January 31: Samuel Shoemaker, Priest and Evangelist, 1963

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About this Commemoration

Born in Baltimore in 1893, Sam Shoemaker was a highly influential priest of the Episcopal Church and is remembered for his empowerment of the ministry of the laity.

While attending Princeton University, Shoemaker came under the influence of several major evangelical thinkers, among them Robert Speer and John Mott. After  college he spent several years in China and came under the influence of Frank Buchman, founder of The Oxford Group, a group initially oriented toward the personal evangelization of the wealthy and influential. Although he would eventually break from Buchman, aspects of the Oxford Group’s approach would influence Shoemaker for the rest of his life.

Training for the priesthood at The General Seminary, Shoemaker became an Episcopal priest in 1921. After a brief curacy and further involvement with student ministry at Princeton, Shoemaker was called in 1925 to become the Rector of Calvary Church, New York City, a post he held for sixteen years. During his tenure, Calvary’s ministry grew exponentially, largely through Shoemaker’s ability to hold in creative tension the power of personal evangelism and giving authentic witness to one’s faith while remaining faithful to the  liturgical and sacramental traditions of the church.

Two significant movements—Faith at Work and Alcoholics Anonymous—have their roots in Shoemaker’s work at Calvary Church, New York City. Faith at Work, founded in 1926,  grew out of Shoemaker’s passion for personal witness in the workplace. In the 1940’s, the movement became  increasingly ecumenical and many of the leaders of spiritual renewal in mainstream American evangelicalism have connections to Shoemaker’s Faith at Work movement.

Also during Shoemaker’s tenure at Calvary, New York,  Alcoholics Anonymous was founded. Although Shoemaker did not create A.A., his work provided the foundation,  based upon principles he learned earlier from the Oxford Group, for the need to be recognized and the movement to flourish. Much of the teaching upon which A.A. is built bears the unmistakable influence of Shoemaker who is generally regarded as the spiritual mentor of the movement.

Later in life, Shoemaker served as Rector of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh. He died in 1963.

Collects

i Holy God, we offer thanks for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, priest and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous; and  we pray that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our  Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii Holy God, we thank you for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, priest and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous; and we pray that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our  Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 51:17–52:1a

1 Corinthians 5:6–8

Luke 4:40–44

Psalm

130

Preface of  God the Holy Spirit

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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January 31: Juan Bosco (John Bosco), Priest, 1888

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About this Commemoration

Giovanni Bosco was born near Turin, Italy. His father died when he was two leaving his mother to provide marginal subsistence for the family. He showed a remarkably sweet and kind disposition, which put him at odds with many of the rough boys with whom he grew up. When he was nine, he received a vision. Christ and the Blessed Virgin encouraged him to be kind, obedient and hard-working and a great future would be shown him. Don Bosco always counted this as the beginning of his vocation.

Giovanni was fascinated by the traveling circuses which visited his region and went about learning to juggle, walk a tightrope and do magic tricks. He put on local “shows” which drew both children and adults. The “price” of admission to these exhibitions was time spent at the end of the show saying prayers together. With help from some patrons who recognized his intelligence and talent, he attended seminary and when ordained took an appointment as chaplain to a girls boarding school.

Don Bosco was not satisfied ministering only to well-to-do young women. In time, every Sunday and feast day the  campus filled up with ragamuffin boys who came for catechism, basic schooling and supervised play. The raucous  energy of the boys scandalized the school and Don Bosco was fired. In 1846 he was able to open an orphanage and put the new work under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. With the help of an assistant priest and some  seminarians he had groomed from among his boys, he formed the Salesian Order. This order, grudgingly admired by secular   politicians, was recognized by the Pope and grew to include women religious, lay brothers, and dedicated laity, operating orphanages, vocational schools and nighttime primary schools for working people.

Don Bosco summed up his theory of education: “Every education teaches a philosophy by suggestion, implication, atmosphere. Every part has a connection with every other part. If it does not combine to convey some general view of life, it is not education at all.”

