Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education,
and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer
+ Saint Mark, Evangelist +
25 April, New Testament
The book of Acts mentions a Mark, or John Mark, later called a kinsman of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10
). The house of his mother Mary was a meeting place for Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12
). When Paul and Barnabas, who had been in Antioch, came to Jerusalem, they brought Mark back to Antioch with them (12:25
), and he accompanied them on their first missionary journey (13:5
), but left them prematurely and returned to Jerusalem (13:13
When Paul and Barnabas were about to set out on a second missionary journey, Barnabas proposed to take Mark, but Paul thought him unreliable, so that eventually Barnabas made one journey taking Mark, and Paul another journey taking Silas (15:36-40
). Mark is not mentioned again in Acts. However, it appears that he became more reliable, for Paul mentions him as a trusted assistant in Colossians 4:10
and again in 2 Timothy 4:11
The Apostle Peter had a co-worker whom he refers to as "my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13
). Papias, an early second century writer, in describing the origins of the Gospels, tells us that Mark was the "interpreter" of Peter, and that he wrote down ("but not in order") the stories that he had heard Peter tell in his preaching about the life and teachings of Jesus. Debate continues as to the veracity of some of Papias' records, but this one is considered genuine by many scholars.
The Gospel According to Saint Mark, in describing the arrest of Jesus (14:43-52
), speaks of a young man who followed the arresting party, wearing only a linen cloth wrapped around his body, whom the arresting party tried to seize, but who left the cloth in their hands and fled naked. Many think that this young man was the writer himself, since the detail is hardly worth mentioning if he were not.
Tradition holds that after Peter's death, Mark left Rome and went to preach in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was eventually martyred.
It is natural to identify the John Mark of Acts with the Gospel-writer and interpreter of Peter, and this identification is standard in liturgical references to Mark. However, "Mark" is the commonest of Latin first names, and they may well have been separate people.
Mark's symbol in Christian art is a often a lion, usually winged. In Revelation 4
and throughout much of his vision, John sees about the throne of God four winged creatures — a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. (Compare with the beings in Ezekiel 1
.) Custom supposes that these represent the four Gospels or the four Evangelists (Gospel-writers).
One way to match the creatures with the Evangelists is to say that the man stands for Matthew
, whose narrative begins with the human genealogy of Jesus and who often quotes Christ speaking of Himself as "the Son of Man"; the lion stands for Mark, whose narrative begins with John the Baptist crying out in the desert (a lion roars in the desert); the ox, a sacrificial animal, stands for Luke
, whose narrative begins in the Temple; the eagle, then, stands for John
, whose narrative begins in Heaven with the eternal Word and who writes in a lofty style.
2 Timothy 4:5-18
O almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: acts, evangelist, feasts, festivals, gethsemane, gospels, lion, mark, new testament, saint luke, saint mark, saint paul, saint peter
+ Johann Walter, Kantor +
24 April AD 1570
Johann Walter (also Johannes Walther) was born in 1496 and began serving at the age of 21 as a composer and bass singer in the court chapel of Frederick the Wise
. In 1524, he published a collection of hymns arranged according to the church year. It was well received and served as the model for numerous subsequent hymnals.
In addition to serving for 30 years as kantor (church musician and choir director) in the cities of Torgau and Dresden, he also assisted Martin Luther
in the preparation of the Deutsche Messe
of 1526, a setting of the Liturgy in the German language using hymn tunes.
Walter is remembered as the first Lutheran kantor and composer of church music. Among his most cherished works is Der Bräut'gam wird bald rufen (The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us)
. Information on Walter, including some texts and music samples, may also be found through Hymnuts
, Here of a Sunday Morning
, and the Cyber Hymnal
NB: Do not confuse this Johann Walter, whose output was largely hymns and other church music with the later Johann Jakob Walther
(1650 - 1717), a Baroque composer best known for his violin works, or with Johann Gottfried Walther
(1684 - 1748), also from the Baroque Period, who was a church organist and composer.
Labels: biography, commemoration, german history, hagiography, hymnody, johann walter, johannes walther, liturgics, lutheranism, martin luther, music, reformation
+ Anselm of Canterbury +
21 April AD 1109
Known as the father of medieval Scholasticism
, Anselm was born in Italy in 1033. Most closely associated with England, he first served as prior and abbot of the Benedictine Abbey in Bec, Normandy
, later becoming Archbishop of Canterbury
for many years.
A brilliant scholar and writer who loved the works and followed in the way of Augustine
, Anselm used his political skills with the British kings on behalf of the established Christian Church, affirming that it is the leadership of the Church and not the state which has the responsibility of establishing structure and maintaining order among the clergy.
Anselm's book Cur Deus homo
(Why God Became Man
) expresses his thoughts on Christ's atonement and taught that the reason for the incarnation was that Jesus, the Son of God, would suffer and die in place of sinners. His Monologium
shows the beginnings of his ontological argument
for the existence of God. He further developed this philosophical argument in the Proslogion
(also spelled Proslogium
He was canonized in 1494 by Pope Alexander VI
More at the Christian Cyclopedia
, and James Kiefer's Hagiographies
Almighty God, who raised up Your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in Your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy, provide Your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: anselm, apologetics, augustine, biography, british history, canterbury, christology, church history, commemoration, hagiography, scholasticism
+ Johannes Bugenhagen +
20 April AD 1558
Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), was from Pomerania
in northern Germany. Because of his ancestral region, he took the Latin name Pomeranus
and Martin Luther
often called him "Doctor Pommer."
He was appointed pastor of Wittenberg in 1523 through the efforts of Luther
and thus served as the reformer's pastor and confessor. One of the greatest scholars of the Reformation era, he helped translate the New Testament into Low German
and wrote a commentary on the Psalms. He also worked to organize the Lutheran Church in northern Germany and Denmark, journeying to Copenhagen where he crowned both King and Queen and consecrated seven men to the offices of superintendent and bishop.
For those who think that their pastors preach too long, you share that complaint with Luther, who described Pomeranus' preaching as "whatever comes to mind, much like a maidservant chatting with another at the market." One story says that Luther recommended Bugenhagen cut his sermons in half and preach no more than an hour, lest all minds wander.
More information is available through the Christian Cyclopedia
O Lord God, heavenly Father, who called Johannes Bugenhagen as pastor and confessor of the Faith, grant us faithful pastors in our time; pour our Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people, keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptation, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ's Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: biography, commemoration, danish history, german history, hagiography, johannes bugenhagen, lutheranism, martin luther, reformation, translation
+ Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach +
6 April AD 1528
(1471-1528), a native of Nuernberg, Germany, was one of the most learned of Renaissance artists and ranked among the great minds of Humanism. His paintings and woodcuts include examples of the splendor of creation and skilled portrayals of biblical narratives.
While great beauty and form characterize his paintings, most know him best for his woodcuts and etchings, often produced in extended series format. The Concordia Historical Institute
displayed two of these series in one show: His "Life of Mary" and "Small Passion" were shown in an exhibit entitled A Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul Too
. CHI made digital copies of the individual works and they may be viewed by following the link.
Dürer never renounced Roman Catholicism, although his later writings and paintings show great sympathy toward the Reformation and ardent admiration for Martin Luther.
16 October AD 1553
(1472-1553), a close friend of Martin Luther, was a celebrated painter of portraits and altar pieces and a producer of woodcuts of religious subjects.
Among his portraits are some of the most noted depictions of Martin
and Katy Luther
and Luther's co-worker Philipp Melanchthon
. He also did a number of works from Greco-Roman mythology, Biblical and hagiographic scenes, and portrayed a number of wealthy people from his time.
Among his most noted works is the altarpiece from Weimar
, often thought to have been completed by his son, Lucas Cranach the Younger
. The painting depicts Old and New Testament themes centering on Law and Gospel and on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Cranach's intentional anachronism of including himself, Martin Luther, and John the Baptizer at the foot of the cross shows how the Church always points to Christ and benefits from His suffering and death.
Some later scholars have tried to depict Cranach as a misogynist. However, examination of his writings and the content of his paintings allows little credence for this theory.
Both Cranach and Dürer are remembered and honored for the grandeur of their works of art that depict the glory and majesty and the grace and mercy of the triune God. Along with these two Germans, I've also included their approximate contemporary from Italy, Michelangelo Buonarroti. He also used his talents to illustrate Scripture's story and God's glory.
18 February AD 1564
During roughly the same time that Cranach and Dürer worked in Germany, Florentine artist Michelangelo Buonarroti
(1475-1564) was busy in Italy. By age 21, he'd already carved his famous Pietà
, a scene of the Virgin holding her dead Son before His burial. Most will probably know him from his statue of David and his work in the Sistine Chapel
The picture here is from his "Last Judgment" fresco; the person portrayed is Saint Bartholomew, holding the knife said to have flayed him in one hand and his peeled skin in the other. I include it because the face of the restored saint is a self-portrait by Michelangelo. Many have speculated as to why he chose this particular person to bear his image. Some think he used it to indict those who criticized him, as if to say, "You can cut away at me now, but I will be vindicated." Others believe that he wrestled throughout his life with temptation and sinful behavior but recognized that in the Resurrection he would be remade.
