Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Petronilla, Disciple of the Apostles, Virgin, Martyr

Today, we commemorate Petronilla. According to Butler:

AMONG the disciples of the apostles in the primitive age of saints this holy virgin shone as a bright star in the Church. She lived when Christians were more solicitous to live well than to write much: they knew how to die for Christ, but did not compile long books in which vanity has often a greater share than charity. Hence no particular account of her actions has been handed down to us. But how eminent her sanctity was we may judge from the lustre by which it was distinguished among apostles, prophets, and martyrs. She is said to have been a daughter of the apostle St. Peter; that St. Peter was married before his vocation to the apostleship we learn from the Gospel. St. Clement of Alexandria assures us that his wife attained to the glory of martyrdom, at which Peter himself encouraged her, bidding her to remember Our Lord. But it seems not certain whether St. Petronilla was more than the spiritual daughter of that apostle. She flourished at Rome, and was buried on the way to Ardea, where in ancient times a cemetery and a church bore her name.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Felix of Rome, Bishop, Martyr

Today we commemorate Felix. According to Butler:

ST. FELIX was a Roman by birth, and succeeded St. Dionysius in the government of the Church in 269. Paul of Samosata, the proud Bishop of Antioch, to the guilt of many enormous crimes added that of heresy, teaching that Christ was no more than a mere man, in whom the Divine Word dwelt by its operation and as in its temple, with many other gross errors concerning the capital mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation. Three councils were held at Antioch to examine his cause, and in the third, assembled in 269, being clearly convicted of heresy, pride, and many scandalous crimes, he was excommunicated and deposed, and Domnus was substituted in his place. As Paul still kept possession of the episcopal house, our Saint had recourse to the Emperor Aurelian, who, though a pagan, gave an order that the house should belong to him to whom the bishops of Rome and Italy adjudged it. The persecution of Aurelian breaking out, St. Felix, fearless of danger, strengthened the weak, encouraged all, baptized the catechumens, and continued to exert himself in converting infidels to the Faith. He himself obtained the glory of martyrdom. He governed the Church five years, and passed to a glorious eternity in 274.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cyrillus, Martyr

Today we commemorate Cyrillus. According to Butler:

ST. CYRIL suffered while still a boy at Cæsarea in Cappadocia, during the persecutions of the third century. He used to repeat the name of Christ at all times, and confessed that the mere utterance of this name moved him strangely. He was beaten and reviled by his heathen father. But he bore all this with joy, increasing in the strength of Christ, Who dwelt within him, and drawing many of his own age to the imitation of his heavenly life. When his father in his fury turned him out of doors, he said he had lost little, and would receive a great recompense instead. Soon after, he was brought before the magistrate on account of his faith. No threats could make him show a sign of fear, and the judge, pitying perhaps his tender years, offered him his freedom, assured him of his father's forgiveness, and besought him to return to his home and inheritance. But the blessed youth replied, "I left my home gladly, for I have a greater and a better which is waiting for me." He was filled with the same heavenly desires to the end. He was taken to the fires as if for execution, and was then brought back and re-examined, but he only protested against the cruel delay. Led out to die, he hurried on the executioners, gazed unmoved at the flames which were kindled for him, and expired, hastening, as he said, to his home.

Easter 6: A Devotional Commentary

Numbers 21:4-9 They traveled from Mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. The people spoke against God, and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, and there is no water; and our soul loathes this light bread.” Yahweh sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died. The people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against Yahweh, and against you. Pray to Yahweh, that he take away the serpents from us.” Moses prayed for the people. Yahweh said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard: and it shall happen, that everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” Moses made a serpent of brass, and set it on the standard: and it happened, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of brass, he lived.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times;

John 16:23-30 “In that day you will ask me no questions. Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full. I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. But the time is coming when I will no more speak to you in figures of speech, but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name; and I don’t say to you, that I will pray to the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came out from the Father, and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” His disciples said to him, “Behold, now you speak plainly, and speak no figures of speech. Now we know that you know all things, and don’t need for anyone to question you. By this we believe that you came forth from God.”

"Whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." So why doesn't it work? We tell God what we want and say the magic words "in Jesus name" at the end. Why doesn't He give us what we want? To pray in Jesus name means something more than simply saying "in Jesus name." If you read the prayers in the New Testament you will find that none of them end with "In Jesus name. Amen." But they are all still prayed in the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus we find the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. In the name of Jesus we find our daily bread. In the name of Jesus we find the cross. In the name of Jesus we find suffering. In the name of Jesus we find submission to the will of the Father. "Not my will, but yours be done." "They will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

God's will does not always look good to us. Sometimes it looks utterly evil. Sometimes the works of God and the work of the Devil is difficult to distinguish. We sinfullly respond by grumbling to our neighbor about God. We say that it's not fair and God has no right to treat us in this way. We are not satisfied with the daily bread that God sends us. We loathe it. We grumble just like the Israelites. Perhaps we are too "religious" to admit our grumblings to our neighbor but we still think it. The Psalms are full of lamentations. The difference is that in the Psalms the complaining is directed directly to God and based upon a real belief in God's goodness. We think of ourselves as too "godly" to speak to God in this way but in reality we don't speak to God in this way because we don't really believe God is good. We grumble in our head or to our neighbor because we don't believe that God is really good.

We respond to suffering by trying to hide from God. We might give up prayer entirely or we might simply try to hide those things we are really angry at God about because we do not trust God. If we get really angry at God we might stop going to church. But our prayers and church attendance do not benefit God in any way. God does not need us to feed Him glory. Prayer is there for our benefit and so is church. At church we receive God's good gifts. We receive healing message of the Gospel and we feast on Christ's body and blood. We receive real life. We receive real salvation.

When the Israel grumbled to Moses, God sent them fiery serpents out of love. It did not appear to be loving by any standard. When the people grumbled they were asserting that they were not being treated fairly and so God showed them what it looked like to be treated fairly. He sent them fiery serpents. He sent them death. That is what we and our "good works" deserve. The Israelites saw their own sinfulness and asked Moses to pray to God for mercy. Finally, they saw their great need for God's mercy and they found that God is truly merciful. Despite the utter sinfulness of the Israelites God had mercy on the Israelites. He had Moses place a bronze serpent on a pole and all who looked at the serpent lived.

