April 30: Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, Editor & Prophetic Witness, 1879

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Sarah Josepha Buell was born in New Hampshire in 1788 to Captain Gordon Buell and Martha Buell, both of whom were advocates for equal education for both sexes. In 1813 she married David Hale, a promising lawyer who shared her intellectual interests. In 1822, David died four days before the birth of their fifth child. Sarah Buell Hale wore black for the rest of her life and to support her family she turned to her considerable literary skills. In a year a volume of poetry appeared, followed by a successful novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, which was the first American novel by a woman and one of the first dealing with slavery. The success generated by Northwood enabled her to edit the popular Ladies’ Magazine, which she hoped would aid in educating women, as she wrote, “not that they may usurp the situation, or encroach upon the prerogatives of man; but that each individual may lend her aid to the intellectual and moral character of those within her sphere.”

In 1830, she published a book of verses for children aimed at the Sunday school market; it included the now-famous “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” originally called “Mary’s Lamb.” Following the examples of her parents, she labored consistently for women’s education and helped found Vassar College. Her publications, including the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book, promoted concern for women’s health, property rights, and opportunities for public recognition. Hale’s influence was widespread, particularly for middle class women, in matters of child-rearing, morality, literature, and dress. Although the editor of Godey’s instructed her to avoid party politics in the publication, she dedicated much energy to causes which could unite North and South across party lines. She worked diligently to preserve Bunker Hill and George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon, as American monuments. She is perhaps most famous for the nationalization of the Thanksgiving holiday, toward which she worked many years and which finally received presidential sanction under Abraham Lincoln.

Her work, in both the women’s and national spheres, was exemplary for its conciliatory nature, its concern for the unity of the nation, and for her desire to honor the work and influence of women in society.

Collects

I  Gracious God, we bless thy Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for thy many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Gracious God, we bless your Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for your many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Jeremiah 30:17–19,22

Philippians 1:27–2:2

Matthew 5:1–12

Psalm 96

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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April 29: Catherine of Siena, 1380

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Catherine Benincasa was the youngest of twenty-five children of a wealthy dyer of Siena. At six years of age, she had a remarkable vision that probably decided her life’s vocation. Walking home from a visit, she stopped on the road and gazed upward, oblivious to everything around her. “I beheld our Lord seated in glory with St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John.” She went on to say, later, that the Savior smiled on her and blessed her.

From then on, Catherine spent most of her time in prayer and meditation, despite her mother’s attempts to force her to be like other girls. To settle matters, Catherine cut off her hair, her chief beauty. The family harassed her continually; but in the end, convinced that she was deaf to all opposition, her father let her do as she would: close herself away in a darkened room, fast, and sleep on boards. Eventually, she was accepted as a Dominican postulant.

Catherine had numerous visions, and was also tried most severely by loathsome temptations and degrading images. Frequently, she felt totally abandoned by the Lord. At last, in 1366, the Savior appeared with Mary and the Heavenly Host, and espoused her to himself, so ending her years of lonely prayer and struggle. She became a nurse, as Dominicans regularly did, caring for patients with leprosy and cancer whom other nurses disliked to treat.

Opinion in Siena was sharply divided about whether she was a saint or a fanatic, but when the Bishop of Capua was appointed her confessor, he helped her to win full support from the Dominican Mother House. Catherine was a courageous worker in time of severe plague; she visited prisoners condemned to death; she constantly was called upon to arbitrate feuds and to prepare troubled sinners for confession.

During the great schism of the papacy, with rival popes in Rome and Avignon, Catherine wrote tirelessly to princes, kings, and popes, urging them to restore the unity of the Church. She even went to Rome to press further for the cause.

Besides her many letters to all manner of people, Catherine wrote a Dialogue, a mystical work dictated in ecstasy. Exhausted and paralyzed, she died at the age of thirty-three.