Collects

i Compassionate God, who didst call Juan Bosco to be a teacher and father to the young: Fill us with love like his, that  we may give ourselves completely to thy service and to the salvation of all; through thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth  and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii Compassionate God, you called Juan Bosco to be a teacher and father to the young: Fill us with love like his, that we may give ourselves completely to your service and to the salvation of all; through your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 59:14–16

Philippians 4:4–9

Mark 13:10–16

Psalm

25:4–9

Preface of  a Saint (1)

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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January 29: Andrei Rublev, Monk and Iconographer, 1430

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About this Commemoration

Generally acknowledged as Russia’s greatest iconographer, Andrei Rublev was born around 1365 near Moscow. While very young he entered the monastery of The Holy Trinity and in 1405, with the blessing of his igumen (the Orthodox equivalent of abbot), he transferred to the Spaso-Andronikov monastery where he received the tonsure and studied iconography with Theophanes the Greek and the monk Daniel. Among his most revered works are those in the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir.

The icon (“image” in Greek) is central to Orthodox spirituality. It finds its place in liturgy and in personal devotion. An icon is two dimensional and despite being an image of someone it is not a physical portrait. Western art, especially since the Renaissance, has sought to represent figures or events so that the viewer  might better imagine them. A western crucifix seeks to enable us to imagine what Golgotha was like. Icons seek to  provide immediate access to the spiritual and the divine unmediated by the human, historical imagination.

For Andrei, writing an icon was a spiritual exercise. It involved the ritual of preparing the surface, applying the painted and precious metal background and then creating the image, first outlining it in red. Throughout he would repeatedly say the “Jesus Prayer” (“Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me”). He was creating a window into the Divine which he knew was always before him but which was invisible to the human eye. He knew he was able to create such an image of God because he himself was made in the image of God. His object was to be totally focused on receiving God’s love and  loving in return. He died peacefully in 1430.

As Jesus was the icon of God, so each one of us is also. Ascetic practice aims at freeing that image from sinful distraction and claiming it more and more. To venerate an icon is to find some of  the ineffable beauty that is God, that is manifest in Christ and the saints, and is also in each one of us.

Collects

i Holy God, we bless thee for the gift of thy monk and icon writer Andrei Rublev, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a window into heaven for generations to come, revealing the majesty and mystery of the holy and blessed Trinity; who liveth and reigneth through ages of ages. Amen.

ii Holy God, we bless you for the gift of your monk and icon writer Andrei Rublev, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a window into heaven for generations to come, revealing the majesty and mystery of the holy and blessed Trinity; who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.

Lessons

Genesis 28:10–17

2 Corinthians 2:14–17

Matthew 6:19–23

Psalm

62:6–9

Preface of  a Saint (1)

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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January 28: Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Theologian, 1274

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About this Commemoration

Thomas Aquinas is the greatest theologian of the high Middle Ages, and, next to Augustine, perhaps the greatest theologian in the history of Western Christianity. Born into a noble Italian family, probably in 1225, he entered the new Dominican Order of Preachers, and soon became an outstanding teacher in an age of intellectual ferment.

Perceiving the challenges that the recent rediscovery of Aristotle’s works might entail for traditional catholic doctrine, especially in its emphasis upon empirical knowledge derived from reason and sense perception, independent of faith and revelation, Thomas asserted that reason and revelation are in basic harmony.  “Grace” (revelation), he said, “is not the denial of nature” (reason), “but the perfection of it.” This synthesis Thomas accomplished in his greatest works, the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles, which even today continue to exercise profound influence on Christian thought and philosophy. He was  considered a bold thinker, even a “radical,” and certain aspects of his thought were condemned by the ecclesiastical authorities. His canonization on July 18, 1323, vindicated him.

