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The Second Week after Epiphany

Collect: “Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saints Days

Monday, January 21: Saint Agnes

In 304, during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian, a beautiful young Christian girl named Agnes attracted the attentions of the son of the Prefect  of Rome. When she refused to marry him because she had offered herself as a consecrated virgin, he revealed her as a Christian to his father. After being arrested and threatened with torture, she was placed in a brothel, though not compromised. Then the Prefect told her that if she didn’t give up her virginity, she would become one of the Vestal Virgins of the Goddess Diana. When she still refused to deny Christ, she was sentenced by death by burning. When the flames separated and wouldn’t burn her, she was stabbed through the throat.  Saint Ambrose marveled, “There was not even room in her little body for a wound. Though she could barely receive the sword’s point, she could overcome it. . .  Dragged against her will to the altar of sacrifice, she was ready to stretch out her hands to Christ in the midst of the flames.”

Tuesday, January 22: Saint Vincent

Saint Vincent of Saragossa was the first martyr of Spain. Ordained deacon by the Bishop Valerian, who had a bad stammer, Vincent often served as Valerian’s mouthpiece. During the Diocletian persecutions, Valerian and Vincent were summoned to the Roman governor, Dacian. With Valerian’s permission, Vincent boldly told Dacian that they were willing to suffer any kind of suffering for the sake of Christ. His speech so infuriated Dacian that Vincent was immediately sentenced to a torturous death on the gridiron. Dying in 304, his feast has been celebrated since 312. Augustine describes Vincent’s martyrdom, “He conquered through the words he spoke and the punishment he received; he conquered in his confession of faith and in the sufferings he endured; he conquered when they burnt his flesh in the fire and threatened him with drowning; finally, he conquered even as he was being tortured and in death itself. Whoever gave such endurance to one of his soldiers, if not the one who first shed his own blood for them?”

Thursday, January 24: Timothy and Titus

Timothy and Titus were both companions of Saint Paul. Timothy was the child of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother, which would have meant a mostly Gentile upbringing since his mother would have been expelled from the Jewish community. So, Timothy responded to Paul’s message of a Gospel for both Jews and Gentiles and followed Paul, even submitting to circumcision. Eventually Paul ordained Timothy as bishop of Ephesus. He was beaten to death when he tried to stop a pagan procession of idols through Ephesus, when he was around 73 years old. Titus was a Gentile Greek, who was ordained the bishop of Crete. Titus was the reason that Paul opposed compulsory circumcision for Gentiles. Titus died peacefully in Gorytna, which was then the capital of the island nation.

Friday, January 25: Conversion of Saint Paul

On this day we celebrate the conversion of Saint Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus. He had been a persecutor of Christians (present at martyrdom of the Deacon Stephen) and was confronted by Christ Himself on the road to Damascus. This feast has been celebrated since the sixth century. John Chrysostom said,

“Paul, more than anyone else, shows us what humanity really is, in what our nobility consists, and of what virtue this particular animal is capable. . . The most important thing of all to Paul, however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else; were he without it, it would be no satisfaction to be the friend of principalities and powers. He preferred to be loved and be the least of all, or even to be among the damned, than be without that love and be great and honored.”

Saturday, January 26: Saint Polycarp

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna for more than forty years, is honored as one of the first Christian martyrs. In 156, he was arrested and given the chance to renounce Christ. He famously responded, “I have served him for eighty-six years, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” When pressured more, he answered, “If you are really so foolish as to think I would do such a thing, and if you pretend that you do not know who I am, then hear this plainly: I am a Christian.” He was sentenced to be burned at the stake. When the fire was ready, Polycarp requested that he not be nailed to the stake, saying “Let me be. The One who gives me the strength to endure the flames will give me the strength to stay in them without you making sure of it with nails.” So, he was only tied to the stake. It is said that after he prayed, they lit the fire and the fire looked like a ship’s sail billowing out in the wind, around his body which appeared like gold or silver; and the smell was like incense. His remains were gathered and buried; and as time passed, the early Christians began the practice of celebrating the Eucharist over his grave on the anniversary of his death.

Here is the link to the printable of the the 2nd week of epiphany

Homely Links:

Today, we celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul. I grew up believing that his dramatic Damascus Road experience was normative for Christians. I remember how many times I heard other young people share their testimony “I grew up in a Christian family” as though it were an apology. I hope that you never feel apologetic for not having a dramatic testimony and that you never feel like you need to create one either. But at the same time, I hope that your father and I do not overreact to our background, full of so much good. Instead of only emphasizing our corporate experience within the church, I pray that we can foster in you that story-telling spirit that glories in telling about God’s grace to individual sinners, “of whom I am the worst.”

 

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