Jerome was the foremost Biblical scholar of his day, his contribution to the translation of Scripture into Latin, the “Vulgate Version”, being the work for which he is best known.
Jerome was born in Stridon in northern Italy of well-to-do Christian parents about 347. As a student in Rome he became a convinced Christian and received baptism. The ascetic lifestyle of a monk seemed to many at that time to represent the Christian way for the committed disciple. While on a trip through Gaul, Jerome decided to adopt that discipline. To follow this way even more thoroughly, Jerome went first to Antioch and then into the Syrian desert where there were many other hermits and monks. It was not a happy experience. Jerome’s pugnacious style in the theological controversies of the time did not help.
However, Jerome was a brilliant student. In the course of his studies he had mastered Hebrew as well as Greek. He was in Rome from 379 to 382 and became private secretary to Pope Damasus, who commissioned Jerome to produce a Latin translation of the Bible. While in Rome, Jerome vigorously promoted monasticism and the ascetic way, and found a sympathetic hearing among some aristocratic Roman matrons. Jerome’s lack of tact gained him enemies, and when Damasus died Jerome found it politic to leave Rome.
Accompanied by Paula and Eustochium, two of the Roman matrons he had counselled, Jerome went back to the east and eventually established a monastery in Bethlehem, where he lived until his death in 420. The Roman matrons lived in a convent nearby.
Jerome devoted his great energies to his work on the Scriptures, not only producing the requested translation, but many commentaries and other works, demonstrating a breadth of reading and scholarship that was quite outstanding. Jerome was less at home in the theological field than the biblical, though that never prevented him from taking up the cudgels on behalf of what he deemed to be correct.
Jerome’s propensity for extravagant and even vitriolic debate led him into a number of quarrels, including a bitter parting of the ways from his old friend Rufinus. Nevertheless, Jerome was an ardent champion of orthodoxy, a master of Latin style, and never sought high position in the church or personal honours of any kind. The “Vulgate” translation, so called because it was the “common” or “well known” version (editio vulgata) of the Bible, included much of Jerome’s work and it became standard in the Latin church for centuries.
we give you thanks for your servant Jerome,
who with zealous care
translated the Scriptures;
and we pray that through your Spirit
the words we read may show us Christ the living word
and shape our discipleship in his name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Michael is one of only three angels mentioned by name in the Bible. Furthermore, Michael is mentioned only three times in the Old Testament (Daniel), and twice in the New Testament (Jude & Revelation). Nevertheless, Michael became one of the most popular of angelic figures, and is closely associated with ideas of triumph and vindication of the saints of God. There are many churches dedicated to St Michael and All Angels. The name “Michael” means “Who is like God?”
The development of the figure of Michael is part of the development of angelology in Judaism towards the end of the Old Testament period. In Daniel, Michael appears as the protector of Israel. Michael’s role was greatly enhanced in the later Jewish and early Christian writings that were not included in the Bible. There in particular Michael appears as the vindicator of Israel and leader of the triumphant armies of God - a trait that is reflected in Revelation 12:7ff., where Michael and the angels vanquish the dragon.
Michael is also depicted in the non-canonical literature as the recording angel, and as the angel who carries the souls of the righteous into paradise. This was a theme that figures in the medieval requiem mass. An aspect of this function probably lies behind the reference in Jude 9 to the dispute between Michael and the devil over the body of Moses.
Almighty and everlasting God,
whom we adore with all the angelic host,
may we always rejoice in your heavenly protection
and serve you faithfully in this present life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Anglican Church in Melanesia, like most churches throughout Christian history, has a roll of those who are honoured as martyrs for the faith. The best known is John Coleridge Patteson, the first bishop, but there were many others.
