Collect: Keep, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saints and Feast Days:
September 12 (Wednesday): John Henry Hobart
Born in Philadelphia in 1775, John Henry Hobart played a vital role in building the Episcopal church in America after the Revolutionary War. At that point, many Americans viewed the Anglican church as an entity to be done away with, along with English rule. John Hobart was part of the new generation that rebuilt the Episcopal order and made it a living church, rather than a dying establishment. Because he defended apostolic succession, he caused a great amount of controversy in his day. He wrote several books — including A Companion for the Altar, the first devotional manual in the American Church — and founded the Bible and Prayer Book Society, among many other societies. His life work was founding the first American seminary in the Anglican Communion, General Theological Seminary. While he was bishop, clergymen increased from 27 to 123 and churches increased from 72 to 163. He is known for his motto: “My banner is Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order.”
September 13 (Thursday): St. Cyprian
Born around 200 AD, Cyprian was a gifted orator, rhetoric teacher and barrister before he converted to Christianity at the age of 46. He had lived indulgently, according to his rank, but then became friends with a priest named Caecilius. As their friendship grew, he felt the emptiness of his life, but doubted that something so ordinary as the water of baptism could transform his life. But at his baptism, his life changed. He gave away his riches and his pagan library and became a student of the Scriptures, as well as daily reading the works of his countryman Tertullian. His church insisted that he became ordained as a priest almost as soon as he was baptized. And after only serving 2 years as a priest, his bishop died and, though he protested and even tried to escape, he was made bishop in 248. As bishop he was respected and loved. For the first year of his episcopate, there was peace, but after that and for the rest of his life, Christians were persecuted and were dealing with apostasy and how to respond to apostates. Cyprian upheld the unity of the church, while also being compassionate toward apostates. In 257, he was exiled and a year later, beheaded.
Here is a quotation from his letter to Donatus:
“All our power is of God; I repeat, it is of God. From God we receive the gift of life and strength. By the power derived from God we are able, while still living in this world, to glimpse the things of eternity. But let fear be the guardian of our conscience, so that the Lord, who in his great mercy has infused our hearts abundantly with his grace, may always be honored by the hospitality of a grateful mind, lest the assurance we have received lead us to become careless, and our old enemies creep up on us again.”
September 14 (Friday): Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Rather than duplicating Good Friday, this day commemorates the cross itself (since Christianity is a religion of material things — water, bread, wine and, on this day, wood). It’s the anniversary of the consecration of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was dedicated on this day in 335. Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, searched for the holy cross and many legends surround the story of its finding. One tradition says that Helena found the cross because of a bed of basil growing at the spot. For this reason, basil is connected to this feast day — maybe try to serve pasta with basil pesto today! Full Homely Divinity has an extensive post about Holy Cross Day Be sure to read it!
- Are you starting to think about Michaelmas? It’s coming up on Saturday, September 29th. This post, Preparing for Michaelmas, is full of ideas and resources. Make sure to print out the booklet by Phil James ahead of time, so that you can read the “chapters” in the days beforehand. And, here is another fun post: Dragonbread for Michaelmas
- The Feast Day of St. Francis is on October 4. Here is our post that includes a Godly Play resource, in addition to book recommendations.
Ideas of Books to Borrow or Buy:
- For the feast day of St. Hildegard of Bingen on September 17: Has anyone read Hildegard’s Gift by Megan Hoyt? I was looking at buying it on Amazon and would welcome thoughts if anyone has it already.
- For Michaelmas: Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Such a beautiful book!
- What other children’s books are you collecting for celebrating the church year for this month?
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash