Archive for the ‘Saint’s Days’ Category


Today, I learned of a great Irish saint, St. Ita of Kileedy (Ite ingen Chinn Fhalad) (d. 570/577).  She was an early Irish nun and patron saint of Killeedy. She was known as the “foster mother of the saints of Erin”. The name “Ita” (“thirst for holiness”) was conferred on her because of her saintly qualities. I missed her feast day on 15 January, but will keep it next year.  I sent for her icon today, which has just been released for purchase.

Her legend is worth noting today.  Called the “Brigid of Munster”, Ita was born in 480 in the present County Waterford.  Her father was Cennfoelad or Confhaola (try pronouncing that) and her mother was Necta.

An account of Ita’s life in the Codex Kilkenniensis, follows the example of Brigit in describing the opposition Íte meets in pursuit of her vocation. She was baptised as Deirdre and grew up in Drum, County Waterford. Ita was said to embody the six virtues of Irish womanhood – wisdom, purity, beauty, musical ability, gentle speech and needle skills. She is also reported to have rejected a prestigious marriage for a life as a consecrated woman religious.

At the age of sixteen she moved to Cluain Credhail, a place-name that has ever since been known as Killeedy – meaning “Church of St. Ita” – in County Limerick, where she founded a small community of nuns and resided for the remainder of her life, in community with other consecrated women. Bishop Declan of Ardmore conferred the veil on her.

Legend has it that Ita was led to Killeedy by three heavenly lights. The first was at the top of the Galtee mountains, the second on the Mullaghareirk mountains and the third at Cluain Creadhail, which is nowadays Killeedy. Her sister Fiona also went to Killeedy with her and became a member of the community.

A strongly individualistic character is glimpsed in the stories that surround her life. When she decided to settle in Killeedy, a chieftain offered her a large grant of land to support the convent. But Ita would accept only four acres, which she cultivated intensively. The community group seems to have had a school for little boys where they were taught “Faith in God with purity of heart; simplicity of life with religion; generosity with love”. Her pupils are said to have included Saint Brendan the Navigator, whom Bishop Erc gave to Ita in fosterage when he was a year old. St. Ita kept him until he was six.  He later visited her between his voyages and always deferred to her counsel. Brendan is believed to have asked her what three things God loved best. “True faith in God and a pure heart, a simple life with a religious spirit and open-handedness inspired by charity,” she answered.

She noted at one point the three things God most detested: a scowling face, obstinacy in wrongdoing, and too great a confidence in the power of money. She dedicated herself to prayer, fasting, simplicity and cultivating a gift for spiritual discernment. She was also endowed with the gift of prophecy and was held in great veneration by a large number of contemporary saints, men as well as women.

Ita was said to have a gift for guiding people in holiness. She was much sought after as a spiritual director. During this period of Christianity, the Celtic Church was more advanced than other churches at the time in recognizing qualities of spiritual leadership in women and in encouraging women in this role. It is thought that Ita may have been abbess of a double monastery of men and women.

Her legend places a great deal of emphasis on her austerity, as told by St. Cuimin of County Down, and numerous miracles are recorded of her. She is also said to be the originator of an Irish lullaby for the infant Jesus, an English version of which was set for voice and piano by the American composer Samuel Barber. She probably died of cancer, though contemporary chroniclers describe how her side was consumed by a beetle that eventually grew to the size of a pig. When she felt her end approaching she sent for her community of nuns, and invoked the blessing of heaven on the clergy and laity of the district around Kileedy. Ita died sometime around 570.

Her grave, frequently decorated with flowers, is in the ruins of Cill Ide, a Romanesque church at Killeedy where her monastery once stood. It was destroyed by Viking invaders in the ninth century. A Romanesque church was later built over its ruins, but that too failed to survive. The site, however, remains a place of pilgrimage today. A holy well nearby, almost invisible now, was known for centuries for curing smallpox in children and other diseases as well.  Another village in County Limerick, Kilmeedy (In Irish – Cill m’Ide, or church of my Ita) has links with the saint as well – having first set up a church in Kilmeedy before the one in Killeedy.

