Category : Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Boniface

Almighty God, who didst call thy faithful servant Boniface to be a witness and martyr in the lands of Germany and Friesland, and by his labor and suffering didst raise up a people for thine own possession: Pour forth thy Holy Spirit upon thy Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many thy holy Name may be glorified and thy kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John XXIII

Lord of all truth and peace, who didst raise up thy bishop John to be servant of the servants of God and bestowed on him wisdom to call for the work of renewing your Church: Grant that, following his example, we may reach out to other Christians to clasp them with the love of your Son, and labor throughout the nations of the world to kindle a desire for justice and peace; through Jesus Christ, who is alive and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Hannington and the Martyrs of Uganda

Precious in thy sight, O Lord, is the death of thy saints, whose faithful witness, by thy providence, hath its great reward: We give thee thanks for thy martyrs James Hannington and his companions, who purchased with their blood a road unto Uganda for the proclamation of the Gospel; and we pray that with them we also may obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

Eleanor Parker with a wonderful story from the life of Saint Oda the Good

The king had brought blessed Oda into battle with him, trusting that he would defeat the enemy much more by the merits of this man than with hordes of soldiers. And while the most bitter and wretched slaughter was happening all about, a lamentable event occurred. For while King Æthelstan was fighting, his sword shattered close to the hilt and exposed him to his enemies, as if he were defenceless. Meanwhile Oda stood somewhat removed from the fighting, praying to Christ with his lips and in his heart for the safety of the Christian army, and for the sake of this continually raised his face, hands and eyes to those in heaven.

The king was perplexed about what to do in such a situation, for he thought it unspeakable to take a weapon from one of his men in order to arm himself. When a group of his adversaries noticed that the king had a broken sword and was unarmed, though they had begun to flee they turned their faces back to battle and set about obtaining revenge for their shameful flight by killing him most cruelly. Then all at once the air resounded with the clamour of the multitude crying out both for God to offer assistance and for venerable Oda to come forth as quickly as possible.

He raced up to the king and, although weary, asked what it was he wanted him to do. He listened to the king and immediately responded with these words: “What is the problem? What is worrying you? Your blade hangs intact at your side and yet you complain that it is broken. Come to your senses, extend your hand to the sheath, draw the sword and, behold, the right hand of the Lord shall be with you. And be not afraid, since the sun will not set until either flight or destruction envelops the enemies of your Lord who have risen up against you.”

At these words all those who were listening were struck with great amazement, and casting their glance towards the king they saw hanging by his side the sword, which had not been there when they had looked earlier. Snatching it and taking comfort in the Lord, the king advanced and maimed or put to flight or dealt death to all the men rushing upon him from both his left and right. And so in accordance with the prediction of the servant of God, it came to pass that the king gained victory over his enemies exactly as the sun was setting.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, England / UK, Military / Armed Forces, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Blandina and Her Companions

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of thee, and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Joan of Arc

Holy God, whose power is made perfect in weakness: we honor thy calling of Jeanne d’Arc, who, though young, rose up in valor to bear thy standard for her country, and endured with grace and fortitude both victory and defeat; and we pray that we, like Jeanne, may bear witness to the truth that is in us to friends and enemies alike, and, encouraged by the companionship of thy saints, give ourselves bravely to the struggle for justice in our time; through Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Food for Thought from John Calvin on his Feast Day—-Do We see The Truth About Ourselves?

For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also—He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself….

So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.

–John Calvin, Institutes I.1.2

Posted in Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Calvin

Sovereign and holy God, who didst bring John Calvin from a study of legal systems to understand the godliness of thy divine laws as revealed in Scripture: Fill us with a like zeal to teach and preach thy Word, that the whole world may come to know thy Son Jesus Christ, the true Word and Wisdom; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert

God our ruler and guide, we honor thee for Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert of Kent who, gently persuaded by the truth of thy Gospel, encouraged others by their godly example to follow freely the path of discipleship; and we pray that we, like them, may show the goodness of thy Word not only by our words but in our lives; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Augustine of Canterbury

O Lord our God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst call thine apostles and send them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless thy holy name for thy servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating thy Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom thou dost call and send may do thy will, and bide thy time, and see thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Bede the Venerable

Heavenly Father, who didst call thy servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to thy service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship: Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of thy truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make thee known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler

As the heavens declare thy glory, O God, and the firmament showeth thy handiwork, we bless thy Name for the gifts of knowledge and insight thou didst bestow upon Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler; and we pray that thou wouldst continue to advance our understanding of thy cosmos, for our good and for thy glory; through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer

