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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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

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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.

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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 19: Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury & Martyr, 1012

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Born in 954, Alphege (or Aelfheah) gave his witness in the troubled  time of the second wave of Scandinavian invasion and settlement in  England. After serving as a monk at Deerhurst, and then as Abbot  of Bath, he became in 984, through Archbishop Dunstan’s influence, Bishop of Winchester. He was instrumental in bringing the Norse King  Olaf Tryggvason, only recently baptized, to King Aethelred in 994 to make his peace and to be confirmed at Andover.

Transferred to Canterbury in 1005, Alphege was captured by the  Danes in 1011. He refused to allow a personal ransom to be collected  from his already over-burdened people. Seven months later he was  brutally murdered, despite the Viking commander Thorkell’s effort  to save him by offering all his possessions except his ship for the Archbishop’s life.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates that the Danes were “much stirred  against the Bishop, because he would not promise them any fee, and  forbade that any man should give anything for him. They were also  much drunken … and took the Bishop, and led him to their hustings, on the eve of the Saturday after Easter … and then they shamefully killed him. They overwhelmed him with bones and horns of oxen; and one of them smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow. And his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his sacred soul was sent to the realm of God.”

Collects

I  O loving God, whose martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death because he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant, we pray thee, that all pastors of thy flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; through him who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  O loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

1 Samuel 24:7b–19

Philemon 1–9a

Luke 23:1–9

Psalm 49:1-9

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 16: Mary (Molly) Brant (Konwatsijayenni), Witness to the Faith among the Mohawks, 1796

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Mary, or Molly Brant, known among the Mohawks as Konwatsijayenni, was an important presence among the Iroquois Confederacy during the time of the American Revolution. Baptized and raised as an Anglican due to the British presence in her tribal area, she spoke and wrote in English, and she sought to keep the Mohawks, as well as the other tribes of the Iroquois Nation, loyal to the British government during the Revolution.

Born to Peter Tehonwaghkwangeraghkwa and his wife Margaret, she moved west to Ohio with her family and lived there until her father’s death. She and her brother Joseph took the name of their stepfather, Brant Kanagaradunkwa, who married their mother in 1753. Her stepfather was a friend of Sir William Johnson, the British Superintendent for North Indian Affairs. Mary met Sir William in 1759, and though they could not legally marry, she became his common law wife, and together they had nine children. She exerted influence among both the British and the Mohawks, and her voice was often sought among tribal councils and in treaty efforts.

Following her husband’s death, the Oneidas and the Americans, in retaliation for her loyalty to the British and to the Anglican Church, destroyed her home. She and her children fled and were protected by the principal chief of the Five Nations, whose leaders respected her word and counsel.

In 1783, she moved to Kingston, Ontario, where the British Government rewarded her for her loyalty. A lifelong Anglican, she helped found St. George’s Anglican Church in Kingston. At her death her tribesmen as well as the British with whom she had worked mourned her.

Collects

I  Maker and lover of all creation, who didst endue Molly Brant with the gifts of justice and loyalty, and didst make her a wise and prudent clan mother in the household of the Mohawk nation: Draw us also toward the goal of our faith, that we may at last attain the full dignity of our nature in our true native land, where with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

II   Maker and lover of all creation, you endued Molly Brant with the gifts of justice and loyalty, and made her a wise and prudent clan mother in the household of the Mohawk nation: Draw us also toward the goal of our faith, that we may at last attain the full dignity of our nature in our true native land, where with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Lessons

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 15:1–7,15–19

Colossians 3:12–17

Matthew 19:28–30

Psalm 111:2-10

Preface of a Saint (1)

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 15: Damien & Marianne of Molokai, Priest & Leper, 1889, Religious, 1918

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Joseph de Veuster was born in 1840 in Belgium, the son of a farmer. At the age of 18, he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He made his first vows in 1859 and took the name Damien, after the ancient physician and martyr. When his older brother became ill and was unable to join the mission endeavor in Hawaii, Damien volunteered to take his place.

As Father Damien began his ministry in Hawaii, leprosy was spreading rapidly throughout the Islands. In 1863, King Kamehameha V ordered those with leprosy to be sent to Kalaupapa, an isolated peninsula on the northern coast of Molokai. There, on the side of the peninsula known as Kalawao, those afflicted by the disease were left with no aid.

