Collect: “O Almighty and most merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Sunday, October 14: Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky
Born a Lithuanian Jew in 1831, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky began his education studying to be a rabbi. While at Rabbinical college, he came across a Christian New Testament translated into Hebrew, which made him begin questioning whether Jesus could be the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures. While studying in Germany, he visited a cathedral and saw the crucifix shining with light and glory. Six months later, he immigrated to the United States and professed Christ. He was baptized by Baptists and then, went to Presbyterian Seminary. But since he could not accept the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, he was ordained in the Episcopal Church. He then accepted a call for missionaries in China and reluctantly was appointed the bishop of Shanghai in 1877, which is where he also established Saint John’s University. However, a stroke some years later caused him to resign. He could only type with the middle finger of his right hand, yet he translated the Bible both into the literary and spoken languages of China before he died in 1906. He said, “I have sat in this chair for over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.”
Tuesday, October 16: Oxford Martyrs (Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, Thomas Cranmer)
These three men, Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, were all burned at the stake for heresy by the order of Queen Mary in the mid 16th century. Ridley and Latimer were both bishops who preached reform in England. They were executed together in the year 1555. Thomas Cranmer was the Archbishop of Canterbury, also a reformer. Though his life was marked by constant change and even inconsistency, we remember him most for his enduring, and almost single-handed, work on the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. He was also burned in the year 1556.
Wednesday, October 10: St. Ignatius
Born around the year 35, legend has it that Ignatius was the little child that Jesus called to him and said “Whoever humbles himself and becomes like this child will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” We know nothing of his life, except that he became the Bishop of Antioch. When the Roman Emperor Trajan passed through Antioch, Ignatius, in his 70s, met him and joyfully proclaimed his illegal Christianity. Ignatius was then arrested and escorted to Rome to be thrown to the lions. The seven letters that he wrote to churches on his way to Rome are the second oldest documents of the Christian church (after Clement’s epistle). They are full of his ardent love for Christ and passion to be with Him:
“All the ends of the earth and all the kingdoms of this world would profit me nothing. As far as I am concerned, to die in Christ Jesus is better than to be king of earth’s widest bounds. I seek only him who for our sake died; my whole desire is for him who rose again for us… Allow me. . . to attain to light, light pure and undefiled; for only when I am come to the light shall I become truly human. Allow me to imitate the passion of my God.”
Supposedly, when he was thrown to the lions, they smothered him to death, rather than biting him. The Emperor was so amazed by this that he left orders for Ignatius’s body to be given to whomever wanted it. His body was then claimed by Christians and returned to Antioch.
Thursday, October 18: St. Luke the Evangelist
Fr. John-Julian says of Saint Luke the Evangelist,
“Born of pagan Greek parents, Luke was one of the early Christians in the Church in Antioch. He was probably baptized by St. Peter, Antioch’s first bishop, and possibly acquainted with St. Ignatius, Antioch’s second bishop. This adds a singular poignancy to Luke’s words in his Acts of the Apostles: ‘It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians'” (Acts 11:26). Equally poignant is the brief, dense, and moving phrase in St. Paul’s last letter, written from the Roman prison shortly before his beheading: ‘.. . only Luke is with me’ (2 Tim. 4:11). Between those two instances stretches the long and rich life of a deeply devout Gentile Christian, a physician, a celibate, and a devoted disciple of Saint Paul.”
Luke is known for his authorship of the third Gospel and its sequel, The Acts of the Apostles. These books are written primarily for Gentiles. He is believed to have written his Gospel in Greece and to have died in Boeotia at age eighty-four. His feast day was celebrated from very early on within the church.
Friday, October 19: Henry Martyn
Born in 1781, Henry Martyn went to Cambridge, received highest honors and was made a Fellow, and then wrote “I obtained my highest wishes, but was surprised to find I grasped a shadow.” At the urging of his sister, he began to read the Bible. Soon, Martyn had decided to turn aside from his life’s plans to become ordained and eventually, decided to serve as a missionary in India. While in India, he was only supposed to be a chaplain to the East India Company (missionary work was actually forbidden). But, Martyn set about learning the native languages and eventually translated the New Testament first into Hindustani and then into Persian and Arabic. However, his health deteriorated rapidly with tuberculosis. Though given leave to return home, Martyn decided to travel to Persia and Arabia in order to work on his New Testament translations. His journeys took him through Persia and eventually to Armenia. After his death, Sir Robert Ker Porter, an artist and diplomat, was repeatedly asked in his journeys through Persia if he knew the “man of God.” Porter reported that they said, “He came here, in the midst of us, sat down encircled by our wise men and made such remarks upon our Koran as cannot be answered. . . We want to know more about his religion and the book he left among us.” Thus, Martyn may be called the first modern missionary to Muslims. He died of tuberculosis at an Armenian monastery on this day at age 31.
- In case you missed it, last week, we reviewed the children’s book Everything Tells Us About God by Katherine Bolger Hyde.
- Three years ago, we gave a few reasons for Why the Church Year
- Love Calls Us To the Things of this World by Richard Wilbur is one of my favorite poems. Bley created a lovely printable using the title — get it for free through the link above.
- All Hallows Eve and All Saints are coming soon. Here is our post on background of those days (including N.T. Wright’s thoughts on the communion of the Saints.). We are working on more resources to post for this day.
Books to Buy or Borrow:
- For All Saints: Bley put together a list of stories of the saints in this post.