March 18: Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, 386

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Cyril is the one we have most to thank for the development of catechetical instruction and liturgical observances during Lent and Holy Week. Born in Jerusalem about 315, Cyril became bishop of that city probably in 349. In the course of political and ecclesiastical disputes, he was banished and restored three times. His Catechetical Lectures on the Christian faith, given before Easter to candidates for Baptism, were probably written by him sometime between 348 and 350.

The work consists of an introductory lecture, or Procatechesis, and eighteen Catecheses based upon the articles of the creed of the Church at Jerusalem. All these lectures (the earliest catechetical materials surviving today) may have been used many times over by Cyril and his successors, and considerably revised in the process. They were probably part of the pre-baptismal instruction that Egeria, a pilgrim nun from western Europe, witnessed at Jerusalem in the fourth century and described with great enthusiasm in the account of her pilgrimage. Many of the faithful would also attend these instructions.

Cyril’s five Mystagogical Catecheses on the Sacraments, intended for the newly baptized after Easter, are now thought to have been composed, or at least revised, by John, Cyril’s successor as Bishop of Jerusalem from 386 to 417.

It is likely that it was Cyril who instituted the observances of Palm Sunday and Holy Week during the latter years of his episcopate in Jerusalem. In doing so, he was taking practical steps to organize devotions for countless pilgrims and local inhabitants around the sacred sites. In time, as pilgrims returned to their homes from Palestine, these services were to influence the development of Holy Week observances throughout the entire Church. Cyril attended the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, in 381, and died at Jerusalem on March 18, 386.

Cyril’s thought has greatly enriched the observance of Holy Week in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

Collects

I     Strengthen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bishops of thy Church in their special calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, that they, like thy servant Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct thy people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

II     Strengthen, O Lord, the bishops of your Church in their special calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, so that they, like your servant Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct your people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 47:8-10

Hebrews 13: 14-21

Luke 24: 44-48

Psalm 122

Preface of the Dedication of a Church

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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March 17: Patrick, Bishop and Missionary of Ireland, 461

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Patrick was born into a Christian family somewhere on the northwest coast of Britain in about 390. His grandfather had been a Christian priest and his father, Calpornius, a deacon. Calpornius was an important official in the late Roman imperial government of Britain. It was not unusual in this post-Constantinian period for such state officials to be in holy orders. When Patrick was about sixteen, he was captured by a band of Irish slave-raiders. He was carried off to Ireland and forced to serve as a shepherd. When he was about twenty-one, he escaped and returned to Britain, where he was educated as a Christian. He tells us that he took holy orders as both presbyter and bishop, although no particular see is known as his at this time. A vision then called him to return to Ireland. This he did about the year 431.

Tradition holds that Patrick landed not far from the place of his earlier captivity, near what is now known as Downpatrick (a “down” or “dun” is a fortified hill, the stronghold of a local Irish king). He then began a remarkable process of missionary conversion throughout the country that continued until his death, probably in 461. He made his appeal to the local kings and through them to their tribes. Christianizing the old pagan religion as he went, Patrick erected Christian churches over sites already regarded as sacred, had crosses carved on old druidic pillars, and put sacred wells and springs under the protection of Christian saints.

Many legends of Patrick’s Irish missionary travels possess substrata of truth, especially those telling of his conversion of the three major Irish High Kings. At Armagh, he is said to have established his principal church. To this day, Armagh is regarded as the primatial see of all Ireland.

Two works are attributed to Patrick: an autobiographical Confession, in which he tells us, among other things, that he was criticized by his contemporaries for lack of learning, and a Letter to Coroticus, a British chieftain. The Lorica or St. Patrick’s Breastplate (“I bind unto myself today”) is probably not his, but it expresses his faith and zeal.

Collects

I     Almighty God, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; 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, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Ezekiel 36: 33-38

1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12

Matthew 28:16-20

Psalm 97:1-2, 7-12

Preface of Apostles

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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March 13(or November 8): James Theodore Holly, Bishop of Haiti, and of the Dominican Republic, 1911

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James Theodore Augustus Holly was born a free African American in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 1829. Baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, he later became an Episcopalian. Holly was ordained deacon at St. Matthew’s Church in Detroit, on June 17, 1855, and ordained a priest by the bishop of Connecticut on January 2, 1856. He was appointed rector of St. Luke’s, New Haven. In the same year he founded the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting the Extension of the Church among Colored People, an antecedent of the Union of Black Episcopalians. He became a friend of Frederick Douglass, and the two men worked together on many programs.

