such great occasions can easily lead to trouble.  Did not Peter then have the right to make the choice himself?  Certainly he had the right, but he did not want to give the appearance of showing special favor to anyone.  Besides he was not yet endowed with the Spirit.  And they nominated two, we read, Joseph, who was called Barsabbas and surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  He himself did not nominate them; all present did.  But it was he who brought the issue forward, pointing out that it was not his own idea but had been suggested to him by a scriptural prophecy.  So he was speaking not as a teacher but as an interpreter.  So, he goes on, we must choose from those men who lived in our company.  Notice how insistent he is that they should be eyewitnesses.  Even though the Spirit would come to ratify the choice, Peter regards this prior qualification as most important.  Those who lived in our company, to continue the passage, all through the time when the Lord Jesus came and went among us.  He refers to those who had dwelt with Jesus, not just those who had been his disciples.  For of course from the very beginning many had followed him.  Notice how it is written that Peter himself was one of the two who had listened to John, and followed Jesus.  All through the time when the Lord Jesus came and went among us, to continue further, beginning with the baptism of John – rightly so, because no one knew what had happened before that time, although they were to know of it later through the Spirit.  Up to the day, Peter added, on which he was taken up from us – one of these must be made a witness along with us of his resurrection.  He did not say “a witness of the rest of his actions” but only a witness of the resurrection.  That witness would be more believable who could declare that he who ate and drank and was crucified also rose from the dead.  He needed to be a witness not of the times before or after that event, and not of the signs and wonders, but only of the resurrection itself.  For the rest happened by general admission, openly; but the resurrection took place secretly, and was known to these men only.  And they all prayed together, saying:  You, Lord, know the hearts of men; make your choice known to us.  You, not we.  Appropriately they said that he knew the hearts of men, because the choice was to be made by him, not by others.  They spoke with such confidence, because someone had to be appointed.  They did not say “choose” but make known to us the chosen one; the one you choose, they said, fully aware that everything was preordained by God.  They then drew lots. For they did not think themselves worthy to make the choice of their own accord, and therefore they wanted some sign for their instruction.”

 

Collect:  Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve:  Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

25 February.  John Roberts, Priest, (1853-1949).  John Roberts was a priest and mission worker among the Shoshone and Arapahoe in Wyoming where he worked tirelessly from his arrival in 1883 until his death in 1949.  Born and educated in Wales, Roberts served briefly in the Bahamas where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1878.  Shortly thereafter, on a visit to New York, he contacted John Spalding, the missionary bishop of Wyoming and Colorado, asking for work among Native Americans.  Bishop Spalding sent Roberts to serve in Colorado initially, but by 1883 he had made his way to Wyoming where he began work among the Shoshone and Arapahoe Indians in the area that is now the Wind River Reservation.  Roberts learned the languages of both tribes and made extensive notes on vocabulary that have been invaluable to later generations of scholars.  Roberts shared his work with Laura Brown, a wealthy woman he had met while serving in the Bahamas.  They married on the day of her arrival in Wyoming, Christmas Day 1884.  Together they had six children, five of whom survived the harsh conditions, all of whom learned the native languages as well as English.  In 1887, after building trusting relationships with the people, the Shoshone chief granted land to Roberts on which to build a mission school for girls to complement the nearby government school for boys.  In addition to the mission school, Roberts was responsible for starting congregations in nearly a dozen locations.  Unlike other missionaries who sought to change the culture and lifestyle of Native peoples as a sign of their conversion to the Christian faith, Roberts believed it was important to preserve the language, customs, and culture of the people.  Roberts sought to honor and respect the ancient ways of the Native peoples while at the same time proclaiming the Gospel among them, inviting them to faith, establishing congregations, and serving their needs in the name of Jesus.

