The Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942

New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, was on of the main frontiers of Christian mission in the twentieth century because of the difficult terrain and the cultural diversity of its peoples, who speak some 500 distinct languages. Christian missionaries first began work there in the 1860s and 1870s, with only limited success. The Anglican mission began in 1891, and the first bishop was consecrated in 1898. Today the vast majority of Papuans describe themselves as Christians, a little over three percent of whom are Anglicans. Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and members of the United Church make up a majority of Christians on the island. There is a great deal of ecumenical cooperation among the Churches, particularly in the areas of health and education. Most of the rural health work, and nearly all of the training of nurses and community health workers, is carried out by the Churches.

During the Second World War, the suffering of missionaries and of native people was severe. This feast day, observed in the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea and in some dioceses of the Anglican Church of Australia, marks the witness of eight missionaries and two Papuan martyrs, who were betrayed by non-Christians to the Japanese invaders. The day also includes remembrance of the faith and devotion of Papuan Christians of all Churches, who risked their own lives to care for the wounded and to save the lives of many who otherwise would have perished.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

Almighty God, we remember before you this day the blessed martyrs of New Guinea, who, following the example of their Savior, laid down their lives for their friends; and we pray that we who honor their memory may imitate their loyalty and faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of the Martyrs of New Guinea are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist, the Forerunner of the Messiah, preceded Jesus both in his birth and in his death. His way of life and his preaching closely resemble that of the prophets of the Old Testament, his message being one of repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah and his kingdom. At Jesus’ baptism John recognized him as that coming Messiah when he saw the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus. And like the faithful prophets of Israel before him, John did not hesitate to denounce immorality and evil in even the highest places of power, denouncing the incestuous union of Herod Antipas with his niece and half-brother’s wife, Herodias. Herod imprisoned him for doing so, likely also fearing that John’s denunciation might spark a rebellion against him by more zealous Jews. John’s death was brought about through the hatred that Herodias had for him and by Herod’s weakness. When Herodias’ daughter (traditionally named Salome, though her name is not given in the biblical text) pleased the king with her dancing at a feast to celebrate his birthday, he promised here that, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” At her mother’s instigation, she demanded the head of John the Baptist, then languishing in prison at Machaerus by the Dead Sea. Despite his initial reluctance, he fulfilled his promise, and without giving John a trial of any kind, dispatched an executioner to behead him. Augustine of Hippo commented on John’s death and Herod’s perfidy, “We see how a pledge which was given rashly was criminally kept.”

The commemoration of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is found in the sanctoral calendar of the Church of England, both in the 1662 Prayer Book and in Common Worship.

The Collect

O God, you called John the Baptist to be in birth and death the forerunner of your Son: Grant that as John gave his life in witness to truth and righteousness, so we may fearlessly contend for the right, even unto the end; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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The Collect is from the 1736 Paris Missal and the 1985 Roman Sacramentary, translated by Philip H. Pfatteicher.

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Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 430

Augustine, arguably the greatest theologian in the history of the Western Church, was born in 354 at Tagaste in North Africa. Born to a pagan father and a Christian mother, she attempted to given him a Christian upbringing, but without success. He attended school in Carthage, where he became a skilled rhetorician. During this time he took a concubine with whom he lived for a number of years and who bore him a son, Adeodatus (“gift of God”). In his restless search for truth, he was attracted to the Manicheans, followers of a radically dualistic religion of Persian origin. Sometime after 383 he left Africa for Rome, in hopes of advancing his career in the imperial service. There he taught rhetoric and continued his studies. In 384 he went to Milan to teach, where under the influence of the prayers and pleading of his mother, Monnica, and the compelling example of the brilliant and courageous bishop of Milan, Ambrose, he was ineluctably drawn to the Catholic faith. He first renounced Manicheaism to take up the study of Neoplatonism, and then, under Ambrose’s influence, he entered a period of great spiritual struggle during which his doubts were dispelled. In his spiritual autobiography, The Confessions, a classic text of Christian spirituality, he writes of a pivotal moment in that struggle:

“I was carrying on so, crying acrid tears of ‘heart’s contrition,’ when I heard from a nearby house the voice of a boy – or perhaps a girl, I could not tell – chanting in repeated singsong: Lift! Look! My features relaxed immediately, while I studied as hard as I could whether children use such a chant in any of their games. But I could not remember every having heard it. No longer crying, I leaped up, not doubting that it was by divine prompting that I should open the book and read what first I hit on…I rushed back to where Alypius was sitting, since there I had left the book of the Apostle when I moved away from him. I grabbed, opened, read: ‘Give up indulgence and drunkenness, give up lust and obscenity, give up strife and rivalries, and clothe yourself in Jesus Christ the Lord, leaving no further allowance for fleshly desires.’ The very instant I finished that sentence, light was flooding my heart with assurance, and all my shadowy reluctance evanesced.”

Augustine was baptized by Ambrose at the Easter Vigil in 387.

Monnica died in southern Italy as she and her son were on their way back home. After his arrival back in North African in 391, the people of the city of Hippo Regius unexpectedly chose Augustine as a presbyter. Four years later he was elected and consecrated bishop coadjutor of Hippo, and from 396 until his death he served as bishop of the city, which was, after Carthage, the second most important ecclesiastical city in the province of Africa. During his episcopate he wrote tirelessly, producing treatises, letters, and biblical commentaries. His sermons, known to us from transcription made by his hearers, were masterpieces of rhetorical and homiletical art, and were always centered on Jesus Christ.

Other of his writings were polemical, directed against the Manicheans and heretics and schismatics. The Manichaens had attempted to solve the problem of evil by positing a radically dualistic reality, in which an independent agency of evil was opposed to the good god. In refutation, Augustine affirmed that all creation is in its origin good, having been created by God, and that evil, far from being an agency independent of God, is the privation of good. Against the Donatists, a rigorist sect who had split from the Catholic Church after the persecution of Diocletian in the early fourth century, Augustine asserted that the Church was holy, not because her members could be proved holy (indeed, the Church is a corpus permixtum of the godly and the ungodly), but because holiness was the purpose of the Church, to which all its members are called.

Stirred by the pagan denunciations of Christianity in the wake of Alaric the Visigoth’s sack of Rome in 410, Augustine wrote his greatest work, The City of God. In it he writes:

“Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by love of self, even to the contempt of God, the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The earthly city glories in itself, the heavenly city glories in the Lord…In the one, the princes, and the nations it subdues, are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love.”

Augustine died on August 28, 430, as the Vandals were besieging his own earthly city of Hippo.

His relics were taken to Sardinia, and in the eighth century Liutprand, king of the Lombards, had his body translated to Pavia, where they remain enshrined in the Church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro.

taken from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980) and other sources;
quotation from The Confessions, translated Garry Wills

The Collect

Lord God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that serve you: Help us, following the example of your servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The image is of the oldest known icon of St Augustine, from a sixth century fresco in the Church of St John Lateran.

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Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

Saint Bartholomew 2

Bartholomew appears in the New Testament simply as one of the twelve apostles listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and against in Acts. The name is a patronymic representing the Aramaic bar Tolmai, “son of Tolmai [Ptolmey]” (cf. Simon Bar-jonah in in Matthew 16). Bartholomew may therefore have another, personal name. In the Synoptic lists he is joined with Philip. In the Fourth Gospel, however, Philip is associated with Nathanael rather than Bartholomew, and it is sometimes suggested that the apostle’s given name was Nathanael. The identification of Nathanael with Bartholomew, dating from the ninth century, is reflected in the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Gospel for the day…Nathanael was from the town of Cana in Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle. He was invited to discipleship by Philip, who told him that he and Andrew and Peter had found the Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. At first Nathanael was doubtful, but after a word from Jesus, he followed. Early patristic writers suggest that Nathanael was not one of the Twelve and stands in Saint John’s Gospel as a representative of Israel coming to God.