O God, who by your Holy Spirit give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith, we praise You for the gifts of proclaiming Your grace and glory through visual representation that you gave to your servants Albrecht and Lucas [and Michelangelo], and we pray that Your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: art, biography, church history, commemoration, cranach, duerer, durer, dürer, european history, german history, hagiography, italian history, michelangelo, vocation
± Saint Fere Verus ±
1 April AD 1582?
By most accounts, almost nothing stood out about young Fere. Indeed, the birth of this seventh son of one Septimus Filius is lost completely to history. Only apocryphal accounts remain, all of partial completion and dubious veracity. They disagree about almost every aspect of his life, work, and death — not only the years but even the century in which he lived remain open to speculation.
Consensus seems certain that he was a man (although one Cretan account claims that he was either a woman or that he underwent some divine transformation from girl to man in his thirteenth year, but you know what Paul said about the Cretans
). Also, most stories claim that he was a pious man to whom several nearly miraculous occurrences can be attached.
Evidently, concerns over consanguinity never plagued his ancestors. Therefore, tradition maintains that Fere's family tree held precious few branches yet bore an inordinate crop of nuts. While this remains to be proven, several early records claim that his uncle Filbertus Demens claimed to be legitimate heir of Caligula many years after the latter's death.
Baptismal records would certainly be helpful in pinning down the correct dates for his life, but part-time Verus scholar Franz Bibfeldt
claims that the missing infant baptismal record is due to the fact that Fere's family was functionally pagan and that the lad converted and was baptized only after a frightening brush with death.
Fere ran with a rough crowd of peasant boys who one day thought they'd amuse themselves by overturning the royal privy of Prince Albertus of Weisenheim. The scream issuing from said privy alerted the lads that they'd overturned, if not a kingdom, at least a prince and they quickly absconded. However, Fere sought to continue the joke and hired a half-wit boy from a neighboring village to carry a message to the castle, asking if Prince Albertus were still in the can
Thus alerted, the Weisenheimer retainers rushed to rescue Albertus, who promptly sent the messenger to his torturers. He quickly confessed to receiving two copper coins from young Verus in exchange for the delivered message. When the Prince's soldiers arrived at his home, Fere rushed out and was almost captured, but his poorly made cape tore as the captain grabbed it and he rushed into the neighboring woods as a thick fog settled over the area. Screened by the mist, he escaped the Weisenheimer borders and went to live with an uncle in Warsaw. He believed that the fog came by divine intervention, forsook his lawless past, and sought baptism.
Fere later got word of Albertus' death and returned to his ancestral home. There, he discovered that Uncle Filbertus, while certainly not the sanest of men, had died as one of the wealthiest and had left his entire estate to his brother Septum. Verus' aforementioned father greeted his prodigal son with this news but while continuing his story suddenly slumped in his chair and died before he struck the floor.
Normally, a seventh son wouldn't have expected any great inheritance, but the six older brothers had all died by this time. The three oldest evidently suffered death at the hands of tainted meat while the next three lost their lives in Albertus' dungeons. Scholars had for many years thought that the Weisenheimer prince had struck them down since he couldn't reach the actual villain who'd sullied his dignity but recent evidence points to a failed confidence game against his royal personage as the actual cause of their demise.
Unfortunately, Septum had begun bestowing lavish gifts on his wife — many of them likely peace offerings to make up for the lavish gifts he'd been bestowing upon a series of mistresses. Thus, Fere found himself holding on to only a fraction of the large estate he'd so recently discovered. This was, however, enough to support him comfortably in the life of traveling scholar and he became a discipulus perpetuus
who never had to write home for more funds.
During the course of his travels, he made many boon companions, especially among scientists engaged in the study of fermentology
. His own specialty was in the field of unsolicited advice, of which he was an avid dispenser. Because of the already-mentioned shoddy record keeping during his days, we're not sure just who received his recommendations and which accounts are as queer as a three florin coin
Nevertheless, Fere was nearly credited with several accomplishments in science, religion, and the arts. Some sources say that he almost discovered a cure for smallpox but that his swine pox exposure theory didn't quite hit the mark. He likewise nearly developed a process for vulcanization
after spilling sulfur atop a burning stove. Sadly, this occurred before latex was discovered in the New World and brought to Europe, so all he did was ruin that day's dinner.
Many great minds are said to have sought him out, especially as they dealt with difficult theoretical problems. They left his presence cheered by knowing that they could be almost certain that they were on the right track when Fere's opinion differed radically from their own.