Not only was St. Ita a saint, but she was the foster-mother of many saints, including St. Brendan the Navigator, St. Pulcherius (Mochoemog) and Cummian. At the request of Bishop Butler of Limerick, Pope Pius IX granted a special Office and Mass for the feast of St. Ita, which is kept on 15 January. Although not on the Roman calendar of saints, her feast is celebrated as an optional memorial in Ireland.

St Ita is the patron saint of Killeedy, Ireland,[4] and along with St. Munchin is co-patron of the Diocese of Limerick. She is reportedly a good intercessor in terms of pregnancy and eye illnesses.

Read Full Post »


Today marks our parish’s patronal day.  We are privileged to have under our altar a stone from the road at Verulamum, and, it is reputed, a relic of the first class in the mensa (altar stone).  The paver from the road trod by the saint on his way to martyrdom was a gift from St. Alban’s Abbey which our family visited just a year ago last week and from which the text below is “borrowed”.  The photographs are ours.

St Alban’s story and this place built in his honour takes us back to the beginning of the Christian faith in Britain.

Alban is believed to have been a Romano-British citizen of the third century in the Roman city of Verulamium, in the valley below the present Cathedral. The earliest versions of his history say that he gave shelter to a stranger fleeing from persecution. This was a Christian priest, originally un-named but later called Amphibalus in the re-telling of the story. Alban was so moved by the priest’s faith and courage that he asked to be taught more about Christianity, then still a forbidden religion.

Before long the authorities came to arrest the fugitive priest. But Alban, inspired by his new-found faith, exchanged clothes with Amphibalus, allowing him to escape. Instead Alban was arrested and brought before the city magistrate. Alban refused to sacrifice to the emperor and the Roman gods. When asked to identify himself he declared: ‘I am called Alban and I worship and adore the true and living God, who created all things’.

The magistrate ordered that Alban should receive the punishment due to the priest. He was brought out of the town and up the hillside to the site of execution where he was beheaded. Despite escaping, Amphibalus too was later arrested and martyred at Redbourn, a few miles away.

Alban was probably buried in the Roman cemetery now located by modern archaeological digs to the south of the present Cathedral. Alban is honoured as the first British martyr, and his grave on this hillside quickly became a place of pilgrimage.

The first churches here were probably simple structures over Alban’s grave, making this the oldest continuous site of Christian worship in Great Britain. Recent finds suggest an early basilica over the spot and in 429 St Germanus recorded his visit to this church. In the early eighth century the historian Bede told the story of St Alban and described ‘a beautiful church, worthy of his martyrdom’.

Matthew Paris, the celebrated medieval historian and most famous of the Abbey’s monks, produced a beautifully illustrated Life of St Alban in the 13th century. This is now at Trinity College in Dublin.


The shrine of St Alban can be seen here today. Its Purbeck marble base of 1308 supports a modern red and gold canopy under which rests a shoulder-blade said to come from the original relics of the saint’s body. The canopy is embroidered with English wildflowers, commemorating Bede’s description of Alban as ascending a hill “adorned with wild flowers of every kind.” The red rose, in particular has come to be a special symbol of the saint reflecting the words of an ancient prayer: ‘Among the roses of the martyrs, brightly shines Saint Alban.’

DSCN2248Watching Gallery Above the Shrine

Alban is a saint of the undivided church, a saint for all Christians. His welcome to a persecuted stranger was a powerful example of courage, compassion and hospitality. St Alban is still with us in the Communion of Saints, and in this sacred place we worship God with him and ask his prayers.


