Saturday, November 29, 2008

30 November 08




Morning Prayer: Psalm 46, 97; Isaiah 28:14-22; Hebrews 12:14-end

Mass: Romans 13:8-end; St. Matthew 21:1-13

Evening Prayer: Psalm 18:1-20; Isaiah 13:6-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11


From the first institution of the great Festivals of the Church each of them occupied a central position in a series of days; partly for the sake of Christian discipline. Thus Christmas is preceded by the Sundays and Season of Advent, and following by twelve days of continued Christian joy which end with Epiphany.

Under its present name the season of Advent is not to be traced further back than the seventh century; but Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for five Sundays before the Nativity of our Lord, and for the Wednesdays and Fridays also, are to be found in the ancient Sacramentaries, and in the Comes of St. Jerome. These offer good evidence that the observance of the season was introduced into the Church at the same time with the observance of Christmas: yet there is not, properly speaking, any season of Advent in the Eastern Church, which has always carefully preserved ancient customs intact; though it observes a Lent before Christmas as well as before Easter.

Durandus (a laborious and painstaking writer, always to be respected, though not to be implicitly relied upon) writes that St. Peter instituted three whole weeks to be observed as a special season before Christmas, and so much of the fourth as extended to the Vigil of Christmas, which is not part of Advent. [Durand. vi. 2] This was probably a very ancient opinion, but the earliest extant historical evidence respecting Advent is that mentioned above, as contained in the Lectionary of St. Jerome. Next come two homilies of Maximus, Bishop of Turin, A.D. 450, which are headed De Adventu Domini. In the following century are two other Sermons of Caesarius, Bishop of Arles [501-542] (formerly attributed to St. Augustine, and printed among his works), and in these there are full details respecting the season and its observance. In the latter part of the same century St. Gregory of Tours writes that Perpetuus, one of his predecessors, had ordered the observance of three days as fasts in every week, from the Feast of St. Martin to that of Christmas; and this direction was enforced on the Clergy of France by the Council of Macon, held A.D. 581. In the Ambrosian and Mozarabic liturgies Advent Season commences at the same time: and it has also been sometimes known by the name Quadragesima Sancti Martini: from which it seems probable that the Western Churches of Europe originally kept six Advent Sundays, as the Eastern still keeps a forty days’ fast, beginning on the same day. But the English Church, since the Conquest, at least, has observed four only, although the title of the Sunday preceding the first seems to offer an indication of a fifth in more ancient days.
The rule by which Advent is determined defines the first Sunday as that which comes nearest, whether before or after, to St. Andrew’s Day; which is equivalent to saying that it is the first Sunday after November 26th. December 3rd is consequently the latest day on which it can occur.

In the Latin and English Churches the Christian year commences with the First Sunday in Advent. Such, at least, has been the arrangement of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for many centuries, although the ancient Sacramentaries began the year with Christmas Day, and although the Prayer Book (until the change of style in 1752) contained an express “Note, that the Supputation of the year of our Lord in the Church of England beginneth the Five and Twentieth day of March.” By either reckoning it is intended to number the times and seasons of the Church by the Incarnation: and while the computation from the Annunciation is more correct from a theological and a chronological point of view, that from Advent and Christmas fits in far better with the vivid system of the Church by which she represents to us the life of our Lord year by year. Beginning the year with the Annunciation, we should be reminded by the new birth of Nature of the regeneration of Human Nature: beginning it with Advent and Christmas, we have a more keen reminder of that humiliation of God the Son, by which the new birth of the world was accomplished. And as we number our years, not by the age of the world, nor by the time during which any earthly sovereignty has lasted, but by the age of the Christian Church and the time during which the Kingdom of Christ has been established upon earth, calling each “the Year of our Lord,” or “the Year of Grace:” so we begin every year with the season when grace first came by our Lord and King, through His Advent in the humility of His Incarnation.
In very ancient times the season of Advent was observed as one of special prayer and discipline. As already stated, the Council of Macon in its ninth Canon directs the general observance by the Clergy of the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday fast-days, of which traces are found at an earlier period: and the Capitulars of Charlemagne also speak of a forty days’ fast before Christmas. The strict Lenten observance of the season was not, however, general. Amalarius, writing in the ninth century, speaks of it as being kept in that way only by the religious, that is, by those who had adopted an ascetic life in monasteries, or elsewhere: and the principle generally carried out appears to have been that of multiplying solemn services, and of adopting a greater reserve in the use of lawful indulgences. Such an observance of the season still commends itself to us as one that will form a fitting prefix to the joyous time of Christmas: and one that will also be consistent with that contemplation of our Lord’s Second Advent which it is impossible to dissociate from thoughts of His First. In the system of the Church the Advent Season is to the Christmas Season what St. John the Baptist was to the First, and the Christian ministry is to the Second, Coming of our Lord.

