23 May 2008

Vincent of Lerins

Presbyter and Monk

Vincent of Lerins was born into a noble family of Gaul (which is located in what is now France). He began his life as a soldier, but gave up that profession and instead elected to dedicate his life to God as a monk at a monastery on the island of Lerins. He was ordained there and in about 434 authored his famous work the Commonitorium. This work offered a guide to orthodox teaching and included his famous maxim, the Vincentian Canon, by which he hoped to be able to differentiate between true and false tradition. In it he states that the true Catholic faith consists of “what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all”. He believed that the ultimate source of Christian truth was Holy Scripture and that the authority of the Church was only to be invoked to guarantee the correct interpretation of Scripture.

In addition to his defense of the primitive Catholic faith, Vincent opposed the definition of Original Sin that Augustine of Hippo was developing. Vincent, instead, supported what became known in theological circles as Semi-Pelagianism. Where Augustine taught that mankind was unable to seek God at all, Vincent and the other monks of Southern Gaul taught that it is necessary for humans to make the first step toward God and then God will complete salvation.

Vincent is considered, by many, the patron of the Primitive Catholic movement.

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God,
your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,
and to another the insight of wisdom,
and to another the steadfastness of faith.
Today, as we celebrate the feast of your servant Vincent,
we praise you for the grace that led him
to a fuller knowledge of the truth.
Grant that we, who today live out our faith,
may cling to what has been believed always, everywhere, by all
who have followed the path of your Son,
our Savior Jesus Christ.
To him, to you, and to the Spirit
be glory, honor, and praise,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

22 May 2008

Martyrs of Mesopotamia

Today the Church commemorates the Martyrs of Mesopotamia. In the year 303, in the midst of a mass persecution orchestrated by Galerius, Christians from throughout Mesopotamia (located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern-day Iraq) were rounded up and sentenced to death. They were hung upside down from rods as slow-burning fires were kindled under them, choking them with smoke. After their deaths, the fires were stoked and their bodies were burned away by fire.

Prayer of the Day
Loving God,
the fire of your truth and compassion
blazed in the hearts of the Martyrs of Mesopotamia,
kindling fear and murder in the hearts of the civil rulers of their day.
May we, like them,
always be found constant in our love for you,
and stedfast in our faith and convictions,
even when faced with difficult trials or a painful death.
We make our prayer through your Son,
Christ Jesus our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

21 May 2008

Martyrs of Cappadocia

Mesopotamia wasn’t the only part of the Christian world impacted by the persecutions of Galerius in the year 303. In Cappadocia (located in what is now west-central Turkey), a group of faithful Christians who were forced to endure torture before finally being murdered on account of Christ.
Prayer of the Day
Good and Gracious God,
you nourish the Church through the witness of her martyrs.
May we, who today celebrate the Martyrs of Cappadocia,
be ever faithful to the Gospel:
clinging to the knowledge of your truth,
enduring all persecutions and hardships,
and coming at the last great day to eternal life.
We make our prayer through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

18 May 2008

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God,
it is truly good and right for us to give you thanks for your kindness,
and to praise you day and night.
Grant that we may always hold fast to the faith that is able to save,
and, in proclaiming the healing name of Jesus,
allow us to triumph over every pain
of body, mind, and spirit,
and draw ever closer to you and to one another
by the working of the Holy Spirit.
To you, O Holy Triune God, be glory,
now, always, and forever.

Acts 5: 12-16
Psalm 92: 1-2, 4-5
John 14: 1-14

17 May 2008

Martyrs of Sudan

The Christian bishops, chiefs, commanders, clergy and people of southern Sudan declared, on May 16, 1983, that they would not abandon God as God had revealed himself to them through the Scriptures, even though they were under threat of Shariah Law imposed by the fundamentalist Islamic government in Khartoum. The Christians of the Sudan suffered from persecution and devastation through twenty-two years of civil war. Two and a half million people were killed. Many clergy and lay leaders were singled out because of their religious leadership in their communities. No buildings, including churches and schools, were left standing in an area the size of Alaska. God, however, always has a plan when his people endure persecution. When the Martyrdoms began, only five percent of the population of southern Sudan was Christian. Today, more than eighty percent of the same area has converted to the Christian faith. This faith in Jesus, rooted deeply in the message of God’s mercy and love, has renewed their spirits through out the years of strife and sorrow.

