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The Second Week of Lent

Collect: Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saints and Blesseds

Sunday, March 17: St. Patrick

The Ordo Calendar has transferred St. Patrick’s Day to next week, but if you’re celebrating today, here is a St. Patrick coloring page from Michelle Abernathy art. And, from the archives, here is some background on the hymn, The Breastplate of St. Patrick 

Monday, March 18, St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Born around 315, Cyril was born and spent the majority of his life in Jerusalem,  a hotbed of controversy at the time. As a priest, he was given the duty of instructing the Catechumens of Jerusalem. His Catechetical Lectures to them are tremendously valuable; they not only provide a vivid picture of the Church at that time, but they are also the earliest preserved example of a formal theological system. He taught in line with orthodox faith as defined at the Council of Nicaea (though he struggled with the term “homoousion” — of the same being– not because he disagreed with the concept, but because he preferred not to not use a non-Scriptural term). He profoundly shaped the liturgical observances of Holy Week and Easter that still form the basis of our practices today. He died in the year 386.

Tuesday, March 19, St. Joseph

We do not know very much about St. Joseph. We know that his lineage traced back to King David. He was a carpenter and a righteous man. Because he and Mary only offered two pigeons at the Presentation, he was probably poor. And, he probably died before (or right after) the beginning of Jesus’s public ministry. Though we do not know much, we know that he adopted Jesus as his own, which meant that Jesus would be “of the house and lineage of David.” Bernardine of Siena said of St. Joseph, “For in him the Old Testament finds its fitting close. In him the noble line of patriarchs and prophets comes to its promised fulfillment. What God in his goodness had offered to them as a promise, Joseph held in his arms.”

Wednesday, March 20, St. Cuthbert

St. Cuthbert was born around 640 in the Scottish lowlands. Raised as a shepherd, when he was 17, he had a vision of angels descending to earth and carrying a soul back to heaven. Finding out that Saint Aidan had died at the precise time of his vision, Cuthbert immediately gave up his life as a shepherd and set out for Melrose Abbey where he became a monk. He eventually became the prior of Melrose Abbey and was dedicated to missionary work in the surrounding country (which he knew so well from being a shepherd). After the Council of Whitby, Cuthbert and his abbot Eata submitted to the council’s decision to follow Roman customs rather than Celtic. They then went to Lindisfarne Abbey, where Cuthbert was prior for 12 years. The Venerable Bede gives us a sense of his character: “Some of the monks preferred their old way of life to the rule. He overcame these by patience and forbearance, bringing them round little by little through daily example to a better frame of mind. At chapter meetings, he was often worn down by bitter insults, but would put an end to the arguments simply by rising and walking out, calm and unruffled. . . . It was clear to everyone that it was the Holy Spirit within giving him strength to smile at attacks from without.” Eventually, he was able to move nine miles away to the tiny island of Farne to be a hermit, where he lived for 8 years. In 685, he was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne, but died after only a year on Farne, in the company of a few of his monks.

Thursday, March 21: Blessed Thomas Ken

Thomas Ken was born in 1637, during the Puritan Commonwealth, when Anglican practices were illegal. Ken grew up as a devout Anglican, receiving Holy Communion secretly at a private house. After the Puritans were overthrown in 1660, he was ordained to the priesthood, eventually serving as the chaplain of King Charles II and then consecrated Bishop of Bath and Wells. Then, when Charles died and the Roman Catholic James ascended, through various events, Ken and six other bishops were imprisoned and then released, but King James fled because he was so hated after this event. However, when William of Orange was offered the throne, Ken’s integrity was such that he couldn’t forswear King James and thus, he was deprived of his See (along with the many other “non-jurors”). He spent the last twenty years of his life quietly, writing many hymns we still sing today and died in 1711.

Friday, March 22: Blessed James De Koven

Born in 1831, James De Koven was a priest considered to be one of the most importance influences in the 19th century American church. He was a faculty member at Nashotah House in Wisconsin and also the warden at Racine College. He was known for his preaching and being at the forefront of the “ritualist” cause. He died in 1879. This is an example of his oratory:

“I know of no sign of life in our own communion as full of hope and promise as the longing prayers and earnest labors. . . which go up to Almighty God for the corporate reunion of Christendom . . . Nor does prayer plead alone. Each act of missionary labor, each deed of faith, each bearing of poverty and loss in foreign lands, each act of self-denial, known or unknown, each victory over the world, the flesh, or the devil, each act of self-surrender in any brave young heart, all unions and associations for any Christian work, each offered Eucharist, each sincere confession, each life devoted unto God — these works for Christ join and blend with the prayers, and bring nearer and nearer the day when all shall be at one again, and the kingdoms of the world become the Kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ.”

Saturday, March 23: St. Gregory the Illuminator

Born around 257 in Armenia, Gregory the Illuminator’s father murdered the Armenian king Khrosrov I. The king, as he was dying, ordered that his murderer’s family be killed in retribution, but a family friend hid Gregory and his brother away and took them to Caesarea in Cappadocia where Gregory was baptized, educated, married and had two sons. As a young man, Gregory returned to Armenia to make private amends by serving in the court of the murdered king’s son, King Tiridates. But, finding Gregory encouraging Christianity within his court, King Tiridates became angry and began persecuting Christians. He sentenced Gregory to horrible tortures because Gregory refused to make offerings to a goddess. Eventually, Gregory’s steadfastness under torture so impressed the king that he himself converted and became baptized. Then, with the help of the king, the country eventually became the first national state to officially become Christian. Gregory became bishop around the year 300. He sent his son Aristages (who would succeed him as bishop) to the council at Nicaea. When Aristages returned and told Gregory the Nicene Creed, Gregory replied with the words that are still said after the creed in the Armenian Orthodox liturgy: “As for us, we praise Him who was before time, worshiping the Holy Trinity and the one Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and throughout all ages.” Armenian Christians still consider their church to be the “Gregorian Church.” Gregory died around 332.

Here is the printable pdf for the collect and saints of Lent 2.

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