In 1861, Holly resigned as rector of St. Luke’s to lead a group of African Americans settling in Haiti. Although his wife, his mother, and two of his children died during the first year, along with other settlers, Holly stayed on with two small sons, proclaiming that just “as the last surviving apostle of Jesus was in tribulation … on the forlorn isle of Patmos, so, by His Divine Providence, [Christ] had brought this tribulation upon me for a similar end in this isle in the Caribbean sea.” He welcomed the opportunity to speak of God’s love to a people who needed to hear it.

On November 8, 1874, James Theodore Holly was ordained the first bishop of Haiti at Grace Church, New York City. This made him the first Black man to be raised to the office of bishop in the Episcopal Church, and only the second Black bishop of any major denomination. In 1878, Bishop Holly attended the Lambeth Conference, the first Black to do so, and he preached at Westminster Abbey on St. James’ Day of that year. In the course of his ministry, he doubled the size of his diocese, and established medical clinics where none had been before.

Bishop Holly served the Diocese of Haiti until his death on March 13, 1911. He had charge of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic as well, from 1897 until he died. He is buried on the grounds of St. Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince.

Collects

I     Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II     Most gracious God, by the calling of your servant James Theodore Holly thou gave us our first bishop of African American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led your people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lessons

Deuteronomy 6: 20-25

Acts 8: 26-39

John 4: 31-38

Psalm 86: 11-17

Preface of Apostles and Ordinations

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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March 12: Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604

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Only two Popes, Leo I and Gregory I, have been given the popular title of “the Great.” Both served in the difficult times of the barbarian invasions of Italy. Gregory also knew the horrors of “plague, pestilence, and famine.” He was born of a patrician family about 540, and became Prefect of Rome in 573. Shortly thereafter he retired to a monastic life in a community which he founded in his ancestral home on the Coelian Hill. Pope Pelagius II made him Ambassador to Constantinople in 579, where he learned much about the larger affairs of the Church. Not long after his return home, Pope Pelagius died of the plague, and in 590 Gregory was elected as his successor.

Gregory’s pontificate was one of strenuous activity. He organized the defense of Rome against the attacks of the Lombards, and fed its populace from papal granaries in Sicily. In this as in other matters, he administered “the patrimony of St. Peter” with energy and efficiency. His ordering of the Church’s liturgy and chant has molded the spirituality of the Western Church until the present day. Though unoriginal in theology, his writings provided succeeding generations with basic texts, especially the Pastoral Care, a classic on the work of the ministry.

In the midst of all his cares and duties, Gregory prepared and fostered the evangelizing mission to the Anglo-Saxons under Augustine and other monks from his own monastery. The Venerable Bede justly called Gregory the Apostle of the English.

Gregory died on March 12, 604, and was buried in St. Peter’s basilica. His life was a true witness to the title he assumed for his office: “Servant of the servants of God.”

Collects

I     Almighty and merciful God, who didst raise up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and didst inspire him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in thy Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that thy people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II     Almighty and merciful God, you raised up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that your people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

1 Chronicles 25: 1a, 6-8

Colossians 1: 28-2:3

Mark 10: 42-45

Psalm 57: 6-11

Preface of Apostles

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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March 9: Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, c. 394

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Gregory was a man enchanted with Christ and dazzled by the meaning of his Passion. He was born in Caesarea about 334, the younger brother of Basil the Great, and, in his youth, was but a reluctant Christian.

When he was twenty, the transfer of the relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste to the family chapel at Annesi quickened Gregory’s faith, and he became a practicing Christian and a lector. He abandoned this ministry, however, to become a rhetorician like his father.

His brother Basil, in his struggle against the Emperor Valens, compelled Gregory to become Bishop of Nyssa, a town ten miles from Caesarea. Knowing himself to be unfit for the charge, Gregory described his ordination as the most miserable day of his life. He lacked the important episcopal skills of tact and understanding, and had no sense of the value of money. Falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory went into hiding for two years, not returning to his diocese until Valens died.

Although he resented his brother’s dominance, Gregory was shocked by Basil’s death in 379. Several months later, he received another shock: his beloved sister Macrina was dying. Gregory hastened to Annesi and conversed with her for two days about death, and the soul, and the meaning of the resurrection. Choking with asthma, Macrina died in her brother’s arms.