***From a Commentary from THE ANNOTATED BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, Edited by JOHN HENRY BLUNT, Rivingtons, London, 1884***


Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.



Saturday, November 8, 2008



Morning Prayer: Psalm 79; Leviticus 26:27-42; Philippians 4

Evening Prayer: Psalm 65 Deuteronomy 19:11-end; St. Matthew 28:11-end


From the Treatise on Mortality by St. Cyprian the Bishop and Martyr

Dearly beloved : We should keep in mind, and ponder well ; that we have made a renunciation of the world, and so are supposed to spend our time here meanwhile as strangers and pilgrims. Let us reflect on that day which can see us each at home in one of the many mansions. That day will see us delivered hence, and disentangled from the nets and snares of things temporal. It will put us back into the true Garden of Eden, that is, the kingdom of heaven. Is there any in a far country that hath opportunity to return to his Fatherland, and maketh not his way thereto with all possible speed? Was ever any in hast to make his voyage homeward, that longed not for a fair wind, that he might the sooner embrace his loved ones?

We reckon a paradise like unto Eden to be our home ; already we begin to know of the Patriarchs as our kinsmen. Why should we not make haste and run, to see our home, and to greet our kinsfolk? A great many of those we love are waiting for us there - father and mother and brothers and children. There in great company they await us, they who are sure now never to die any more, but not yet sure of us. O when we come to see them, and to embrace them, what gladness will it be both for us and for them! O what brightness of life is in that heavenly kingdom, where is no more fear of death, but the certainty of living everlastingly! O what consummated felicity! O what enduring joy!

There is the glorious company of the Apostles. There is the jubilant fellowship of the Prophets. There is the countless army of Martyrs crowned for victory in strife and in suffering. There triumph the Virgins who by noble self-control have tamed the desires of the flesh and of the body. There are repaid with mercy the Merciful, who by feeding and gifting the needy, have wrought righteousness, have kept the compandments of the Lord, and have exchanged heritages upon earth for treasures in heaven. Thitherward, dearly beloved brethren, let us hasten with eager hearts. Let us fain to be with these, so that soon their lot may be ours also, namely to be with Christ.

***From The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, NY, 1998***


O Lord, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.


O Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in onen communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou has prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


All Anglican Martyrs and Saints

Anglicanism has a rich heritage in those who have been martyrs for the Christ in various ways. Above is an ikon of St. Alban, often thought to be the first Anglican saint. Many others have followed in his footsteps. We simply cannot forget St. Patrick of Ireland, St. David of Wales, St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, St. Columba of Iona, St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, the Venerable St. Bede, St. Bridgit of Kildare, St. Kevin of Glendalough, St. Thomas Cranmer, St. Nicholas Ridley, St. Hugh Latimer, King St. Charles the I of Enland, King St. Edward, St. John Keble, the Anglican Martyrs of Uganda, St. Janani Luwum, and so many more who are not listed here. I commend them to your own reading. May we embrace them as our friends in the journey of faith and discipleship. May we accept their encouragement as we continue our own race to the finish line, so that we may joine them in the eternal embrace of God's love and mercy.
Fr. Greg
We beseech thee, O Lord, to multiply thy grace upon us who commemorate all thy holy Servants, the Anglican Martyrs, Doctors, Missionaries, and other Saints : that, as we rejoice to be their fellow-citizens on earth ; so also we may have fellowship with them in heaven. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, November 7, 2008

7 November 08



Morning Prayer: Psalm 69:1-22, 30-37; Leviticus 26:1-13; Philippians 3

Evening Prayer: Psalm 80; Deuteronomy 18:15-end; Matthew 28:1-10


From a Sermon by St. John Chrysostom

Whosoever wondereth, with reverent love, at the merits of the Saints, or whosoever speaketh, with oft much praise, on the glories of the Just, let him imitate their holy ways and their righteousness. For whoso findeth pleasure in the worthy deeds of any Saint should find pleasure in a like obedience in the service of God. Wherefore, if he praise, let him imitate. If he will not imitate, let him cease from praising. For whoso praiseth another ought to make himself worthy of a like praise. And whoso admireth a Saint ought also to strive for to be admirable for a like holy living. If we love the righteous and faithful because we respect their righteousness and faith, we ought for that very reason to do what they did, in order that we may become what they are.

