Monthly Archives: January 2012

Charles Mackenzie, Bishop and Missionary in Central Africa, 1862

Charles Frederick Mackenzie, Bishop and Missionary in Central Africa

Born in Peebleshire, Scotland in 1825, Charles Frederick Frazier Mackenzie was educated at St John’s College and Caius College, Cambridge. He left England for Natal in 1855, to serve as archdeacon to Bishop John William Colenso, working among the English settlers there until 1859. In October 1860 he was commissioned at Canterbury Cathedral as the first missionary of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA). Consecrated Bishop “of the Mission to the Tribes Dwelling in the Neighbourhood of the Lake Nyasa and River Shire” on January 1, 1861 at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, Mackenzie led the Mission’s first expedition up the Zambezi River into Nyasaland (now Malawi) and established a base near Lake Nyasa.

The missionaries’ preaching of the Gospel and their efforts to secure the release of slaves (who formed the core of Bishop Mackenzie’s mission community) led them into conflict with native leaders and Portuguese colonists and slave traders. The mission and the people among whom they lived and ministered lived under constant threat of drought, famine, and malaria. Eventually the mission’s supply of quinine was exhausted, and in an outbreak of malaria that claimed the lives of three others in his missionary party and of many natives, Bishop Mackenzie died barely a year after his consecration, on January 31, 1862. In his book, Celebrating the Saints, Robert Atwell writes that Bishop Mackenzie was “a man of transparent and humble Christian devotion.”

Charles Mackenzie is commemorated in the Calendar of the Scottish Episcopal Church. A special service of Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral in October 2010 commemorated the sesquicentennial of his commissioning as the first UMCA missionary.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Charles Mackenzie, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Nyasaland. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Thomas Aquinas, Presbyter and Theologian, 1274

Thomas Aquinas is the greatest theologian of the high Middle Ages, and, next to Augustine, perhaps the greatest theologian in the history of Western Christianity. Born into a noble Italian family, probably in 1225, he entered the new Order of Preachers founded by Dominic (the Dominicans, or Blackfriars as they were known in England). He soon became an outstanding teacher in an age of intellectual ferment. Because of his size and slowness, Thomas was called “the Ox”. His first master, Albert the Great, is said to have prophesied that although Thomas was called “the dumb ox, his lowing would soon be heard all over the world.”

Perceiving the challenges that the recent rediscovery, through Jewish and Muslim scholars in Spain, of Aristotle’s works might entail for traditional catholic doctrine, especially in its emphasis upon empirical knowledge derived from reason and sense perception, independent of faith and revelation, Thomas asserted that reason and revelation are in basic harmony. “Grace” (revelation), he said, “is not the denial of nature” (reason), “but the perfection of it.” This synthesis Thomas accomplished in his greatest works, the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles, which continue today to exercise profound influence on Christian thought and philosophy. Thomas was considered a bold thinker, even a “radical”, and certain aspects of his thought were condemned by the ecclesiastical authorities. His canonization as a Doctor (Teacher) of the Church on July 18, 1323, vindicated him.

Thomas understood God’s disclosure of his Name, in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM”, to mean that God is Being, the Ultimate Reality from which everything else derives its being. The difference between God and the world is that God’s essence is to exist, whereas all other beings derive their being from him by the act of creation. Although, for Thomas, God and the world are distinct, there is, nevertheless, an analogy of being between God and the world, since the Creator is reflected in his creation. It is possible, therefore, to have a limited knowledge of God, by analogy from the created world. On this basis, human reason can demonstrate that God exists; that he created the world; and that he contains in himself, as their cause, all the perfections which exist in his creation. The distinctive truths of the Christian faith, however, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, are known only by revelation.

On December 6, 1272, after being recalled to Naples as regent of studies earlier that year, Thomas experienced a revelation of God, after which he dictated to his scribe no more. Of the experience he said that all he had written in comparison to what he had then seen was like so much straw.

Thomas died on the 13th of September in 1274, just under fifty years of age. In 1369, on the 28th of January, his remains were transferred to Toulouse. In addition to his many theological writings, he composed several eucharistic hymns of lasting value, including Adoro te devote (“Humbly I adore thee”) and Pange lingua (“Now, my tongue, the mystery telling”).

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts,
with additions from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; 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 Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Friar, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407

John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, is one of the great saints of the Eastern Church. He was born about 354 in Antioch, Syria. Brought up by his widowed mother, he received the best education that Antioch could offer, both in oratory and in law. As a young man, he responded to the call of desert monasticism until his health was impaired through the austerities and dampness of his cave hermitage. He returned to Antioch after six years, and was ordained a deacon, serving until his ordination as a presbyter five years later. He then became a special assistant to the bishop of Antioch, particularly in the temporal care and spiritual instruction of the numerous Christian poor of the city.

In 397, he became Bishop (Patriarch) of Constantinople. On arrival in the capital city, he set at once to reforming the morals of the clergy, the court, and the people, whose corruption had been encouraged by the complacence and self-indulgence of his predecessor, Nectarius. He reduced the customary spending of his own household in favor of the poor and the hospitals. He enacted severe disciplinary rules for the clergy. He attacked the behavior, clothing, and makeup of the women at court, and denounced the practice of many Christians attending the races on Good Friday and the games at the stadium on Holy Saturday. His episcopate was short and tumultuous. Many criticized his ascetical life in the episcopal residence, and he incurred the wrath of the empress Eudoxia, who believed that he had called her a “Jezebel”. Taking advantage of John’s having sheltered four monks who had fled Egypt after the condemnation of their Origenist theology, his rival Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, convened a carefully packed synod that deposed John in 403 on a series of mostly false charges. He was then exiled, but when shortly afterwards an earthquake rocked Constantinople, a terrified Eudoxia recalled him to his see. His plain speaking soon brought the displeasure of the empress again, and his enemies secured his banishment after condemnation by an Arian council at Antioch in 404, on charges of his having resumed the duties of a see from which he had lawfully been deposed. Despite the support of the people of Constantinople, of Pope Innocent the First, and of the entire Western Church, he was exiled first to near Antioch, then to Pontus, and was finally deliberately killed by enforced traveling on foot in severe weather. He died on September 14, 407. Thirty-one years after his death, his remains were brought back to Constantinople and reburied in the Church of the Apostles on January 27.