The two deaths, while stunning Gregory, also freed him to develop as a deeper and richer philosopher and theologian. He reveals his delight in the created order in his treatise, On the Making of Man. He exposes the depth of his contemplative and mystical nature in his Life of Moses and again in his Commentary on the Song of Songs. His Great Catechism is still considered second only to Origen’s treatise, On First Principles.

In 381, Gregory attended the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, where he was honored as the “pillar of the Church.” In the fight for the Nicene faith, he was one of the three great Eastern theologians, known with Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus, as the Cappadocian Fathers.

Collects

I     Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Gregory of Nyssa, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who livest and reignest now and for ever.  Amen.

II     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 Gregory of Nyssa, 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.

Lessons

Wisdom 7: 24-28

Ephesians 2: 17-22

John 14: 23-26

Psalm 19: 7-11 (12-14)

Preface of Trinity Sunday

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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March 8: Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, Priest, 1929

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G. A. Studdert Kennedy was born in Leeds in 1883, one of nine children. His father, William Studdert Kennedy, was vicar in Leeds. Kennedy earned a degree in classics and divinity in 1904 at Trinity College, Dublin. After his ordination, he served parishes in Rugby and Worcester.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Kennedy volunteered as a chaplain to soldiers on the Western Front. Along with the spiritual comfort he gave to the wounded and dying, he was famous for handing out Woodbine cigarettes to the soldiers, who called him “Woodbine Willie.”

A skilled poet, Kennedy published several volumes of religious poetry. He also wrote poems based on his experience as war chaplain, published in the volumes Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918) and MoreRough Rhymes (1919). His courage and has compassion for the soldiers he served can be heard in his poem “Woodbine Willie,” a gracious, moving account of the men who gave him his nickname:

THEY gave me this name like their nature,

Compacted of laughter and tears,

A sweet that was born of the bitter,

A joke that was torn from the years.

Of their travail and torture, Christ’s fools,

Atoning my sins with their blood,

Who grinned in their agony sharing

The glorious madness of God.

Their name! Let me hear it—the symbol

Of unpaid—unpayable debt,

For the men to whom I owed God’s Peace,

I put off with a cigarette.

He also published a collection of sermons entitled I Believe: Sermons on the Apostle’s Creed (1928). His later poems and prose works express the Christian socialism and pacifism he adopted during his war years. He eventually worked for the Industrial Christian Fellowship. On one of his speaking tours on their behalf, he became ill, and he died in Liverpool in 1929.

Studdert Kennedy remains a powerful influence on the pacifist cause, and his many writings have inspired figures such as Desmond Tutu and Jürgen Moltmann.

Collects

I     Glorious God, we give thanks not merely for high and holy things, but for the common things of earth which thou hast created: Wake us to love and work, that Jesus, the Lord of life, may set our hearts ablaze and that we, like Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, may recognize thee in thy people and in thy creation, serving the holy and undivided Trinity; who liveth and reigneth throughout all ages of ages.  Amen.

II     Glorious God, we give thanks not merely for high and holy things, but for the common things of earth which you have created: Wake us to love and work, that Jesus, the Lord of life, may set our hearts ablaze and that we, like Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, may recognize you in your people and in your creation, serving the holy and undivided Trinity; who lives and reigns throughout all ages of ages.  Amen.

Lessons

2 Samuel 22: 1-7 (8-16) 17-19

1 Corinthians 15:  50-58

Luke 10: 25-37

Psalm 69: 15-20

Preface of a Saint (2)

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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March 7: Perpetua and her Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 202

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About This Commemoration

Vibia Perpetua was a young widow, mother of an infant and owner of several slaves, including Felicitas and Revocatus. With two other young Carthaginians, Secundulus and Saturninus, they were catechumens preparing for baptism.

Early in the third century, Emperor Septimius Severus decreed that all persons should sacrifice to the divinity of the emperor. There was no way that a Christian, confessing faith in the one Lord Jesus Christ, could do this. Perpetua and her companions were arrested and held in prison under miserable conditions.

In a document attributed to Perpetua, we learn of visions she had in prison. One was of a ladder to heaven, which she climbed to reach a large garden; another was of her brother who had died when young of a dreadful disease, but was now well and drinking the water of life; the last was of herself as a warrior battling the Devil and defeating him to win entrance to the gate of life. “And I awoke, understanding that I should fight, not with beasts, but with the Devil … So much about me up to the day before the games; let him who will write of what happened then.”

