Mar 29 – John Keble

Illumination - John Keble

John Keble
Priest + Poet + Renewer of the Church
29 March 1866

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Portrait of John KebleJohn Keble, born 1792, ordained Priest in 1816, tutor at Oxford from 1818 to 1823, published in 1827 a book of poems called The Christian Year, containing poems for the Sundays and Feast Days of the Church Year. The book sold many copies, and was highly effective in spreading Keble’s devotional and theological views. His style was more popular then than now, but some of his poems are still in use as hymns, such the three beginning:

New every morning is the love
Our waking and uprising prove,
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.

Sun of my soul, thou Savior dear,
It is not night if thou be near.
Oh, may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant’s eyes.

Blest are the pure in heart,
for they shall see our God.
The secret of the Lord is theirs;
Their soul is Christ’s abode.

He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1831 to 1841, and from 1836 until his death thirty years later he was priest of a small parish in the village of Hursley near Winchester.

On 14 July 1833, he preached the Assize Sermon at Oxford. (This sermon marks the opening of a term of the civil and criminal courts, and is officially addressed to the judges and officers of the court, exhorting them to deal justly.) His sermon was called “National Apostasy,” and denounced the Nation for turning away from God, and for regarding the Church as a mere institution of society, rather than as the prophetic voice of God, commissioned by Him to warn and instruct the people. The sermon was a nationwide sensation, and is considered to be the beginning of the religious revival known as the Tractarian Movement (so called because of a series of 90 Tracts, or pamphlets addressed to the public, which largely influenced the course of the movement) or as the Oxford Movement (not to be confused with the Oxford Group — led by Frank Buchman and also called Moral Re-Armament, or MRA — which came a century later and was quite different). Because the Tractarians emphasized the importance of the ministry and of the sacraments as God-given ordinances, they were suspected by their opponents of Roman Catholic tendencies, and the suspicion was reinforced when some of their leaders (John Henry Newman being the most conspicuous) did in fact become Roman Catholics. But the movement survived, and has profoundly influenced the religious thinking, practice, and worship of large portions of Christendom. Their insistence, for example, that it was the normal practice for all Christians to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion every Sunday has influenced many Christians who would never call themselves Anglicans, let alone Tractarians. Keble translated the works of Irenaeus of Lyons (28 June 202), and produced an edition of the works of Richard Hooker, a distinguished Anglican theologian (3 Nov 1600). He also wrote more books of poems, and numerous hymn lyrics. Three years after his death, his friends and admirers established Keble College at Oxford.

 by James Kiefer

 

Mar 27 – Charles Henry Brent

Mar 27 - Charles Henry Brent

Charles Henry Brent
Missionary Bishop
27 March 1929

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From the Satucket Lectionary (from the Episcopal Calendar)

Charles Henry BrentDuring the Spanish-American War (1898), arising from a dispute over Cuba and Puerto Rico, the United States also acquired Guam and the Philippines. (For a brief note on the subsequent history of these territories, see Kamehameha, 28 November.) In 1902, the Episcopal Church appointed Charles Brent (at that time serving as priest in charge of a slum parish in Boston) as Missionary Bishop of the Philippines. He arrived on the same ship with the American Governor, William H. Taft, and carried with him the unofficial but very real prestige of the American establishment.

Brent could easily have confined himself to providing a kind of ecclesiastical “home away from home” for American officials and others stationed in the Islands. Equally, he could have devoted himself chiefly to efforts to convert the Roman Catholics, both of Spanish and of Filipino ancestry, whom the previous government had left behind. Instead, he directed his efforts toward the non-Christians of his diocese: the pagan Igorots of the mountains of Luzon, the Muslims of the southern islands, the Chinese settlements in Manila, all areas in which he made considerable inroads and established thriving Christian communities.

He began a campaign against the opium traffic, and served on several international commissions devoted to stamping out international traffic in narcotics. During World War I, he was the Senior Chaplain for the American Armed Forces in Europe. He declined three elections to bishoprics in the United States in order to continue his work in the Philippines, but in 1918, he accepted the position of Bishop of Western New York. His experiences in the Philippines had aroused in him a strong concern for the cause of visible Christian unity. He wrote:

    The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The world will go limping until Christ’s prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell.

He helped to organize the first World Conference on Faith and Order, which met in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1927. He died there in 1929, being 67 years minus 12 days old. The following prayer, written by him, is widely used today:

Lord Jesus Christ

    , who didst stretch out thine arms of love upon the hard wood of the Cross, that all men everywhere might come within the reach of thy saving embrace: So clothe us with thy Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know thee to the knowledge and love of thee; for the honor of thy Name.