It is not an hard saying, that we imitate their good deeds. For we now have their examples, whereas they of old times had no foregoing examples ; and so without being imitators of good examples, they nonetheless have become good examples to us. Thus, if we profit by them, others will profit by us, and Christ will ever be glorified, in a succession of servants of his holy Church. Begin at the beginning of the world, and consider these holy examples : Blameless Abel was slain ; Enoch walked with God, and was seen no more, for God took him ; Noah was found righteous ; Abraham was proved faithful ; Moses was the meekest of men ; Joshua was singleminded ; David was mild ; Elijah was taken up ; Daniel was holy ; and the Three Children were conquerors.

The Apostles, being disciples of Christ, are reckoned as the teachers of believers. Taught by them, the valiant Confessors give battle ; the triumphant Martyrs excel in victory ; and all the hosts of Christians, if they arm themselves with God, are ever vanquishing the devil. All these are men of like valour, though dis-similar in warfare, and so obtain glorious victories. Wherefore, O Christian, thou art an effeminate kind of soldier if thou thinkest to conquer without battling, or to triumph without struggling. Put forth thy strength. Contend like a man. Fight fiercely in thy battle. Know the warfare : the oath of loyalty thou hast taken ; the conditions under which thou has been accepted ; and the kind of war for which thou hast enlisted.

***From The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., 1998***

Fr. Greg


O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O Lord, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by ouru frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.


St. Willibrord, Bishop and Confessor (658-739)

Willibrord was born in Northumberland, being the son of a godly Englishman named Wilgis, who became a monk, and was a most holy man. Before Willibrord was seven years of age, he was taken to the monastery of Ripon, and given in charge to Saint Wilfrid, the founder and ruler thereof, to be trained up in a holy life and learning. There, in a short while, he wonderfully stepped forward, not in knowledge only, but also in grace, and led the life of a monk until the twentieth year of his age. Then he had a desire for a harder life, and with the leave of his Abbot and brethren, went into Ireland to the holy men Egbert and Wigbert, who both had journeyed thither for the love of heavenly things. In their devout companionship and conversation, and amid the most excellent teachers of godliness and sacred learning, with whom the Isle of the Saints then abounded, tihs future teacher of many nations passed twelve years, and himself gained learning and character.
Somewhere around the age of thirty he was ordained priest, and was sent by Egbert to convert the pagans of Friesland, along with eleven companions of his own countryfolk eminent for learning and holiness of life, among whom were Saints Swithbert and Adalbert. He landed at Utrecht, and was welcomed, along with his companions, by Pepin of Heristal, who had brought Southern Friesland under his power, and who mightily helped the preaching of the Gospel, so that in a short while many were turned from theh worshipping of idols unto the Christian Faith. Thereafter Willibrord journeyed to Rome to seek a wider knowledge of missionary work in that great Christian centre, where he was welcomed by Saint Pope Sergius I who sent him back much comforted. Later, when Saint Wilfrid had consecrated holy Swithbert as regionary bishop, Pepin sent Willibrord to Rome to be consecrated Archbishop by the same holy Pope Sergius.
Willibrord returned to Friesland as soon as he could, and established his See at Utrecht. He proclaimed the Word of God with much fruit in Friesland, Holland, Zeeland, and Flanders, (even unto the uttermost tribes of those countries,) brake their idols, destroyed their temples and shrines, dedicated many temples to Christ, and established bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church, eminent for knowledge and grace. He founded houses of religious of both sexes, among which the principal was that for monks at Echternach, in Luxemburg, the government whereof he himself took, and held until his death. At length, after a life of holy and unwearied apostolic labours, he passed away, to be ever with Christ, on November 7th, 739, and of his own age the eighty-first. He is usually reckoned as the Apostle of the Frisians, for it was through is labours and those of his blessed companions, especially of Saint Swithbert, that this barbarous people were made gentle in Christ. He was buried in the Abbey of Echternach. After his death his apostolic labours were taken up by many other Englishmen, eminent among whom were Saints Willehad, Marcellinus, and Lebwin, all of whom are commemorated in the Martyrology.
O God, who didst vouchsafe to send thy blessed Saint Willibrord to preach thy glory to the Gentiles : we humbly pray thee ; that, by his merits and intercession, we may both see and know the things which we ought to do, and by thy mercy be enabled to perform the same. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.