Read Full Post »


I have had a number of requests for my homily from Christ the King Sunday.   I rarely post my homilies for three basic reasons.  First, I have always thought it prideful to do so.  Second, there are much better preachers from whom to learn. And, third, sermons and homilies are (or had better be) a work of the Holy Spirit in the preacher who has prayed and read into the works, particularly of the Fathers.  They are for a moment in God’s time, and may not have a permanence to them.

I offer the text with the following caveats. I rarely stick to any text and, indeed, have been known to preach ex tempore if I am so led. I also prepare texts more as notes, so that there likely will be typographical errors and emphasis marks within the notes.   If you use the text or (Heaven forbid) have a desire to quote from it, you can do so freely in this case. If you’d like to include an attribution, that’s fine.

SERMON FOR CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY-2016 (Given at St. Alban’s, Richmond, Virginia)

“We give thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” –Colossians i:12

Today is Christ the King Sunday–almost the last Sunday after Whitsunday-the Pentecost. We are drawing close to the end of those many, many “green” Sundays in Trinitytide and all of the moral teachings that have led us through the summer and early fall. Soon (and it doesn’t seem possible) we will begin anew with the First Sunday of Advent. But here we are, still in Trinity and preparing to commemorate All Saints Day and the solemn remembrance of All Souls.

Christ the King is not universally commemorated these days. But here in this parish, a part of the traditional Anglican-Catholic expression, I think that we do well to pause think a little bit about kings and kingship.

I had always imagined that the feast day of Christ the King came out of the medieval history of the Church, from a time when kingship was common and all the images of royalty would have been vibrant and meaningful for common Christians. I thought it might have arisen as a grand Feast Day.

Instead, I was surprised to read that the feast didn’t really did come to be generally celebrated until after 1925 when was formally placed on the calendar. Were there any powerful kings left in the world in 1925? I don’t know. Perhaps there were a few, but the feast came to be formally celebrated at a time when the governments of nations, particularly newly Communist Russia and our neighbor Mexico, were grossly abusing power and their people.

In Mexico, for example, a totalitarian regime gained control, and it tried vigorously to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, “Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!” They called themselves “Cristeros,” the most famous being a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, the good father Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally, though the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution. The president of Mexico (the improbably-named Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the international press to the execution.

The priest did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey.” At that moment the soldiers fired their deadly volley. It is a moment frozen in time, captured in the photographs of the journalists. If you look up “Padre Pro” or “Saint Miguel Pro” on the Internet, you can see that picture.

As in the Gospel today, Padre Pro died acknowledging Jesus as King. Hopefully you and I will die with the name of Jesus on our lips and in our hearts. But, more importantly, we will live today, this day, acknowledging Christ as our King.

This might seem the Church is just not “with it” or “up to date” celebrating a holy day based upon symbols and images that seem out of date, images of kings and royalty. But, you know, I suppose we could say it is the Church at hers best when even something as seemingly anachronistic as feast day about kings has the power to teach and inspire. Christ the King Sunday does teach and it does inspire.  It speaks to the practical point of our life in Christ.

My beloved, if a government overreaches itself, if it demands a submission that we as Christians cannot give, we have a simple, direct response: Jesus is our king. He is the King over all kings.  We follow his teachings and submit to his rule.

But it is puzzling, isn’t it?  “King” is a word we might not normally use to describe Jesus.  We associate the word “king” and all of its trappings with power and majesty, but Christ Jesus did not display that kind of power or majesty. In fact, if you were a contemporary and heard someone describing Jesus as king you might reply, “but he was born in a stable,” or isn’t he the carpenter’s boy?

It is true. Jesus was not the kingly, majestic type. Recall the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry. When Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said they could all be his if Jesus worshiped him (Luke 4:5-7), Jesus replied that only God is to be worshiped (Luke 4:8). Satan offered a temptation to display power. But Jesus resisted that temptation always. He avoided the shows of earthly power and authority.

Beloved in Christ, the irony is that Jesus was a king because he has a kingdom, but his kingdom is totally at odds with any display of power in this world. Some people like to dominate others, they abuse their power, and they manipulate others through lies and even violence. Oh, how we see this in this mean season, this electoral season!