Collects

I  Everlasting God, who didst so kindle the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of thy Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Lamentations 3:31–33

1 John 1:5–2:2

Luke 12:22–24,29–31

Psalm 119:73-80

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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April 27: Christina Rossetti, Poet, 1894

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Christina Rosetti, among the more important poets of the nineteenth century, was born in 1830 to a professor and his devout, evangelical wife. Her eldest sister, Maria, entered an Anglican convent and her poet-painter brother, Dante, was a leading figure in the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the nineteenth century. She suffered from poor health most of her life, being diagnosed variously with tuberculosis or angina and led a retiring, somewhat cloistered life. In spite of this she produced an enormous quantity of verse and was in lively and ongoing conversation with members of Dante’s “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.” She died of cancer in 1884.

Mid-nineteenth century England, during the Industrial Revolution and the establishment of the British Empire, experienced enormous political and cultural change and social displacement. The old, agrarian society was being swept away by the movement to cities and the creation of a new middle class. Many people, even those who had greatly benefitted from these changes, were revolted by the ugliness and misery that attended urban slums and abandoned rural areas alike. One response was a nostalgic attempt to recover England’s mythic and legendary past. This produced a rather romantic interest in the Medieval. “Gothic,” originally a derogatory term meaning rude or barbaric, became both a term of approval and a style of architecture and decoration that swept the country.

The Tractarian or Oxford Movement shared these concerns and protested against modernity by seeking a recovery of much of the doctrine and sacramental practice of the Medieval Church. Tractarian emphasis on the sacramental taught that the ordinary things of nature: water, oil, bread and wine were the means of God’s grace and indeed God’s presence. They also taught that a life of personal holiness dedicated to the service of others is the road to union with Christ.

Unlike some of the Pre-Raphaelites with whom she was in relationship, Rosetti embraced Christian faith and practice. Over five hundred of her poems were devotional. They were related to the liturgy, to the feasts and fasts of the liturgical year, and to biblical “dialogues” with Christ.

Collects

I  O God, whom heaven cannot hold, who didst inspire Christina Rossetti to express the mystery of the Incarnation through her poems: Help us to follow her example in giving our hearts to Christ, who is love; and who is alive and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

II  O God, whom heaven cannot hold, you inspired Christina Rossetti to express the mystery of the Incarnation through her poems: Help us to follow her example in giving our hearts to Christ, who is love; and who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Lessons

Exodus 3:1–6

Revelation 21:1–4

Matthew 6:19–23

Psalm 84

Preface of the Incarnation

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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April 26: Robert Hunt, Priest and First Chaplain at Jamestown, 1607

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Robert Hunt was born in England around 1568. He was a parish priest in Reculver, Kent, beginning in 1594, and in 1604 became vicar of Heathfield Parish in the Diocese of Chichester.

In 1607, Hunt accompanied Captain John Smith and the Jamestown colonists, serving as their priest and chaplain. The first celebration of the Holy Eucharist recorded in North America took place on May 24, 1607, and Hunt is believed to have presided. Captain Smith’s diary notes another celebration of the Holy Eucharist on June 21, 1607, and Hunt is more clearly indicated as the presiding priest.

In Captain Smith’s journal, the following tribute to Robert Hunt and his ministry may be found: “He was an honest, religious and courageous divine. He preferred the service of God in so good a voyage to every thought of ease at home. He endured every privation, yet none ever heard him repine. During his life our factions were oft healed and our great extremities so comforted that they seemed easy in comparison with what we endured after his memorable death. We all received from him the Holy Communion as a pledge of reconciliation for we all loved him for his exceeding goodness.”

Hunt died sometime prior to April 10, 1608. A memorial has been erected by the National Park Service in Historic Jamestown.