 

Excerpt from ”The Reverend John Roberts, Missionary to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes,” by Warren Murphy:  “Roberts also became a close personal friend of Chief Washakie of the Shoshone.  Washakie, who was in his early 80s when Roberts arrived, was seen as a fair but autocratic leader.  One legendary story was told about this relationship.  The chief’s son, Jim Washakie, was shot and killed in 1885 by a white man in an argument over a liquor purchase.  When Chief Washakie heard of this, he became distraught and vowed to kill every white man he saw until he himself was dead.  When Roberts heard of this, he visited the chief in an attempt to talk him out of it and the clergyman offered his own life instead.  Washakie reconsidered and said, ‘I do not want your life.  But I want to know what it is that gives you more courage than I have.’ Roberts used the occasion to talk about his personal faith and converted Washakie to Christianity.”

 

Collect:  Creator God, we thank you for bringing your missionary John Roberts from his native land to live and teach your Gospel in a spirit of respect and amity among the Shoshone and Arapahoe peoples in their own language; and we pray that we also may share the Good News of your Christ with all we meet as friends brought together by your Holy Spirit; for you are one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, living and true, to the ages of ages.  Amen.

 

26 February.  Emily Malbone Morgan, Prophetic Witness, (1862-1937).  Emily Malbone Morgan, with the support of Harriet Hastings, was the founder of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross (SCHC), in 1884.  Begun as an order of Episcopal laywomen rooted in disciplined devotion, SCHC became a strong force for social justice reform during the social gospel era around the turn of the twentieth century.  Morgan was born in Hartford, Connecticut.  Her family were prominent Hartford citizens and her Anglican roots ran deep on both sides of her family.  She never married.  A primary inspiration for Morgan was her friendship with Adelyn Howard.  Howard was homebound and because of her confinement sought Morgan’s support for both spiritual companionship and as a means by which she could offer intercessory prayer for others.  Meeting her friend’s need, Morgan called together a small group of women for prayer and companionship.  From that beginning, the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross came into being.  Morgan had a particular concern for working women who were tired and restless and who had little hope for a vacation.  In response, Morgan, with the help of a growing number of her Companions, developed summer vacation houses across the northeast where working women and their daughters could have some time away for physical and spiritual renewal and refreshment.  In 1901, the Society established a permanent home in Byfield, Massachusetts.  With the construction of new facilities on the site in 1915, it took the name Adelynrood, which continues to exist as the headquarters and retreat center of the Society.  At present, SCHC has thirty-one chapters with more than seven hundred Companions, lay and ordained women, serving in six countries.  Emily Malbone Morgan, together with her sisters in the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, lived a life of prayer and contemplation, rooted in the tradition, which led to powerful personal and communal commitments to social justice, particularly for women.

 

Excerpt from a 1927 letter of Emily Morgan describing her church background:  “My mother’s people left England at a time when the Puritans made it too hot for them to stay there.  They fled because they were Church of England people who suffered for their allegiance, so I never knew any other tradition.  When I was little, my mother was in correspondence with some later leaders of the Oxford movement.  When I was in England when I was nine years old, I was taken at Oxford to hear Dr. Pusey and others preach at St. Mary’s, and in London Canon Liddon at St. Paul’s, also Cardinal Manning; and my father took me to hear Spurgeon, to round out my preaching education; and again on the Continent I was taken to hear great preachers, opportunities utterly unappreciated by me, so that several years later when I was back in America being prepared for confirmation, I volunteered to my parish priest the information:  “I’ll tell you one thing about my parents, — they have made me listen to sermons all right!”  On being asked how much I remembered of them, I answered, ‘Nothing, and I like fresh air!’  ‘Pert little piece!’  I can hear someone say, but at least I was not a prig!  My brother served as curate under Mr. Bennett of Frome Selwood, and Mother had much correspondence with some of the friends he made there, and with others in England, and for her generation I suppose she might be called “High Church.”  Yet many years afterward she said to me — shortly before she died at the age of eighty:  ‘Never forget you belong to a great universal Church moving onward to the City of God.  In your own particular branch of it which the title page of the Prayer Book calls ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,’ never belong to a party in it, for it has been my experience, especially with women, if you are partisan, the party becomes the whole Church.  If you try to recognize the best in each party and hammer away at that, and try and acquire the fervor of great evangelicals as I have known them, and recognize the integrity and breadth of Broad Churchmen, and accept the sacramental teaching of High Churchmen, you will belong to the whole of your Church but you will not belong to a party in it.’”