For those who chose to listen to his advice, the situation was often much more perilous. Some historians credit him with advising Pope Leo X
to ignore the "monks' squabble" in Germany
. Others say that he served as matchmaker to English King Henry VIII
. Those who argue for much earlier birth and death dates say that he wrote the final position paper for the Arian party
at the Council of Nicea
or that his influence nearly single-handedly ended bathing in much of Gaul to this day.
Several sources say that Fere Verus's ability to misunderstand and misapply essential information made him a darling of the Avignon popes during the Great Schism of the Western Church
. It was one of these, many believe, who canonized him following his death (if, indeed, he'd even been born by this time). Thus, only scattered portions of Western Christendom ever recognized him as a saint.
Fere Verus has the patron saint concession for false starts, fudged research, and sufferers of festering sores. Bibfeldt protégé Katz N. Jammer believes that Girolamo Fracastoro's
wrote his 1530 poem Syphilis, sive Morbus Gallicus
in honor of Fere Verus' struggle with the affliction.
Up to modern days, many claim that his intercession on their behalf has greatly influenced the results of their lives. For instance, some say that noted aviator Douglas Corrigan
had a statue of Fere Verus in his airplane during his famous 1938 flight. Several people claim that they saw his image in the clouds of smoke that billowed up during Apollo 13
's launch. These and other accounts keep his legend alive.
Fere Verus Day may be celebrated with any of the works of P. D. Q. Bach
. He is best eulogized by these immortal lines from the Robert Burns
poem To a Mouse
: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley."
Please consult Wikipedia
for more information.
Labels: biography, commemoration, fere verus, fool, franz bibfeldt, hagiography, pdq bach, pseudo-history
+ Joseph +
31 March, Old Testament
Joseph was the son of the patriarch Jacob
and Rachel — and was his father's favorite son. He incurred his older brothers' jealousy and anger (both through Jacob's favoritism and by his own attitude toward them, particularly regarding his dreams) so they sold him into slavery in Egypt and told their father he was dead (Genesis 37
). In Egypt he became the chief servant in the home of Potiphar, a military official. Joseph refused to commit adultery when his master's wife tempted him. In retaliation, she unjustly accused him of attempted rape and he was imprisoned (Genesis 39
Years later, he interpreted dreams for Pharaoh, who then freed him from prison and placed him in charge of the entire country. When his brothers came from Canaan to Egypt in search of food, they did not recognize him. He eventually revealed his identity, forgave them, and invited them and his father to live in Egypt. We remember and honor him for his moral uprightness (Genesis 39
) and for his willingness to forgive his brothers (Genesis 45
). We also celebrate his role in saving the family of Israel (Jacob), thus also playing an important part in God's plan to bring Messiah to His people and to all mankind.
Labels: biography, christology, commemoration, egypt, hagiography, israel, jacob, joseph, old testament, patriarch, rachel
The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Sunday, New Testament
Easter Sermon from John Chrysostom
Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.
Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, O Death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!
Lection (Series C)
1 Corinthians 15:51-57
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
or Daniel 12:1c-3
Acts 10:34-43 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Luke 24:13-35 (36-49)
Lection (One Year)
or Exodus 14:10-15:1
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
or 1 Corinthians 15:12-25
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
or 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
Almighty and most merciful God, pour out on us Your abundant blessing that all who in true faith share this time in joyful celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead may be filled with Your heavenly benediction. Once we were in darkness, but now we are in the Light, even Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: christ, christology, easter, feasts, festivals, gospels, jesus, john chrysostom, lectionary, life, new testament, resurrection
"On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2
Ask the Pastor posted in 2006
on Christ's Sabbath in the tomb as He moved from His state of humiliation into His eternal exaltation at the right hand of the Father. We anticipate with quiet joy the first celebration of His resurrection during tonight's Vigil and, should God allow us the morrow, the fullness of the Feast of the Resurrection in Scripture, sermon, psalms, prayers, and hymns of gladness.
1 Peter 4:1-8
(Three Year Lectionary Cycle) or 1 Peter 3:17-22
(One Year Lectionary Cycle)
The Holy Gospel
"When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
"Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, 'Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, "After three days I will rise." Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, "He has risen from the dead," and the last fraud will be worse than the first.' Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.' So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. (Matthew 27:57-66
Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.
Painting of The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb
by Hans Holbein the Younger
at the Web Gallery of Art
Labels: burial, christology, crucifixion, death, easter, feasts, festivals, gospels, holy saturday, new testament, resurrection, sabbath, vigil
The Annunciation of Our Lord
25 March, New Testament
Transferred to 4 April AD 2016
Regarding the transfer of this major feast, the Lutheran Service Book: Altar Book
states on page 960, It is appropriate to observe this feast day in all its fullness during Lent. However, according to historical precedent, when the Annunciation falls during Holy Week or on Easter Day (or also on the Fifth Sunday in Lent in the one-year series), it should not be observed at those times but may be transferred to a weekday following the Second Sunday of Easter.