Collects

I  Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the life and witness of Robert Hunt, first chaplain to the Jamestown colony, whose community knew him as an honest, religious and courageous divine who, in his short life, endured great hardships without complaint. Help us, like him, to work for reconciliation and healing wherever we may be placed; through Jesus Christ thy Son, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and witness of Robert Hunt, first chaplain to the Jamestown colony, whose community knew him as an honest, religious and courageous divine who, in his short life, endured great hardships without complaint. Help us, like him, to work for reconciliation and healing wherever we may be placed; through Jesus Christ your Son, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 43:1–7

1 Timothy 6:11–16

Matthew 5:21–24

Psalm 24

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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April 25: Saint Mark the Evangelist

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A disciple of Jesus, named Mark, appears in several places in the New Testament. If all references to Mark can be accepted as referring to the same person, we learn that he was the son of a woman who owned a house in Jerusalem, perhaps the same house in which Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples. Mark may have been the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul refers to “Mark the cousin of Barnabas,” who was with him in his imprisonment. Mark set out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but he turned back for reasons which failed to satisfy Paul (Acts 15:36–40). When another journey was planned, Paul refused to have Mark with him. Instead, Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus. The breach between Paul and Mark was later healed, and Mark became one of Paul’s companions in Rome, as well as a close friend of Peter’s.

An early tradition recorded by Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor at the beginning of the second century, names Mark as the author of the Gospel bearing his name. This tradition, which holds that Mark drew his information from the teaching of Peter, is generally accepted. In his First Letter, Peter refers to “my son Mark,” which shows a close relationship between the two men (1Peter 5:13).

The Church of Alexandria in Egypt claimed Mark as its first bishop and most illustrious martyr, and the great Church of St. Mark in Venice commemorates the disciple who progressed from turning back while on a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas to proclaiming in his Gospel Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God, and bearing witness to that faith in his later life as friend and companion to the apostles Peter and Paul.

Collects

I  Almighty God, who by the hand of Mark the evangelist hast given to thy Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank thee for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; 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  Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 52:7-10

Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16

Mark 1:1-15, or Mark 16:15-20

Psalm 2 or 2:7-10

Preface of All Saints

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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April 24: Genocide Remembrance

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This day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide: the systematic and intentional destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people.

This day is chosen for the commemoration because the international community recognizes April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people during and just after World War I. On April 24, 1915, more than 250 Armenian notables—civic and political leaders, teachers, writers, and members of the clergy—were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Before the cessation of conflict, it is estimated that as many as one-and-a-half million Armenians perished, many as the result of forced marches, deliberate starvation, and heinous massacres. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Armenian Genocide to be the greatest crime of World War I. The close relationships between Anglicans and Episcopalians and our sisters and brothers in the Armenian Church make the remembrance of this day a particular sign of our fellowship in the body of Christ.

Tragically, human history is littered with such atrocities and the Armenian Genocide was far from the last such mass extermination of people in the twentieth century. One need only mention Croatia, Nazi Germany, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Kurdish Iraq, and Tibet, and this is by no means a comprehensive list. The unflinching resolve of people of faith, in prayer and in action, is critical if the travesty of human genocide is to be curbed and eventually stopped.

Collects

I  Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, whose loving care knoweth no bounds and embraceth all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom thou hast reconciled the world to thyself; and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 2:2–5

Revelation 7:13–17

Matthew 2:13–18

Psalm 70

Preface of Holy Week

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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April 23: Toyohiko Kagawa, Prophetic Witness in Japan, 1960

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The Japanese evangelist, advocate of social change, and pacifist, Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960), was a major twentieth century religious figure often compared to Mahatma Gandhi.

Kagawa was the son of a wealthy Kobe Buddhist business entrepreneur-politician and his concubine, both of whom died when Kagawa was four years old. The youth was raised by Presbyterian missionaries and had a conversion experience at age fifteen. “O God, make me like Christ” he prayed repeatedly.