John, whose epithet “Chrysostom” means “golden-mouthed”, was one of the greatest preachers in the history of the Church. People flocked to hear him, and they often dismayed him by applauding his sermons. His eloquence was accompanied by an acute sensitivity to the needs of his people. He saw preaching as an integral part of pastoral care, and as a medium of teaching. He warned that if a presbyter had no talent for preaching the Word, the souls of those in his charge “will fare no better than ships tossed in the storm.”

His sermons provide insights into the liturgy of the Church, and especially into eucharistic practices. He describes the liturgy as a glorious experience, in which all heaven and earth join. His sermons emphasize the importance of lay participation in the Eucharist. “Why do you marvel,” he wrote, “that the people anywhere utter anything with the priest at the altar, when in fact they join with the Cherubim themselves, and the heavenly powers, in offering up sacred hymns.” To this day, the principal liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church is entitled, “The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom”.

His treatise, Six Books on the Priesthood, is a classic manual on the presbyteral office and its awesome demands. The priest, he wrote, must be “dignified, but not haughty; awe-inspiring, but kind; affable in his authority; impartial, but courteous; humble, but not servile; strong but gentle….”

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts and other sources

The Collect

O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; 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 John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul the Apostle

Timothy was a native of Lystra in Asia Minor, the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother who was a believer. We learn from the Acts of the Apostles that he “was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1-3). In addition to being a devoted companion of Paul, Timothy was entrusted with missions to the Thessalonians, to encourage them under persecution, and to the Corinthians, to strengthen the converts in the faith. Timothy became Paul’s apostolic representative and delegate at Ephesus, and, according to Eusebius, the first bishop of that city. Timothy likely did not hold the title, “bishop”, for that would have referred to the presbyter-bishops of the Church who served with him and under his authority, but this ministry of apostolic delegate almost certainly played a part in the development of the episcopate of the second century and its separation from the presbyterate.

Like Timothy, Titus was a companion of Paul, who calls him “my true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). Titus, a Greek, accompanied Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to Jerusalem at the time of the apostolic council. During Paul’s third missionary journey, Titus was sent on urgent missions to Corinth. Paul writes, “And besides our own comfort we rejoice still more at the joy of Titus because his mind has been set at rest by you all…And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of you all and the fear and trembling with which you received him” (2 Corinthians 7:13, 15).

Later, Titus was entrusted with the organization of the Church in Crete. Paul writes, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint presbyters in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

As companions of Paul, Timothy and Titus are commemorated together close to the feast of Paul’s conversion. Paul several times mentions their youth, while entrusting them with great responsibilities in pastoral oversight and administration and in the proclaiming of the Gospel, a reminder that not age but faithfulness, pastoral care, and the love of Christ are the important qualities for Christian leadership and Gospel ministry.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts

The Collect

Almighty God, you called Timothy and Titus to be evangelists and teachers, and made them strong to endure hardship: Strengthen us to stand fast in adversity, and to live godly and righteous lives in this present time, that with sure confidence we may look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; 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 Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul the Apostle, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

Today we conclude the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. We remember especially all “non-denominational” and evangelical churches, all united churches (including, in the Anglican Communion, the Church of South India, the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan, and the Church of Bangladesh), and the Taizé Community and other ecumenical religious communities.

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

Paul, or Saul as he was known until he became a Christian, was a Roman citizen, born at Tarsus, in present-day Turkey. He was brought up as a devoted Jew, studying in Jerusalem for a time under Gamaliel, the most famous rabbi of the day. Describing himself, he said, “I am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).

A few years after the death of Jesus, Saul came in contact with the new Christian movement, and became one of the most fanatical of those who were determined to stamp out this “dangerous heresy”. Saul witnessed the stoning of Stephen. He was on the way to Damascus to lead in further persecution of the Christians when his dramatic conversion took place.

From that day, Paul devoted his life completely to Jesus Christ and especially to the conversion of Gentiles. The Acts of the Apostles describes the courage and determination with which he planted Christian congregations over a large area of the land bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

His letters, the earliest of Christian writings, reveal him as the greatest of the interpreters of Christ’s death and resurrection, and as the founder of Christian theology. He writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). His treatment throughout his letters of a theology in which Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the hope of Israel and the climax and fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham and renewed at Sinai, and his breathtaking rewriting of Israel’s central confession that the Lord God is One to include Jesus as that one Lord, is nothing less than brilliant.

Paul describes himself as small and insignificant in appearance: “His letters are weighty and strong,” it was said of him, “but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is of no account” (2 Corinthians 10:10). He writes of having a disability which he had prayed God to remove from him, and quotes the Lord’s reply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore Paul went on to say, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul is believed to have been martyred at Rome in the year 64, during the persecution under the emperor Nero. As a Roman citizen, he would have been executed by decapitation.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; 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
Acts 26:9-21

[Paul said to King Agrippa] “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.”

Psalm 67
Deus misereatur

May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.

May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.

The Epistle
Galatians 1:11-24

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

The Gospel
Matthew 10:16-22

[Jesus said to the twelve] “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

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The scripture texts for the Lesson, the 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 icon is a fragment from a 13th century Roman fresco.

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Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

Today we pray especially for Pentecostal, Holiness, and charismatic churches.

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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