Collect: Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saints and “Blesseds”
Monday, April 1: Blessed Frederick Denison Maurice
Born the son of a Unitarian minister in 1805, John Frederick Denison Maurice became an Anglican when he was 26 and then a priest at 29. A founder of the Christian Socialist Movement, Maurice characterized unrestricted capitalism as “expecting Universal Selfishness to do the work of Universal Love.” Obviously a contentious figure, he is best remembered for his book The Kingdom of Christ. Though he lost his professorship at King’s College, London in 1853 because of his challenge of traditional concepts of hell and eternity, he was given a chair at Cambridge in 1866. He held this chair until his death in 1872. You can read some of his work at Anglican History.
Tuesday, April 2: Blessed John Donne
John Donne was born around 1571 and was raised as a Roman Catholic (he was related to Thomas More). When he was young, however, he seemed to have been skeptical about religion, pursuing a rising diplomatic career, though he eventually conformed to the Church of England in 1598. Donne’s plans abruptly changed when he, while a private secretary to the Lord Keeper, fell in love and married Anne More, an underage woman related to his master. He was thrown into prison for a short spell in consequence and spent the next seven years in poverty with his wife (and their children, who came one per year), making a pittance by begging charity from friends and writing controversial essays. After years of soul searching and encouragement from friends, Donne eventually accepted holy orders and eventually became the Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. During his years as a priest, he become famous for his sermons. It was only after his death in 1631 that his poems, for which he is now so well known and loved, were published.
Wednesday, April 3: St. Richard
Born in Worcester around 1197, St. Richard of Chichester spent his early years working in horticulture and restoring his family’s farm to its former worth. After this, he studied at Oxford and Paris; his years living in poverty as a student influenced the asceticism of his whole life. Brilliant and capable, he eventually was made Chancellor of Oxford and then, Chancellor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. After years of desiring to be a priest, he was ordained in 1242 and then, was consecrated bishop of Chichester in 1245 by the Pope. However, due to some political complications, King Henry II confiscated all of Richard’s episcopal estates. Richard’s response to this was to move into a parish priest’s home in a fisherman’s village and to function there as bishop, traveling across his diocese on foot. When he wasn’t fulfilling his duties as bishop, he indulged his love of horticulture, working with orchards and fruit grafting and even developing his own strain of figs. During his years as bishop (and, after a few years, his relationship with the king was resolved), he was seen as exemplary — faithful in administration, charity to the poor, personal asceticism and pastoral care. He died on April 3, 1253 at the age of 56.
Thursday, April 4: St. Ambrose
Born in 339 to an aristocratic family in Trier, Ambrose was Governor of northern Italy, working out of Milan and was deeply respected by all. When the Christian community was in tumult during an election for a new bishop (with Arians and orthodox alike trying to get their man in), he found himself being urged to become bishop himself, though he hadn’t even been baptized! After trying to escape (even fleeing from Milan), he finally accepted and was baptized and consecrated on December 7th, 374. He immediately gave away all his possessions and began an extensive study of the Scriptures and of Origin and Basil. As bishop, he proved that the people’s trust in him had not been misplaced. He became a famous teacher and preacher as well as a great hymnwriter (and is considered the first to introduce hymns into Western worship). Coming against Imperial powers, he and his church refused to allow the state to interfere in church affairs. He died on this day, April 4th, Good Friday in the year 397.
Homely (and other) Links
- Today, the fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Mothering Sunday. You can learn more about Mothering Sunday at Full Homely Divinity ,which links to this “Mothering Sunday” from G.D. Rosenthal. This last link tells the folklore behind the “Simnel Cake” — maybe next year I will remember to make one (I was inspired by this post from the new blog By God’s Help)!
- It’s time to begin thinking about Holy Week. We plan to add more posts this year with a Holy Week Family Liturgy and some more coloring pages, but here are the Holy Week and Easter Resources that we have right now.
- Looking back on our archives, I was reminded of this post on the Common and Best Things:
“While struggling against discontentment with the everydayness of life, it can be tempting to seek escape from the mundane. But, perhaps the way of joy is to come closer to the common– to become more attentive to the very things that seem endless. Perhaps faith in the God who chooses bread, wine, and water as his sacraments means a faith that insists upon meaning in the most common things. “