In most of Eastern Christendom, rather than transferring the Annunciation, it is celebrated fully. In Orthodoxy, this normally means the celebratory Liturgy of John Chrysostom.
tells us how the angel Gabriel announced to Mary of Nazareth that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Christ and her response. Mary, a virgin pledged to marry Joseph
, briefly wondered how this could be, since she had not had sex with any man.
Once Gabriel told her that the Child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, she humbly accepted this sacred obligation: "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (v. 38
Nothing prevents us from supposing that Our Lord was conceived immediately after this. Since the Church from early days observed 25 March as the date of the Annunciation, the celebration of the Christ's Nativity is observed on 25 December, nine months later.
For centuries in vast parts of Europe, 25 March also marked the change to the new year. While it seems somewhat odd and abrupt to change years in the middle of a month, we can imagine that those accustomed to that calendar easily made the adjustment. Furthermore, they could take to heart the reminder that God's chosen time, that most special time when He sent His Son into human flesh, merited such a "strange" circumstance.
Even though the Visitation
of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth took place six months later (see Luke 1:39-56)
— as Elizabeth neared the end of her own pregnancy with the child who would grow to become John the Baptizer — Mary's song of celebration at that time is also appropriate to remember on the Feast of the Annunciation. In the Magnificat
) the virgin mother of God celebrated God's gift to her, to Israel, and to all people.
Martin Luther wrote a commentary on this canticle. About verse 49
, he said, "The 'great things' are nothing less than that she became the Mother of God
, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed upon her as pass man's understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among whom she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in Heaven, and such a child.
"She herself is unable to find a name for this work, it is too exceedingly great; all she can do is break out in the fervent cry: 'They are great things,' impossible to describe or define. Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God.
"No one can say anything greater of her or to her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees, or grass in the fields, or stars in the sky, or sand by the sea. It needs to be pondered in the heart, what it means to be the Mother of God
The Annunciation is such an important Christological feast that it takes precedence over even the Sundays in Lent in much of Christendom. See Looking Ahead
at Weedon's Blog
O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of the angel to the virgin Mary, so by His cross and Passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Luther quote from Luther's Works
, Vol. 21, p. 326, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Concordia Publishing House © 1956.
Labels: annunciation, christ, christology, feasts, festivals, gabriel, gospels, incarnation, jesus, luke, mary, new testament, theotokos
Friday in Holy Week, New Testament
The Father chose to sacrifice His Son rather than banish sinful mankind to an eternity of suffering. Also, Christ died because the Scriptures which point to the coming Savior "require" his suffering and death.
The most noted of these prophecies is probably Isaiah 52:13-53:12
. Through the prophet, the Lord predicts what would happen to His faithful Servant: "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. (53:5
)" He was "like a lamb that is led to the slaughter (53:7
)" and "was cut off out of the land of the living. (53:8
)" Finally, "They made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (53:9
God cannot go back on His Word. From Creation's dawn, He warned that sin always results in death. Someone had to die, either one innocent Man or millions and billions of guilty people. Through Paul, God said, "The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a
However, God applied the life-giving "wages" earned by His sinless Son as payment in full on our accounts and credited us with Jesus' perfection. Likewise, the deadly wages that were our due were paid in full to Jesus in His suffering and death. Because of this, "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (23b
)" (Adapted from Jesus' Death
at Ask the Pastor
; used by permission.)
Lection — Three Year Cycle
Psalm 22 or Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42 or John 19:17-30
Lection — One Year Cycle
Psalm 22 or Psalm 31
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Almighty God, Your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross so that He might draw the whole world to Himself. Grant that we who glory in His death for our salvation may also glory in His call to take up our cross and follow Him; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, to be given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: christ, christology, crucifixion, death, feasts, festivals, good friday, holy week, jesus, series a, series b, series c, suffering
or Maundy Thursday, New Testament
The Church uses this fifth day of Holy Week to remember the institution of the Lord's Supper. From the account of the Upper Room in John 13:1-15
, some have called it the Day of Foot Washing.
"Maundy" may come from the Latin Bible's rendering of John 13:34
, where Jesus gave the disciples a new mandatum
(commandment) in the upper room: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
Another idea is that it grew out from an ancient custom of carrying gifts to the poor in hand baskets (known as "maunds" or "maund baskets") on that day.