Kagawa studied at theological seminaries in Japan and at Princeton University and Princeton Seminary, but was increasingly drawn to an evangelism of social reform, seeking to apply Christ’s teachings directly to Japan’s poor in a theologically uncomplicated way. He lived for much of the 1910 – 1924 period in a six foot square windowless shed in Kobe’s slums. A skilled organizer, he helped found trade unions and credit unions among dock workers, factory laborers, and subsistence farmers. Trade unions were forbidden at the time, and Kagawa was twice imprisoned. He was also a pacifist and organized the National Anti-War League in 1928. Kagawa was arrested in 1940 for publicly apologizing to the people of China for Japan’s invasion of that country. An advocate for universal male suffrage (granted in 1925), he later became a voice for women’s right to vote as well.

A prolific author, his autobiographical novel, Crossing the Death Line (1920) became a best seller, and many of his other novels and writings in a Christian Socialist vein were translated into English.  He used the revenues from his substantial book sales to fund his extensive slum work. Although Kagawa was under police surveillance much of his life, the Japanese government called on him to organize the rebuilding of Tokyo after a 1923 earthquake and again at the end of World War II to serve as head of the country’s social welfare programs.

Although some knew him best as a social reformer and pacifist, Kagawa saw himself first of all an evangelist. “Christ alone can make all things new,” he said, “The spirit of Christ must be the soul of all real social reconstruction.”

Collects

I  We bless thy Name, O God, for the witness of Toyohiko Kagawa, reformer and teacher, who was persecuted for his pacifist principles and went on to lead a movement for democracy in Japan; and we pray that thou wouldst strengthen and protect all who suffer for their fidelity to Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  We bless your Name, O God, for the witness of Toyohiko Kagawa, reformer and teacher, who was persecuted for his pacifist principles and went on to lead a movement for democracy in Japan; and we pray that you would strengthen and protect all who suffer for their fidelity to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Job 13:13–22

Philippians 1:12–20

Luke 22:47–53

Psalm 140

Preface of Saint (I)

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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April 23: George, Soldier & Martyr, c. 304

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George is the patron saint of England by declaration of King Edward II in 1347. He is remembered as a martyr, having given his life in witness to the gospel during the persecution of the church in the early fourth century. Very few details of his life have survived and his story is replete with legend. By the middle of the fifth century he was commemorated in local calendars and historical records of the period.

George was a soldier by vocation, serving as an officer in the Roman army. It is said that he “gave his goods to the poor, and openly confessed Christianity before the court.”

George’s initial notoriety may well have resulted from his faithfulness and witness to Christ during the Diocletian persecutions, 303-304, a particularly destructive period through which the church suffered.

Much of the legend of George dates back only to the eighth century, and more of it developed in the centuries that followed. The infamous story of George slaying the dragon, probably developed from Greek mythology, is not associated with him until the twelfth century. The inclusion of George’s story in the thirteenth century manuscript, The Golden Legend, accounts for his growing popularity in the Middle Ages.

In the twelfth century George was recognized as the patron saint of soldiers and he was called upon in support of those who would fight in the Crusades. The shield under which his soldier’s fought became a symbol of national pride for the English and in time was adapted into the national flag. Interestingly, the “St. George’s Shield”—white shield emblazoned with a red cross—is the basis of the Episcopal Church flag and seal.

Collects

I  Almighty God, who didst commission thy holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty God, you commissioned your holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Joshua 1:1–9

Revelation 12:7–12

John 8:21–29

Psalm 3

Preface of Lent (I)

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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April 22: John Muir & Hudson Stuck, Naturalist & Writer, 1914, Priest & Environmentalist, 1920

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Born in Scotland in 1838, John Muir immigrated to the United States in 1849, settling in Wisconsin. Muir sought the spiritual freedom of the natural world. As a college student Muir studied botany, of which he later said, “This fine lesson charmed me and sent me flying to the woods and meadows with wild enthusiasm.”

In 1868, Muir arrived in Yosemite Valley, California, which he called “the grandest of all the special temples of nature.” During a hiking trip through the Sierras, Muir developed theories about the development and ecosystem of the areas. Some years later, Muir took up the cause of preservation, eventually co-founding the Sierra Club, an association of environmental preservationists.

