1 June. Justin, Martyr at Rome, (110-167). Toward the middle of the second century, there came into the young Christian community a seeker for the truth, whose wide interests, noble spirit, and able mind greatly enriched it. Justin was born into a Greek-speaking pagan family in Samaria, near Shechem. He was educated in Greek philosophy. Like Augustine after him, he was left restless by all this knowledge. During a walk along the beach at Ephesus, he fell in with a stranger, who told him about Christ. “Straightway a flame was kindled in my soul,” he writes, “and a love of the prophets and those who are friends of Christ possessed me.” He became a Christian as a result of this encounter, and thereafter regarded Christianity as the only “safe and profitable philosophy.” About 150, Justin moved to Rome. As philosophers did in those days, he started a school — in this case, a school of Christian philosophy — and accepted students. He also wrote. Three of his works are known to us: a dialogue in Platonic style with a Jew named Trypho, and two “apologies.” (An apology in this sense is not an excuse, but a spirited defense.) Justin’s First and Second Apologies defend Christianity against the Greek charge of irrationality and the Roman charge of disloyalty to the empire. These two works provide us with important insights into developing theological ideas and liturgical practices of early Christianity. In the Dialogue with Trypho, Justin defends the Church against the Jewish charge of distorting the Old Testament. He interprets the Old Testament as the foreshadowing of the New. While teaching in Rome, he engaged in a public debate with a philosopher of the Cynic school named Crescens, accusing him of ignorance and immorality. Angered, Crescens preferred legal charges against him. Justin and six of his students were arrested and brought before the prefect Rusticus. As the custom was, Rusticus gave them an opportunity to renounce their faith. All steadfastly refused to do so. Justin and his companions were put to death about the year 167.
An excerpt concerning the weekly worship [about 155 AD] from the First Apology: “We, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins [baptism], and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn. And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.”
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you found your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, seeking the true God, and you revealed to him the sublime wisdom of your eternal Word: Grant that all who seek you, or a deeper knowledge of you, may find and be found by you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 June. Blandina and Her Companions, the Martyrs of Lyons. In the second century, after a brief respite, Christians in many parts of the Roman empire were once again subjected to persecution. At Lyons and Vienne, in Gaul [France], there were missionary centers which had drawn many Christians from Asia and Greece. They were living a devout life under the guidance of Pothinus, elderly Bishop of Lyons, when persecution began in 177. At first, the Christians were socially excluded from Roman homes, the public baths, and the market place; insults, stones, and blows were rained on them by pagan mobs, and Christian homes were vandalized. Soon after, the imperial officials forced Christians to come to the market place for harsh questioning, followed by imprisonment. Some slaves from Christian households were tortured to extract public accusations that Christians practiced cannibalism, incest, and other perversions. These false accusations roused the mob to such a pitch of wrath that any leniency toward the imprisoned Christians was impossible. Even friendly pagans now turned against them. The fury of the mob fell most heavily on Sanctus, a deacon; Attalus; Maturus, a recent convert; and Blandina, a slave. According to Eusebius, Blandina was so filled with power to withstand torments that her torturers gave up. “I am a Christian,” she said, “and nothing vile is done among us.” Sanctus was tormented with red-hot irons. The aged Pothinus, badly beaten, died soon after. Finally, the governor decided to set aside several days for a public spectacle in the amphitheater. On the final day of the spectacle, writes Eusebius, “Blandina, last of all, like a noble mother who had encouraged her children and sent them ahead victorious to the King, hastened to join them.” Beaten, torn, burned with irons, she was wrapped in a net and tossed about by a wild bull. The spectators were amazed at her endurance. Eusebius concludes: “They offered up to the Father a single wreath, but it was woven of diverse colors and flowers of all kinds. It was fitting that the noble athletes should endure a varied conflict, and win a great victory, that they might be entitled in the end to receive the crown supreme of life everlasting.”
Collect: Grant, O Lord, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of you, and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
3 June. The Martyrs of Uganda, 1886. On June 3, 1886, thirty-two young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga of Buganda, were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. In the following months many other Christians throughout the country died by fire or spear for their faith. These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda. Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman Catholic missionaries after 1877, the Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court, by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885 (including Bishop Hannington and his Companions: see October 29th). Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardor of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity. The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga’s intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their death singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly African, not simply a white man’s religion. Most of the missionary work was carried out by Africans rather than by white missionaries, and Christianity spread steadily. Uganda is now the most Christian nation in Africa. Renewed persecution of Christians by a Muslim military dictatorship in the 1970’s proved the vitality of the example of the Namugongo martyrs. Among the thousands of new martyrs, both Anglican and Roman Catholic, was Janani Luwum, Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda, whose courageous ministry and death inspired not only his countrymen but also Christians throughout the world.
Collect: O God, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience, even to death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
4 June. John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli), Bishop of Rome, (1881-1963). “Good Pope John” changed the landscape of twentieth century Christianity. Born in Northern Italy, Angelo Roncalli was trained in Roman Catholic schools from an early age. After military service, Roncalli was ordained a priest in 1904. His passion for social justice for working people and for the poor was formed early and remained an important commitment of his ministry. Roncalli often received complicated assignments. He was made an archbishop in 1925 and sent as the papal envoy to Bulgaria where he was responsible for reducing the tensions between Eastern Rite and Latin Rite Catholics during a difficult period. Some years later, he was the papal representative to Greece and Turkey when anti-religious sentiments were running high. His leadership in Turkey anticipated on a local scale some of the developments of later decades on a universal scale: putting the liturgy and the official documents of the church in the language of the people, and opening conversations with the Eastern Orthodox and those of other faiths. Near the end of the Second World War, he was made the papal nuncio to Paris with the task of trying to heal the divisions caused by the war. In 1953, at the age of 72, he was made a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice, the first time he had ever been the bishop ordinary of a diocese. In 1958, Cardinal Roncalli was elected Pope and took the name John XXIII. After the long pontificate of Pius XII, it was widely assumed that John XXIII would be a brief “placeholder” pope of minor consequence. During the first year of his pontificate, he called the Second Vatican Council for the purpose of renewing and revitalizing the church. The work of the Council transformed the church of the twentieth century, not only for Roman Catholics, but for all Christians. With its emphasis on liturgical renewal, ecumenism, world peace, and social justice, the legacy of the Council continues to inspire the mission of the church among Christians of all traditions. In the first days of his pontificate, John XXIII received a letter from a twelve-year-old boy named Bruno. It read: “My dear Pope: I am undecided. I want to be a policeman or a Pope. What do you think?” The Pope replied: “My little Bruno. If you want my opinion, learn how to be a policeman, because that cannot be improvised. Anybody can be pope; the proof of this is that I have become one. If you ever should be in Rome, come to see me. I would be glad to talk all this over with you.”
Excerpt from the Spiritual Testament of Pope John XXIII (p 343): “Born poor, but of humble and respected folk, I am particularly happy to die poor, having distributed, according to the various needs and circumstances of my simple and modest life in the service of the poor and of the holy Church which has nurtured me, whatever came into my hands – and it was very little – during the years of my priesthood and episcopate. … In the hour of farewell, or, better, of leave-taking, I repeat once more that what matters most in this life is: our blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, and in the Gospel above all else the Our Father according to the mind and heart of Jesus, and the truth and goodness of his Gospel, goodness which must be meek and kind, hardworking and patient, unconquerable and victorious.”
