Collect: “O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Monday, January 14: Hilary
Born around 315 to a polytheistic pagan family, Hilary was classically educated to become a lawyer and orator. Through his study, he gradually concluded that there must only be one God. And at that point in his thinking, he encountered the Christian Scriptures which led to his conversion and baptism at the age of 30. When he was around 35, Hilary was reluctantly ordained Deacon, Priest and Bishop within three days, because he was so respected and loved by his fellow Christians. He immediately become embroiled in the Arian controversy. When the Emporor Constantius, on the side of the Arians, required all bishops to condemn Saint Athanasius, Hilary refused (and was eventually given the title “Athanasius of the West”). His most significant literary work was On the Trinity, and he also compiled his poetry as hymns for congregational singing. Though known as a gentle and loving man, his writing can come across as severe and obscure. However, Augustine and Ambrose adopted much of Hilary’s thoughts; so, his ideas live on in the literary works of other church fathers.
Thursday, January 17, Antony of the Desert
Antony was an Egyptian who was born around the 251 to a wealthy family. Hearing the words of Christ to “Sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven,” Antony followed Christ’s words and went to live by himself in the desert. In his attempts to “pray without ceasing,” Antony fought with the demons. In 306, Antony established a monastery for the disciples who began to follow him. In 311, he left his monastery to travel to Alexandria to support the persecuted Christians there. And, in 355, he again journeyed to Alexandria to support Bishop Athanasius against the Arians. Though pleaded to stay, Antony replied “As fish die if they are taken from the water, so does a monk wither away if he forsakes his solitude.” Antony died at the great old age of 105, having helped establish the ideals of monasticism. Athanasius wrote of him, “[Antony] was like a physician given by God to Egypt. For who has met him grieving and did not go away rejoicing? Who came full of anger and was not turned to kindness? … What monk who had grown slack was not strengthened by coming to him? Who came troubled by doubts and failed to gain peace of mind?”
Saturday, January 19: Wulfstan
Born around 1009 in Warwickshire, Wulfstan was the son of wealthy Anglo-Saxon parents. He was educated in monastic schools and and in his early twenties, his parents chose to separate and become part of religious communities in Worcester. So, Wulfstan joined the house hold of Bishop Brihteah, who convinced him to become a priest. After 17 years as a monastic, he was made prior of the monastery. His wisdom and compassion made him very well respected and loved so he was eventually (and reluctantly), made bishop of Worcester in 1062. When William the Conqueror ascended the throne, the Normans began to do away with Anglo-Saxon bishops. The Norman Archbishop Lanfranc called a council in 1074, intending to depose Wulfstan, who was considered too rustic and backwards. Wulfstan addressed the Archbishop saying “My Lord Archbishop, I am well aware of my ignorance. When this burden was laid upon me, I would have fled from it, but the council, my lord the king, and the Pope in Rome would not take my nay. I know my unfitness and I gladly yield up my jurisdiction, but I give it up not to thee, but to him from whose hand I received it.” Wulfstan then laid his episcopal staff on the tomb of Saint Edward and said “Take this staff, then, and surrender it to whom thou wilt.” When Norman priest after Norman priest tried to take the staff, they couldn’t. Finally, the Archbishop Lanfranc said “My brother, truly God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble. Take again the charge of which we have unjustly deprived thee, and which we now commit to thee once more.” After this, Wulfstan and the Archbishop became dear friends. And one of their most important achievements was collaborating to end the slave trade between Bristol and Viking Ireland. Wulfstan died in 1095 at age 87, at that time, the only remaining Anglican bishop who had been born in England.
- The New Year is a great time for beginning the habit of daily family prayer. Here are some of our posts about Family Prayer, posted 3 years ago now: Family Prayer in the BCP, Part 1, Family Prayer in the BCP, Part 2, and a Family Prayer Printable
- We celebrate the Conversion of Saint Paul on January 25. Here is a printable coloring page from Michelle Abernathy and a reflection: A Letter to My Daughter on the Conversion of Saint Paul
- Candlemas is on February 2! Here is our Candlemas vigil candle printable (from Bley and Heather Sleightholm Art), a theology of Candlemas, a look at our church’s Candlemas celebration from 3 years ago, and a family Candlemas liturgy
Also, I’m going to start creating a printable pdf for each week with the collect and saints days. I’m going to hang this on my refrigerator, so that it’s easy to see and remember. Here is the printable guide for the first week of Epiphany