Damien was among the first priests to arrive in Kalawao, and he remained there for the rest of his life, building houses, an orphanage, a church, and a hospital. He ate with those he served, worshipped with them, and invited them into his home. He eventually contracted leprosy, later known as Hansen’s disease, and died in 1889.

Like Father Damien, Marianne Cope aspired to the religious vocation at an early age.  She entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York, in 1862, and in 1870 she began work as a nurse administrator at St. Joseph’s hospital in Syracuse, where she was criticized for accepting alcoholics and other undesirable patients.

In 1883, she received a letter from a priest in Hawaii asking for help managing the hospitals and ministry to leprosy patients. She arrived in Honolulu in 1883 and immediately took over supervision of the Kaka’ako Branch Hospital, which served as a receiving center for leprosy patients from all over the islands. She also opened a care center for the healthy children of leprosy victims.

In 1884, she met Father Damien, and in 1886, she alone ministered to him when his illness made him unwelcome among church and government leaders. She continued her work with hospitals and sufferers of Hansen’s disease until her death in 1918.

Collects

I  God of compassion, we bless thy Name for the ministries of Damien and Marianne, who ministered to the lepers abandoned on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands. Help us, following their examples, to be bold and loving in confronting the incurable plagues of our time, that thy people may live in health and hope; through Jesus Christ,who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II   God of compassion, we bless your Name for the ministries of Damien and Marianne, who ministered to the lepers abandoned on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands. Help us, following their examples, to be bold and loving in confronting the incurable plagues of our time, that your people may live in health and hope; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 57:14–19

1 Corinthians 4:9–13

Matthew 11:1–6

Psalm 103:13-22

Preface of a Saint (1)

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 14: Edward Thomas Demby & Henry Beard Delany, Bishops, 1957, 1928

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Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, two of the first African-American bishops in the Episcopal Church, were instrumental in the struggle of minorities to take their place in the highest positions of leadership in a church often hostile to their presence.

Born in Delaware in 1869, Edward Demby attended Howard University and became an Episcopalian while serving as the Dean of Students at Paul Quinn College in Texas. Bishop John Spalding recognized Demby’s gifts for ministry and sent him to work in the Diocese of Tennessee. Ordained a deacon in 1898 and a priest the next year, he served parishes in Illinois, Missouri, and Florida. In 1907, he returned to Tennessee as rector of Emmanuel Church in Memphis. He was also appointed as the Archdeacon for Colored Work, with responsibilities for the segregated “colored convocations” in the South.

While serving as Archdeacon, Demby was elected Bishop Suffragan for Colored Work in the Diocese of Arkansas and the Province of the Southwest. A major contributor to the westward expansion of the Episcopal Church, Demby drew African Americans into the church through his work with black hospitals, schools, and orphanages. Despite the difficulties he encountered among the white leadership in the South, Demby worked his whole life toward the full recognition of African Americans in the Episcopal Church.

Henry Beard Delany was ordained to the episcopate the same year as Edward Demby. Born a slave in St. Mary’s, Georgia, Delany also served as Archdeacon for Colored Work, working in the Diocese of North Carolina. He was called to be Bishop Suffragan for Colored Work in the Diocese of North Carolina, but his ministry extended into the dioceses of East and Western North Carolina, South Carolina, and Upper South Carolina.

Delany was a strong advocate for the integration of African American Episcopalians into the wider church despite the Jim Crow laws of the day and the efforts of many leaders of the white majority in the church who viewed the presence of men like Demby and Delany as threats to their power and authority.

Collects

I  Loving God, we offer thanks for the ministries of Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, bishops of thy Church who, though limited by segregation, served faithfully to thy honor and glory. Assist us, we pray, to break through the limitations of our own time, that we may minister in obedience to Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Loving God, we thank you for the ministries of Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, bishops of your Church who, though limited by segregation, served faithfully to your honor and glory. Assist us, we pray, to break through the limitations of our own time, that we may minister in obedience to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Malachi 2:5–7

1 Thessalonians 2:1–12

John 4:31–36

Psalm 119:161-168

Preface of God the Holy Spirit

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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