In 1864 Patteson and those with him were attacked on the island of Santa Cruz. Among those injured in the attack were Fisher Young and Edwin Nobbs, two Norfolk Islanders, who contracted tetanus as a result of arrow wounds. Fisher Young in particular is remembered for his forgiving attitude to his murderers. In spite of intense pain, Fisher’s faith never wavered. He sent a message to his father: “Tell my father that I was in the path of duty, and he will be glad. Poor Santa Cruz people!”. Both he and Nobbs died as a result of their wounds.
When Patteson himself was murdered seven years later on one of the Reef Islands, north of Santa Cruz, two others, Joseph Atkin, a New Zealand priest, and Stephen Taroaniara, also died. It was Atkin who returned to shore on Nukapu, even though he was wounded, to recover the body of Patteson. Taroaniara, in spite of intense suffering, asked his friends not to think of revenge. The way in which he endured his pain made a great impression on those who had known him before his conversion.
The island of Malaita was a difficult and dangerous area for the Melanesian Mission. In the early twentieth century three Melanesians met their deaths. Arthur Ako was a leading mission teacher in the south of Malaita and began the first school at Fiu. He was killed in 1904. Two years later James Ivo, who was a teacher from Nggela, was shot and killed in northern Malaita. In 1910 James Sili was killed. Charles Godden, an Australian priest on the island of Aoba in the northern New Hebrides since 1902, was killed in 1906 by a Melanesian who had returned from Queensland and sought revenge on some European for his imprisonment there. Further to the east from the main Solomon Islands group are the Reef Islands. There the first Reef Islander ordained, Ben Teilo, was attacked and killed in 1926 after seven years of ministry.
More recently, during a period of civil unrest in the Solomon Islands, a group of guerrilla rebels tortured and killed Nathaniel Sado, a Melanesian Brother at Easter 2003. When the assistant head of the Melanesian Brotherhood, Robin Lindsay, went in April with five other Brothers, Francis Tofi, Alfred Hill, Ini Paratabatu, Patteson Gatu, and Tony Sirihi, to ask for Sado’s body, they also were killed, some when they arrived, others after being tortured. At first it was hoped that they were being held hostage, but their deaths were confirmed in August 2003 when the guerrilla leader, Harold Keke, was captured. The bodies of six of the Melanesian Brothers were buried at the Motherhouse of the Melanesian Brotherhood at Tabalia, Solomon Islands, on the 24 October. Robin Lindsay was buried there on 5 November.
Although these are the best known of those who died for their faith in Melanesia, there are many others who suffered for their faith, and others again who died of illness or in accidents in the proclamation of the gospel. They are all honoured by the church for their witness.
whose majesty is in the storm as well as in the calm,
we thank you for those of every race
who gave their lives in Melanesia
for the sake of Christ;
may your church always proclaim your gospel,
live your commandments,
and overcome the powers of darkness;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.
Lancelot Andrewes was a devout and learned scholar who brought great stability to the Church of England in the early seventeenth century. He was a fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and as well as his theological scholarship was master of fifteen languages.
Lancelot was born in Barking in 1555. He studied at Merchant Taylor’s School and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1576. He became vicar of St Giles, Cripplegate, in 1589 and master of Pembroke Hall. His duties included preaching at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, where his great ability as a preacher was first noticed. In 1601 he became dean of Westminster. During the reign of James I, having already declined two bishoprics under Elizabeth, he was appointed bishop of Chichester in 1605, then Ely in 1609 and Winchester in 1619.
Andrewes attended the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, at which leading Puritans aired their plans for further reform of the church. Andrewes was appointed one of the translators of what became the Authorised Version of the Bible, being responsible for much of the early part of the Old Testament. He was a strong proponent of the Oath of Allegiance to the king, imposed after the gunpowder plot of 1605. The oath was required of the clergy before taking office, and Andrewes conducted a vigorous debate with Cardinal Bellarmine on the issue. Andrewes also served on a number of influential ecclesiastical committees and commissions. In 1617 he joined James I on his journey to Scotland to try to persuade the Scots to accept episcopacy.