Prayer of the Day
Lord God,
you who will not be defeated
and who is steadfast in the midst of persecution,
by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
Grant that we
who remember before you the blessed martyrs of the Sudan,
may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ,
whom they refused to abandon,
even in the face of death.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

16 May 2008

Me and Liberation Theology

"I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the Police, and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God should prevail that says: Do not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin. The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of the dignity of the human person, cannot remain silent before so much abomination.
"We want the government to seriously consider that reforms
mean nothing when they come bathed in so much blood. Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God: Cease the repression!"

+Oscar Romero
Archbishop of San Salvador

Many of my faithful readers know that I have a fairly strong position against the Church getting involved in the state through means like elections, jury duty, holding public office, etc. So why, oh why, would I post these words from the final homily of Archbishop Romero - words so politically charged, if I didn't agree with the notion of Christians interfering in secular matters.

Well, I suppose that the reason is that I believe that the Church should interfere in secular matters all the time, just not using the means of this world to do it.
Okay... wipe the "huh" look off your face.

One of the most powerful means of communication in the world is the sermon. Words spoken with the power of God's own word, and with a passion of conviction, can truly change the world. Look at the ancient Church; her pastors preached with great confidence in God and great love for the world around them - pagan and Christian - and would often preach against the horrific treatment that their brothers and sisters (of whatever persuasion) went through. We are called to do the same.

Do I support every element of liberation theology? No. I can't say that I do. I can say, however, that +Romero's words and his courage to stand up for the people committed to his care, a people who were being slaughtered by the government because of their identity, should inspire us, today, to speak openly and vocally from our pulpits and ambos about the muffling of the faith in America, and the constant degradation of religious liberty (for all faiths!) that we are experiencing in North America.
The Church must excite her members to holiness, and must serve as a vocal conscience for the human community... even when those outside her walls do not wish to hear what she has to say.
Just some offhanded thoughts on this Friday morning.

Martyrs of Kaskhar

Today the Church commemorates the Martyrs of Kaskhar, who died on May 16, 366 in the midst of a severe persecution orchestrated by the Persian ruler Shapur II. Two bishops, Abda and Abdjesus, together with sixteen presbyters, nine deacons, six monks, and seven sisters were placed between heavy slabs to crush their bones and were later beheaded. These forty martyrs are among the many generated by the Syriac Church well after the major persecutions had stopped in the west.

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God,
you have given to your Church
the example of the Martyrs of Kaskhar
so that we might be encouraged to cling to our faith
even in moments of great trial and pain.
Grant that we may find
in the presence of the Spirit
the strength to endure the changes and chances of this mortal life,
so that, together with all your chosen ones,
we may complete our journey through this life
and arrive at the last in everlasting joy.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

15 May 2008

Brendan of Ardfert and Clonfert

Presbyter and Monk

Brendan of Ardfert and Clonfert is better known by his popular title “the Navigator”. Brendan, was the son of a noble family, but elected to give his life to God through service to the Church as a monk and a presbyter. Together with a group of monks, Brendan set out to share the Gospel message far and wide, and a traditional tale of his journey out into the Atlantic was told for centuries. These tales were generally believed to be fanciful legend, that is until Celtic Ogam writings were discovered in various parts of North America. These Ogams include very clear and direct statements about Christ and Mary. A tale, once thought legend, now has much more credibility. It is entirely possible Brendan and his band of monks were the first from the European continent to visit North America. Upon his return from his voyage of seven years, Brendan founded more monasteries and may have been consecrated as a bishop (though the evidence to support this is spotty). Brendan died peacefully in the year 577.