Collect: Lord of all truth and peace, you raised up your bishop John to be servant of the servants of God and gave him wisdom to call for the work of renewing your Church: Grant that, following his example, we may reach out to other Christians to clasp them with the love of your Son, and labor throughout the nations of the world to kindle a desire for justice and peace; through Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
5 June. Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, Missionary to Germany, and Martyr, (675-754). Boniface is justly called one of the “Makers of Europe.” He was born at Crediton in Devonshire, England, and received the English name of Winfred. He was educated at Exeter, and later at Nursling, near Winchester, where he was professed a monk and ordained to the priesthood. Inspired by the examples of Willibrord and others, Winfred decided to become a missionary, and made his first Journey to Frisia (Netherlands) in 716 — a venture with little success. In 719 he started out again; but this time he first went to Rome to seek papal approval. Pope Gregory the Second commissioned him to work in Germany, and gave him the name of Boniface. For the rest of his days, Boniface devoted himself to reforming, planting, and organizing churches, monasteries, and dioceses in Hesse, Thuringia, and Bavaria. Many helpers and supplies came to him from friends in England. In 722 the Pope ordained him a bishop, ten years later made him an archbishop, and in 743 gave him a fixed see at Mainz. The Frankish rulers also supported his work. At their invitation, he presided over reforming councils of the Frankish Church; and in 752, with the consent of Pope Zacharias, he anointed Pepin (Pippin) as King of the Franks. Thus, the way was prepared for Charlemagne, son of Pepin, and the revival of a unified Christian dominion in western Europe. In 753 Boniface resigned his see, to spend his last years again as a missionary in Frisia. On June 5, 754, while awaiting a group of converts for confirmation, he and his companions were murdered by a band of pagans, near Dokkum. His body was buried at Fulda, a monastery he had founded in 744, near Mainz.
An excerpt from the 28th letter by Saint Boniface: “In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a giant ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on course. The ancient fathers showed us how we should carry out this duty: Clement, Cornelius and many others in the city of Rome, Cyprian at Carthage, Athanasius at Alexandria. They all lived under emperors who were pagans; they all steered Christ’s ship — or rather his most dear spouse, the Church. This they did by teaching and defending her, by their labor and sufferings, even to the shedding of blood. I am terrified when I think of all this. Fear and trembling came upon me and the darkness of my sins almost covered me. I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church which I accepted if I could find such an action warranted by the example of the father or by Holy Scripture. Since this is the case, and since the truth can be assaulted but never defeated or falsified, with our entire mind let us turn to the words of Solomon: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence. Think on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps’. In another place he says: ‘The name of the Lord is an impregnable tower. The just man seeks refuge in it and he will be saved.’ Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him: ‘O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.'”
Collect: Almighty God, you called your faithful servant Boniface to be a witness and martyr in Germany, and by his labor and suffering you raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
6 June. Ini Kopuria, Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, (died in 1945). Ini Kopuria, the first Elder Brother of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was born soon after the start of the twentieth century on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons. Ini attended St. Barnabas School on Norfolk Island, an institution started by Bishop J. C. Patterson with the purpose of training young men to teach their own people. Ini’s daily contact with the Anglican Christians at St. Barnabas led to his own developed sense of religious calling. One story about his time there relates his strict adherence to a rule of silence during Lent, and on one Ash Wednesday, when confronted by a teacher who questioned this practice, Ini replied by letter, refusing to break his vow. It was then that many around him began to notice his calling to a religious vocation. Although it was expected that upon leaving school, Ini would return to Guadalcanal to teach his own people, he surprised everyone by becoming a police officer in the Native Armed Constabulary. Though initially unhappy with his role in the police, he earned the respect and admiration of his superiors with his dedication and wisdom. In 1927, after he had left the police force, he was asked by the Commissioner to return to the police and go to the island of Mala to quiet local unrest. Ini is said to have remarked, “It would be bad if I were to go there with a rifle; I may want to return one day with the Gospel.” It was during his recovery from an injury in 1924 that Ini came to the realization that only in service to Christ would his life find meaning and fulfillment. Under the direction of his Bishop, John Steward, he took his vows as the first Elder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, an Anglican order devoted to the spread of the Gospel among the non-Christian areas of Melanesia. The Order, characterized by its vows of simplicity, in this day continues its work of peacemaking and includes not only Melanesians, but also Polynesians, Filipinos, and Europeans.
Collect: Loving God, we bless your Name for the witness of Ini Kopuria, police officer and founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, whose members saved many American pilots in a time of war, and who continue to minister courageously to the islanders of Melanesia. Open our eyes that we, with these Anglican brothers, may establish peace and hope in service to others, for the sake of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
7 June. The Pioneers of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, 1890. The presence of Anglicans in Brazil is first recorded in the early nineteenth century and took the form of chaplaincies for English expatriates. It was not, however, until 1890 when missionary efforts among the Brazilian people began under the care of two Episcopal Church missionaries, Lucien Lee Kinsolving and James Watson Morris. They held the first service on Trinity Sunday 1890 in Porto Alegre. Within a year, three additional missionaries — William Cabell Brown, John Gaw Meem, and Mary Packard — arrived and joined the work. These five missionaries are the pioneers and considered the founders of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. In 1899, Kinsolving was made missionary bishop for the work in Brazil by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, and in 1907 the missionary district of Brazil was established by The General Convention. The number of parishes and institutions continued to increase. The bishops were raised up from among Episcopal Church missionaries who were serving in the missionary district. Fifty years after the work first began, in 1940, the first native Brazilian was elected to the episcopate, Athalício Theodoro Pithan. By 1950, the work had increased to the point that the missionary district was too large and it was divided into three dioceses. This set the stage for the continued development of the church in Brazil, which eventually led to the formation of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil as an autonomous Province of the Anglican Communion in 1965. Financial independence from the Episcopal Church was completed by 1982, although the two churches continue to have strong bonds of affection and united mission efforts through companion diocese relationships and coordination at the church-wide level.
Collect: O God, who sent your Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: we bless you for the missionaries from the Episcopal Church and those who first responded to their message, joining together to establish the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil; and we pray that we, like them, may be ready to preach Christ crucified and risen, and to encourage and support those who pioneer new missions in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
8 June. Roland Allen, Mission Strategist, (1868-1947). Roland Allen was an English missionary, supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) who served briefly in North China and for many years in East Africa. Allen believed that the mission work of the western churches was paternalistic and deeply rooted in colonialist values that were incompatible with the gospel. Allen was born in 1868; his father was an Anglican priest. He attended St. John’s College at Oxford and was ordained to the priesthood in 1893. His first assignment with SPG was to North China where he served for seven years before returning to England because of poor health. He served briefly as a parish priest before turning to research and writing on mission work and missionary methods. This work led him to East Africa, particularly to Kenya, where he lived for much of the rest of his life. Allen’s most famous work, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Our’s, was published in 1912. Allen argued that St. Paul’s vision was to build a community, and raise up leaders so that the sacraments could be administered. The community could be left alone to do their work of converting others to Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Allen continued to refine his methods in later writings emphasizing the need for indigenous leadership as opposed to bishops and other leaders coming from foreign territories. In many situations, Allen favored clergy who were “tentmakers” — engaged in secular employment while serving their congregations — after the example of St. Paul. Allen possessed a gregarious temperament combined with absolute confidence in his ideas. He raised people’s ire no matter where he went, but he was also praised for the clarity of his convictions, his passion for the gospel, and his desire to see every local faith community thrive under its own leadership. Even though Allen’s ideas were often viewed with derision or, at least, suspicion, in his own day, he was the catalyst for the reform of mission strategy throughout the world and most of his ideas seem self-evident today.
An excerpt from the writings of Roland Allen: ”The missionary work of the non-professional missionary is essentially to live his daily life in Christ, and therefore with a difference, and to be able to explain, or at least to state, the reason and cause of the difference to men who see it. His preaching is essentially private conversation, and has at the back of it facts, facts of a life which explain and illustrate and enforce his words. It is such missionary work, done consciously and deliberately as missionary, that the world needs today. Everybody, Christian and pagan alike, respects such work; and, when it is so done, men wonder, and inquire into the secret of a life which they instinctively admire and covet for themselves. The spirit which inspires love of others and efforts after their well-being, both in body and soul, they cannot but admire and covet — unless, indeed, seeing that it would reform their own lives, they dread and hate it, because they do not desire to be reformed. In either case, it works.”