God is merciful to us. Jesus was crucified for us. He was placed on a pole and became a curse for us. He became sin for us. He conquered death by dying for us. Christ-crucified is the way that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. If we try to find the hidden God we will not find love and mercy but power and judgment. If we insist that God be "just" we will only be bitten by the snakes of judgment of death. But in Christ-crucified we see that Christ's exaltation is in His crucifixion. We find that Christ became sin for us. Christ died to defeat death for us. Christ-crucified is proof that God loves us in an unbelievable and incomprehensible way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bede the Venerable, Confessor

Today we commemorate Bede. Bede (672-735) was an English monk and prolific writer. He wrote commentaries, theological works, and scientific works. But he is best known for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People for which he gained the title "Father of English History."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quadratus of Athens, Bishop

Today we commemorate Quadratus. Quadratus is said to have been the first Christian apologist. He was bishop of Athens from 125-129. Fragments of his writings still are available on-line. He wrote:

"Our Saviour’s works, moreover, were always present: for they were real, consisting of those who had been healed of their diseases, those who had been raised from the dead; who were not only seen whilst they were being healed and raised up, but were afterwards constantly present. Nor did they remain only during the sojourn of the Saviour on earth, but also a considerable time after His departure; and, indeed, some of them have survived even down to our own times."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Urban of Rome, Bishop, Martyr

Today we commemorate Urban I. Urban was the bishop of Rome during the third century which was a period of relative peace.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Esther, Queen; Menaen, Prophet; Vincent of Lerins, Saint; Johanna, Saint

Today, we commemorate Esther, Menaen, Vincent, and Johanna. Esther is featured in the Old Testament book of Esther and is a type of Christ. Esther marries a pagan king and puts her life in jeopardy to save the Jewish people from being destroyed. She intercedes for the Jewish people before the king knowing that she could be killed for doing so. The king spares her and the Jewish people, protecting the people that Christ would be born out of.

According to Wikipedia:

Saint Manahen (also Manaen) was a teacher of the Church of Antioch and the foster brother (Gk. syntrophos, Vulg. collactaneus) of Herod Antipas. Little is known of Manahen's life. He is said to be one those who, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, laid hands upon Saul and Barnabas and sent the two Apostles on the first of St. Paul's missionary journeys (Acts 13:3). Since St. Luke was an Antiochene, it is not unlikely that Manahen was one of "the prophets and doctors" of the Church of Antioch was one of the "eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Luke 1:2), who delivered unto Luke the details which that sacred writer has in regard to Antipas and other members of the Herodian family (Luke 3:1, 19, 20; 8:3; 9:7-9; 13:31, 32; 23:8-12; Acts 12). He may have become a disciple of Jesus with "Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward" (Luke 8:3). In A.D. 39, Antipas left for Rome to gain the favor of Caligula, but instead received an order of perpetual exile. (Jos., "Ant.", XVIII, vii, 2). During this time, the Church of Antioch was founded by Jewish Christians, who "had been dispersed by the persecution that arose on the occasion of Stephen" and had taught the Gospel also to the Greeks of Antioch, (Acts 11:19-24). It is quite likely that St. Manahen was one of these founders of the Antiochene Church.

Little is known about Vincent of Lerins who died before 450 but his writings have been very influential. Although his Comonitory is often used by Roman Catholics to try to prove that he supported the modern Roman Catholic understanding of Scripture and tradition, in reality his writings reflect the view of the magisterial reformers in which Scripture is the sole source of authority but tradition provides the proper interpretive grid for understanding the Scriptures.

Johanna was the wife of Chuza, steward of King Herod Antipas. She was one of the women who helped provide for Jesus and the Apostles. She was one of the three women who discovered the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Desiderius of Langers, Bishop, Martyr

Today we commemorate Desiderius. According to Butler:

WHEN Queen Brunehaut governed the courts of her two sons, Theodebert, king of Austrasia, and Theodoric of Burgundy, this zealous pastor boldly reproved her for her incests and cruelties; but a sermon which he preached before her and Theodoric on chastity, chiefly in the words of St. Paul, procured him the crown of martyrdom; for, in his return home, he was by their order and contrivance murdered by three assassins in a village now called St. Didier de Chalaraine, near the brook of that name in the principality of Dombes, in 612.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Helen, Empress

Today we commemorate Helen. According to Wikipedia:

Constantine appointed his mother Helen as Augusta Imperatrix, and gave her unlimited access to the imperial treasury in order to locate the relics of Judeo-Christian tradition. In 326-28 Helena undertook a trip to the Holy Places in Palestine. According to Eusebius of Caesarea she was responsible for the construction or beautification of two churches, the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and the Church on the Mount of Olives, sites of Christ's birth and ascension. Local founding legend attributes to Helena's orders the construction of a church in Egypt to identify the Burning Bush of Sinai. The chapel at St. Catherine's Monastery--often referred to as the Chapel of Saint Helen—is dated to the year AD 330. Jerusalem was still rebuilding from the destruction of Emperor Hadrian, who had built a temple dedicated, according to conflicting accounts, to Venus or Jupiter over the site of Jesus's tomb near Calvary and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina. According to tradition, Helena ordered the temple torn down and, according to the legend that arose at the end of the fourth century, in Ambrose, On the Death of Theodosius (died 395) and at length in Rufinus' chapters appended to his translation into Latin of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, which does not mention the event, chose a site to begin excavating, which led to the recovery of three different crosses. Then, Rufinus relates, refusing to be swayed by anything but solid proof, the empress (perhaps through Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem) had a woman who was already at the point of death brought from Jerusalem. When the woman touched the first and second crosses, her condition did not change, but when she touched the third and final cross she suddenly recovered,and Helena declared the cross with which the woman had been touched to be the True Cross. On the site of discovery, Constantine ordered built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as well as those on other sites detected by Helena. She also found the nails of the crucifixion. To use their miraculous power to aid her son, Helena allegedly had one placed in Constantine's helmet, and another in the bridle of his horse. Helena left Jerusalem and the eastern provinces in 327 to return to Rome, bringing with her large parts of the True Cross and other relics, which were then stored in her palace's private chapel, where they can be still seen today. Her palace was later converted into the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. This has been maintained by Cistercian monks in the monastery which has been attached to the church for centuries. Tradition says that the site of the Vatican Gardens was spread with earth brought from Golgotha by Helena to symbolically unite the blood of Christ with that shed by thousands of early Christians, who died in the persecutions of Nero. According to one tradition, Helena acquired the Holy Tunic on her trip to Jerusalem and sent it to Trier. Several of Saint Helena's treasures are now in Cyprus, where she spent some time. Some of them are a part of Jesus Christ's tunic, pieces of the holy cross, and the world's only pieces of the rope with which Jesus was tied on the Cross. The latter has been held at the Stavrovouni Monastery, which was also founded by Saint Helena.