William Witt–Renewal Past and Present

There is a focus on spiritual formation and worship at Trinity now that echoes the spiritual seriousness of the earlier charismatic and Evangelical renewal movements, although the approach is perhaps more distinctly Anglican. Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and weekly Eucharist are at the center of the school’s worship life. Trinity’s faculty find themselves among successors to that earlier movement in academic theology: Biblical studies center on biblical theology; systematic theology and church history focus on the creedal core of trinitarian theology, christology, and the church as not only regenerated individuals, but the corporate community of the body of Christ gathered to worship the Triune God in Word and sacrament. TSM carries on the “Chicago Call” by hosting “The Robert E. Webber Center for an Ancient Evangelical Future.”

The current crop of students were not yet born at the height of the charismatic and Evangelical renewal movements of the 1970’s, and many of them were raised in Evangelical homes where what once was renewal is now “just the way things have always been done.” While the renewal movements of the 1970’s were in some ways responses to the cultural uncertainties of the 1960’s, the counter-cultural youth movement, and too placid mainline churches, the generation that attends seminary now faces a very different culture characterized by post-modern pluralism, the prevalence of social media, and a dominant secularism in which skepticism about religious faith is a given assumption.

What form renewal will take for the current generation is not evident. While today’s students are not dismissive of the charismatic and Evangelical renewal movements of their parents’ generation, many come to seminary with what is perhaps more of a concern for spiritual and theological depth. Some of our students come to us after doing undergraduate work at such Evangelical strongholds as Moody Bible Institute or Wheaton College, and they are looking for a liturgical church more rooted in the church’s tradition. Students express keen interest in biblical languages and theological exegesis. They write theses on the church fathers. They enthusiastically participate in the seminary’s liturgical life, and they pray for one another on campus and in each other’s homes. They willingly join in the worship and community of local churches, and take courses in church planting. Trinity’s students form deep friendships with fellow students and faculty that continue after they graduate. I have every reason to believe that this current generation of students will be the leaders of a new renewal movement in the church that may look somewhat different from the renewal movements of my own generation, but I pray will be the needed missional response in the presence of a now increasingly secular and post-Christian culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Church History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Helena of Constantinople

Most Merciful God, who didst vouchsafe to bless thy servant Helena with such grace and devotion to thee that she didst venerate the very footsteps of our Savior; Grant unto us the same grace that, aided by her prayers and example, we too may evermore behold thy glory in the cross of thy Son. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

John Calvin on the Ascension (Acts 1:9)

The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him; but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.

–Commentary on Acts

Posted in Ascension, Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Alcuin

Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age didst raise up thy deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray thee, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth thine eternal truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Tuesday Music to Lift the Heart–Thomas Tallis’ If You Love Me

Lyrics:

If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father,
and he will give you another comforter, that he may bide with you for ever, e’vn the spirit of truth.

–John 14: 15-17

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Eleanor Parker–An Anglo-Saxon Hymn to St Dunstan

The text comes from Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, ed. Inge B. Milfull (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 317-8. Here’s a translation:

Hail Dunstan, star and shining adornment of bishops, true light of the English nation and leader preceding it on its path to God.

You are the greatest hope of your people, and also an innermost sweetness, breathing the honey-sweet fragrance of life-giving balms.

In you, Father, we trust, we to whom nothing is more pleasing than you are. To you we stretch out our hands, to you we pour out our prayers….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Dunstan

O God of truth and beauty, who didst richly endow thy Bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we beseech thee, to see in thee the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Sudan

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plenteous harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich

Lord God, who in thy compassion didst grant to the Lady Julian many revelations of thy nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek thee above all things, for in giving us thyself thou givest us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elisabeth Cruciger

Pour out thy Spirit upon all of thy sons and daughters, Almighty God, that like thy servant Elisabeth Cruciger our lips may praise thee, our lives may bless thee, and our worship may give thee glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Today from the Church of England

Almighty Father,
whom truly to know is eternal life:
teach us to know your Son Jesus Christ
as the way, the truth, and the life;
that we may follow the steps of your holy apostles
Philip and James,
and walk steadfastly in the way that leads to your glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Philip and Saint James

Almighty God, who didst give to thine apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Thursday Food for Thought from GK Chesterton

“Can you not see,” I said, “that fairy tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward; but that this everlasting fiction about modern life is in its nature essentially incredible? Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is—what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world?