Of much more importance than the name of the day is the gift Jesus gave. For on this night on which He was betrayed, our Savior gave first to His disciples His very body and blood
for them to eat and to drink. Under bread and wine, He continues to give this gift, that we also might eat His flesh, drink His blood, and receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
Lection — Three Year Cycle
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Lection — One Year Cycle
Exodus 12:1-14 or Exodus 24:3-11
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
John 13:1-15 (34-35)
O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: christ, feasts, festivals, holy thursday, holy week, jesus, judas, last supper, lord's supper, maundy thursday, series c
+ Gregory the Illuminator +
23 March AD 332
Christian pastor, evangelist, and bishop Gregory the Illuminator (or Enlightener; Armenian: Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ, transliterated Grigor Lusavorich
) was born sometime between AD 240 and 260 and lived until around AD 311 or 312. He is the patron saint of Armenia and was first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Armenians were the first people to adopt Christianity as their state religion. Tertullian and Eusebius of Caesaria suggest that Christianity was practiced in Armenia as early as the 2nd Century AD.
Sometime before AD 301, the Lord used Gregory as his instrument to convert King Tiridates (or Trdat) III. For some twelve to fourteen years previously, he'd been imprisoned in a deep pit and possibly tortured. This was likely due in part to his father's participation in a plot against Khosrov II, Tiridates' father, and partially because of his steadfast refusal to participate in pagan rites. His recall came around the year 297, when he was asked to restore to sanity Tiridates III, who lost his mind after being betrayed by Diocletian.
In 302, Gregory was ordained bishop. He founded the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, near Mount Ararat in 303. This remains the seat of the supreme patriarch (catholicos
) of the Armenian Church. Gregory went on to evangelize several other Caucasian nations and baptized the kings of Iberia (Georgia), Lazes, and Albania.
Sometime before his death he retired to a solitary life in the wilderness. He is remembered in both the Eastern and Western Church.
As an aside, legend claims for this relatively small nation the graves of four apostles: Bartholomew
, and Simon and Jude
Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in Your saints, You raised up your servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia. Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also may show forth Your praise, who called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: armenian history, biography, church history, commemoration, gregory, gregory the illuminator, hagiography, patristics
also Sunday of the Passion
20 March AD 2016
The Sunday before His crucifixion, our Lord Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Accompanied by His disciples, He heard the people crying, "Hosanna!" This ancient petition translates, "Save now!" It stems from the same root as does the name "Jesus."
Palm Sunday thereby reminds us of the Annunciation
, when Gabriel told Mary what to name the Child. Even more so, it recalls the angel's visit to Joseph
, who heard the angel tell him of Mary's Son, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21
)" and also The Circumcision and Name of Jesus
Jesus heard this prayer and answered according to His Father's will. Their salvation — and our
salvation — was nigh, for in a few short days, He would gift His Church with a new meal of His own body and blood and would then be betrayed and would suffer and die to forgive us all our sins. All four evangelists record the events of this day. However, only Saint John included mention of palm branches being cut as part of the apparent victory parade, yet this one mention gave this day its classic title.
More recently, many liturgical churches have begun using "Passion Sunday" or "Sunday of the Passion" instead. This name emphasizes less the triumphal entry at the week's beginning but points more to the blood-stained exit on Friday as Jesus went to Golgotha.
Actually, as some of the Church's hymnody points out, both titles have their place and both exist well in relationship to each other. For expanded commentary on palms, Passion, and hymns, see Hosannas and Palm Branches
at Ask the Pastor
The traditional color for this day is purple
, as it has been throughout Lent. However, many church bodies have gone to using scarlet
as the preferred color for Holy Week, either until Holy Thursday or Good Friday. White is the other appropriate color for Maundy Thursday while Good Friday's paraments
should be black — or they should not be used at all.
Lection — Three Year Cycle: Series C
(Palm Sunday Procession)
Psalm 118:19-29 or 31:9-16
Luke 22:1-23:56 or Luke 23:1-56 or John 12:20-43
Lection — One Year Cycle
Matthew 21:1-9 or John 12:12-19
(Palm Sunday Procession)
Psalm 118:19-29 or 31:9-16
Matthew 26:1-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54
Most merciful God, as the people of Jerusalem, with palms in their hands, gathered to greet Your dearly beloved Son when He came into His Holy City, grant that we may ever hail Him as our King and, when He comes again, may go forth to meet Him with trusting and steadfast hearts and follow Him in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the Palm Sunday Procession)
Almighty and everlasting God, You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience and be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect of the Day for the Sunday of the Passion)
Paintings by Pietro Lorenzetti
from the Web Gallery of Art
Labels: christ, christology, feasts, festivals, gospels, holy week, jerusalem, jesus, new testament, palm sunday, sunday of the passion
+ Saint Joseph, Guardian of Our Lord +
19 March, New Testament
All that we know of Saint Joseph we learn from the first two chapters of Matthew
and of Luke
. Otherwise he is mentioned only in passing (see Luke 3:23
; John 1:45
; John 6:42
) as the supposed father of Jesus of Nazareth.