 

Collect:  Gracious God, we thank you for the life and witness of Emily Malbone Morgan, who helped to establish the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross so that women who live in the world might devote themselves to intercessory prayer, social justice, Christian unity and simplicity of life.  Help us to follow her example in prayer, simplicity, ecumenism and witness to your justice, for the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

27 February.  George Herbert, Priest, (1593-1633).  George Herbert is famous for his poems and his prose work, A Priest in the Temple. or The Country Parson.  He is portrayed by his biographer Izaak Walton as a model of the saintly parish priest.  Herbert described his poems as “a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could submit mine to the will of Jesus my Master; in whose service I have found perfect freedom.”  Herbert was born in 1593, a member of an ancient family, a cousin of the Earl of Pembroke, and acquainted with King James I and Prince (later King) Charles.  Through his official position as Public Orator of Cambridge, he was brought into contact with the Court.  Whatever hopes he may have had as a courtier were dimmed, however, because of his associations with persons who were out of favor with King Charles I — principally John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln.  Herbert had begun studying divinity in his early twenties, and in 1626 he took Holy Orders.  King Charles provided him with a living as rector of the parishes of Fugglestone and Bemerton in 1630.  His collection of poems, The Temple, was given to his friend, Nicholas Ferrar, and published posthumously.  Two of his poems are well known hymns:  “Teach me, my God and King,” and “Let all the world in every corner sing.”  Their grace, strength, and metaphysical imagery influenced later poets, including Henry Vaughan and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Lines from his poem on prayer have moved many readers:

Prayer, the Church’s banquet, Angel’s age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, the heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth.

Herbert was unselfish in his devotion and service to others.  Izaak Walton writes that many of the parishioners “let their plow rest when Mr. Herbert’s saints-bell rung to prayers, that they might also offer their devotion to God with him.”  His words, “Nothing is little in God’s service,” have reminded Christians again and again that everything in daily life, small or great, may be a means of serving and worshiping God.

 

A poem by George Herbert:  Love (III).

“Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack,

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lack’d anything.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:

Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and tast me meat:

So I did sit and eat.”

 

Collect:  Our God and King, you called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in your temple:  Give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

28 February.  Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (1859-1964) and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright (1872-1906), Educators.  Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, to an enslaved woman and a white man, presumably her mother’s master.  She attended St. Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute, founded by the Episcopal Church to educate African American teachers and clergy.  There she became an Episcopalian and married George Cooper, one of her instructors, who was the second African American ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in North Carolina.  Widowed in 1879, Cooper received degrees from Oberlin College, and was made principal of the African American high school in Washington, D.C.  Denied reappointment in 1906 because she refused to lower her educational standards, Cooper emphasized the importance of equal education for African Americans.  An advocate for African American women, Cooper assisted in organizing the Colored Women’s League and the first Colored Settlement House in Washington, D.C.  At the age of 65, in 1925, Cooper became the fourth African American woman to complete a doctorate, granted by the Sorbonne in Paris.  From 1930-1942, she served as President of Freylinghuysen University.  She died at the age of 104.

 

Elizabeth Evelyn Wright was born in Talbotton, Georgia.  Her father was an African American and her mother of Cherokee descent.  With the encouragement of her teachers, Lizzie, as she was called, enrolled at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  She worked for the school during the day and attended night classes, but Olivia Washington, wife of the head of Tuskegee, Booker T. Washington, noted her promise and strength of character.  Mrs. Washington made it possible for Lizzie to attend day classes.  Wright interrupted her studies and went to Hampton County, South Carolina, to establish a school for rural black children.  Arsonists thwarted her efforts and she returned to Tuskegee to finish her degree, graduating in 1894.  She returned to Hampton County to re-start her school, but once again her efforts were turned back.  Together with two colleagues, Jessie Dorsey and Hattie Davidson, she ventured to friendlier territory near Denmark in 1897.  There she started the Denmark Industrial Institute, modeled after Tuskegee.  It continues today as Voorhees College, affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

 