–GK Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

Posted in Books, Children, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Sarah Hale

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 livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Catherine of Siena

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, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Eleanor Parker–A medieval spring poem for Eastertide

When I see blossoms spring,
And hear the birds’ song,
A sweet love-longing
Entirely pierces my heart,
All for a love new
That is so sweet and true,
That gladdens all my song:
I know in truth, iwis,
My joy and all my bliss
On him is all ylong. [is all because of him]

Of Jesu Christ I sing,
Who is so fair and free, [noble]
Sweetest of all thing;
His own ought I well to be.
So far for me he sought,
With suffering he me bought,
With wounds two and three;
Well sore he was swung,
And for me with spear was stung,
Nailed to the tree.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Easter, Poetry & Literature

(CLJ) Bernhard Blankenhorn–A Short History and Theology of Spiritual Communion

The food of the Jews has some features in common with our spiritual food. They are alike in the fact that each signifies the same thing: for both signify Christ. Thus they are called the same food: “All ate the same spiritual food” (1 Corinthians 10:3). He calls them the same because each is a symbol of spiritual food. But they are different because one [the manna] was only a symbol; while the other [the bread of the Christians] contains that of which it is the symbol, that is Christ himself. Thus we should say that each of these foods can be taken in two ways. First, as a sign only, i.e., so that each is taken as food only, and without understanding what is signified; and taken in this way, they do not take away either physical or spiritual death. Secondly, they may be taken in both ways, i.e., the visible food is taken in such a way that spiritual food is understood and spiritually tasted, in order that it may satisfy spiritually. In this way, those who ate the manna spiritually did not die spiritually. But those who eat the Eucharist spiritually, both live spiritually without sin, and will live physically forever. Thus, our food is greater than their food, because it contains in itself that of which it is the symbol.[10]

This doctrine serves Thomas well when he asks why young children (in the Latin Church) do not receive Communion, for apparently, Christ himself made it necessary for salvation, when he solemnly proclaims: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Thomas overcomes this difficulty with an appeal to the notion of attaining a sacrament by desire.[11] In his Summa theologiae, he notes that, just as the catechumen who dies before the Easter Vigil can be saved through his desire for baptism, so the baptized believer still lacking access to the Eucharist can obtain its spiritual fruit, and this, even by an implicit desire (as in the case of children who have not reached the age of reason).[12] Aquinas unpacks this analogy with receiving baptism by desire. One can eat the Eucharist “spiritually” before eating it sacramentally in two ways: in the Old Covenant, where the faithful Israelite ate the physical manna along with the spiritual food provided therein, and in the New Covenant, by a desire of receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist.[13] In his Commentary on the Gospel of John, Thomas explains: “The person spiritually eats the flesh of Christ and drinks his blood . . . is made a sharer in the unity of the Church, which comes through charity.”[14] Hence, “the sacrament is in reality or desire (in voto),” meaning, the res can be obtained before fruitful sacramental eating.[15]

Hence, desire for the Eucharistic Lord becomes a central theme, theologically and in the practice of piety. By “desire,” Thomas especially means acts of hope and charity directed to Christ. These acts involve the soul’s motion or actualized impulse toward God. Such motion is grounded in the supernatural imprint that the Holy Spirit has left in the heart, more specifically, in the hearts of all believers who abide in sanctifying grace. Aquinas develops this psychology of love in dialogue with Dionysius the Areopagite. Thomas notes that the beloved’s absence induces desire, and impels the believer to seek the joy of the beloved’s presence.[16] Charity enables and produces a holy, selfless desire, while hope imparts a positive kind of eros, the wholesome creaturely longing for divine goodness, which promises to satiate the soul’s God-given natural and supernatural longings.[17] The fulfillment of Eucharistic desire is deeper union with the Incarnate Word:

Thus, in reference to Christ [substantially] contained and signified [by the species of bread and wine], one eats his flesh and drinks his blood in a spiritual way if he is united to him through faith and love, so that one is transformed into him and becomes his member.[18]

The Angelic Doctor also adds a precision to Augustine’s exegesis: sacramental eating should not be seen as superfluous, for this kind of eating (or actually receiving the host, or the host and cup) induces a richer spiritual effect than does spiritual eating alone.[19] In other words, spiritual communion does not replace the Mass, but can grant a powerful though (usually) partial share in the fruits of sacramental reception.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Christina Rossetti

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 reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Poetry & Literature, Spirituality/Prayer