Thomas understood God’s disclosure of his Name, in Exodus 3:14, “I Am Who I Am,” to mean that God is Being, the Ultimate Reality from which everything else derives its being. The difference between God and the world is that God’s essence is to exist, whereas all other beings derive their being from him by the act of creation. Although, for Thomas, God and the world are distinct, there is, nevertheless, an analogy of being between God and the world, since the Creator is reflected in his creation. It is possible, therefore, to have a limited knowledge of God, by analogy from the created world. On this basis, human reason can demonstrate that God exists; that he created the world; and that he contains in himself, as their cause, all the perfections which exist in his creation. The distinctive truths of Christian faith, however, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, are known only by revelation.

Thomas died in 1274, just under fifty years of age. In 1369, on January 28, his remains were transferred to Toulouse. In addition to his many theological writings, he composed several eucharistic hymns. They include “O saving Victim” and “Now, my tongue, the mystery telling.”

Collects

i Almighty God, who hast enriched thy Church with the singular learning and holiness of thy servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray thee, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Wisdom 7:7–14

1 Corinthians 11:23–26

Matthew 13:47–52

Psalm

119:97–104

Preface of  Trinity Sunday

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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January 27: Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe; Witnesses to the Faith

 

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About this Commemoration

The commemoration of these three devout women follows directly on the observance of three of Paul’s male co-workers in the Lord. It is a reminder that though the first century was a patriarchal time from which we have very few women’s voices, the apostles and indeed the whole early church depended on women for sustenance, protection and support.

Lydia was Paul’s first European convert. She was a Gentile woman in Philippi who, like many others, was attracted to Judaism. As what the Jewish community called a “God-fearer” she was undoubtedly accorded respect by the Jewish community, but still would have been marginalized. Paul encountered her on a riverbank where she and a group of women had gathered for Sabbath prayers. Undoubtedly Paul preached his gospel of inclusiveness to them and Lydia “opened her heart” and, together with the whole household of which she was head, was baptized.

Lydia was a prosperous cloth-merchant and a person of means. She was able to lodge Paul, Timothy, and other of his companions in her house, which Paul used as a local base of operations (Acts 16: 11-40). Phoebe was the apparent patroness of the Christian community in Cenchreae near Corinth. She is the first person mentioned in the long list of Paul’s beloved associates in Chapter 16 of Romans. Paul refers to her as a “sister”, as a “deacon” and as a “patroness” or “helper” of many. In other words, Paul includes her as part of his family in Christ and infers that she has housed and provided legal cover for the local church. Paul’s use of the word “deacon” should be used with caution since the diaconate as an order had not yet developed in the church, but it does suggest the kind of ministry out of which the notion of ordained deacons developed. It would not be too much to call her a “proto-deacon”.

Dorcas (Tabitha in Aramaic), was a revered disciple in Joppa who devoted herself to “good works and acts of charity.” When she fell ill and died, the community sent for Peter who came and after prayer, revived her (Acts 9:36-42). Though we have no record of the words of these three women, the apostolic testimony to their faith and their importance to the mission of the early church speaks for itself.

Collects

i Filled with thy Holy Spirit, gracious God, thine earliest disciples served thee with the gifts each had been given:
Lydia in business and stewardship, Dorcas in a life of charity and Phoebe as a deacon who served many. Inspire us today to build up thy Church with our gifts in hospitality, charity and bold witness to the Gospel of Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

ii Filled with your Holy Spirit, gracious God, your earliest disciples served you with the gifts each had been given:
Lydia in business and stewardship, Dorcas in a life of charity and Phoebe as a deacon who served many. Inspire us today to build up your Church with our gifts in hospitality, charity and bold witness to the Gospel of Christ; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lessons

Malachi 3:16–18

Acts 16:11–15

Luke 8:1–3

Psalm

100

Preface of  Pentecost

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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January 26: Timothy, Titus, and Silas, Companions of Saint Paul

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About this Commemoration

Timothy and Silas are mentioned in The Acts of the Apostles.Timothy’s father was Greek and his mother a Jewish believer. Paul chose him as a companion for his mission to Asia Minor but had him circumcised because the “Jews who were in those places” knew that his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1–3). Timothy undertook missions to the Thessalonians, Corinthians and the Ephesians. Eusebius counts him as the first bishop of that city.