Collect: Almighty God, by your Spirit you opened the Scriptures to your servant Roland Allen, so that he might lead many to know, live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Give us grace to follow his example, that the variety of those to whom we reach out in love may receive your saving Word and witness in their own languages and cultures to your glorious Name; through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
9 June. Columba, Abbot of Iona, (521-597). Many legends have gathered about Columba, but there are also some historical data concerning his many works in the writings of Bede and Adamnan. According to one story, Patrick of Ireland foretold Columba’s birth in a prophecy:
He will be a saint and will be devout,
He will be an abbot, the king of royal graces,
He will be lasting and for ever good;
The eternal kingdom be mine by his protection.
Columba was born in Ireland, and early in life showed scholarly and clerical ability. He entered the monastic life, and almost immediately set forth on missionary travels. Even before ordination to the priesthood in 551, he had founded monasteries at Derry and Durrow. Twelve years after his ordination, Columba and a dozen companions set out for northern Britain, where the Picts were still generally ignorant of Christianity. Columba was kindly received, allowed to preach, convert, and baptize. He was also given possession of the island of Iona, where, according to legend, his tiny boat had washed ashore. Here he founded the celebrated monastery which became the center for the conversion of the Picts. From Iona, also, his disciples went out to found other monasteries, which, in turn, became centers of missionary activity. Columba made long journeys through the Highlands, as far as Aberdeen. He often returned to Ireland to attend synods, and thus established Iona as a link between Irish and Pictish Christians. For thirty years, he evangelized, studied, wrote, and governed his monastery at Iona. He supervised his monks in their work in the fields and workrooms, in their daily worship and Sunday Eucharist, and in their study and teaching. He died peacefully while working on a copy of the Psalter. He had put down his pen, rested a few hours, and at Matins was found dead before the Altar, a smile on his face. He is quoted by his biographer Adamnan as having said, “This day is called in the sacred Scriptures a day of rest, and truly to me it will be such, for it is the last of my life and I shall enter into rest after the fatigues of my labors.”
The most famous legend of Saint Columba: “How a water beast was driven off by the power of the blessed man’s prayer. Once, on another occasion, when the blessed man stayed for some days in the land of the Picts, he had to cross the River Ness. When he reached its bank, he saw some of the local people burying a poor fellow. They said they had seen a water beast snatch him and maul him savagely as he was swimming not long before. Although some of the men had put out in a little boat to rescue him, they were too late, but, reaching out with hooks, they had hauled in his wretched corpse. The blessed man, having been told all this, astonished them by sending one of his companions to swim across the river and sail back to him in a dinghy that was on the further bank. At the command of the holy and praiseworthy man, Luigne moccu Min obeyed without hesitation. He took off his clothes except for a tunic and dove into the water. But the beast was lying low on the riverbed, its appetite not so much sated as whetted for prey. It could sense that the water above was stirred by the swimmer, and suddenly swam up to the surface, rushing open-mouthed with a great roar towards the man as he was swimming midstream. All the bystanders, both the heathen and the brethren, froze in terror, but the blessed man looking on raised his holy hand and made the sign of the cross in the air, and invoking the name of God, he commanded the fierce beast, saying: ‘Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.’ At the sound of the saint’s voice, the beast fled in terror so fast one might have thought it was pulled back with ropes. But it had got so close to Luigne swimming that there was no more than the length of a pole between man and beast. The brethren were amazed to see that the beast had gone and that their fellow-soldier Luigne returned to them untouched and safe in the dinghy, and they glorified God in the blessed man. Even the heathen natives who were present at the time were so moved by the greatness of the miracle they had witnessed that they too magnified the God of the Christians.”
Collect: O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant Columba you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness to you by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
10 June. Ephrem of Edessa, Deacon, 373. Ephrem of Edessa was a teacher, poet, orator, and defender of the faith — a voice of Aramaic Christianity, speaking the language Jesus spoke, using the imagery Jesus used. Edessa, a Syrian city, was a center for the spread of Christianity in the East long before the conversion of the western Roman empire. The Syrians called Ephrem “The Harp of the Holy Spirit,” and his hymns still enrich the liturgies of the Syrian Church. Ephrem was one whose writings were influential in the development of Church doctrine. Jerome writes: “I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man.” Ephrem was born at Nisibis in Mesopotamia. At eighteen, he was baptized by James, Bishop of Nisibis. It is believed that Ephrem accompanied James to the famous Council of Nicaea in 325. He lived at Nisibis until 363, when the Persians captured the city and drove out the Christians. Ephrem retired to a cave in the hills above the city of Edessa. There he wrote most of his spiritual works. He lived on barley bread and dried herbs, sometimes varied by greens. He drank only water. His clothing was a mass of patches. But he was not a recluse, and frequently went to Edessa to preach. Discovering that hymns could be of great value in support of the true faith, he opposed Gnostic hymns with his own, sung by a choir of women. During a famine in 372–373, he distributed food and money to the poor and organized a sort of ambulance service for the sick. He died of exhaustion, brought on by his long hours of relief work. Of his writings, there remain 72 hymns, commentaries on the Old and New Testaments, and numerous homilies. In his commentary on the Passion, he wrote: “No one has seen or shall see the things which you have seen. The Lord himself has become the altar, priest, and bread, and the chalice of salvation. He alone suffices for all, yet none suffices for him. He is Altar and Lamb, victim and sacrifice, priest as well as food.”
An excerpt from St. Ephrem’s third sermon: “Lord, shed upon our darkened souls the brilliant light of your wisdom so that we may be enlightened and serve you with renewed purity. Sunrise marks the hour for men to begin their toil, but in our souls, Lord, prepare a dwelling for the day that will never end. Grant that we may come to know the risen life and that nothing may distract us from the delights you offer. Through our unremitting zeal for you, Lord, set upon us the sign of your day that is not measured by the sun. In your sacrament we daily embrace you and receive you into our bodies; make us worthy to experience the resurrection for which we hope. We have had your treasure hidden within us ever since we received baptismal grace; it grows ever richer at your sacramental table. Teach us to find our joy in your favor! Lord, we have within us your memorial, receive at your spiritual table; let us possess it in its full reality when all things shall be made new.”
Collect: Pour out on us, O Lord, that same Spirit by which your deacon Ephrem rejoiced to proclaim in sacred song the mysteries of faith; and so gladden our hearts that we, like him, may be devoted to you alone; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
11 June. Saint Barnabas the Apostle. “Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles” (Acts 4:36–37). This first reference in the New Testament to Barnabas introduces one whose missionary efforts would cause him to be called, like the Twelve, an apostle. As a Jew of the Dispersion, he had much in common with Paul. When Paul came to Jerusalem after his conversion, the disciples were afraid to receive him. It was Barnabas who brought Paul to the apostles, and declared to them how, on the road to Damascus, Paul had seen the Lord, and had preached boldly in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:27). Later, Barnabas, having settled in Antioch, sent for Paul to join him in leading the Christian Church in that city. Barnabas and Paul were sent by the disciples in Antioch to carry famine relief to the Church in Jerusalem. Upon their return, the Church in Antioch sent them on their first missionary journey beginning at Cyprus. At Lystra in Asia Minor, the superstitious people took them to be gods, supposing the eloquent Paul to be Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and Barnabas to be Jupiter, the chief of the gods, a testimony to the commanding presence of Barnabas. The association of Barnabas and Paul was broken, after their journey, by a disagreement about Mark, who had left the mission to return to Jerusalem. After attending the Council of Jerusalem with Barnabas, Paul made a return visit to the Churches he and Barnabas had founded in Asia Minor. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus, where Barnabas is traditionally honored as the founder of the Church. It seems that Barnabas continued his journeys for the Gospel, because Paul mentions him several times in his letters to the Galatians, the Corinthians, and the Colossians. Tradition has it that he was martyred at Salamis in Cyprus.