But those behaviors have no place in Jesus’ kingdom. Those with power can and do unfortunately abuse their power in so many ways. We see that each and every day.  But Jesus?  Jesus is totally powerless on the cross; he cannot, it seems, even save himself. Remember the mocking words, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” (Luke 23:35)

The values in Jesus’ kingdom are service and humility. If we want to be great, then we must be like children (Luke 18:17). We are to carry our cross after Jesus every day (Luke 14:27). There is no place for violence or retribution in Jesus’ kingdom. There is no place for abuse of power. There is no place for deceit and manipulation.

Jesus, King of Kings, certainly did not abuse His power, and he is our model. Jesus, the humble king, stands as an example and a stern rebuke to those who abuse or thirst for power of any sort. It just has no place in the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ kingdom. In fact, if we follow Christ’s example, there is no envy or greed or lust for power in us.

So, in many ways we see that Jesus’ kingdom is totally at odds with any display of power in this world, particularly political power. Christ kept company with tax-collectors, sinners and prostitutes, so much so that the authorities, political and religious, described Jesus as “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners.” (Luke 7:34)

You would expect kings to receive important people and dignitaries but Jesus received the lowly and rejected people of his time. You might expect a king to receive a gifts but Jesus gave gifts: he restored health to those who were sick, he raised the dead, he gave the gift of Eternal Life. Jesus was not the kingly type according to our understanding of king; he is a seemingly powerless king!

But, kings wear crowns.  The King of Kings too wore a crown. What sort of crown did Jesus wear? It was a crown of thorns. And, kings have thrones?  Jesus had a throne here on earth. What throne do we see Jesus sitting on in the Gospel today? (Luke 23:35-43) Look there.  It is the cross. Kings have armies don’t they? Knights, and soldiers, archers and standard bearers.  Yet, instead of an army, there were people beneath his cross asking him to come down if he was indeed the Son of God (Luke 23:35). So Jesus’ idea of king and power is totally opposite to the world’s idea of a king and power. That is why the preface to one Eucharistic Prayer describes Jesus’ kingdom as

a kingdom of truth and life

a kingdom of holiness and grace

a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

So it is that (Luke 23:35-43) we will find Jesus sitting on the most unusual throne of the Cross. “King of the Jews” was written over it.  It is there on the superscription.  But that moment of pain and humiliation was passing, and then Jesus assumed his real throne at the right hand side of his Father.

Beloved in Christ, this can teach us something-to bring about the kingdom of God we may have to abandon what the world considers important.  We may even have to be prepared to be ridiculed as Jesus was on the cross. We may even have to give all.   We may have to give our lives.

It was not easy for Christ to begin establishing His kingdom with values at odds to those of the world; it cost him his life. It certainly is not easy for the Church now trying to establish that kingdom in a society growing daily more secular and pagan. It is not easy for those of your who would dare to carry the Cross.  But for those who die to themselves, who truly open themselves to Jesus, the reward is a share in Jesus’ kingdom.  It is the promise to the penitent thief, “Indeed I promise you, today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Particularly as we approach another national election, this feast is an invitation to all those who have power or authority of any kind to compare their use of power or authority with Jesus Christ. Indeed, we pray this in the second prayer for the President and those in Authority in Morning and Evening prayer.  When you have a moment this week, open the Prayer Book and read that prayer on page 18 with an accent on the word “thy”.

“Grant to THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and to all in Authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear;”

Here’s the litmus test. Are those in authority using their power to serve others or to manipulate? Are these people using their power for the building up of a more just society or simply to feather their own nests? Are they using their power in any way that might cause pain to others or in a way that could help to alleviate pain?  Are they seeking the things of Christ?

In the prayer Jesus taught us, we pray, “thy kingdom come.” Jesus has shown how to bring about that kingdom. Let us pray that nations and individuals will be humble enough to look at how Jesus used power and bring about the kingdom of God.

