June 28: Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202

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About this commemoration

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.

There is considerable doubt about the year of Irenaeus’ birth; estimates vary from 97 to 160. 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, probably while Irenaeus was still in his teens, 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 presbyter, 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.

Collects

I  Almighty God, who didst uphold thy servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every blast of vain doctrine: Keep us, we beseech thee, steadfast in thy true religion, that in constancy and peace we may walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  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.

Psalm 145:8–13

Lessons

Proverbs 8:6–11

2 Timothy 2:22b–26

Luke 11:33–36

Preface of the Epiphany

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

 

June 27: [Cornelius Hill], Priest and Chief among the Oneida, 1907

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Hill's grave at Holy Apostles, Oneida

About this commemoration

Born in 1834, 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.

Collects

I  Everliving Lord of the universe, our loving God, who raised up thy 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 thou hast prepared for us; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

II  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.

Psalm  90:1–2,14–17

Lessons

Amos 5:14–15

Romans 14:12–19

John 10:7–18

Preface of God the Father

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

June 26: [Isabel Florence Hapgood], Ecumenist and Journalist, 1929

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About this commemoration

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.

Collects

I  Loving God, we offer thanks 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 thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, unto ages of ages.  Amen.

II  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.

Psalm  24

Lessons

Isaiah 6:1–5

Revelation 5:8–14

John 17:17–23

Preface of All Saints

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

 

June 25: [James Weldon Johnson], Poet, 1938

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from Twentieth Century Negro Literature http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18772. Pub. 1902.

About this commemoration

James Weldon Johnson was born in 1871 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.

Collects

I  Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that thou didst bestow upon thy servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise thy Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from thy creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II   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.

Psalm 46:1–8

Lessons

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 39:1–11

Ephesians 6:10–18

Luke 1:57–75

Preface of the Epiphany

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

June 22: Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304

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About this commemoration

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 Shrine of St. Alban. Photographer: Michael Reeve, 30 June 2004

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.’ ”

Collects

I  Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of 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, 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.

Psalm  31:1–5

Lessons

Wisdom 3:1–9

1 John 3:13–16

Matthew 10:34–42

Preface of a Saint (3)

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

 

June 18: Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, 1896

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About this commemoration

Bernard Mizeki

(http://www.almalink.org/dioceses/mezeki.htm)

Bernard Mizeki was born about the year 1861 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.

Collects

I  Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, thy 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 liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  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.

Psalm  124

Lessons

Nehemiah 6:6–11

Revelation 7:13–17

Luke 12:2–12

Preface of Holy Week

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

 

June 16: [George Berkeley and] Joseph Butler, Bishops and Theologians, 1753, 1752

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About this commemoration

George Berkeley was born in Ireland in 1684, 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 on June 16, 1752 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 through 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.

Collects

I  Holy God, source of all wisdom: We give thanks for thy servants George Berkeley and Joseph Butler, who by their life and work strengthened thy Church and illumined thy world. Help us, following their examples, to place our hearts and minds in thy service, for the sake of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  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.

Psalm  119:89–96

Lessons

Isaiah 6:6–10

Acts 13:38–44

John 3:11–16

Preface of a Saint (1)

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