Easter 5: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 12:1-6 In that day you will say, “I will give thanks to you, Yahweh; for though you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust, and will not be afraid; for Yah, Yahweh, is my strength and song; and he has become my salvation.” Therefore with joy you will draw water out of the wells of salvation. In that day you will say, “Give thanks to Yahweh! Call on his name. Declare his doings among the peoples. Proclaim that his name is exalted! Sing to Yahweh, for he has done excellent things! Let this be known in all the earth! Cry aloud and shout, you inhabitant of Zion; for the Holy One of Israel is great in the midst of you!”

James 1:16-21 Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

John 16:5–15 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have told you these things, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don’t go away, the Counselor won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment; about sin, because they don’t believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won’t see me any more; about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged. I have yet many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. All things whatever the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine, and will declare it to you.

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises Pentecost. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to convict the world about sin and will testify of Christ. The Holy Spirit comes to you because Jesus was crucified for you. The Holy Spirit is not to be found by mystical experience. The Scriptures say that the Holy Spirit can't stop talking about Jesus. We find the Holy Spirit where the Gospel is preached and where we receive baptism and the Lord's Supper. The Holy Spirit is found in Christ's church. The Holy Spirit says, "You are forgiven. There is no one who can accuse you. Your sins have all been paid for by Christ."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21st, 2011 @ around 6pm: Harold Camping and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Harold Camping claimed that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011 and a great earthquake will happen around the world around 6pm. This is not the first time that Camping predicted the end of the world. If you are reading this you have not been raptured. Some people are very confused right now. How could the Bible be wrong? Is the Christian faith a sham? Others are laughing at those who bought into another failed attempt at predicting the second coming of Christ.

The problem is not that Harold Camping didn't study his Bible enough. Harold Camping knows his Bible. If you bring up just about any Bible passage to him, he can tell you exactly where it is. But Camping's problem is that like many others He forgets that the Scriptures are all about Jesus (Luke 24:27). The Bible contains lots of information about lots of different things, if you look long enough for secret codes and messages you are bound to find something. If you come to the Bible convinced that the Bible is a manual for life then you are going to find all kinds of interesting rules to live by and there will probably not be a significant non-event (as there is for Camping) that will show you and the world that you are completely wrong. People probably won't laugh at you the way they laugh at Camping (you might even become popular) but you are still just as wrong as Camping.

The Ethiopian eunuch had an interest in the Scriptures and wanted to know what they meant. Unlike Harold Camping, the eunuch did not go off somewhere privately to try to figure out what the Scriptures were talking about. Left to his own devices there is no limit to the variety of ways he could have interpreted the Scriptures. He recognized his need for help and asked one of the leaders in the church to help him. Philip gave the eunuch the interpretive key for understanding the Scriptures. The Scriptures are all about Jesus. Jesus says the Bible is all about Jesus and so do the historic Christian creeds.

Throughout the Scriptures and especially in the New Testament we find a variety of people who spent much of their lives studying the Bible but had a false understanding and even at times an antichristian understanding of what the Bible meant because they did not realize that the Bible is all about Jesus. The Pharisees thought that the Bible was all about holy living and they were extraordinarily zealous to spread their message. They were on fire for the Lord--at least the lord they worshipped. They would cross sea and land to evangelize but ended up making people inheritors of hell (Matthew 23:15). They plotted to kill Jesus because they beleived that Jesus was a blasphemer based on their interpretation of the Bible.

The Scriptures tell us to test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Not everyone who claims to be speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit is speaking through the influence of the Holy Spirit. Many are speaking through the influence of Satan. Satan is always trying to distract us from Jesus and direct us to something else. He may even lead us to believe that what he directs us to is truly godly--just as he did to the Pharisees who wanted to do God a favor by putting Jesus to death.

Jesus said that the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit both can't stop talking about Jesus (John 5). If you read Camping's pamphlets and books on the second coming of Jesus you will find surprisingly little about Jesus. The same is true with many groups that claim to be spirit-led. Camping strings together a number of mathematical formulas and then tries to explain away passages which say pretty clearly that no man knows the day or the hour--not even the Son (at least according to His human nature while on earth (Matt. 24:36). Camping apparentley believes that His understanding of the Scriptures is greater than Jesus' understanding of the Scriptures. This is not the first time that Harold Camping has contradicted some pretty clear words of Scripture. The Scriptures tell us not to forsake the assembly of believers as we see the day approaching(Hebrews 10:25) but Harold Camp;ing says that we must leave the church because "the day" means the end of the church age. There is no clear teaching about an end of the church age in the Scriptures but Camping has his strange mathematical formulas to calculate when it ended. Camping even teaches that only those who believe that his May 21 rapture date is true will actually be raptured. In the Scriptures salvation is received through faith in Christ alone, not faith in Harold Camping's math skills.
The church is the means through which God has chosen to bring the forgiveness of sins. The church is the means through which God has chosen to bring Jesus to people. I pray that Harold Camping will be brought to repentance and will see that the Bible is all about Jesus. I pray that others will take this opportunity to examine how they read the Bible as well because there are lots of antichristian ways to read and understand the Scriptures.