Excerpt from the Epistle of Barnabas (1:1-13): “I bid you greeting, sons and daughters, in the name of the Lord that loved us, in peace. Seeing that the ordinances of God are great and rich unto you, I rejoice with an exceeding great and overflowing joy at your blessed and glorious spirits; so innate is the grace of the spiritual gift that ye have received. Wherefore also I the more congratulate myself hoping to be saved, for that I truly see the Spirit poured out among you from the riches of the fount of the Lord. So greatly did the much-desired sight of you astonish me respecting you. Being therefore persuaded of this, and being conscious with myself that having said much among you I know that the Lord journeyed with me on the way of righteousness, and am wholly constrained also myself to this, to love you more than my own in the hope of the life which is His — considering this therefore, that, if it shall be my cadre to communicate to you some portion of that which I received, it shall turn to my reward for having ministered to such spirits, I was eager to send you a trifle, that along with your faith ye might have your knowledge also perfect. Well then, there are three ordinances of the Lord; the hope of life, which is the beginning and end of our faith; and righteousness, which is the beginning and end of judgment; love shown in gladness and exultation, the testimony of works of righteousness.”
Collect: Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
12 June. Enmegahbowh, Priest and Missionary, 1902. John Johnson Enmegahbowh, an Odawa (Ottawa) Indian from Canada, was raised in the Midewiwin traditional healing way of his grandfather and the Christian religion of his mother. He came into the United States as a Methodist missionary in 1832. At one point Enmegahbowh attempted to abandon missionary work and return to Canada, but the boat was turned back by storms on Lake Superior, providing him a vision: “Here Mr. Jonah came before me and said, ‘Ah, my friend Enmegahbowh, I know you. You are a fugitive. You have sinned and disobeyed God. Instead of going to the city of Nineveh, where God sent you to spread his word to the people, you started to go, and then turned aside. You are now on your way to the city of Tarsish.’” Enmegahbowh invited James Lloyd Breck to Gull Lake, where together they founded St. Columba’s Mission in 1852. The mission was later moved to White Earth, where Enmegahbowh served until his death in 1902. Unwelcome for a time among some Ojibway groups because he warned the community at Fort Ripley about the 1862 uprising, Enmegahbowh was consistent as a man of peace, inspiring the Waubanaquot (Chief White Cloud) mission, which obtained a lasting peace between the Ojibway and the Dakota peoples. Enmegahbowh (“The One who Stands Before his People”) is the first recognized Native American priest in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Kemper in 1859 and priest by Bishop Whipple in the cathedral at Faribault in 1867. Enmegahbowh helped train many others to serve as deacons throughout northern Minnesota. The powerful tradition of Ojibway hymn singing is a living testimony to their ministry. His understanding of Native tradition enabled him to enculturate Christianity in the language and traditions of the Ojibway. He tirelessly traveled throughout Minnesota and beyond, actively participating in the development of mission strategy and policy for the Episcopal Church.
Collect: Almighty God, you led your pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud: Grant that the ministers of your Church, following the example of blessed Enmegahbowh, may stand before your holy people, leading them with fiery zeal and gentle humility. This we ask through Jesus, the Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.
12 June, The First Book of Common Prayer. The first Book of Common Prayer came into use on the Day of Pentecost, June 9, 1549, in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI. From it have descended all subsequent editions and revisions of the Book in the Churches of the Anglican Communion. Though prepared by a commission of learned bishops and priests, the format, substance, and style of the Prayer Book were primarily the work of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1533–1556. The principal sources employed in its compilation were the medieval Latin service books of the Use of Sarum (Salisbury), with enrichments from the Greek liturgies, certain ancient Gallican rites, the vernacular German forms prepared by Luther, and a revised Latin liturgy of the reforming Archbishop Hermann of Cologne. The Psalter and other biblical passages were drawn from the English “Great Bible” authorized by King Henry VIII in 1539, and the Litany was taken from the English form issued as early as 1544. The originality of the Prayer Book, apart from the felicitous translations and paraphrases of the old Latin forms, lay in its simplification of the complicated liturgical usages of the mediaeval Church, so that it was suitable for use by the laity as well as by the clergy. The Book thus became both a manual of common worship for Anglicans and a primary resource for their personal spirituality.
Collect: Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
13 June. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Apologist and Writer, (1874-1936). Gilbert Keith Chesterton was one the intellectual giants of his day, and was known for his writing that spanned fields as diverse as literary criticism, fiction and fantasy, satire, and Christian apologetics. Chesterton often blended elements of such genres together, as indicated in his famous novel, The Man Who Was Thursday, which combines a mystery plot with Christian imagery and symbolism. His work in the field of literary criticism was immensely influential in his day, and his book length study of Charles Dickens can be credited with bringing that author’s work back to the forefront of scholarly study. As a young man, Chesterton had been fascinated with spiritualism and the occult, but his faith grew stronger over the years, as he devoted himself to the defense of what he called “orthodoxy,” which was for him, among other things, an acknowledgement of the mystery and paradox of Christian faith in an age of increasing skepticism. His spiritual journey toward the ancient faith of the Church culminated in his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church in 1922. In works such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, Chesterton defended Christian faith with a unique blend of wit and religious fervor, while simultaneously satirizing the prevailing viewpoints of the day that often sought to dismiss faith as irrational and unnecessary. The latter work was particularly important to C.S. Lewis, who called it “the best apologetic work I know.” Today, Chesterton is still known and loved for his sharp wit, his intellectual tenacity, and his refusal to resolve the ambiguities of Christian faith in favor of facile and passing conceptions of truth. His work has influenced intellectual figures as diverse as Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy L. Sayers, and he is a figure beloved of Protestants and Catholics alike.
An excerpt from Orthodoxy: “A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Collect: O God of earth and altar, you gave G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in your service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
14 June. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, (329-379). Basil was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia, a Roman province in Asia Minor [Turkey], into a Christian family of wealth and distinction. Educated in classical Hellenism, Basil might have continued in academic life, had it not been for the death of a beloved younger brother and the faith of his sister, Macrina. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight, and ordained a deacon soon after. Macrina had founded the first monastic order for women at Annesi. Fired by her example, Basil made a journey to study the life of religious hermits in Egypt and elsewhere. In 358 he returned to Cappadocia and founded the first monastery for men at Ibora. Assisted by Gregory Nazianzus, he compiled The Longer and Shorter Rules, which transformed the solitary anchorites into a disciplined community of prayer and work. The Rules became the foundation for all Eastern monastic discipline. The monasteries also provided schools to train leaders for Church and State. Basil was ordained priest in 364. In the conflict between the Arians (supported by an Arian Emperor) and orthodox Christians, Basil became convinced that he should be made Bishop of Caesarea. By a narrow margin, he was elected Bishop of Caesarea, Metropolitan of Cappadocia, and Exarch of Pontus. He was relentless in his efforts to restore the faith and discipline of the clergy, and in defense of the Nicene faith. When the Emperor Valens sought to undercut Basil’s power by dividing the See of Cappadocia, Basil forced his brother Gregory to become Bishop of Nyssa. In his treatise, On the Holy Spirit, Basil maintained that both the language of Scripture and the faith of the Church require that the same honor, glory, and worship is to be paid to the Spirit as to the Father and the Son. It was entirely proper, he asserted, to adore God in liturgical prayer, not only with the traditional words, “Glory to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit;” but also with the formula, “Glory to the Father with the Son together with the Holy Spirit.” Basil was also concerned about the poor, and when he died, he willed to Caesarea a complete new town, built on his estate, with housing, a hospital and staff, a church for the poor, and a hospice for travelers. He died at the age of fifty, in 379, just two years before the Second Ecumenical Council, which affirmed the Nicene faith.
An excerpt from Chapter 27 of On the Holy Spirit: “Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us “in a mystery” by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will deny — no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East at the prayer? Which of the saints has left us in writing the words of the invocation at the displaying of the bread of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing? For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching. Moreover we bless the water of baptism and the oil of the chrism, and besides this the catechumen who is being baptized. On what written authority do we do this? Is not our authority silent and mystical tradition? Nay, by what written word is the anointing of oil itself taught? And whence comes the custom of baptizing thrice? And as to the other customs of baptism from what Scripture do we derive the renunciation of Satan and his angels? Does not this come from that unpublished and secret teaching which our fathers guarded in a silence out of the reach of curious meddling and inquisitive investigation? Well had they learned the lesson that the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence. What the uninitiated are not even allowed to look at was hardly likely to be publicly paraded about in written documents.”