Muir, an ardent believer in the national parks as “places of rest, inspiration, and prayers,” adamantly opposed the free exploitation of natural resources for commercial use. This position put him at odds with conservationists who saw natural forests as sources of timber and who wanted to conserve them for that reason.

Muir was influential in convincing President Theodore Roosevelt that federal management and control were necessary to insure the preservation of the national forests. Today, he is revered as an inspiration for preservationists and his life’s work stands as a powerful testament to the majesty and beauty of God’s creation.

Hudson Stuck was an Episcopal priest and explorer. Born in England in 1863, he came to the United States in 1885. He graduated from The University of the South in 1892. From 1894 to 1904, Stuck was Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas, Texas. In 1905 he moved to Fort Yukon, Alaska, where he spent the rest of his life, serving as archdeacon of the Diocese of Alaska.

With a group of fellow explorers, Stuck was the first to completely ascend Denali (Mt. McKinley). He later wrote of the experience as a “privileged communion” to be received in awe and wonder. Upon reaching the pinnacle of Denali, Stuck led the climbers in prayer and thanksgiving.

Archdeacon Stuck died in 1920.

Collects

I  Blessed Creator of the earth and all that inhabits it: We offer thanks for thy prophets John Muir and Hudson Stuck, who rejoiced in your beauty made known in the natural world; and we pray that, inspired by their love of thy creation, we may be wise and faithful stewards of the world thou hast created, that generations to come may also lie down to rest among the pines and rise refreshed for their work; in the Name of the one through whom all things art made new, Jesus Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Blessed Creator of the earth and all that inhabits it: We thank you for your prophets John Muir and Hudson Stuck, who rejoiced in your beauty made known in the natural world; and we pray that, inspired by their love of your creation, we may be wise and faithful stewards of the world you have created, that generations to come may also lie down to rest among the pines and rise refreshed for their work; in the Name of the one through whom you make all things new, Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Jews 52–59

Revelation 22:1–5

Luke 8:22–25

Psalm 104:17-25

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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April 21: Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1109

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.

Anselm was born in Italy about 1033, and took monastic vows in 1060 at the Abbey of Bec in Normandy. He succeeded his teacher Lanfranc as Prior of Bec in 1063, and as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His episcopate was stormy, in continual conflict with the crown over the rights and freedom of the Church. His greatest talent lay in theology and spiritual direction.

As a pioneer in the scholastic method, Anselm remains the great exponent of the so-called “ontological argument” for the existence of God: God is “that than which nothing greater can be thought.” Even the fool, who (in Psalm 14) says in his heart “There is no God,” must have an idea of God in his mind, the concept of an unconditional being (ontos) than which nothing greater can be conceived; otherwise he would not be able to speak of “God” at all. And so this something, “God,” must exist outside the mind as well; because, if he did not, he would not in fact be that than which nothing greater can be thought. Since the greatest thing that can be thought must have existence as one of its properties, Anselm asserts, “God” can be said to exist in reality as well as in the intellect, but is not dependent upon the material world for verification. To some, this “ontological argument” has seemed mere deductive rationalism; to others it has the merit of showing that faith in God need not be contrary to human reason.

Anselm is also the most famous exponent of the “satisfaction theory” of the atonement. Anselm explains the work of Christ in terms of the feudal society of his day. If a vassal breaks his bond, he has to atone for this to his lord; likewise, sin violates a person’s bond with God, the supreme Lord, and atonement or satisfaction must be made. Of ourselves, we are unable to make such atonement, because God is perfect and we are not. Therefore, God himself has saved us, becoming perfect man in Christ, so that a perfect life could be offered in satisfaction for sin.

Undergirding Anselm’s theology is a profound piety. His spirituality is best summarized in the phrase, “faith seeking understanding.” He writes, “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand.”

Collects

I  Almighty God, who didst raise up thy servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in thine eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide thy Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; 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 raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Wisdom 6:12–16

Romans 5:1–11

Matthew 11:25–30

Psalm 53

Preface of the Epiphany

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.