Hospitius, Hermit

Today, we commemorate Hospitius. According to Wikipedia:

Saint Hospitius (in French, Saint Hospice and anciently Saint Sospis) (died May 21, 581) was a French recluse who, according to tradition, had been a monk in his native Egypt towards the beginning of the 6th century. He immigrated to Gaul and retired to a dilapidated tower, situated on the peninsula of Cap Ferrat, a few miles east of Nice. The people of the environs frequently consulted him; he forewarned them on one occasion, about the year 575, of an impending incursion of the Lombards. St Hospitius was seized by these raiders, but his life was spared. He worked a miracle in favor of one of the warriors, who became converted, embraced the religious life, and was known personally to Saint Gregory of Tours. It was from him that St Gregory, to whom we are indebted for the meagre details of the saint's life, learned of the austerities and numerous miracles of the recluse. St Hospitius foretold his death and was buried by his friend, Austadius, Bishop of Cimiez. Saint Hospitius died at Cap Ferrat (sometimes called Cap Saint-Sospis or Cap Saint-Hospice), near Villefranche-sur-Mer, in the department of Alpes-Maritimes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ivo of Chatres, Bishop

Today we commemorate Ivo. Ivo was the bishop of Chartres from 1090 until his death. He was a prolific writer who believed that Christian love was the answer to sin and not harsh punishment.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pudentiana of Rome, Virgin, Martyr

Today we commemorate Pudentiana. According to Wikipedia:

Pudentiana is a traditional Christian saint of the 2nd century. She is sometimes called Potentiana and is often coupled with her sister, Praxedes. According to her acta, published by the Bollandists (dating from the 8th century) and the traditional martyrology, she was a Roman virgin of the early Christian church, daughter of Saint Pudens, friend of the Apostles, and sister of Praxedes. Praxedes and Pudentiana, together with presbyter Pastor and Pope Pius I, built a baptistry in the church present inside their father's house, and started to baptize pagans. Pudentiana died at the age of 16, possibly a martyr, and is buried next to her father Pudens, in the Priscilla catacombs in via Salaria.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Theodotus, Schenkwirth, and Their Companions, Martyrs

Today we commemorate Theodotus, Schenkwirth, and their companions. According to Wikipedia:

According to the Acts (Acta Sanctorum, May, IV, 147) Theodotus was a married man who kept an inn at Ancyra (now Ankara), the capital of the Roman province of Galatia. He is described as a man very zealous in the performance of his Christian duties, endowed with many virtues, especially charity towards his neighbour, bringing sinners to repentance and strengthening many in their faith during the persecution which the Roman governor Theoctenus was carrying on in the province, about 303, in accordance with the imperial edict of Diocletian. The name of a certain Victor is mentioned as one who grew weak in his profession of Christianity and received much encouragement from Theodotus. The governor ordered that all provisions exposed for sale should first be offered to the idols. Theodotus laid in stores of goods and his house became a refuge for the Christians, a hospital for the sick and a place for Divine worship. At Malos, about five miles from Ancyra, he sought out the body of the martyr Valens, and gave it a Christian burial. Returning to Ancyra he found the Christians in great trouble. The seven virgins mentioned above had been called before the judges and made a valiant profession of their faith; they were then sent to a house of debauchery, but preserved their purity. Then they were obliged to suffer cruel torments and were cast into the sea with stones attached to their bodies. Theodotus succeeded in rescuing the bodies and honourably burying them. In consequence he was arrested, and after many sufferings was killed by the sword; his body was miraculously brought to Malos and there entombed by the priest Fronto.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Possidius of Calma, Bishop

Today we commemorate Possidius. Possidius was a friend and biographer of St. Augustine. He was nearly killed by pagans in a riot and the Donatists set fire to his house. He stood with Augustine against the Pelagians.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Peregrinus of Auxerre, Bishop, Martyr

Today we commemorate Peregrinus. According to Wikipedia:

Saint Peregrine (Peregrinus) of Auxerre (French: Saint Pélérin, Italian: San Pellegrino) (d. ca. 261 AD or ca. 304 AD) is venerated as the first bishop of Auxerre and the builder of its first cathedral. A strong local tradition states that he was a priest of Rome appointed by Pope Sixtus II to evangelize this area at the request of the Christians resident in that part of Gaul. He preached at Marseilles, Lyon, and converted most of the inhabitants of Auxerre to Christianity. At Intaranum –present-day Entrains-sur-Nohain– Peregrine angered the governor after the saint appealed to the populace to abandon pagan idols; the inhabitants had been dedicating a new temple to Jupiter. The Martyrologium Hieronymianum states that he was tortured and beheaded at vicus Baiacus (Bouhy) (in present-day Nièvre) during the persecutions of Diocletian.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rupert of Mainz, Confessor and Dymphna of Gheel, Virgin, Martyr

Today we commemorate Rupert (712-732) and Dympha (7th Century). Rupert was the son of a Christian noblewoman and a pagan father. After his father's death, Rupert was raised as a Christian. Rupert used his inherited wealth to found churches and died from a fever at age 20.

According to Wikipedia:

Dymphna was born in Ireland sometime in the 600s. Her father, Damon, a petty king of Oriel, was pagan but her mother was a devout Christian. When Dymphna was fourteen her mother died. After the death of his wife, Damon wanted to remarry and insisted that his new wife should look like Dymphna's mother. When no such woman could be found Damon began to desire to marry Dymphna, because of the strong resemblance she bore to her mother. When Dymphna learned of her father's intentions she fled his court along with her confessor Father Gerebernus and two servants. Together they sailed towards the continent, eventually landing in Belgium, where they took refuge in the town of Gheel. When Damon discovered their hiding place he set out to recover his daughter. He ordered that Father Gerebernus be killed and tried to persuade Dymphna to return with him, but she refused. Enraged, Damon decapitated his daughter on the spot.