The story of his call (John 1) is all that is recorded in the New Testament of the life of Nathanael, but there are several traditions about the life and labors of Bartholomew. Some sources credit Bartholomew with having written a Gospel, the existence of which was known to Jerome and Bede, but which is now lost. Bartholomew is variously reported to have preached in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, and India. In connection with India, Eusebius says that Bartholomew left a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew that Pantaenus of Alexandria, a missionary of the latter half of the second century, found there in the hands of the local people. Most of these traditions agree that Saint Bartholomew spent his last years preaching in Armenia and that he was flayed and beheaded in Albanus (modern Derbend) on the Caspian coast. [In Western iconography he is traditionally represented holding a flaying knife, one of the instruments of his martyrdom.] The Armenian Church commemorates him on two days during the year: once together with Saint Thaddeus and again together with another Armenian martyr.

A very different tradition of Bartholomew’s mission appears in the traditions of the Coptic and Ethiopian churches, who also revere him highly, observing his feast day on August 29. Their accounts tell of his preaching at an oasis in Upper Egypt (there is a special commemoration of the event on November 15), then going among the Berbers where he was rescued from wild beasts by a cannibal, and finally preaching along the coast of North Africa where a local king, Agrippa, had him sewn into a leather bag and dropped into the sea.

Bartholomew’s relics are venerated in the tenth-century Church of Saint Bartholomew on the island Isola Tiberina in Rome. He is the patron of the city and cathedral of Frankfurt, which claims to possess his skull. [Emma, the wife of the Danish Cnut, king of England and Denmark, gave an arm of Saint Bartholomew to Canterbury Cathedral in the eleventh century, which probably contributed to the diffusion of his veneration in England.]

August 24 has been Saint Bartholomew’s feast day on calendars of the Western Church since the eighth century, but the reason for the date is not known. The Eastern Orthodox Churches commemorate him with Saint Barnabas on June 11[, and the Church of the East in Persia commemorated him on June 13].

In European history Saint Bartholomew’s Day is remembered for the massacre of Reformed Protestants (Huguenots) that took place on this day in Paris in 1572.

taken from The New Book of Festivals and Commemorations

(Philip H. Pfatteicher), with additions

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lesson

Deuteronomy 18:15-18

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Psalm 91

Qui habitat

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *

abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

He shall say to the LORD,

“You are my refuge and my stronghold, *

my God in whom I put my trust.”

He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *

and from the deadly pestilence.

He shall cover you with his pinions,

and you shall find refuge under his wings; *

his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.

You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *

nor of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *

nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.

A thousand shall fall at your side

and ten thousand at your right hand, *

but it shall not come near you.

Your eyes have only to behold *

to see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your refuge, *

and the Most High your habitation,

There shall no evil happen to you, *

neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

For he shall give his angels charge over you, *

to keep you in all your ways.

They shall bear you in their hands, *

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the lion and adder; *

you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.

Because he is bound to me in love,

therefore will I deliver him; *

I will protect him, because he knows my Name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *

I am with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

With long life will I satisfy him, *

and show him my salvation.

The Epistle

1 Corinthians 4:9-15

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

The Gospel

Luke 22:24-30

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

“You are those who have stayed with me win my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

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The Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

St Barthomomew is commemorated on August 25 this year, August 24 having fallen on a Sunday (cf. page 16 in the Book of Common Prayer [1979]).

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Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, 1153

Bernard, fiery defender of the Church in the twelfth century, was known for the ardor with which he preached love for God “without measure”. He was absorbed, even to the neglect of his own health, in support of the purity, doctrine, and prerogatives of the Church. He fulfilled his own definition of a holy man: “seen to be good and charitable, holding back nothing for himself, but using his every gift for the common good.”

Born in 1090 near Dijon, Bernard was the son of a Burgundian knight and landowner. He was educated at Châtillon-sur-Seine by secular canons and became known as a youth for his charm, wit, learning, and eloquence. At the age of 22, with thirty-one companions including some of his brothers and other noblemen, he became a monk at the languishing, poverty-stricken, reformed monastery of Cîteaux. This influx of new monks saved the monastery from extinction, and under Bernard’s influence the Cistercian Order was transformed.