Prayer of the Day
God of land and sea,
you endowed your servant Brendan
with a bold and adventurous spirit,
to occupy himself for your business on the great waters,
and revealed to him your wonders in the deep.
Make us,
who recall with thanksgiving his life and ministry,
zealous to be pioneers and pilgrims for the faith.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

14 May 2008



We know little about Matthias, the 'replacement apostle', though his selection to replace Judas is one of the foundations of the belief among Catholic Christians in the doctine of apostolic succession.
With the exception of the details of his election, the New Testament is otherwise silent about his life and work. Some legends claim that he went on to Ethiopia and was martyred there, while others state that he died peacefully at an old age after engaging in ministry in Cappadocia and near the Caspian Sea.

Prayer of the Day
you chose your faithful servant Matthias
to be numbered among the twelve.
Grant that your church may always be taught and guided by faithful and true pastors,
whose hearts and minds are set on you.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

Acts 1: 12-26
Psalm 56
Luke 24: 44-49

09 May 2008



Today the Church commemorates one of the Desert Fathers, Pachomius. He was born around the year 290 in Egypt, and converted to the faith while he was serving as a soldier. In the year 320, he left civil service and went to live as a hermit in Upper Egypt where a growing network of hermitages was forming. Pachomius organized them into a religious community in which the members offered prayer together and shared of their own goods. His rule for monastic life eventually influenced both Eastern and Western Christianity, serving as the base for both the Rule of Basil and the Rule of Benedict.

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God,
we praise you for your servant Pachomius
through whom you brought unity and direction to the monks of Upper Egypt.
Raise up in our own day men and women
who, with willing hearts, will offer themselves to a monastic vocation.
May their voices intercede for the world,
and may their example give strength to your Church.
We make our prayer through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

08 May 2008

The Psalter Search

Trying to find a good Psalter is such a pain...

As I continue work on various liturgical projects, I continue to lament the lack of a halfway decent, contemporary English, Psalter that is worth anything.

My preference, to this day, remains with the 1963 Grail Psalms... but getting permission to use these Psalms in a local-use liturgical book has been a nigh-on-impossible three year journey that I am pretty much on the verge of abandoning. (Of course, the use of the Grail would also be a bit of a personal comfort... as I grew up on a diet of the Grail in the Roman Liturgy of the Hours.) The Grail is, of course, not without its faults... but for my money, when Psalm 4, 91, or 141 is sung, I only want to hear the Grail.

My translation of choice for public proclamation of the Scriptures, the New Living Translation (Second Edition) has the advantage of being well-laid-out for chanting, but its verbiage is awful when it comes to trying to sing... right from the very first verse...

"Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in
the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night."
Psalm 1: 1-2 (NLT)
Compare this to the Grail:

"Happy indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingers in the way of sinners
nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night."
Psalm 1: 1-2 (Grail)
Another entrant could be The Liturgical Psalter that was used in various Church of England publications; most notably in The Alternative Service Book 1980. It has been placed into (essentially) a public domain status by the copyright holders (see: http://www.aquilabooks.co.uk/noframes/psalms.htm#1). Psalm 1 fares better here:

"Blessed is the man
who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly:
nor followed the way of sinners,
nor taken his seat amongst the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord:
and on that law will he ponder day and night."
Psalm 1: 1-2 (TLS)

This winds up sounding pretty good... but fast forward to Psalm 23 (among others) and the fact that it is accurately translated begins to matter far less than the fact that the Psalm sounds awful.

We tend to forget, but the Psalms are poetry, hymnody... and they deserve a better effort than they seem to be given these days. Pardon my side-rant... back to my main point.

For chantability and accuracy, the ESV is actually a really good option (though I might get concerned about the use of two differing translations of the Bible in use in a parish setting).
"Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night."
Psalm 1: 1-2 (ESV)
So, is there anyone out there in the blogosphere with a better idea for a local liturgical psalter? I'd particularlly like to hear from folks who are using Psalters on a daily basis.

06 May 2008


Apostle and Evangelist

Prayer of the Day
shed upon the Church the brightness of your light,
that we, being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John,
may walk in the light of your truth,
and come at last to the fullness of eternal life.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and ever,
and unto ages of ages.

Psalm of the Day
Psalm 92: 1-2, 11-14

1 John 1: 1-9
John 20: 1-8

Liturgical Color

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