Collect: Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like your bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.
15 June. Evelyn Underhill, (1876-1941). The only child of a prominent barrister and his wife, Evelyn Underhill was born in Wolverhampton, England, and grew up in London. She was educated there and in a girls’ school in Folkestone, where she was confirmed in the Church of England. She had little other formal religious training, but her spiritual curiosity was naturally lively, and she read widely, developing quite early a deep appreciation for mysticism. At sixteen, she began a life-long devotion to writing. Evelyn had few childhood companions, but one of them, Hubert Stuart Moore, she eventually married. Other friends, made later, included such famous persons as Laurence Housman, Maurice Hewlett, and Sarah Bernhardt. Closest of all were Ethel Ross Barker, a devout Roman Catholic, and Baron Friedrich von Hügel, with whom she formed a strong spiritual bond. He became her director in matters mystical. In the 1890’s, Evelyn began annual visits to the Continent, and especially to Italy. There she became influenced by the paintings of the Italian masters and by the Roman Catholic Church. She spent nearly fifteen years wrestling painfully with the idea of converting to Roman Catholicism, but decided in the end that it was not for her. In 1921, Evelyn Underhill became reconciled to her Anglican roots, while remaining what she called a “Catholic Christian.” She continued with her life of reading, writing, meditation, and prayer. She had already published her first great spiritual work, Mysticism. This was followed by many other books, culminating in her most widely read and studied book, Worship (1937). Evelyn Underhill’s most valuable contribution to spiritual literature must surely be her conviction that the mystical life is not only open to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience, and also (at the time, a startling idea) that modern psychological theories and discoveries, far from hindering or negating spirituality, can actually enhance and transform it. Evelyn Underhill’s writings proved appealing to many, resulting in a large international circle of friends and disciples, making her much in demand as a lecturer and retreat director.
An excerpt from Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People. “Eternity is with us, inviting our contemplation perpetually, but we are too frightened, lazy, and suspicious to respond; too arrogant to still our thought, and let divine sensation have its way. It needs industry and goodwill if we would make that transition; for the process involves a veritable spring-cleaning of the soul, a turning-out and rearrangement of our mental furniture, a wide opening of closed windows, that the notes of the wild birds beyond our garden may come to us fully charged with wonder and freshness, and drown with their music the noise of the gramophone within. Those who do this, discover that they have lived in a stuffy world, whilst their inheritance was a world of morning-glory: where every tit-mouse is a celestial messenger, and every thrusting bud is charged with the full significance of life.”
Collect: O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all your creatures: Grant that your Church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
16 June. Feast of the Holy Trinity. From the earliest times Christians have invoked the persons of the Trinity in prayer. One form of this invocation was making the sign of the cross, which professes faith both in the redemption of Christ and in the Holy Trinity. In those days, Christians made the sign of the cross (Redemption) with three fingers (Trinity) on their foreheads. Around the year 200, the African theologian Tertullian had already reported this early Christian practice: “In all our undertakings — when we enter a place or leave it; before we dress; before we bathe; when we take our meals; when we light the lamps in the evening; before we retire at night; when we sit down to read; before each new task — we trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads.” Words referring to the persons of the Trinity were added to the sign of the cross later. The first form of the “Glory Be” began with the words “Glory be to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.” The relations among the persons of the Trinity expressed in this prayer reflected some of the experience of believers in the early church, but they left many questions unanswered and were open to confusion. Members of the early church experienced a union with God, and this they recognizing taking place through their becoming part of the church as the Body of Christ. Early theologians argued that, if the believer’s union with God in Christ was genuine, then the Son must be fully divine. The same thinking was applied to the Holy Spirit, whose presence transforms the believer to share the divine life: that too could not be brought about unless the Holy Spirit was fully divine. The equality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as fully divine was defined in 325 by the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea, and the creed expressing this belief found its final form at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381. This is the creed that is recited every Sunday after the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist. After the Council of Nicaea, the refrain of the “Glory Be” was changed to “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” The second line, “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be: world without end. Amen,” was first used in the East, and then made its way to Rome. By the seventh century, the “Glory Be” was used in its current form throughout the Western church, reflecting the injunction (ca 390) of Pope Damasus that the “Glory Be” be added at the conclusion of every psalm and be represented in the final stanzas of new hymns. Individual Eucharists in honor of the Holy Trinity were a devotional option for the clergy in the early church. The widespread practice of such celebrations is attested in the Sacramentary of Pope Gregory I (d. 604), a collection of prayers for particular celebrations. During our modern Holy Communion, the Eucharistic Prayer said over the gifts begins with a variable preface, after the introductory dialogue. In our service, this preface is usually chanted. A preface for the Holy Trinity is found in Pope Gregory’s Sacramentary, whose wording is identical with the proper preface for the Trinity found today in the Book of Common Prayer on pages 347 and 380. St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170) was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on the first Sunday after Pentecost, and one of his first acts was to ordain that the day of his consecration should be celebrated as a new festival in honor of the Holy Trinity. From Canterbury, the celebration of this feast on this day spread throughout western Christianity. When Pope John XXII ordered the feast placed on the calendar for the whole western church in 1334, he used the Office (antiphons and readings for Morning and Evening Prayer) composed by the Franciscan, John Peckham (d. 1292), who was one of Thomas Becket’s successors as Archbishop of Canterbury. It is notable that this feast was the first celebration in the calendar to honor a doctrine of the church, instead of a person or an event.
From the first letter to Serapion by Saint Athanasius, bishop: “Light, radiance and grace are in the Trinity and from the Trinity. It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name. We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit. Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone. Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace. This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.”
Sequence for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),
translated by Digby S. Wrangham:
“To the Trine God, not Gods three,
The Trinity in Unity,
Let the Church now bow the knee!
Clear and lucid, gives of a Trinity.
Let the sober mind up to God then rise!
Of the Father and of the Son,
With the Paraclete Spirit one,
To our eyes
May God’s grace reveal all the mysteries!
There are Persons three, and many
Mysteries marking these Persons distinctively:
One by nature, all and any.
Neither is separately less than all the three.
Equal in all Three is knowledge, power, and will.
Yet in their three Persons is there difference still:
— Equal reverence to the Three,
To the One all glory be! Amen.”
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
16 June. George Berkeley (1684-1753) and Joseph Butler (1692-1752), Bishops and Theologians. George Berkeley was born in Ireland, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and ordained to the priesthood in 1721. As Dean of Derry, beginning in 1724, he developed an interest in the churches in colonial America as well as concern for the conversion of Native Americans to the Christian faith. He sailed for America, reaching Newport, Rhode Island, in January, 1729, settling on a plantation nearby, Whitehall, while awaiting the resources to start a college in Bermuda. When his plans failed, he gave Whitehall and his personal library to Yale College and returned to Ireland where he became Bishop of Cloyne in 1734. Berkeley College at Yale, Berkeley Divinity School, and the City of Berkeley, California, are named for him. Berkeley was a major philosopher of his time and among his achievements was the theory of immaterialism—individuals can only directly know objects by the perception of them—an idea that would influence Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer.
Joseph Butler, once called “the greatest of all the thinkers of the English Church,” was born in Berkshire in 1692, into a Presbyterian family. His early education was in dissenting academies, but in his early twenties he became an Anglican. He entered Oxford in 1715 and was ordained in 1718. Butler distinguished himself as a preacher while serving Rolls Chapel, Chancery Lane, London, and then went on to serve several parishes before being appointed Bishop of Bristol in 1738. He declined the primacy of Canterbury, but accepted translation to Durham in 1750. He died in Bath, and his body was entombed in Bristol Cathedral. Butler’s importance rests chiefly on his acute apology for orthodox Christianity against the Deistic thought prevalent in England in his time, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature, 1736. He maintained the “reasonable probability” of Christianity, with action upon that probability as a basis for faith. Butler’s was a rational exposition of the faith grounded in deep personal piety, a worthy counterpoint to the enthusiasm of the Wesleyan revival of the same period.