As for us, we have our own questions this day. Will we crown this most unusual King to be our Lord? Will we grant him the authority and power to rule in our lives?  Will we acknowledge the authority of one who gave his life for ours? Will we submit to the power of one whose rule is one of love and reconciliation? Will we give up service to earthly powers and serve the one who is
King of heaven?

If so, crown him as your king.  Grant him power and  authority in your life, so that he may rule and guide your hearts and your minds and your souls. In the words of the hymn, “Crown him with many crowns!”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. 

The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls, Obl.S.B.


Read Full Post »


December 24th
Nine Lessons and Carols-4:00 p.m. This service will include the blessing of the Christmas Crib. Our thanks to Mr. Bernard Riley, the choir and musicians who have been working so hard to help us lift our voices in a welcome to our Lord!
Christmas Vigil-10:00 p.m.-Sung Mass.
December 25th
Sung Matins-8:00 a.m.
Feast of the Nativity-10:00 a.m.-Sung Mass of Christmas Day
December 26th
Sung Matins-8:00 a.m.
Feast of St. Stephen-12:00 Noon-Said Mass
December 27th
Sung Matins-8:00 a.m.
Feast of St. John-12:00 Noon-Said Mass
December 28th
Morning Prayer-8:30 a.m.
Bible Study-9:30 a.m.-Study of the Gospel of St. Mathew
Holy Eucharist-11:00 a.m. (Hospitality follows in Parish Hall)

Read Full Post »

St. Etheldreda

etheldredaAfter a long haitus, we reopen with  the commemoration of a quintessentially English saint’s day today. St. Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely (AD 636-679).

The praises of that saint we sing,
to whom all lands their tribute bring,
who with indomitable heart,
bore throughout life true woman’s heart.

Restraining every froward sense
by gentle bonds of abstinence,
with prayer her hungry souls she fed,
and thus to heavenly joys hath sped.

King Christ, from whom all virtue springs,
who only doest wondrous things,
as now to thee she kneels in prayer,
in mercy our petitions hear.

All praise to God the Father be,
all praise, eternal Son, to thee;
whom with the Spirit we adore
forever and forevermore.

-English Hymnal (1906)

Read Full Post »

(Given at the Parish of Ss. Andrew and Margaret, Alexandria, Virginia)

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” –Romans 10:15.

I was honored to be asked by Fr. Nick to be asked to deliver the homily on this feast of Saint Andrew and to celebrate the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan.  You see, whenever we come around to Saint Andrew’s Day in the church calendar I am reminded of my mother who was a grand-child of the diaspora—no, not the one from the book of Exodus–but one that ran from Glasgow to Belfast to the States to here.

She was a woman who took great delight in letting everyone, and I mean everyone, know about her Scottishness, particularly my father, of the plight of the poor Englishman—the Englishman whose national costume is a worn raincoat patented by one Charles MacIntosh, a Glaswegian. She would remind my dad that the Englishman drives a car fitted with tires invented by John Boyd Dunlop of Dreghorn…Scotland.  At the office he receives his mail with adhesive stamps which, although they bear the queen of England’s head, were invented by John Chambers of Dundee…Scotland.  The Englishman might have occasion to use the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell of Edinburgh, which is of course, in Scotland.

At home in the evening, the English squire watches the news on a tellly which was invented by John Logie Baird of Helensburough…Scotland and hears an item about the U.S. Navy founded by John Paul Jones of Kirkbean, Scotland. Now having been reminded too much of Scotland of the Scots, in desperation the gent picks up the Bible, only to find that the first man mentioned in the foreword of good book is a Scot – King James VI – who authorized its translation.