At the public hearing before the Proconsul, she refused even the entreaties of her aged father, saying, “I am a Christian.”

On March 7, Perpetua and her companions, encouraging one another to bear bravely whatever pain they might suffer, were sent to the arena to be mangled by a leopard, a boar, a bear, and a savage cow. Perpetua and Felicitas, tossed by the cow, were bruised and disheveled, but Perpetua, “lost in spirit and ecstasy,” hardly knew that anything had happened. To her companions she cried, “Stand fast in the faith and love one another. And do not let what we suffer be a stumbling block to you.”

Eventually, all were put to death by a stroke of a sword through the throat. The soldier who struck Perpetua was inept. His first blow merely pierced her throat between the bones. She shrieked with pain, then aided the man to guide the sword properly. The report of her death concludes, “Perhaps so great a woman, feared by the unclean spirit, could not have been killed unless she so willed it.”

Collects

I     O God the King of saints, who didst strengthen thy servants Perpetua and Felicitas and their companions to make a good confession, staunchly resisting, for the cause of Christ, the claims of human affection, and encouraging one another in their time of trial: Grant that we who cherish their blessed memory may share their pure and steadfast faith, and win with them the palm of victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II     O God the King of saints, you strengthened your servants Perpetua and Felicitas and their companions to make a good confession, staunchly resisting, for the cause of Christ, the claims of human affection, and encouraging one another in their time of trial: Grant that we who cherish their blessed memory may share their pure and steadfast faith, and win with them the palm of victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Daniel 6:10-16

Hebrews 10:32-39

Matthew 24: 9-14

Psalm 124

Preface of a Saint (3)

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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March 6: William W. Mayo, Charles F. Menninger, and Their Sons, Pioneers in Medicine, 1911, 1953

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William W. Mayo
Charles F. Menninger

William W. Mayo, with his two sons, William J. Mayo and Charles H. Mayo, built St. Mary’s, the first general hospital in Minnesota. When a devastating tornado struck Rochester, Minnesota, in August 1883, the Mayos joined with the Sisters of St. Francis to respond to the disaster. This partnership between the Episcopalian Mayos and the Roman Catholic Sisters raised a few eyebrows, but became well known for a new type of patient care that emphasized the whole person, spiritually as well as physically.

Building on a vision of doctors working as a team with other medical professionals, not as solo diagnosticians, the Mayos aggressively opened their doors to other doctors and medical researchers. St. Mary’s Hospital and what would become The Mayo Clinic became a model for integrating person-centered medical care with the best in cutting edge scientific and medical research. The Mayo Clinics continue today as outstanding centers for patient care and medical research.

Charles F. Menninger, together with his sons, Karl and William, were pioneers in establishing a new kind of psychiatric treatment facility in Topeka, Kansas, founded in 1925. They played a major role in transforming the care of the mentally ill in ways that were not only more medically effective, but were also more humane. Among the notable accomplishments of the Menninger Clinic has been its advocacy for better treatment and a more informed public policy in support of the needs of the mentally ill.

In 1973, Dr. Karl Menninger wrote the influential book Whatever Became of Sin? The work looks at sin—personal, corporate, and systemic—and insists that recognizing sin, within us and among us, is a key component in personal and relational health. He believed strongly that naming sin and dealing with its consequences contributes positively to good health in persons and in communities. The book was a standard textbook in theological seminaries for a generation or more.

The work of the Mayos and Menningers was transformative because of their commitment to treating the whole person—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Collects

I     Divine Physician, your Name is blessed for the work and witness of the Mayos and the Menningers, and the revolutionary developments that they brought to the practice of medicine. As Jesus went about healing the sick as a sign of the reign of God come near, bless and guide all those inspired to the work of healing by thy Holy Spirit, that they may follow his example for the sake of thy kingdom and the health of thy people; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II     Divine Physician, we bless your Name for the work and witness of the Mayos and the Menningers, and the revolutionary developments that they brought to the practice of medicine. As Jesus went about healing the sick as a sign of the reign of God come near, bless and guide all those inspired to the work of healing by your Holy Spirit, that they may follow his example for the sake of your kingdom and the health of your people; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 38:1-8

Acts 5:12-16

Luke 8:40-46

Psalm 91:9-14

Preface of the Epiphany

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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March 4: Paul Cuffee, Witness to the Faith among the Shinnecock, 1812

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About This Commemoration

Born in 1757, Paul Cuffee was converted to Christianity in his early twenties. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church becoming a famous preacher and missionary to the native communities around the present-day Mastic Beach, at Hampton Bays, and at Montauk, all on Long Island, New York. Known as “Priest Paul,” Cuffee was instrumental in working for the survival of native tribes. He demonstrated particular gifts in bringing together a strong witness to the Christian faith in dialogue with those who held traditional native beliefs.

