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The First Week After Trinity

Collect: O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Saints and Blesseds

Monday, June 24: The Nativity of John the Baptist

We only celebrate the births of three people in the church year: Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s nativity was celebrated very early, to the point that it was an old feast day for Augustine in the 4th century.  We read about John’s birth in Luke 1. The angel Gabriel announces to Zechariah, a priest, that his barren wife Elizabeth will bear a son. When Zechariah questions the angel, he is struck speechless until Elizabeth gives birth and he declares his son’s name to be John. Scripture tells us nothing of John’s life between his birth and public ministry (although one tradition says that Elizabeth and John lived with the Holy Family after Zechariah was killed with the slaughter of the Holy Innocents) John lived in the desert as a Nazirite, dressed in skins and eating locusts and wild honey — a “voice in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord.” Jesus came to John to be baptized and “fulfill all righteousness.” John was imprisoned by Herod and then beheaded. Jesus said of John, “among those born of women, there is none greater than John.” (Luke 7:28).

Tuesday, June 25: Joseph Butler

Joseph Butler was born in 1692 to Presbyterian parents, but left his Presbyterian roots to become Anglican in 1714. He was ordained priest in 1718 and quickly became known for his sermons. Fr. John Julian writes, “[these sermons] taught that vice and sin were unnatural, ‘a violation or breaking in upon our own nature,’ expressing Butler’s life-long belief in natural theology and ethics as rooted in the very nature of human beings. He believed that the human conscience was a basic human endowment no less natural than the passions and appetites.” His famous book Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature defended God’s government of the world against Deism. Later becoming Bishop of Bristol, Butler opposed John Wesley because of his “exaggerated supernaturalism,” and George Whitefield for his Calvinist understanding of total depravity. He was made Bishop of Durham in 1750. He believed that the general lack of religion in England was due not to “a speculative disbelief or denial of it,” but to “thoughtlessness and the common temptations of life.” And he held that the cure was to be found in public and private devotion, seeing both Muslims and Roman Catholics as models since they “cannot pass a day without having religion recalled to their minds.” He died on June 16, 1752.

Friday, June 28: St. Irenaeus

Irenaeus was born around the year 130 in Smyrna. He had been a pupil of Saint Polycarp, who had been a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus wrote, “I could describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat and taught; his going out and coming in; the whole tenor of his life; his personal appearance; how he would speak of the conversations he had held with John and with others who had seen the Lord; how he made mention of their words and of whatever he had heard from them regarding the Lord. . . Polycarp having received from eyewitnesses of the Word of the Life, would recount them all.” Irenaeus not only contributed to the sense of “inheritance” of a message (which came to be known as apostolic succession), but he was also a link between east and west. He was bishop of Lyons in Gaul, after the martyrdom of his predecessor in 177. In terms of theology, he is known best for his doctrine of “recapitulation” or “summing up” based upon Ephesians 1:9-10. He died around the year 200.

Saturday, June 29: St. Peter and St. Paul

From very early, St. Peter and St. Paul were celebrated together on this day, June 29. Peter, the “rock” on whom Jesus would build his church, is supposed to have died in 64 A.D. Tradition says that he had been in Rome beginning around 44 A.D. During the persecutions of the emporer Nero, he escaped from a Roman prison. As he was leaving Rome, he met Jesus heading toward Rome. Peter asked, “Quo vadis, Domine?” (Where are you going, Lord?”) and Jesus answered, “I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time.” Peter then turned back toward Rome and surrendered himself. When he was told he would be crucified, he insisted that he was unworthy to die the same death as Christ and was crucified upside down. St. Paul was arrested and, because he was a Roman citizen, appealed to Rome in around the year 60. He was released and went to Ephesus and Spain. But, by the year 67, He was arrested and back in Rome. Because he was a Roman citizen, he was simply beheaded.

St. Augustine said : “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one, even though they were martyred on different days. Peter went ahead, Paul followed. Let our way, then, be made straight in the Lord. It is a narrow, stony, hard road we tread; and yet with so many gone before us, we shall find the way smoother. The Lord himself trod this way, the unshakeable apostles and the holy martyrs likewise. So let us celebrate this feast day made holy by the blood of these two apostles. Let us embrace their faith, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their teaching.”

Homely Links

“My husband saw I needed time to attend to beauty; and so, I ended up at the concert of a lifetime, with the music that my husband and I intensely love together, all by myself. And, that night, was an epiphany in sound. I remembered what I already knew about life and marriage, but it became lovely to me, something to rejoice in, through the counterpoint of Bach.”

What is a “family culture”?  No, it’s not a bad joke about the sharing of bacteria in your house.  A family culture is, simply, how your family differs from every other family.

(Photo: The hydrangeas from my mom’s garden )

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