An excerpt from Joseph Butler’s 14th Sermon, “On Piety, or the Love of God”: “When we speak of things so much above our comprehension, as the employment and happiness of a future state, doubtless it behooves us to speak with all modesty and distrust of ourselves. But the Scripture represents the happiness of that state, under the notions of ‘seeing God, seeing him as he is, knowing as we are known, and seeing face to face.’ These words are not general or undetermined, but express a particular determinate happiness. And I will be bold to say, that nothing can account for, or come up to these expressions, but only this, that God himself will be an object to our faculties; that he himself will be our happiness, as distinguished from the enjoyments of the present state which seem to arise, not immediately from him, but from the objects he has adapted to give us delight.”
Collect: Holy God, source of all wisdom: We give thanks for your servants George Berkeley and Joseph Butler, who by their life and work strengthened your Church and illumined your world. Help us, following their examples, to place our hearts and minds in your service, for the sake of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
18 June. Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, (1861-1896). Bernard Mizeki was born in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). In his early teens he escaped from his native land and arrived in Capetown, South Africa, where he was befriended and converted by Anglican missionaries. He was baptized on March 9, 1886. In 1891 Bernard Mizeki volunteered as a catechist for the pioneer mission in Mashonaland, and was stationed at Nhowe. In June, 1896, during an uprising of the native people against the Europeans and their African friends, Bernard was marked out especially. Though warned to flee, he would not desert his converts at the mission station. He was stabbed to death, but his body was never found, and the exact site of his burial is unknown. A shrine near Bernard’s place of martyrdom attracts many pilgrims today, and the Anglican Churches of Central and of South Africa honor him as their primary native martyr and witness.
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
22 June. Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304. Alban is the earliest Christian in Britain who is known by name and, according to tradition, the first British martyr. He was a soldier in the Roman army stationed at Verulamium, a city about twenty miles northeast of London, now called St. Alban’s. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from persecution, and was converted by him. When officers came to Alban’s house, he dressed himself in the garments of the priest and gave himself up. Alban was tortured and martyred in place of the priest, on the hilltop where the Cathedral of St. Alban’s now stands. The traditional date of his martyrdom is 303 or 304, but recent studies suggest that the year was actually 209, during the persecution under the Emperor Septimius Severus. The site of Alban’s martyrdom soon became a shrine. King Offa of Mercia established a monastery there about the year 793, and in the high Middle Ages St. Alban’s ranked as the premier Abbey in England. The great Norman abbey church, begun in 1077, now serves as the cathedral of the diocese of St. Alban’s, established in 1877. It is the second longest church in England (Winchester Cathedral is the longest, by six feet), and it is built on higher ground than any other English cathedral. In a chapel east of the choir and high Altar, there are remains of the fourteenth century marble shrine of St. Alban.
The Venerable Bede gives this account of Alban’s trial: “When Alban was brought in, the judge happened to be standing before an altar, offering sacrifice to devils … ‘What is your family and race?’ demanded the judge. ‘How does my family concern you?’ replied Alban; ‘If you wish to know the truth about my religion, know that I am a Christian and am ready to do a Christian’s duty.’ ‘I demand to know your name,’ insisted the judge. ‘Tell me at once.’ ‘My parents named me Alban,’ he answered, ‘and I worship and adore the living and true God, who created all things.’”
Sequence from the Sarum Missal:
“Come forth, come forth in triumph, joyous band,
Sing to the Lord high-sounding canticles,
And to the world tell out His wondrous works.
With all your heart, and strength, and soul
The Praise of Christ make known,
Who of his saints is life and power,
Glory, reward, and crown.
Whose plenteous loving-kindness decks
Alban with golden bay;
Whose all-prevailing gift of grace
Cleans’d all his guilt away,
And set his horn of glory up
For eve and for aye.
For when God’s gift he received,
The mystery of grace,
Idols he spurned, not fearing then
The heathen monarch’s face.
Whilst to his punishment of death
A prisoner he was led,
He dried the brimming stream, and passed
In safety o’er its bed;
And by a like effect of grace
The dry and sandy earth
Did also to a springing well
Of water sweet give birth.
O Alban! Who these works achieved
Leaving this earthly plain,
Ascending up, the highest heaven
With glory erst dost gain,
To thee, as to our patron, now
We seek with earnest prayer,
That for the pardon of our sins
Thy favor we may share.
For England’s people intercede,
And for her everlasting peace.
For us Thy suppliants obtain
The life where endless joys remain
And Alleluias never cease.”
Collect: Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
24 June. The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. John the Baptist, the prophet and forerunner of Jesus, was the son of elderly parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and was related to Jesus on his mother’s side. His birth is celebrated six months before Christmas Day, since, according to Luke, Elizabeth became pregnant six months before the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. John figures prominently in all four Gospels, but the account of his birth is given only in the Gospel according to Luke. His father, Zechariah, a priest of the Temple at Jerusalem, was struck speechless because he doubted a vision foretelling John’s birth. When his speech was restored, Zechariah uttered a canticle of praise, the Benedictus, which is one of the canticles in the Daily Office. John lived ascetically in the desert. He was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt, and ate locusts and wild honey. He preached repentance, and called upon people to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom and of the Messiah, baptizing his followers to signify their repentance and new life. Jesus himself was baptized by John in the Jordan. John had many followers, some of whom became Jesus’ disciples. Because of his denunciation of the sins of Herod, especially Herod’s incestuous marriage, John incurred the enmity of Herodias, Herod’s wife, and was put in prison. Through Herodias’ plotting with Salome, her daughter, Herod was led to promise a gift to Salome, who demanded John’s head. John was thereupon executed. John is remembered during Advent as a prophet, and at Epiphany as the baptizer of Jesus. The Gospel according to John quotes the Baptist as saying to his followers that Jesus is the Lamb of God, and prophesying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
From a sermon by St. Augustine (293:1-3): “The Church observes the birth of John as a hallowed event. We have no such commemoration for any other fathers; but it is significant that we celebrate the birthdays of John and of Jesus. This day cannot be passed by. And even if my explanation does not match the dignity of the feast, you may still meditate on it with great depth and profit. John was born of a woman too old for childbirth; Christ was born of a youthful virgin. The news of John’s birth was met with incredulity, and his father was struck dumb. Christ’s birth was believed, and he was conceived through faith. Such is the topic, as I have presented it, for our inquiry and discussion. But as I said before, if I lack either the time or the ability to study the implications of so profound a mystery, the Spirit who speaks within you even when I am not here will teach you better; it is the Spirit whom you contemplate with devotion, whom you have welcomed into your hearts, whose temples you have become. John, then, appears as the boundary between the two testaments, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness, when he speaks of ‘the law and the prophets up until John the Baptist.’ Thus he represents times past and is the herald of the new era to come. As a representative of the past, he is born of aged parents; as a herald of the new era, he is declared to be a prophet while still in his mother’s womb. For when yet unborn, he leapt in his mother’s womb at the arrival of blessed Mary. In that womb he had already been designated a prophet, even before he was born; it was revealed that he was to be Christ’s precursor, before they ever saw one another. These are divine happenings, going beyond the limits of our human frailty. Eventually he is born, he receives his name, his father’s tongue is loosened. See how these events reflect reality. Zechariah is silent and loses his voice until John, the precursor of the Lord, is born and restores his voice. The silence of Zechariah is nothing but the age of prophecy lying hidden, obscured, as it were, and concealed before the preaching of Christ. At John’s arrival Zechariah’s voice is released, and it becomes clear at the coming of the one who was foretold. The release of Zechariah’s voice at the birth of John is a parallel to the rending of the veil at Christ’s crucifixion. If John were announcing his own coming, Zechariah’s lips would not have been opened. The tongue is loosened because a voice is born. When John was preaching the Lord’s coming he was asked, ‘Who are you?’ And he replied: ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’ The voice is John; but the Lord ‘in the beginning was the Word.’ John was a voice that lasted only for a time; Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal.”