Andrewes was a student of moral theology as well as being learned in the early church fathers. His three authorities were the Bible, the wisdom of antiquity, and the judgement of the contemporary church. He did much to form a distinctively Anglican theology in the tradition of Richard Hooker. He disliked the rigidity of Puritanism and was opposed to the prevailing Calvinism in theology in England. He insisted on a high standard of personal holiness among the clergy and expected all servants of the church to be dedicated and diligent in their service.
Lancelot Andrewes was a man of deep prayer himself and compiled Preces Privatae, a book of his own devotions, which was published in 1648 and has been reissued over the years. His own gentle nature, mature wisdom, and kindly wit endeared him to all. He loved the English Church and defended it vigorously from all detractors. He used ceremonial in his worship and had a high appreciation of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Lancelot Andrewes died in 1626 and was buried in what is now Southwark Cathedral.
Holy and loving God,
from you Lancelot Andrewes received
gifts of scholarship
and a singular power in prayer;
teach us to pray
not only for ourselves
but for your struggling world,
through him who showed us how to pray,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sergius of Radonezh was born at Rostov in Russia about 1314. At that time Russia was in considerable turmoil after the Mongol invasions of the previous century and the civil war in Russia that led to control of the country by the Tartars. In the turmoil, Sergius’ family was forced to leave Rostov. They took up farming at Radonezh near Moscow. The invasion and warfare had severely disrupted religious life, and many of the early monasteries had been destroyed. A revival of the monastic tradition in eastern Europe began in the early fourteenth century, influenced by the practice of contemplative prayer associated with Gregory Palamas. In Russia this led a number of people to seek quiet in the forests north of Moscow.
As a young man of twenty, Sergius joined his brother Stephen and others in a community of hermit Christians in the forests. Following a simple lifestyle they lived close to nature. Over the course of time Sergius brought his fellow hermits into an ordered communal life and founded the great monastery of the Holy Trinity near Radonezh, 70 kilometres north of Moscow, in what is now Zagorsk. This was the first religious community to be established in Russia after the Tartar invasion. Through his influence many other monasteries were founded.
A man of peace, Sergius laboured to keep the peace amongst the quarrelling Russian princes. He did however rally support for Prince Dimitri Donshoi in his attempts to gain independence for the Russian people form the Tartars. The Tartars were finally defeated in 1380. Sergius was also concerned for peace in his monastery. His emphasis on community life rather than the solitary emphasis of some contemplatives was disliked by some of the monks, who would have preferred Stephen as abbot. Sergius withdrew and founded a separate monastery, but was later restored to Holy Trinity by the metropolitan Alexis. His influence was widespread, and by the end of his life he had founded about forty monasteries. The constitution he adopted for Holy Trinity made it a model for all later Russian communities.
Sergius refused to be made bishop of Moscow when the see was offered to him in 1378. Sergius’ appeal was to the common people, from whom he had his own origins. He was honoured as a humble, simple, kind and godly monk. He emphasised the vocation of Christian service to any in need. The people saw true saintliness in his life and revered him for his mystical life of prayer and worship. He is regarded as Russia’s greatest saint. Sergius died in 1392.
your servant Sergius
was filled with an intense love for you
that made him a shining light
among your people in Russia;
by the same Spirit that empowered him,
strengthen our faith,
and set our hearts on fire
to live as true disciples
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Everlasting God, we thank you for the life and service of Queen Elizabeth.
As we with give you thanks for the past,
we also look to you for the future,
praying for the work and witness of Charles, our new King.
May your truth and justice, harmony and fairness flourish among us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
September 30 - St Jerome
September 30 - Daily Offices
September 29 - St Michael & All Angels
September 27 - Martyrs of Melanesia
September 26 - Lancelot Andrewes
September 25 - 26th Ordinary Sunday
September 25 - St Sergius of Radonezh
September 18 - 25th Ordinary Sunday
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The Fig Tree In The Garden
In My Father's House
Getting Married in a Church
The Night Train to Lisbon
Encounters On The Way
Birth Pangs of a New Age
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