Silas is known by his Latinized name Silvanus when Paul cites him as his companion along with Timothy (1 & 2 Thessalonians 1:1).  He was a prophet in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:22–35), but also a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37–8). He went with Paul and Barnabas to deliver the decision of the apostolic council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1–21) that Gentile believers did not have to observe the law of Moses. Paul chose Silas to accompany him on missions to Asia Minor and Macedonia where he may have remained after Paul left (Acts 15:41–18:5). Tradition has it that he died there after some years of missionary work.

Titus, a Greek, accompanied Paul to Jerusalem for the apostolic council. During Paul’s third missionary journey Titus was sent on missions to Corinth from which he gave Paul encouraging reports (2 Corinthians 7:13–15). Paul, who calls him: “my true child in the common faith”(Titus 1:14) left him to organize the church in Crete (Titus 1:5) and Eusebius reports that he was the first bishop there.

These three are celebrated on the day after the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul because of their close connections with him. Though they were all young and inexperienced, they were entrusted with missions and matters that helped form the very life and history of the Church. Faithfulness, love and devotion to Christ saw them through situations they could not have imagined.

Collects

i Just and merciful God, who in every generation hast raised up prophets, teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise thy holy Name: We give thanks for the calling of Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up thy Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we, too, may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God now and for ever. Amen.

ii Just and merciful God, in every generation you raise up prophets, teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise your holy Name: We thank you for sending Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up your Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we too may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 42:5–9

Acts 15:22–26,30–33,16:1–5

John 10:1–10

Psalm

112:1–9

Preface of  Pentecost

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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January 24: Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi, First Woman Priest in the Anglican Communion, 1944

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About this Commemoration

Named by her father “much beloved daughter,” Li Tim-Oi was born in Hong Kong in 1907. When she was baptized as a student, she chose the name of Florence in honor of Florence Nightingale. Florence studied at Union Theological College in Guangzhou (Canton). In 1938, upon graduation, she served in a lay capacity, first in Kowloon and then in nearby Macao.

In May 1941 Florence was ordained deaconess. Some months later Hong Kong fell to Japanese invaders, and priests could not travel to Macao to celebrate the Eucharist. Despite this setback, Florence continued her ministry. Her work came to the attention of Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong, who decided that “God’s work would reap better results if she had the proper title” of priest.

On January 25, 1944, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Bishop Hall ordained her priest, the first woman so ordained in the Anglican Communion.

When World War II came to an end, Florence Li Tim-Oi’s ordination was the subject of much controversy. She made the personal decision not to exercise her priesthood until it was acknowledged by the wider Anglican Communion. Undeterred, she continued to minister with great faithfulness, and in 1947 was appointed rector of St. Barnabas Church in Hepu where,on Bishop Hall’s instructions, she was still to be called priest.

When the Communists came to power in China in 1949, Florence undertook theological studies in Beijing to further understand the implications of the Three-Self Movement (self-rule, self-support, and self- propagation) which now determined the life of the churches. She then moved to Guangzhou to teach and to serve at the Cathedral of Our Savior. However, for sixteen years, from 1958 onwards, during the Cultural Revolution, all churches were closed. Florence was forced to work first on a farm and then in a factory. Accused of counter revolutionary activity, she was required to undergo political re-education. Finally, in 1974, she was allowed to retire from her work in the factory.

In 1979 the churches reopened, and Florence resumed her public ministry. Then, two years later, she was allowed to visit family members living in Canada. While there, to her great joy, she was licensed as a priest in the Diocese of Montreal and later in the Diocese of Toronto,where she finally settled, until her death on February 26, 1992.

Collects

i Gracious God, we thank thee for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much-beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace of thy Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving thy people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much-beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Jeremiah 17:14–18a

Galatians 3:23–28

Luke 10:1–9

Psalm

116:1–12

Preface of  a Saint (2)

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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