Collect: O Lord, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.”
Saints and Feast Days:
Sunday, November 11: Martin of Tours (transferred to Tuesday, the 13th)
Saint Martin of Tours was born in what is now Hungary between 315 and 330. His father was a soldier and early in Martin’s life, his family was transferred to Italy. At fifteen, because he was a veteran’s son, he was forced to become a soldier. Sulpicius Severus described his early life in the military (you can read his Life of St. Martin here):
Martin was a professional soldier, but managed to keep himself free from the vices in which so often soldiers indulge. He was extremely kind toward his fellow-soldiers, and held them in great affection; while his patience and humility surpassed what seemed possible for human nature to sustain. His self-denial needs no praise. It was evident even at this date. In fact, many regarded him not so much as a soldier as a monk.”
At 18, while still a catechumen, Martin was on duty at the gate of Amiens on a bitterly cold day. He saw a beggar, trembling because he was almost naked. Though Martin only had his uniform and weapons, he tore his cloak in half and gave the other half to the beggar. That night, Martin had a dream in which he saw Jesus wrapped in his cloak and telling angels “Martin, though only a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” That next morning, Martin hurried to the church to be baptized. In 360, Martin was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood; he was given a small piece of land where he and several other hermits began the first monastic community in Western Europe (later visited by St. Ninian and potentially, St. Patrick). He was made bishop by force in 371, but throughout his life, despite his changes of station, he remained the same: humble and simple, in solidarity with the poor. He died when he was around 70, lying on the floor in sack cloth and ashes.
Monday, November 12: Charles Simeon
Living from 1759 to 1836, Charles Simeon is known for being one of the foremost evangelical Anglicans. He was educated at Cambridge and lived there for his whole life. While a student, he was disturbed by the requirement to attend frequent Holy Communion services because he feared partaking in an unworthy manner. He began to study Bishop Thomas Wilson’s Instruction for the Lord’s Supper for two months. During Holy Week of 1179, he wrote, “I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus; and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; on the Thursday that hope increased; on the Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday morning, Easter Day, April 4th, I woke early with those words upon my heart and lips, ‘Jesus Christ is risen today! Hallelujah! Hallelujah’ From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul, and at the Lord’s Table in our Chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Savior.” This experience colored the rest of his life; and unlike many evangelicals of his day, Simeon emphasized the importance of the Eucharist. He served at one parish, Holy Trinity, for 54 years. On the pulpit in the church, he had carved in a place where only the minister could see the words from John 12:21, when the Greeks were brought to Philip and said “Sir, we would see Jesus.” He always wanted to be reminded that it was not his preaching that the congregation needed (though that was renowned), but to see and experience Jesus. He died in the 1836.
Wednesday, November 15: Consecration of Samuel Seabury
Samuel Seabury was the first Anglican Bishop in North America. After the Revolutionary War, the Anglican church was in a difficult spot. In order to keep an American Episcopal Church alive, a secret council appointed Samuel Seabury, a Harvard educated priest who had been chaplain for the British Army during the war, to seek appointment as bishop in England. After more than one (long and fruitless) year, Seabury was advised to go to Scotland. He was appointed Bishop and returned to America in 1785. Seabury himself was known as an eccentric man. A Congregational minister recorded in his private thoughts about Seabury in his journal: “His appearance is singular. . . It is said, he must either be greater than other men, or else he is crazy.” Nonetheless, as Fr. John-Julian said, “Great or crazy, he was the first bishop canonically and legally elected and properly consecrated in apostolic succession ever to set foot in the United States of America.”
Friday, November 16: St. Margaret
St. Margaret was a Queen who followed our Lord through love for the poor, a disciplined life of prayer and the cultivation of the good in Scotland. Born in the year 1046 to Anglo-Saxon royalty, Margaret was educated in Hungary while the Danes ruled England. While she and her brother Edgar were fleeing from those who would take their life (since Edgar was the rightful heir to the English throne), their ship went aground in Scotland. They were welcomed by King Malcolm who fell in love with Margaret and soon married her. Though he was a rough and “uncivilized” man, they had a very happy marriage. Margaret’s influence “civilized” both her husband and her people. Her biographer, Turgot described her:
“There was great gravity in her joy and something noble in her angle. Her conversation was seasoned with the salt of wisdom: her silence was filled with good thoughts.”
She was the mother of two daughters and six sons and taught her children in the way of Christ. Her heart was for the poor. She would feed destitute children every morning, holding them in her arms as she did her own children. She loved her husband. She learned of his death in 1093 and died in her grief four days later. Tradition says that in 1250, when Margaret was canonized, her remains were to be moved to a shrine. As the bearers of her remains solemnly processed passed Malcolm’s tomb, they found that they could not move. The onlookers cried out “Malcolm! Malcolm!” When the bearers took up the remains of Malcolm as well, the procession moved on easily and so Malcolm and Margaret remained together in both life and death.
Saturday, November 17: St. Hugh
Born in Avalon in 1140, Hugh began his religious life as an Augustinian Canon. At age 23, however, he joined the Carthusian community and eventually became the Procurator of the monastery (Saint Bruno’s “The Grande Chartreuse”). When he was around 30, the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by order of King Henry II. As part of his penance two years later, Henry was supposed to found three religious houses. So, hearing of Hugh, Henry enlisted him the prior of Witham Charterhouse. While prior at Whitham, the King Henry developed a close relationship with Hugh and after seven years of good work at Whitham, Hugh was shocked to be elected Bishop of Lincoln (at that time, the largest diocese in the Catholic Church). Under much protest and many attempts to avoid his enthronement, Hugh became bishop of Lincoln on Michaelmas in 1186. Tradition has it that the day after Hugh’s enthronement, a wild swan came and killed the domestic swans at his episcopal estate. But when Hugh arrived, the swan instantly took to him and they became inseparable; the swan would guard the saint’s room whenever he was home. In a time of great antisemitism, Hugh constantly defended the Jewish people, at times quelling violent and hateful mob by himself. His integrity was unassailable. He faithfully loved the poor and sick. When people complained that the kiss of Hugh didn’t heal lepers like St. Martin, Hugh replied “Martin’s kiss cleansed the the leper’s body, but the leper’s kiss cleanses my soul.” His view of the dignity of woman can be summarized in his statement, “No man was ever allowed to be called the father of God, but a woman was granted the privilege of being God’s mother.” Ruskin called Hugh “the most beautiful sacerdotal figure. . . in all history” and it’s easy to see why. He died during Compline on November 16, 1200.
- We’re starting to set our eyes on Advent. This post on Advent Plans gives an overview of all the resources that we have available on the Homely Hours. Here is a list.
- Also, have you printed out Bley’s beautiful church year (available for free): A Holy Year Calendar?
- Lastly, if you’d like to know more about the Homely Hours, check out this interview with Rachael Lopez!
Books to Buy or Borrow:
- I should have included this in last week’s post, but artist Heather Sleightholm (you may remember our collaboration for Candlemas Vigil Candles) wrote and illustrated a lovely children’s book called Snow on Martinmas, about St. Martin of Tours whom we celebrate on November 11 (or transfer his feast day to Tuesday, the 13th). Here is a post from Around the Year with ideas for celebrating Martinmas.
- November 19th is the feast day of Elizabeth of Hungary. Roses in the Snow is a children’s book about her life.
- Here are some of our favorite Advent/Christmas books (though we are in the midst of adding and updating this post).