After a few years probation, Bernard was made abbot of Clairvaux, a new foundation. In conditions of acute poverty he was at first too severe on his community. On realizing this, he gave up preaching, improved the food, and generally improved the condition of the abbey with the assistance of the local bishop. With the abbey on a firm footing, Bernard devoted himself to writing letters and sermons, often denying himself sleep to do so. He preached so persuasively that in time sixty new Cisterican abbeys were founded in France and elsewhere, including five abbeys in the British Isles, all of them affiliated with Clairvaux. At the same time, Clairvaux itself grew steadily, until it numbered seven hundred monks at Bernard’s death.

By 1140, Bernard’s writings had made him one of the most influential figures in the Western Church. He participated actively in every controversy that threatened the Church. He was an ardent critic of Peter Abelard’s attempt to reconcile inconsistencies of doctrine by reason, because he thought that such an approach denigrated the mysteries of the faith.

When a former monk of Clairvaux was elected Pope as Eugenius the Third, Bernard became his spokesman and counselor. He preached the crusade against the Albigensians and the Second Crusade to liberate Jerusalem, winning much support for this crusade from France and Germany. When that Crusade ended in disaster, Bernard was roundly attacked for having supported it. He died soon after in 1153 and was canonized in 1174.

Among Bernard’s writings are treatises on papal duty, on love, on the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and perhaps his most renowned work, a commentary on the Song of Songs (the Song of Solomon). Catenas of his devotional poetry have been set as devotional hymns, including “Jesus, the very thought of thee” and “O Jesus, joy of loving hearts”.

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)
and The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

O God, by whose grace your servant Bernard of Clairvaux, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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The Revd Dr Philip H. Pfatteicher has written a particularly good essay for this day in his book, The New Book of Festivals and Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints, and I reproduce most of the essay here:

In the person of the Virgin Mary, the Church has seen an image of itself, the representative of the community of the faithful, a model of what each Christian ought to be: prayerful, humble, joyfully submissive to the will and word of God, devoted to her Son and loyal to him even when she did not understand him. the honor paid to her goes back to the earliest days of Christianity, and because she is the mother of the Redeemer she is accounted preeminent among the saints. The words of the song ascribed to her, Magnificat, as well as her humble acceptance of the will of God bear more than accidental similarity to the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. More is known about her that about most of the apostles.

Mary the mother of Jesus is mentioned in a number of places in the Gospels and the book of Acts, and a dozen incidents of her life are recorded: her betrothal to Joseph (Matthew 1:18); the annunciation by the angel that she was to bear the Messiah (Luke 1:26-38); her visitation to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39-45); the birth of her Son (Matthew 1:24-25, Luke 2:1-7); the visits of the shepherds (Luke 2: 8-20) and of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12); the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple in accordance with the Law (Luke 2:22-38); the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15); the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-51); the wedding at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11); her presence at the crucifixion when her Son commended her to the care of Saint John (John 19:25-27); and meeting with the apostles in the upper room after the ascension, waiting for the promised Spirit (Acts 1:14). She is thus pictured as being present at all the important events of her Son’s life.

The other books of the New Testament are silent about Mary. Saint Paul, not recording her name, says simply that Jesus was “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). Little is known about the rest of her life, which traditions say she spent in Jerusalem (the tomb of the Virgin is shown in the Kidron Valley) or Ephesus. The second century Protoevangelium of James identifies her parents as Anne and Joachim.

The angel’s words in Luke 1:32 imply that Mary was descended from David (or that the early Church believed that she was descended from David). She is a model of bold but tender love: she stood at the Cross to watch her Son die as an enemy of the state; Jesus’ brothers are not reported to have been present. The earliest feasts celebrating her death were observed in Palestine from the fifth century, possibly at Antioch in the fourth century. The date of August 15, ordered by the emperor Maurice [ruled 582-603], probably originated with the dedication of a church in her honor. By the sixth century the observance of the date of August 15 was widespread in the East, and the feast day gradually became known as the Feast of the Dormition (Koimesis), the “Falling Asleep”, or passing from this life, of the Virgin. In the seventh century this feast day was observed in Rome, and from there it spread throughout the West, where by the ninth century it had come to be called the Feast of the Assumption (referring to the reception of Mary’s body and soul into heaven in anticipation of the general resurrection of the bodies of all the dead at the last day). The belief, apparently unknown to Ambrose (†397) and Epiphanius (†403), appears in certain New Testament apocrypha form the latter fourth century and was first formulated in orthodox circles in the West by Gregory of Tours (†594). In the East, the writings of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (†730), and other…authors testify to the acceptance of the doctrine. In 1950 Pope Pius XII proclaimed that the teaching of the Assumption was elevated to the status of a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church…