Easter 4: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 40:25–31 “To whom then will you liken me? Who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these, who brings out their army by number. He calls them all by name. by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power, Not one is lacking. Why do you say, Jacob, and speak, Israel, “My way is hidden from Yahweh, and the justice due me is disregarded by my God?” Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard? The everlasting God, Yahweh, The Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t faint. He isn’t weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might. Even the youths faint and get weary, and the young men utterly fall; But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint.

1 Peter 2:11–20 Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether to the king, as supreme; or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evildoers and for praise to those who do well. For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked. For it is commendable if someone endures pain, suffering unjustly, because of conscience toward God. For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating? But if, when you do well, you patiently endure suffering, this is commendable with God.

John 16:16–22 A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me.” Some of his disciples therefore said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you won’t see me, and again a little while, and you will see me;’ and, ‘Because I go to the Father?’” They said therefore, “What is this that he says, ‘A little while?’ We don’t know what he is saying.” Therefore Jesus perceived that they wanted to ask him, and he said to them, “Do you inquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you won’t see me, and again a little while, and you will see me?’ Most certainly I tell you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she gives birth, has sorrow, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she doesn’t remember the anguish any more, for the joy that a human being is born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! There is great joy when we think of the resurrection but this is also a time of great sorrow. We suffer. In the Christian life we are not happy all the day. Christ does not call upon us to ignore this suffering. Christ tells us that this suffering is real just as the suffering of a woman in labor is real. But when Christ returns our suffering will give way to joy that is beyond anything we could ever think or imagine. We will be made partakers in His resurrection. He will not rehabilitate us. He will resurrect us. Our joy will be so great that we will forget our great suffering.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pachomius of Thebias, Abbot

Today we commemorate Pachomius. He was born in 292 in Thebes. Up until the time of Pachomius monastics had lived lives of isolation. Pachomius was the founder monastic communities where members held all things in common.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Servatius of Nongern, Bishop

Today we commemorate Servatius of Nongern. According to Butler:

HE gave St. Athanasius during his banishment, a friendly and honourable reception, strenuously defended his cause, and the Catholic faith, especially in the council of Sardica; resisted the Arians at Rimini, and laboured much in preventing the ill consequences with which the church was threatened by the misconduct of the bishops in that council, through the fraud of the Arians. St. Gregory of Tours relates that he foretold that the Huns would invade Gaul, and implored the divine mercy to avert that scourge by watching, fasting, prayers, and many tears, and by a pilgrimage to Rome to the tomb of St. Peter. This penitential journey he undertook in the year 382, that he might obtain the patronage of the apostles in behalf of his people, for whom he never ceased to implore the divine mercy by watching, fasting, and prayer, accompanied with tears. But he was informed by a revelation that God had determined to punish the sins of that nation, which calamity, like Ezechias, he was assured his eyes should never behold. Thereupon, weeping, he hastened back to Tongres, where he shortly after sickened and died, on the 13th of May, 384, having been bishop about thirty-seven years, not fifty-six, as is affirmed in the new edition of Moreri. St. Gregory testifies that miracles drew many to his tomb, and that a church was erected over it. His body remains in the noble collegiate church in Maestricht, except some small portions distributed in other places. The city of Tongres was shortly after plundered, and left in ruins by Attila, since which time, it retains nothing of its ancient splendour. Some pretend that St. Servatius removed his episcopal see to Maestricht a little before his death: but it is certain that translation was only made in the following century, after the city of Tongres was destroyed by Attila. See the works of St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Francor. &c. in Henschenius, p. 210. Also Rivet, Hist. Littér. de la France, t. 1, part 2, p. 242. Foullon, Histor. Leod. t. 1, p. 43, and Henschenius, in the Acta Sanctorum, in his Exegesis De Episcopatu Tungrensi et Trajectensi, prefixed to t. 7, Maij.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pancras of Rome, Martyr

Today we commemorate Pancras. Pancras was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity and was beheaded for his faith at the age of 14 around the year 304.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gangolph of Burgund, Martyr; Cyril and Methodius, Bishops, Confessors

Today we commemorate Gangolph, Cyril, and Methodius. According to Wikipedia:

Born to one of the most illustrious families of Burgundy, his education was provided by his parents, who were virtuous Christians. As a youth, Gangulphus was known for his great honesty, chastity, and propriety, and visited churches and read religious texts, avoiding the company of libertines. When his parents died, he became a model landowner, taking care of the household economy with ease and industry and also providing for the churches and the poor on his land. When it came time to marry, he chose a woman who did not share his virtues. As an important nobleman, Gangulphus participated in the wars of the time, but also dedicated himself to preaching the Gospel in Frisia. On a journey back to Burgundy, he found a property at Bassigny upon which stood a fountain that issued fresh and good water. Gangulphus bought the property. However, his friends mocked him because this property's fountain would not serve back at home. However, when Gangulphus returned home, he pushed a stick into the soil. The next day, he instructed his servant to pull the stick out of the soil. Out of the soil emerged a new fountain, from which gushed fresh water. During his absence, his wife had committed adultery with a priest. His wife protested her innocence, but Gangulphus wished her innocence to be judged by God. Thus, he had her dip her hand into the very same source of water he had created on his property. His wife’s hand was completely and miraculously scalded by the water. Gangulphus was fairly lenient: he forbade his wife from ever sharing his marriage bed and also ordered the priest to go abroad. Gangulphus meanwhile withdrew to his castle at Avallon, near Vézelay, performing works of penance and charity. However, his wife soon had her lover return. Hurrying back, the priest, wishing to decapitate Gangulphus, attacked the saint as he slept. However, the priest missed and injured Gangulphus' thigh. The wound, however, proved to be fatal and Gangulphus received the Last Sacraments on May 11, 760. The priest fled the country with Gangulphus' wife. Purported miracles soon took place at Gangulphus' tomb. Both his wife and the priest soon suffered illnesses and died.