The writer James Thayer Addison called him “a saint of disciplined mental vigor, one whom soldiers were proud to salute and whom children were happy to play with, who could dominate a parliament and minister to an invalid, a priest and bishop who gloried in the heritage of his Church, yet who stood among all Christian brothers as one who served.”

by James Kiefer

 

 

Mar 26 – Richard Allen

Mar 26 - Richard Allen

Richard Allen
1st Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
26 March 1831

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Richard AllenRichard Allen (1760 – 1831) was a minister, educator, writer, and the founder in 1816 of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME), the first independent black denomination in the United States. He opened its first church in 1794 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was elected the first bishop of the AME Church. Allen had started as a Methodist preacher but wanted to establish a black congregation independent of white control. The AME church is the oldest denomination among independent African-American churches.

Richard Allen was born on February 14, 1760, in Germantown, Pennsylvania into slavery. In 1777 Richard Allen bought his freedom and that of his brother.

In 1786, Allen became a preacher at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia, but was restricted to early morning services. As he attracted more black congregants, the church vestry voted to build a segregated gallery for the use of blacks. Allen and Absalom Jones, also a Methodist preacher, resented the white congregants’ forcing them to a segregated section for worship and prayer. They decided to leave St. George’s to create independent worship for African Americans. This brought some opposition from the white church and the more established blacks of the community. In 1787 Allen and Jones led the black members out of St. George’s Methodist Church.

They formed the Free African Society (FAS), a non-denominational mutual aid society, which assisted fugitive slaves and new migrants to the city. Over time, most of the FAS members left with Absalom Jones to form a new congregation, which opened its doors as an Episcopal parish on July 17, 1794 as the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.

Allen and others wanted to continue in the Methodist practice. Allen called their congregation the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Using a converted blacksmith shop which they moved to the site on Sixth Street, they opened the doors of Bethel AME Church on July 29, 1794, and were affiliated with the larger Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1799, Allen became the first black Methodist minister, ordained by Bishop Francis Asbury, in recognition of his leadership and preaching.

In 1816 Allen united four African-American congregations of the Methodist Church. Together they founded the independent denomination of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the first fully independent black denomination in the United States. On April 10, 1816, Allen was elected its first bishop.

Bishop Allen died at home on March 26, 1831.

more at Wikipedia

 

Mar 25 – The Annunciation

Mar 25 - The Annunciation

The Annunciation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary
25 March NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary

In the first chapter of Luke we read how the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Christ, and how Mary answered, “Here I am, the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me as you have said.” It is reasonable to suppose that Our Lord was conceived immediately after this. Accordingly, since we celebrate His birth on 25 December, we celebrate the Annunciation nine months earlier, on 25 March.

The Annunciation, by Fra Angelico
The Annunciation, by Fra Angelico

For many centuries most European countries took 25 March, not 1 January, as the day when the number of the year changed, so that 24 March 1201 was followed by 25 March 1202. If you had asked a Christian of that time why the calendar year changed so awkwardly partway through a month, he would have answered: “Today we begin a new year of the Christian era, the era which began X years ago today when God was made man, when He took upon Himself a fleshly body and human nature in the womb of the Virgin.”

The following paragraph is from Chapter 14 of the book MIRACLES, by C S Lewis.

…one of those features of the Christian story which is repulsive to the modern mind. To be quite frank, we do not at all like the idea of a “chosen people”. Democrats by birth and education, we should prefer to think that all nations and individuals start level in the search for God, or even that all religions are equally true. It must be admitted at once that Christianity makes no concessions to this point of view. It does not tell of a human search for God at all, but of something done by God for, to, and about Man. And the way in which it is done is selective, undemocratic, to the highest degree. After the knowledge of God had been universally lost or obscured, one man from the whole earth (Abraham) is picked out. He is separated (miserably enough, we may suppose) from his natural surroundings, sent into a strange country, and made the ancestor of a nation who are to carry the knowledge of the true God. Within this nation there is further selection: some die in the desert, some remain behind in Babylon. There is further selection still. The process grows narrower and narrower, sharpens at last into one small bright point like the head of a spear. It is a Jewish girl at her prayers. All humanity (so far as concerns its redemption) has narrowed to that.

The following quotation is from Martin Luther’s sermon “On the MAGNIFICAT” (the Song of Mary, Luke 1:46-55).

“For He that is mighty hath done great things for me, and Holy is His Name.” (Luke 1:49)

The “great things” are nothing less than that she became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed upon her as pass man’s understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among whom she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in Heaven, and such a child.
She herself is unable to find a name for this work, it is too exceedingly great; all she can do is break out in the fervent cry: “They are great things,” impossible to describe or define. Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God.
No one can say anything greater of her or to her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees, or grass in the fields, or stars in the sky, or sand by the sea. It needs to be pondered in the heart, what it means to be the Mother of God.
Luther’s Works, Vol. 21, p. 326, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Concordia Publishing House, 1956.

 by James Kiefer

Mar 24 – Oscar Romero

Mar 24 - Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero
Archbishop of San Salvador & the martyrs of El Salvador
24 March 1980

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Oscar RomeroÓscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), commonly known as Monseñor Romero, was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He later became prelate archbishop of San Salvador.

