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Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

25 April 2013
  + Saint Mark, Evangelist +
25 April, New Testament

Saint Mark 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 and 10.) 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.


Psalm 146
Isaiah 52:7-10
2 Timothy 4:5-18
Mark 16:14-20


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.

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24 April 2013
  + Johann Walter, Kantor +
24 April AD 1570

Organist 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.

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21 April 2013
  + Anselm of Canterbury +
21 April AD 1109

Anselm of Canterbury 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, Wikipedia, and James Kiefer's Hagiographies.


Psalm 139:1-9 or 37:3-6,32-33
Romans 5:1-11
Matthew 11:25-30


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.

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20 April 2013
  + Johannes Bugenhagen +
20 April AD 1558

Bugenhagen 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 and Wikipedia.


Psalm 46
Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 10:5-17
John 15:1-11


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.

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06 April 2013
  + Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach +
6 April AD 1528

Duerer Albrecht Dürer (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

Cranach Lucas Cranach (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. I've also included Michelangelo Buonarroti, although his life (both public and private) sometimes was contrary to Scripture's standards of godliness.

18 February AD 1564

Michelangelo 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 Michaelangelo], 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.

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01 April 2013
  Saint Fere Verus
1 April AD 1582?

Fere Verus 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.

Tipped Outhouse 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.

Pope Leo X 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 he was the subject of Girolamo Fracastoro's 1530 poem Syphilis, sive Morbus Gallicus.

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 or snopes.com for more information.

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