According to Wikipedia:

Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century.They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title "Apostles to the Slavs". They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic. After their deaths, their pupils continued their missionary work among other Slavs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Comgall of Bangor, Abbott

Today we commemorate Comgall. According to Wikipedia:

The year of his birth is uncertain, but according to the testimony of the Irish annals it must be placed between 510 and 520; his death is said to have occurred in 602 (Annals of Tigernach and Chronicon Scotorum), or 597 (Annals of Innisfallen). He was born in Dál nAraidi (Dalaradia) in Ulster near the place now known as Magheramorne in the present County Antrim. He seems to have served first as a soldier, and on his release from military service he is said to have studied at Clonard with St. Finnian, and at Clonmacnoise with St. Ciaran, who died in 549. We next find him in Ulster in an island on Lough Erne accompanied by a few friends following a very severe form of monastic life. He intended to go to Britain, but was dissuaded from this step by Lugidius, the bishop who ordained him, at whose advice he remained in Ireland and set himself to spread the monastic life throughout the country. The most famous of the Comgall is Bangor, situated in the present County Down, on the Southern shore of Belfast Lough and directly opposite to Carrickfergus. According to the Irish annals Bangor was founded not later than 552, though Ussher and most of the later writers on the subject assign the foundation to the year 555. According to Adamnan's "Life of Columba", there was a very close connection between Comgall and Columba though there does not appear to be sufficient authority for stating that Comgall was the disciple of Columba in any strict sense. He is said to have been the friend of St. Brendan, St. Cormac, St. Cainnech, and Finnian of Moville. After intense suffering he received the Eucharist from St. Fiacre and expired in the monastery at Bangor.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hermas, Bishop, Martyr; Gregory of Nazianzus, Biship, Confessor; Job, Saint

Today we commemorate Hermas, Gregory, and Job. Hermas. Hermas is mentioned by the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:14 and possibly the author of The Shepherd of Hermas which was accepted as canonical by some in the early church. Hermas was bishop of Philippi and was martryed for the faith.

Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th century archbishop of Constantinople and an extraordinarily influential theologian, especially when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity.

We learn about Job from the book of Job. Job was a righteous man who suffered greatly. The Devil accused Job of acting righteously only because God had blessed Job so much. When everything was taken away from Job his friends assumed that Job must have committed some great sin and Job's suffering was made greater through the accusations of his friends. But Job remained faithful to God and provides one of the strongest testimonies in the Old Testament to the resurrection. Job is never told why he suffers but is restored by God.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Victor Maurus, Soldier, Martyr

Today we commemorate Victor Maurus. According to the Roman Martyrology:

He became a Christian in his youth and served in the imperial army. When Maximian wished to force him to offer sacrifice to idols, he persevered with the greatest fortitude in the confession of the Lord. He was first beaten with rods, but by God's protection without feeling any pain. Following this, melted lead was poured over him, which did him no injury whatever. The career of his glorious martyrdom was finally ended by his being beheaded.

Easter 3: A Devotional Commentary

Ezekiel 34:11-16 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture; and on the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie down in a good fold; and on fat pasture shall they feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord Yahweh. I will seek that which was lost, and will bring back that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but the fat and the strong I will destroy; I will feed them in justice.

1 Peter 2:21-25 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps, who did not sin, “neither was deceit found in his mouth.” Who, when he was cursed, didn’t curse back. When he suffered, didn’t threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously; who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were going astray like sheep; but now have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

John 10:11-16 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn’t care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd.

Only in Jesus' hands are you safe. All other shepherds will abandon you to save themselves. Jesus does not seek to preserve His own life but lays down His life for you. When you go astray He will track you down and carry you back. He doesn't hoard food for Himself, He gives you His very body and blood to eat and to drink. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

John Calvin and the Impossible Invisible Jesus

In his Institutes (4.17.29) when speaking of the Lord's Supper Calvin writes:

"The objection, that Christ came forth from the closed sepulchre, and came in to his disciples while the doors were shut, (Mat 28: 6; John 20: 19), gives no better support to their error. For as the water, just as if it had been a solid pavement, furnished a path to our Saviour when he walked on it, (Mat 14), so it is not strange that the hard stone yielded to his step; although it is more probable that the stone was removed at his command, and forthwith, after giving him a passage, returned to its place. To enter while the doors were shut, was not so much to penetrate through solid matter, as to make a passage for himself by divine power, and stand in the midst of his disciples in a most miraculous manner. They gain nothing by quoting the passage from Luke, in which it is said, that Christ suddenly vanished from the eyes of the disciples, with whom he had journeyed to Emmaus, (Luk 24: 31). In withdrawing from their sight, he did not become invisible: he only disappeared. Thus Luke declares that, on the journey with them, he did not assume a new form, but that "their eyes were holden." But these men not only transform Christ that he may live on the earth, but pretend that there is another elsewhere of a different description."
Calvin is arguing that in order for Jesus to have a real human body that human body must always take up the same amount of space and must always be visible. He says that when Jesus passed through walls and doors, Jesus did not cease to take up space but the wall or door did. According to Calvin the walls and doors momentarily ceased to be walls and doors and water momentarily ceased to be water. Jesus never became invisible He only disappeared. I think what Calvin means is that Jesus did not cease to take up space but just changed His location. In section 31 Calvin says:

"They are greatly mistaken in imagining that there is no presence of the flesh of Christ in the Supper, unless it be placed in the bread. They thus leave nothing for the secret operation of the Spirit, which unites Christ himself to us. Christ does not seem to them to be present unless he descends to us, as if we did not equally gain his presence when he raises us to himself. The only question, therefore, is as to the mode, they placing Christ in the breads while we deem it unlawful to draw him down from heaven. Which of the two is more correct, let the reader judge. Only have done with the calumny that Christ is withdrawn from his Supper if he lurk not under the covering of bread. For seeing this mystery is heavenly, there is no necessity to bring Christ on the earth that he may be connected with us."
In Calvin's understanding of the Supper, Christ cannot descend to us but we can ascend to Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit we do what Christ is unable to do. Christ is chained to heaven but we can pass in and out of heaven in some sort of spiritual way. This eliminates the need for Jesus to be in multiple places at the same time which is a great offense to Calvin.