Sequence for the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, by Adam of St. Victor (1112-1146),
translated by Digby S. Wrangham:
“A voice the Word precedes,
The bridegroom’s man the bridegroom leads,
Star of mom, the sunrise too.
She by speaking,
He, signs making,
Both his parents name their son:
At which token
Off his sire’s dumb tongue were thrown.
John’s birth was prognosticated
By a word from heaven come.
And beforehand demonstrated,
While he yet was in the womb.
That o’er-ripened age conceiveth,
A suggestive lesson giveth;
Dark truths declareth
That long-barren womb that beareth I
‘Gainst the laws of nature truly
Was this John’s conception wholly:
Such a birth must be
Grace’s work, not nature’s, solely.
In her womb a virgin-mother
Prisons God, which babe this other
From the womb’s straits doth applaud
Openly the voice, that crieth
In the waste, the Lamb descrieth.
Voice, the herald of the Word !
Bright his faith and clear his speech is,
And he many a thousand teaches.
And doth to the true light bring.
He its lantern, not that light, is;
Christ that light for ever bright is.
Light that lighteth everything.
Camels’ hair his clothing made he,
Girded with a leathern zone;
Locusts and wild honey had he
To support his life alone.
There hath not arisen any
Greater, — on Christ’s testimony, —
Of a woman born than he:
Christ the one exception maketh.
In that flesh of flesh he taketh
Without fleshly agency.
Martyr holy !
Through we truly
Guilty are ; to honor thee
As thy praises
Fond hope raises,
Hear us of thy clemency,
We implore thee !
Now on this thy birthday give us
Gladness promised thence to come;
Nor of like delight deprive us
In thy laurelled martyrdom.
While such mystery
In thy history,
Lost in wonder, we revere.
May Christ through thee
Now renew the
Comfort of His presence here ! Amen.”
Collect: Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
25 June. James Weldon Johnson, Poet, (1871-1938). James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida. His parents stimulated his academic interests and he was encouraged to study literature and music. Johnson enrolled at Atlanta University with the expressed intention that the education he received there would be used to further the interests of the black people. He never reneged on that commitment. In the summer after his freshman year, Johnson taught the children of former slaves. Of that experience he wrote, “In all of my experience there has been no period so brief that has meant so much in my education for life as the three months I spent in the backwoods of Georgia.” After graduation, he became the principal of the largest high school in Jacksonville, during which time he was paid half of what his white counterparts were paid even though the school excelled under his leadership. In 1900, he collaborated with his brother, Rosamond, a composer, to create “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Written in celebration of President Lincoln’s birthday, the song, still popular today, has become known as the “African-American National Anthem.” Due to the success of their collaboration, Johnson moved to New York in 1901 to join his brother and together they attained success as lyricist and composer for Broadway. In 1906, Johnson was invited to work for the diplomatic corps and became U.S. Consul to Venezuela and later Nicaragua. During his Nicaraguan tenure, Johnson was a voice of reason and reconciliation in a time of civil unrest and turmoil. His ability to bring together people of differing viewpoints toward a common vision served Johnson well in the 1920’s when he became an organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Johnson was a prolific poet and anthologist. He edited The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), a major contribution to the history of African-American literature. His book of poetry God’s Trombones (1927), seven biblical stories rendered into verse, was influenced by his impressions of the rural South. James Weldon Johnson died in 1938.
Excerpt from his collected writings: “I understand, understand even better than you, and so I suffer even more than you. But why should either of us suffer for what neither of us is to blame for? If there is any blame, it belongs to me and I can only make the old, yet strongest plea that can be offered, I love you; and I know that my love, my great love, infinitely overbalances that blame and blots it out. What is it that stands in the way of our happiness? It is not what you feel or what I feel; it is not what you are or what I am. It is what others feel and are. But, oh! Is that a fair price? In all the endeavors and struggles of life, in all our strivings and longings, there is only one thing worth winning, and that is love. It is not always found; but when it is, there is nothing in all the world for which it can be profitably exchanged.”
Collect: Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that you gave your servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise your Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from your creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
26 June. Isabel Florence Hapgood, Ecumenist and Journalist, (1851-1928). Isabel Hapgood, a lifelong and faithful Episcopalian, was a force behind ecumenical relations between Episcopalians and Russian Orthodoxy in the United States around the turn of the twentieth century. Born in Massachusetts of a wealthy family, Hapgood was educated in private schools. She was a superior student with a particular talent for the study of languages. In addition to the standard fare of the time — Latin and French — she also mastered most of the Romantic and Germanic languages of Europe and most notably Russian, Polish, and Church Slavonic. She possessed the particular gift of being able to translate the subtleties of Russian into equally subtle English. Her translations made the works of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gorky, and Chekov, among others, available to English readers. She was also a prolific journalist writing regularly for The Nation, and The New York Evening Post, and was a contributor to The New York Times, Harper’s Weekly, The Century, and The Atlantic Monthly. Between 1887-1889, Hapgood traveled extensively through Russia. That visit cemented a lifelong love of Russia, its language and culture, and particularly the Russian Orthodox Church. She would make return visits to Russia almost every year for the rest of her life. Her love of Russian Orthodoxy and its great Divine Liturgy led her to seek the permission of the hierarchy to translate the rites into English. Hapgood’s already established reputation as a sensitive translator certainly contributed, but in the meantime she had developed close relationships with Russian clergy and musicians at all levels of the hierarchy. The work, Service Book of the Holy-Orthodox Catholic Church, took eleven years to complete. It received support of the Russian Orthodox bishops in North America, particularly Archbishop Tikhon, who was later to give Hapgood’s work a second blessing when he became Patriarch of Moscow. Isabel Florence Hapgood is faithfully recalled among the Russian Orthodox in North America for her contribution to their common life, her desire for closer relations between Russian Orthodox and Episcopalians, and for her making the liturgical treasures of their tradition available to the English-speaking world.
Collect: Loving God, we thank you for the work and witness of Isabel Florence Hapgood, who introduced the Divine Liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church to English-speaking Christians, and encouraged dialogue between Anglicans and Orthodox. Guide us as we build on the foundation that she gave us, that all may be one in Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, to the ages of ages. Amen.
27 June. Cornelius Hill, Priest and Chief among the Oneida, (1834-1907). Cornelius Hill was the first great Oneida chief to be born in Wisconsin, after the United States government had forced the Oneida peoples west from New York State. As a young man, Hill spent several years at Nashotah House, where the Episcopal priests educated him and formed him in the faith, worship, and tradition of the Church. Hill was greatly respected among his people for his intelligence, courage, and ability to lead, and by his teenage years, he had already been made an Oneida chief, named Onan-gwat-go, or “Big Medicine.” Hill’s great mentor was the Reverend Edward A. Goodnough, a missionary and teacher who had worked among the Oneidas from 1853-1890. Hill defended Goodnough when the latter resisted land allotment among the chief families as the solution to their poverty and conflicts. Like Goodnough, Hill was a staunch opponent of allotment, and he opposed Chief Daniel Bread, his elder chief who saw allotment as an inevitable reality. Upon Bread’s death Hill took on a great role in the tribal politics of his people. In 1874 he drafted a petition to the legislature of the State of New York calling on them to respect Oneida claims under state treaties, particularly fishing rights which had been revoked and which led to economic hardship for Oneidas remaining in the area. When land allotment became a legal reality under the Dawes General Act of 1893, Hill turned to the Church, and in 1895 he was ordained an Episcopal deacon. In 1903 he became the first Oneida to be ordained a priest. At the ordination, he repeated his vows in the Oneida language. Hill saw Christian faith as a way to help his people grapple with the profound and rapid changes which faced them, and the authority of his ordination enhanced his ability to be a bridge between Oneida and white culture. He is to this day revered by his people, and many shrines to him exist in the state of Wisconsin.