Conclusion to the speech given by Anna Julia Cooper in 1893 to the World’s Congress of Representative Women:  “I think if I could crystallize the sentiment of my constituency, and deliver it as a message to this congress of women, it would be something like this:  Let woman’s claim be as broad in the concrete as in the abstract.  We take our stand on the solidarity of humanity, the oneness of life, and the unnaturalness and injustice of all special favoritisms, whether of sex, race, country, or condition. If one link of the chain be broken, the chain is broken.  A bridge is no stronger than its weakest part, and a cause is not worthier an its weakest element.  Least of all can woman’s cause afford to decry the weak.  We want, then, as toilers for the universal triumph of justice and human rights, to go to our homes from this Congress, demanding an entrance not through a gateway for ourselves, our race, our sex, or our sect, but a grand highway for humanity.  The colored woman feels that woman’s cause is one and universal; and that not till the image of God, whether in parian or ebony, is sacred and inviolable; not till race, color, sex, and condition are seen as the accidents, and not the substance of life; not till the universal title of humanity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is conceded to be inalienable to all; not till then is woman’s lesson taught and woman’s cause won — not the white woman’s, nor the black woman’s, not the red woman’s, but the cause of every man and of every woman who has writhed silently under a mighty wrong.  Woman’s wrongs are thus indissolubly linked with undefended woe, and the acquirement of her ‘rights’ will mean the final triumph of all right over might, the supremacy of the moral forces of reason, and justice, and love in the government of the nations of earth.”

 

Collect:  Eternal God, you inspired Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright with the love of learning and the joy of teaching:  Help us also to gather and use the resources of our communities for the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

29 February.  John Cassian, Abbot at Marseilles, (365-433).  John Cassian struggled with the problems of living the Christian life in a time when the world seemed to be falling apart.  In so doing, he laid the foundations for what would be the spirituality of the Western Church.  Born in Romania, Cassian traveled as a young man to a monastery in Bethlehem and later moved to Egypt where he sought the tutelage of the great founders of the ascetic movement of the desert such as Antony and Macarius.  At the heart of desert monasticism was the idea that the image of God in each person, tarnished by sin but not destroyed, yearns to and has the capacity to love God with the purity of heart with which God loves us.  Their aim was to rid themselves of the anxieties and distractions that called their attention away from loving God.  Cassian was initiated into this tradition before political pressures forced him to leave Egypt in about 399.  He moved to southern Gaul and there founded a house for monks, and later a house for women religious.  Though Cassian’s goal was, like his desert mentors, the perfection of the individual soul, he insisted that no one should embark on a monastic vocation alone.  One should enter a house where other monks are pursuing the same goal, live according to a time-tested rule, and thereby gain the guidance and companionship of the community.  Though Cassian remained committed to the desert ideal of individual perfection, his insistence on the necessity of Christian community and loving moderation was the basis for Benedictine monasticism, which eventually became the basic spirituality of the Western Church.  It was perhaps a paradox that only in community could the Christian: “lose sight of earthly things in proportion to the inspiration of its purity so that … with the inner gaze of the soul it sees the glorified Jesus coming in the splendor of His majesty.”

 

Excerpt from John Cassian’s Conference X: 2-4, on the verse from Psalm 69:2, “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.”  “Not without reason has this verse been selected out of the whole body of Scripture.  For it takes up all the emotions that can be applied to human nature and with great correctness and accuracy it adjusts itself to every condition and every attack.  It contains an invocation of God in the face of any crisis, the humility of a devout confession, the watchfulness of concern and of constant fear, a consciousness of one’s own frailty, the assurance being heard, and confidence in a protection that is always present and at hand, for whoever calls unceasingly on his protector is sure that he is always present.  It contains a burning love and charity, an awareness of traps, and a fear of enemies.  Seeing oneself surrounded by these day and night, one confesses that one cannot be set free without the help of one’s defender.  This verse is an unassailable wall, an impenetrable breastplate, and a very strong shield for those who labor under the attack of demons.”

 

Collect:  Holy and Mighty One, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ blessed the pure in heart:  We give you thanks for the life and teachings of John Cassian that draw us to a discipline of holy living for the sake of your reign.  Call us to turn the gaze of the eyes of our soul always toward you, that we may abide in your love, shown to us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit is one God, living and true, to the ages of ages.  Amen.