The passages in question do not tell us if Jesus disappeared or merely changed location. If Jesus ceased to be in the room and ended up 100 miles away He still did something that ordinary human beings cannot do just as much as He did if He stayed in the room invisibly. I fail to see how Jesus becoming invisible and not taking up space somehow diminishes His human nature in a way that teleportation does not.

It does not seem wise to me to put extra-Biblical limitations on what God can do. God in the Scriptures seems to break all the rules as to how God should act. Jesus spent most of His earthly ministry behaving in ways that were viewed as unsuitable for a respectable Messiah and certainly unsuitable for God. If God can become incarnate and then spends His incarnation eating with sinners and getting Himself crucified--it does not seem that His human nature being in more than one place at the same time is really out of bounds. Jesus told the Apostles on more than one occasion that He was going to be crucified and would rise again. They regarded a literal crucifixion as being outside the bounds of what a respectable Messiah would do and and were utterly surprised when it happened. They did not expect the resurrection to follow. But Jesus broke the rules in How to Be a Good Messiah and literally did what He said He was going to do.

The Scriptures are silent as to exactly what physically happened to Jesus when Jesus disappeared. The Scriptures never explicitly say that Jesus can be in more than one place at the same time. The Scriptures never say that He can't be in more than one place at the same time. The Scriptures never say that in the Lord's Supper the Holy Spirit lifts us up to heaven. Jesus says, "This is my body...this is my blood." Jesus does not sat He's sending our spirits to heaven. Jesus directs us to the bread and wine in front of us which He says is His body and blood.

Flavia Domitilla, Virgin, Martyr and C.F.W. Walther, Doctor

Today we commemorate Flavia Domitilla and C.F.W. Walther. According to Butler:

SHE was niece to the consul and martyr St. Flavius Clemens, being the daughter of his sister as Eusebius testifies; consequently she was little niece of the Emperor Domitian, who, having put to death her illustrious uncle, banished her for her faith into Pontia. There she lived with her holy eunuchs, Nereus and Achilleus, in exercises of devotion, they all dwelling in separate cells which remained standing three hundred years after. St. Jerom tells us, that St. Paula, going from Rome to Jerusalem took this island in her way, visited them with respect and devotion, and by the sight of them was animated with fervour. That father calls her banishment a long martyrdom. Nerva and Trajan were, perhaps, unwilling to restore the relations of Domitian with the other exiles whom they recalled. The acts of SS. Nereus and Achilleus say that she returned to Terracina and was there burnt under Trajan, because she refused to sacrifice to idols.

C.F.W. Walther was the first president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a very influential theologian.

Friday, May 6, 2011

St. John Before the Latin Gate

Today we commemorate St. John Before the Latin Gate. According to Butler:

IN the year 95, St. John, who was the only surviving apostle, and governed all the churches of Asia, was apprehended at Ephesus, and sent prisoner to Rome. The Emperor Domitian did not relent at the sight of the venerable old man, but condemned him to be cast into a caldron of boiling oil. The martyr doubtless heard, with great joy, this barbarous sentence; the most cruel torments seemed to him light and most agreeable, because they would, he hoped, unite him forever to his divine Master and Saviour. But God accepted his will and crowned his desire; He conferred on him the honor and merit of martyrdom, but suspended the operation of the fire, as He had formerly preserved the three children from hurt in the Babylonian furnace. The seething oil was changed in his regard into an invigorating bath, and the Saint came out more refreshed than when he had entered the caldron. Domitian saw this miracle without drawing from it the least advantage, but remained hardened in his iniquity. However, he contented himself after this with banishing the holy apostle into the little island of Patmos. St. John returned to Ephesus, in the reign of Nerva, who by mildness, during his short reign of one year and four months, labored to restore the faded lustre of the Roman Empire. This glorious triumph of St. John happened without the gate of Rome called Latina. A church which since has always borne this title was consecrated in the same place in memory of this miracle, under the first Christian emperors.

Reflection.—St. John suffered above the other Saints a martyrdom of love, being a martyr, and more than a martyr, at the foot of the cross of his divine Master. All his sufferings were by love and compassion imprinted in his soul, and thus shared by him. O singular happiness, to have stood under the cross of Christ! O extraordinary privilege, to have suffered martyrdom in the person of Jesus, and been eye-witness of all He did or endured! If nature revolt within us against suffering, let us call to mind those words of the divine Master: "Thou knowest not now wherefore; but thou shalt know hereafter."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gothard of Hildesheim, Bishop and Frederick the Wise, Ruler

Today, we commemorate Gothard of Hildesheim and Frederick the Wise. According to Wikipedia:

Gotthard was born in 960 at Reichersdorf (Ritenbach) near Niederaltaich in the diocese of Passau. His father was Ratmund, a vassal of the canons of Niederaltaich Abbey. Gotthard was educated at this place, studying the humanities as well as theology, under the guidance of a teacher named Uodalgisus.Gotthard then resided at the archiepiscopal court of Salzburg, where he served as an ecclesiastical administrator. After traveling in various countries, including Italy, Gotthard completed his advanced studies under the guidance of Liutfrid in the cathedral school at Passau. He then joined the canons at Niederaltaich in 990, and became their provost in 996. When Henry II of Bavaria decided to transform the chapter house of Niederaltaich into a Benedictine monastery, Gotthard remained, as a novice, and then became a monk in 990 under the abbot Ercanbert. In 993, he was ordained a priest, and also became a prior and rector of the monastic school. In 996, he was elected abbot and introduced the Cluniac reforms at Niederaltaich. He helped revive the Rule of St. Benedict, which then provided abbots for the abbeys of Tegernsee, Hersfeld and Kremsmünster to restore Benedictine observance, under the patronage of Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor. He became bishop of Hildesheim on December 2, 1022, being consecrated by Aribo, Archbishop of Mainz. During the fifteen years of his episcopal government, he won the respect of his clergy. Gotthard ordered the construction of some thirty churches. Despite his advanced age, he defended vigorously the rights of his diocese. After a brief sickness, he died on May 4, 1038.