Matthew shows Joseph's compassion for his betrothed wife: When the Virgin Mary revealed her pregnancy to him he sought to avoid a public rebuke, which may have resulted in her being stoned. Then after the Lord sent His angel and revealed Himself as the cause of this extraordinary circumstance, Joseph submitted to God's will, just as had his wife.
The Heavenly Father thus graciously allowed this unassuming man to bear the responsibility of protecting and providing for the Incarnate Word
and the Theotokos
. How could Joseph possibly have imagined the extraordinary events that awaited them, including the visits of shepherds and wise men, as well as Herod's wrath and their subsequent flight to Egypt?
Joseph was a pious Jew, a descendant of David, and — as normally translated — a carpenter by trade. Actually, the the Greek word τέκτων (tekton
) that is used in the Gospels can mean "builder" or "architect." Scholars suggest that Joseph may have been a repairman, a general craftsman, or a building contractor. And while other words are used in classical Greek, it's possible that tekton
had a broader meaning in the Greek of the Scriptures and that Joseph may have been a metalworker, a stoneworker, or a mason.
Because of the silence of the Gospels — and because Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of John — it is generally believed that Joseph died a natural death after the visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-51
) but likely before His baptism
in the Jordan (Matthew 3:13-17
), probably around His thirtieth year.
We can only wonder what influence Jesus' earthly father had on Him during His early years on earth.
2 Samuel 7:4-16
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Almighty God, from the house of Your servant David You raised up Joseph to be the guardian of Your incarnate Son and the husband of His mother, Mary. Grant us grace to follow the example of this faithful workman in heeding Your counsel and obeying Your commands; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Labels: biography, father, feasts, festivals, gospels, guardian, hagiography, incarnation, joseph, mary, nativity, new testament, saint joseph
+ Pádraig of Ireland, Bishop anad Missionary +
17 March AD 466
Pádraig (Patrick, Padraic), one of the best-known missionary saints, was born to a Christian family in southwest Britain around the year 389. While he was a teenager, raiders captured and took him to Ireland. There, he was forced to serve as a herdsman.
After six years he escaped and found his way, home, and then traveled to a monastery community in France. Imagine the surprise of those who knew him — even by his own reckoning, he left Britain as one who cared little for God.
With his new trust in the Lord, Patrick threw himself wholeheartedly into monastic life. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities.
He staunchly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity during a time when it was not popular to do so. His writings include his spiritual autobiography, the Confessio
, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today.
Pádraig died around the year 466. Many people attribute the Lorica
(see below) to him. One of the symbols used for Patrick in ecclesiastical art is a red Cross Saltire
on a white background. This was added to the overlaid crosses of Saint George and Saint Andrew
to form the current Union Jack of the United Kingdom.
The legendary account of Patrick driving snakes off of the Emerald Isle is just that — a legend. There's no evidence that snakes ever slithered across Irish soil. Much more likely is the story that he used the shamrock or some other type of clover to roughly illustrate the Holy Trinity to the unconverted folk of Ireland.
If he were to return to earth in present day, one can only imagine the disdain with which this hero of the faith would view the drunken celebrations in many places which are held to "honor" his memory.
1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12
Almighty God, in Your providence You chose your servant Pádraig to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who wandered in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of You; grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now forever.
The Lorica or Saint Patrick's Breastplate
I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up he heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile men that mar my course;
of few or many, far or nigh,
in every place, and in all hours
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles
against the heart's idolatry,
against the wizard's evil craft,
against the death-wound and the burning
the choking wave and poisoned shaft,
protect me, Christ, till thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Translation by Cecil Francis Alexander
Labels: biography, church history, commemoration, hagiography, irish history, missionary, pádraig, patrick, patron saint
+ Matthias Flacius Illyricus +
11 March AD 1575
Croatian reformer Matthias Flacius Illyricus (Matija Vlačić Ilirik) was born on 3 March 1520 in Labin
in Latin). At that time, the region was under control of the Venetian Republic. He left home at age 16 to study in Venice. Baldo Lupetina
a relative and Franciscan superior on the nearby island of Cres (who was later executed as a heretic) encouraged Matthias to continue studying in Germany.