As an archbishop, he witnessed numerous violations of human rights and began a ministry speaking out on behalf of the poor and victims of the country’s civil war. His brand of political activism was denounced by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the government of El Salvador. In 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the Eucharist during mass. His death finally provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador.

In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The process continues. He is considered the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as “San Romero” in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, like the Church of England through its Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.

from Wikipedia

Also commemorated on this day are three Maryknoll nuns and a woman lay missionary killed by a Salvadoran army death squad on 2 Dec, 1980, and additionally six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter, who were also mudered by the Salvadoran army on 16 Nov. 1989.

 

Mar 23 – Gregory the Illuminator

Mar 23 - Gregory the Illuminator

Gregory the Illuminator
Apostle to Armenia
23 March 332

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Icon of St. GregoryThe ancient kingdom of Armenia was the first country to become Christian, and it recognizes Gregory as its apostle. Armenia was a buffer state between the powerful empires of Rome and Parthia (Persia), and both of them sought to control it. Gregory was born about 257. When he was still an infant, his father assassinated the King of Parthia, and friends of the family carried Gregory away for protection to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he was reared as a Christian. About 280 he returned to Armenia, where he was at first treated severely, but eventually by his preaching and example brought both King Tiridates and a majority of his people to the Christian faith. About 300, Gregory was consecrated the first bishop of Armenia. He died about 332. Armenian Christians to this day remember him with honor and gratitude.

by James Kiefer

 

Armenians were the first people to adopt Christianity as the state religion. Tertullian and Eusebius of Caesaria suggest that Christianity was practiced in Armenia as early as the 2nd century. Eusebius also mentions an exchange of letters between Jesus Christ and the Armenian king of Edessa Abkar V (the Black) (9-46 A.D). Legend claims for Armenian the graves of four apostles: Bartholomew, Simon, Thaddaeus, and Jude. It  was sometime between 288 and 301 that St. Gregory the Illuminator (Grigor Loussavorich : ca. 240-332), who had been subjected to cruel tortures and incarcerated in a deep well (Khor Virab) for 13 years for refusing to participate in pagan rites,  converted King Tiridates (238-314). In 302, St. Gregory was ordained bishop, and in 303 he founded the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, near Mount Ararat, which, to this day, is the seat of the supreme patriarch or catholicos, the head of the Armenian Church. St. Gregory went on to evangelize several other Caucasian nations and baptized the kings of Iberia (Georgia), Lazes and Albania. Sometime before his death he retired to a solitary life in the wilderness. The patron saint of Armenia, he is now venerated in both the Eastern and Latin Church.

from Armenia Online

 

Mar 22 – James de Koven

Mar 22 - James de Koven

James de Koven
Priest
22 March 1879

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From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of james dekovenJames de Koven was born in Connecticut in 1831, ordained to the priesthood in 1855, and promptly became a professor of Church history at Nashotah House, a seminary of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. In 1859 he became Warden of Racine College, an Episcopal college in Racine, Wisconsin. Nashotah House was from its inception dedicated to an increased emphasis on the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and on the use of ritual practices that recognized and honored that presence. This met opposition from other Christians who were suspicious (1) of anything that suggested Roman Catholicism, (2) of anything that seemed fancy and pretentious, as opposed to the plain, blunt, simplicity that was considered to be an American virtue as well as a virtue of the New Testament Church, and (3) of anything that varied from the practices they had become used to as children.

Nashotah House in its early days
Nashotah House in its early days

In the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, de Koven became the chief spokesman for the “ritualists,” defending the use of candles, incense, bowing and kneeling, and the like. He reminded his hearers of the numerous assertions by prominent Anglican theologians from the Reformation on down who had taught, and the ecclesiastical courts which when the question came up had ruled, that it is Anglican belief, shared not only with Romans but with Lutherans and East Orthodox, that the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament is a real and objective presence. However, he was eloquent and firm in saying: “The gestures and practices by which we recognize the presence of Christ do not matter. Only Christ matters.”

In 1874 he was elected Bishop of Wisconsin, and in 1875 Bishop of Illinois, but because he was “controversial” he failed both times to have his election ratified by a majority of Bishops and a majority of Standing Committees of Dioceses, as required by canon law.

He died at his college in Racine, Wisconsin, on 22 March 1879.

by James Kiefer