According to Wikipedia:

Born in Torgau, he succeeded his father as elector in 1486; in 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon taught. Frederick was among the princes who pressed the need of reform upon Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and in 1500 he became president of the newly-formed council of regency (Reichsregiment). Frederick was Pope Leo X's candidate for Holy Roman Emperor in 1519 — the pope had awarded him the Golden Rose of virtue on 3 September 1518 — but he helped secure the election of Charles V. Frederick ensured Luther would be heard before the Diet of Worms in 1521 and subsequently secured an exemption from the Edict of Worms for Saxony. By 1518 Frederick's castle church contained 17,443 holy relics, including a piece of Moses' burning bush, parts of the holy cradle and swaddling clothes, thirty-five fragments of the true cross, and the Virgin Mary's milk. A diligent and pious person who rendered appropriate devotion to each of these relics could earn 1,902,202 years of absolution from unrepented sins (time otherwise spend in purgatory). He protected Martin Luther from the Pope's enforcement of the edict by faking a highway attack on Luther's way back to Wittenberg, and hid him at Wartburg Castle following the Diet of Worms. Frederick died unmarried at Langau, near Annaberg, in 1525 and was buried in the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg with a grave by Peter Vischer the Younger. He was succeeded by his brother Duke John the Constant as Elector of Saxony.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Monica, Mother of Augustine and Friedrich Wyneken, Pastor, Missionary

Today, we commemorate Monica and Friederich Wyneken. According to Wikipedia:

Monica was married early in life to Patritius (or Patricius), who held an offical position in Tagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria). Patritius was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was of course a gulf between husband and wife; her alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a good example amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect. Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. In her distress she asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy's recovery withdrew his consent. All Monica's anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. He was sent to school at Madaurus. Her husband Patritius subsequently became a Christian. Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to prosecute his studies, and here he lived dissolutely. Patritius died very shortly after converting to Christianity and Monica decided not to marry again. At Carthage Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he shared his views regarding Manichaeism Monica drove him away from her table. However, she is said to have experienced a strange vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son. It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, "the child of those tears shall never perish." Monica followed her wayward son to Rome, where he had gone secretly; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance.

According to Wikipedia:

Friedrich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken (May 13, 1810 – May 4, 1876) was a missionary, pastor and the second president of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. One hundred years after fellow Hannoverian Henry Muhlenberg brought together the pastors and congregations of colonial America, Wyneken gathered scattered German Protestants into confessional Lutheran congregations and forged them into a closely knit family of churches. It was Wyneken's influence which brought Wilhelm Sihler from Germany to America. Wyneker's missionary experience, method and plan would influence American Lutheran missions for many years to come. He has been called the "thunder after the lightning."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Finding of the Holy Cross: A Devotional Commentary

Philippians 2:5-11 Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

John 3:1-15 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to him by night, and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and don’t understand these things? Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don’t receive our witness. If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Today, we commemorate the discovery of the cross by Helena on September 14, 320. The cross is the throne from which Christ reigns with a crown of thorns upon His head and "King of the Jews" written above Him. What was intended as a mockery was the most vivid depiction of how Christ reigns. He who suspended the land upon the water is suspended upon the cross that through faith you would have eternal life. You are joined to His crucifixion in the waters of holy baptism so that you will also partake in His resurrection.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Athanasius, Bishop, Confessor

Today, we commemorate Athanasius. Athanasius was one of the strongest supporters for the orthodox doctrine of Christ when the heresy of Arianism was most popular. His Arian enemies had him exiled five times and almost murdered him twice. According to Theodoret on one occasion some of the opponents conspired together and claimed that Athanasius had killed Arsenius. They cut off the hand of a corpse and carried it around in a wooden box claiming that it belonged to Arsenius. Athanasius was put on trial for killing Arsenius and raping a woman. When the woman was brought forward to testify, and Athanasius was told by the court to respond. Athanasius remained silent and one of his friends, Timotheus, stood up and asked the woman if he had ever entered her house or talked with her. The woman started yelling obscenities and accusations against Timotheus thinking he was Athanasius--proving that she had never seen Athanasius before. Next, they brought out the hand. Athanasius' friends managed to track down Arsenius and showed that both hands were still attached.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

Today we commemorate Philip and James.

Wisdom 5:1-5 Then the righteous will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have oppressed them and those who make light of their labours. When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation of the righteous. They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say, ‘These are persons whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach—fools that we were! We thought that their lives were madness and that their end was without honour. Why have they been numbered among the children of God? And why is their lot among the saints?

John 14:1-14 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. Where I go, you know, and you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.

Aardvark Alley has a helpful post on Philip and James.

Easter 2: A Devotional Commentary

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The hand of Yahweh was on me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Yahweh, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass by them all around: and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and behold, they were very dry. He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? I answered, Lord Yahweh, you know. Again he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and tell them, you dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh. Thus says the Lord Yahweh to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Yahweh. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, an earthquake; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I saw, and, behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh came up, and skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. You shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people. I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and you shall know that I, Yahweh, have spoken it and performed it, says Yahweh.

1 John 5:4-10 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three who testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is God’s testimony which he has testified concerning his Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who doesn’t believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.

John 20:19-31 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be to you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! If you forgive anyone’s sins, they have been forgiven them. If you retain anyone’s sins, they have been retained.” But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn’t with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace be to you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.” Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

When Jesus comes to visit His disciples after the resurrection He does not come to judge them for their unbelief. He comes bringing peace. He forgives them. Not only does He forgive them, He gives them the power to forgive others. Jesus sends the disciples to deliver this forgiveness through the preaching of the Gospel, baptism, and the Lord's Supper. These three agree. These three agree that you are forgiven. You can choose to listen to the Devil, call God a liar, and deny that you are forgiven, but Jesus says you are forgiven.