Collect: Everliving Lord of the universe, our loving God, you raised up your priest Cornelius Hill, last hereditary chief of the Oneida nation, to shepherd and defend his people against attempts to scatter them in the wilderness: Help us, like him, to be dedicated to truth and honor, that we may come to that blessed state you have prepared for us; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
28 June. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, (ca 130-202). If theology is “thinking about faith” and arranging those thoughts in some systematic order, then Irenaeus has been rightly recognized by Catholics and Protestants alike as the first great systematic theologian. It is certain that he learned the Christian faith in Ephesus at the feet of the venerable Polycarp, who in turn had known John the Evangelist. Some years before 177, he carried the tradition of Christianity to Lyons in southern France. His name means “the peaceable one” — and suitably so. The year 177 brought hardship to the mission in Gaul. Persecution broke out, and a mounting tide of heresy threatened to engulf the Church. Irenaeus, by now a priest, was sent to Rome to mediate the dispute regarding Montanism, which the Bishop of Rome, Eleutherus, seemed to embrace. While Irenaeus was on this mission, the aged Bishop of Lyons, Pothinus, died in prison during a local persecution. When Irenaeus returned to Lyons, he was elected bishop to succeed Pothinus. Irenaeus’ enduring fame rests mainly on a large treatise, entitled The Refutation and Overthrow of Gnosis, Falsely So-Called, usually shortened to Against Heresies. In it, Irenaeus describes the major Gnostic systems, thoroughly, clearly, and often with biting humor. It is one of our chief sources of knowledge about Gnosticism. He also makes a case for Christianity which has become a classic, resting heavily on Scripture, and on the continuity between the teaching of the Apostles and the teaching of bishops, generation after generation, especially in the great see cities. Against the Gnostics, who despised the flesh and exalted the spirit, he stressed two doctrines: that of the creation as good, and that of the resurrection of the body. A late and uncertain tradition claims that he suffered martyrdom, about 202.
An excerpt from the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus: “Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness. Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they become immortal and attain to God himself. As I have said, this was shown in symbols by the prophets: God will be seen by men who bear his Spirit and are always waiting for his coming. As Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy: On that day we shall see, for God will speak to man, and man will live. God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures. Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God the Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being. As it is written in the Gospel: No man has ever seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him. From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning. He was to reveal to the human race visions of prophecy, the diversity of spiritual gifts, his own ways of ministry, the glorification of the Father, all in due order and harmony, at the appointed time and for our instruction. Where there is order, there is also harmony; where there is harmony, there is also correct timing; where there is correct timing, there is also advantage. The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent man from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God: the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.”
Collect: Almighty God, you upheld your servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every blast of vain doctrine: Keep us, we pray, steadfast in your true religion, that in constancy and peace we may walk in the way that leads 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.
29 June. Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles. Peter and Paul, the two greatest leaders of the early Church, are commemorated separately, Peter on January 18, for his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, and Paul on January 25, for his conversion; but they are commemorated together on June 29 in observance of the tradition of the Church that they both died as martyrs in Rome during the persecution under Nero, in 64. Paul, the well-educated and cosmopolitan Jew of the Dispersion, and Peter, the uneducated fisherman from Galilee, had differences of opinion in the early years of the Church concerning the mission to the Gentiles. More than once, Paul speaks of rebuking Peter for his continued insistence on Jewish exclusiveness; yet their common commitment to Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel proved stronger than their differences; and both eventually carried that mission to Rome, where they were martyred. According to tradition, Paul was granted the right of a Roman citizen to be beheaded by a sword, but Peter suffered the fate of his Lord, crucifixion, though with head downward. A generation after their martyrdom, Clement of Rome, writing to the Church in Corinth, probably in 96 A.D., says: “Let us come to those who have most recently proved champions; let us take up the noble examples of our own generation. Because of jealousy and envy the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and competed unto death. Let us bring before our eyes the good apostles—Peter, who because of unrighteous jealousy endured not one or two, but numerous trials, and so bore a martyr’s witness and went to the glorious place that he deserved. Because of jealousy and strife Paul pointed the way to the reward of endurance; seven times he was imprisoned, he was exiled, he was stoned, he was a preacher in both east and west, and won renown for his faith, teaching uprightness to the whole world, and reaching the farthest limit of the west, and bearing a martyr’s witness before the rulers, he passed out of the world and was taken up into the holy place, having proved a very great example of endurance.”
From a sermon by Saint Augustine [Sermon 395]: “This day has been made holy by the passion of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. We are, therefore, not talking about some obscure martyrs. ‘For their voice has gone forth to all the world, and to the ends of the earth their message.’ These martyrs realized what they taught: they pursued justice, they confessed the truth, they died for it. Saint Peter, the first of the apostles and a fervent lover of Christ, merited to hear these words: ‘I say to you that you are Peter,’ for he had said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Then Christ said: ‘And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.’ On this rock I will build the faith that you now confess, and on your words: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ I will build my Church. For you are Peter, and the name Peter comes from petra, the word for ‘rock’ and not vice versa. ‘Peter’ comes, therefore, from petra, just as ‘Christian’ comes from Christ. As you are aware, Jesus chose his disciples before his passion and called them apostles; and among these almost everywhere Peter alone deserved to represent the entire Church. And because of that role which he alone had, he merited to hear the words: ‘To you I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For it was not one man who received the keys, but the entire Church conceived as one. Now insofar as he represented the unity and universality of the Church, Peter’s preeminence is clear from the words: ‘To you I give,’ for what was given was given to all. For the fact that it was the Church that received the keys of the kingdom of God is clear from what the Lord says elsewhere to his apostles: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’ adding immediately, ‘whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, and whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ Rightly then did the Lord after his resurrection entrust Peter with feeding his sheep. Yet he was not the only disciple to merit the feeding of the Lord’s sheep; but Christ in speaking to one suggests the unity of all; and so he speaks to Peter, because Peter is first among the apostles. Therefore, do not be disheartened, Peter; reply once, reply twice, reply a third time. The triple confession of your love is to regain what was lost three times by your fear. You must loose three times what you bound three times; unite by love that which your fear bound. Once, and again, and a third time did the Lord entrust his sheep to Peter. Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”
This feast is famous for the hymn Aurea Luce traditionally associated with it, written by Elpis, who died in 493 and was the wife of the philosopher Boethius:
What fairer light is this than time itself doth own,
The golden day with beams more radiant brightening?
The princes of God’s Church this feast day doth enthrone;
To sinners heavenward bound their burden lightening
One taught mankind its creed, one guards the heavenly gate;
Founders of Rome, they bind the world in loyalty;
One by the sword achieved, one by the cross his fate;
With laurelled brows thy hold eternal royalty.
Rejoice, O Rome, this day; thy walls they once did sign
with princely blood, who now their glory share with thee.
What city’s vesture glows with crimson deep as thine?
What beauty else has earth that may compare with thee?
To God the three in one eternal homage be,
All honor, all renown, all songs victorious
Who rules both heaven and earth by one divine decree
To everlasting years in empire glorious.
Sequence from the Sarum Missal:
“Sound, O crowd, the melody in joyful praise,
Joining the words to rhythmic symphony,
May this famous harmony even join the lights of the sky,
Which with golden light illuminate all realms of the world.
Their strong trophies are already blossoming in the kingdom of heaven,
Whose merits dispel the crimes on this shining day.
For one triumphed through the execution on the cross,
the other through the sword in the neck, both laurels are shining.
And above the highest stars, famous through their victory,
they are prelates in the heavenly court.
From thence, thou, O blessed Peter, who openest
[and] closest the great gates of heaven with thy word,
Mildly receive the faithful prayers, dissolving all bonds of sin.
Paul, bring us holy doctrine that illuminateth the hearts of the people,
And carry our minds beyond the stars, as perfectly as God may give.
From thence may come the music of the virtues, fair, with strings and singing,
In that shall be composed the harmony,
and that, which is really the original perfect fourth.
Consisting of Virtue and Justice
Of Temperance and Prudence,
With them more than fittingly adorned,
let the crowds sing enharmonic canticles to Christ.
May they be joined to our choir, may they give these
lights, whom we give more than lyrical songs,
Now everything that is redeemed shall give a solemn Amen.”
Collect: Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.