Paul Cuffee strengthened the permanent presence of Native Americans in the area by establishing prayer meeting grounds in several locations. These became safe havens for diplomatic talks and places where native people could practice spiritually. He was a faithful advocate for his people and their way of life. Among the fruits of his efforts was the development of many allies of European descent, thus helping to ensure that Native Americans on Long Island could retain what little land they had left. Part of Cuffee’s legacy can still be seen in the ceremonial “June Meeting” for the Shinnecock tribe that includes a Christian worship service, a tradition that continues to this day. Paul Cuffee is remembered for being a “most eloquent speaker” and is mentioned in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the famous anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Priest Paul is buried on a tiny plot of land at Canoe Place in Hampton Bays, his historic gravesite diminished by development on the Long Island Railroad. His descendants  continue mission work in the area that is a direct result of Priest Paul’s efforts. His gravestone reads, “Erected by the New York Missionary Society, in memory of the Rev. Paul Cuffee, an Indian of the Shinnecock tribe, who was employed by the Society for the last thirteen years of his life, on the eastern part of Long Island, where he labored with fidelity and success. Humble, pious and indefatigable in testifying the gospel of the grace of God, he finished his course with joy on the 7th of March, 1812, aged 55 years and 3 days.”

Collects

I    Almighty God, who didst empower Paul Cuffee to be a powerful evangelist and preacher and so to win many souls for Christ among the Native Americans of Long Island: Help us to proclaim thy Word with power, in the Name of the same Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

II     Almighty God, you empowered Paul Cuffee to be a powerful evangelist and preacher and so to win many souls for Christ among the Native Americans of Long Island: Help us to proclaim your Word with power, in the Name of the same Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 55: 1-5

Colossians 3: 12-17

John 16: 16-24

Psalm 100

Preface of Apostles

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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March 3: John and Charles Wesley, Priests, 1791, 1788

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

 

John (left) and Charles Wesley

John was the fifteenth, and Charles the eighteenth, child of Samuel Wesley, Rector of Epworth, Lincolnshire. John was born June 17, 1703, and Charles, December 18, 1707.

The lives and fortunes of the brothers were closely intertwined. As founders and leaders of the “Methodist” or evangelical revival in eighteenth-century England, their continuing influence redounds throughout the world and is felt in many Churches.

Although their theological writings and sermons are still widely appreciated, it is through their hymns—especially those of Charles, who wrote over six thousand of them—that their religious experience, and their Christian faith and life, continue to affect the hearts of many. Both brothers were profoundly attached to the doctrine and worship of the Church of England; and no amount of abuse and opposition to their cause and methods ever shook their confidence in, and love of it.

Both Wesleys were educated at Christ Church, Oxford. It was there that they gathered a few friends to join in strict adherence to the worship and discipline of the Prayer Book, and were thus given the name “Methodists.” John was ordained in 1728 and Charles in 1735.

The two brothers went together to Georgia in 1735, John as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and Charles as secretary to James Oglethorpe, the Governor.

Shortly after their return to England, they both experienced an inner conversion, Charles on May 21, 1738, and John on May 24, at a meeting in Aldersgate Street with a group of Moravians, during a reading of Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. John recorded, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” So the revival was born.

The later schism of the Methodists from the Church of England occurred after the death of the two brothers—Charles on March 29, 1788, and John on March 2, 1791—but John’s uncanonical ordinations of “elders” for America (bitterly opposed by Charles) doubtless set the basis for it.

Collects

I     Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and that those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II     Lord God, you inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 49: 5-6

Romans 12: 11-17

Luke 9: 2-6

Psalm 103: 1-4, 13-18

Preface of Pentecost

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

* * *

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?

To post a comment, your first and last name and email address are required. Your name will be published; your email address will not. The first time you post, a moderator will need to approve your submission; after that, your comments will appear instantly.