Flacius traveled to Augsburg, arriving in 1539. He stayed only a short time before moving to Basel, where he enrolled at the university and studied Hebrew and Greek. There he also acquainted himself with many of the day's noted Protestant intellectuals. He moved on to Tübingen to continue his studies.
Traveling on, Flacius headed for the birth place of the Lutheran Reformation. He received his Master's degree from the University of Wittenberg at the age of 24 and lived for most of the 1540s in that town. His degree led to an immediate promotion to professor of theology.
Following Wittenberg, Matthias moved to Magdeburg. Between 1549 and 1557 and under his leadership, this city became a center of opposition to first the Augsburg and then the Leipzig Interims. These were forced truces between the Catholics and the Lutherans and certain other Protestants. During this period, Flacius began openly opposing Philipp Melanchthon
and the theological and political compromises he was making with Rome and certain non-Lutheran reformers. Flacius believed that he was a faithful follower of Martin Luther
and his theology and saw Melanchthon as one who would destroy much of what Luther had struggled so mightily to obtain.
His time in Magdeburg was productive otherwise, as well. While there, he commenced work on on the 13-volume Ecclesiastica Historia
(poplularly known as the Magdeburg Centuries
) with Johannes Wigand and other scholars. He also wrote numerous tracts and pamphlets on various theological topics.
In 1557, Flacius was invited to head the newly founded theological faculty at the University of Jena. He served in this capacity until the end of 1561, when he was released due to his position in a controversy over original sin. He then moved to Regensburg, living there from 1562-1566. He was unable to achieve two great desires. First, he wanted to open a school for Southern Slavs and also hoped to relocate the Protestant printing press from Urach. Neither happened because Regensburg cancelled his asylum on the orders of Emperor Maximilian II.
At the invitation of the City Senate of Antwerp, Flacius moved there for a brief time, staying long enough to write a confession of faith for the Lutherans of the Low Countries. He was then in Strasbourg from 1567 to 1573. There he completed his final large work, the Glossa compendiaria
, a commentary on the New Testament. He died at Frankfurt-am-Main in 1575.
Many would call Matthias Flacius' hermeneutical works his most important achievements and he certainly was a pioneer in the field. His Clavis Scripturae Sacrae
(Key to Sacred Scripture
) established that any passage of the Bible should be interpreted considering the purpose and the structure of the whole chapter or a given book. It also declared the rule that the literal sense of the text should have a priority over allegories and metaphors. He also contributed much to Church history and dogmatics. As overall proof of his learning and scholarship, we note that Flacius likely owned the single largest private collection of books during the 16th Century.
Silesian and Swabian pastors asked Matthias to refute Caspar Schwenckfeld, who taught that "the inner word of the spirit must be differentiated from the external word spoken by the preacher; that the living Word of God is not the Scriptures but Christ, and that the Scriptures must be interpreted spiritually." This appeal to a subjective understanding and acceptance of an inner word hidden in the hearts of believers rather than the divinely inspired and clearly stated external Word went against all he'd learned from the reformers on the literal sense of the text. Of Schwenckfeld's spiritualizing of the Bible, Flacius said, "Spiritual exegesis [explanation] fits Scripture like a fist fits into an eye."
In all of his theology, Flacius tried to stay loyal to Luther, particularly the Reformer's emphasis on the bondage of the will. Unfortunately, his often abrasive style and his extreme position on original sin alienated many other staunch Lutherans. Because of this, his name fell into neglect and an undeserved degree of disrepute among many confessional Lutherans, even to the present day.
Additionally, he was a Croatian with Italian manners and mannerisms whose German was never good enough for those among whom he worked. In other words, Matthias Flacius Illyricus failed to fit in among his contemporaries in almost every way imaginable. However, we cannot underestimate his influence in preserving, promoting, and expounding the theology of the Lutheran Reformation.
In 1878, biographer Johann Wilhelm Preger eulogized Flacius: "A man of resolute courage, insuperable strength, possessing a wide-ranging knowledge one rarely encounters, with a broad vision and an industrious spirit."
See the Matthias Flacius Illyricus Memorial Collection
for an extensive resource of things Flacius. Magdeburg Press
sells How to Understand the Sacred Scriptures
, a translated portion of the Clavis Scripturae Sacrae
. Illyricus comes from the name of the former Roman province of Illyricum
, which included his homeland. I also recommend Oliver K. Olson's book Mattias Flacius and the Survival of Luther's Reform
. Flacius is not on the LCMS calendar of commemorations
but is part of my ongoing addition of noted Lutherans and other Christians to a list of those I consider worthy of the Church's remembrance.
Labels: apologetics, baldo lupetina, croatia, european history, flacius, lutheranism, martin luther, philipp melanchthon, reformation