Mary’s perpetual virginity (virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus) is first asserted in the apocryphal book of James, may have been taught by Irenaeus (†c. 202)and Clement of Alexandria, and was certainly held by Athanasius (†373), who used the term “ever virgin”. The teaching was accepted by East and West from the fifth century onward and was given additional impetus at the Council of Ephesus (431), which upheld the title Theotokos (bearer of God), common from the fourth century. [N.B. The perpetual virginity of Mary was also accepted and taught by the Reformers, including Martin Luther and John Calvin, and John Wesley stated in a letter to a Roman Catholic correspondent that he, too, accepted the doctrine.]

The Collect

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Isaiah 61:10-11

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.

Psalm 34:1-9
Benedicam Dominum

I will bless the LORD at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

I will glory in the LORD; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.

Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD; *
let us exalt his Name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me *
and delivered me out of all my terror.

Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.

I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me *
and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him, *
and he will deliver them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; *
happy are they who trust in him!

Fear the LORD, you that are his saints, *
for those who fear him lack nothing.

The Epistle
Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

The Gospel
Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

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The Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

The image of the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos is taken from the website of Dormition of the Theotokos Orthodox Church in Norfolk, Virginia.

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Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, 1667

Jeremy Taylor, one of the most influential of the Caroline Divines, was educated at Cambridge and, through the influence of William Laud, became a Fellow of All Souls at Oxford. He was still quite young when he became chaplain to King Charles the First and, later during the Civil War, a chaplain in the Royalist army.

The success of the Parliamentary forces brought about Taylor’s imprisonment, and after the final Parliamentary victory in the Civil War, Taylor spent several years in forced retirement as chaplain to the family of Lord Carberry in Wales. It was during this time that his most influential works were written, especially Holy Living and Holy Dying (1651).

Among his other works, Liberty of Prophesying proved to be a seminal work in encouraging the development of religious toleration in the seventeenth century. In it, Taylor states:

“[W]hatsoever is expressed, or is to these purposes implied, is made articulate and explicate, in the short and admirable mysterious creed of St Paul, Rom. x.8. ‘This is the word of faith which we preach, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ This is the great and entire complexion of a Christian’s faith; and since salvation is promised to the belief of this creed, either a snare is laid for us, with a purpose to deceive us, or else nothing is of prime and original necessity to be believed, but this, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; and all that which is the necessary parts, means, or main actions working this redemption for us, and the honor for him, is in the bowels and folds of the great article….”

Despite Taylor’s unquestioned literary genius, he was not asked to have a part in the Prayer Book revision of 1662. The first American Prayer Book, however, incorporated one of his prayers, part of which has been adapted to serve as the Collect for his commemoration. Another of his prayers has been added to the American Prayer Book of 1979.

Taylor’s theology has sometimes been criticized, most bitingly by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who claims that Taylor seems to “present our own holy life as the grounds of our religious hope, rather than as the fruit of that hope, whose ground is the mercies of Christ.” No such complaint, however, was ever made about his prayers, which exemplify the best of Caroline divinity, blended with great literary genius.

In later life, Taylor and his family moved to the northeastern part of Ireland, where he accepted a lectureship in the patronage of the Earl of Conway. After the restoration of the monarch, King Charles the Second nominated him to the bishopric of Down and Connor, to which the small adjacent see of Dromore was later added. As bishop, Taylor labored tirelessly to rebuild churches, restore the use of the Prayer Book, and overcome continuing Puritan opposition. As vice-chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, he took a leading part in reviving the intellectual life of the Church of Ireland. He remained to the end of his life and man of prayer and a pastor. Taylor caught fever from a sick person whom he had visited and died on this day in 1667. He was buried in Dromore Cathedral.

taken from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980),
with amendments and additions

The Collect

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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