Nowhere, nowhere can an Englishman turn to escape the ingenuity of the Scots. He could take to drink but the Scots make the finest in the world—in despair over the omnipresent Scots, he might think of ending it all, only to find that his breech-loading rifle was invented by Captain Patrick Ferguson of Pitfours, Scotland.  So he goes back to the previous step, sipping single malt and contemplating his fortune, safe…safe in the Bank of England which…founded by William Patterson of Dumfries, Scotland.

Ingenious and omnipresent, these Scots—they seem to travel everywhere. And they have been a faithful people, for there is a long history of Scottish missionary zeal throughout the world.  There are few things more formidable than a Scots preacher—in one church in Indiana where I served as a youth pastor during college they maintained that their Scottish founder rode more than a million miles in his 50 year ministry. Perhaps that is why the expression in his portrait which hung in the sanctuary was so pained.  But, this missionary zeal may well account for Saint Andrew’s patronage over the Scots.

And so we turn to the Saint whom we commemorate this day-one of the patron Saints of this parish. Saint Andrew’s life teaches us so much about Christian discipleship and the need for missionary zeal, and gives us a great example as we have just begun this holy the season of Advent. I’d like to focus on three elements: Andrew’s time at the Jordan, his bringing others to Christ, and then his preaching of the Gospel even unto death.  

We first encounter St. Andrew at the Jordan River with St. John the Baptist, “the forerunner”—the forerunner of the Jesus, who was there making straight the paths to receive the Lord. Those paths were straight enough in Andrew’s heart and mind so that when John Baptist, one day, looked up and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Saint Andrew immediately left John and went and saw where Jesus lived. (John 1:35) After only a few hours, Andrew had  recognized Christ Jesus as the Messiah.  He went to fetch his brother Simon, told him that he had found the Messiah, and brought Simon to Jesus.

Andrew and Simon Peter then returned to their fishing business in Capernaum, but not for long.  As we hears in our second reading from  Gospel of Saint Matthew (St. Matt. 4:18), Jesus saw them again and called them from their boats to make them fishers of men. Their response: they immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers. (John 2:43-44)

Later on we find Andrew bringing both the boy with the five loaves and two fish to the Lord-the raw material for Jesus’ great miracle of the feeding of five-thousand. After Pentecost, Christian tradition says Andrew proclaimed the Gospel in Greece, which led to his martyrdom in Patras, being crucified on a decussate or X-Shaped cross in Achaia, northern Greece.

The passage in our first reading is a free quotation from the prophet Isaiah, applied by Saint Paul to the glorious proclamation of the Gospel to the world, and therefore especially appropriate for our consideration upon the feast of the first missionary, Saint Andrew. The text brings before us the dignity, importance and moral beauty of missionary work.

Advent brings home for us the fact that world is waiting in darkness even as on the eve of the Nativity.  Individual souls even in nominally Christian lands are waiting to have brought home to them, by the words or influence of some Christian worker, some missionary for Christ, that truth which is the most precious in the world—the value of the soul as the object of God’s love, its future in heaven or hell, and the means of its salvation as summed up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 The circumstances under which Isaiah uttered this beautiful passage recounted in the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans is important to our message.  The second portion of the prophecy of Isaiah, from the fortieth chapter to the end, is concerned with the return to Jerusalem of the exiles from Babylon.  It is mingled with the prophecy of that glorious restoration that he foresees the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, and the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations.

First, then, Jerusalem in the time of Cyrus is represented with a watchman upon its walls, announcing the appearance over the surrounding mountains of the messengers who herald the approach of the returning exiles. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings that publisheth peace.” The messenger is glorified, and made and becomes beautiful on account of the message that he brings. Long had the city lain in ruins. Now once more it was to be rebuilt, and the worship of God restored in His temple.

And by the time that Saint Paul wrote, the Messiah had come and had been rejected. He had wept over the city He loved so well, and proclaimed its doom. But with the fall of the earthly Jerusalem the universal kingdom of Christ was to be established at the Second Advent. So Saint Paul applies the passage, not to those who are approaching, but to those who are leaving Jerusalem—going out from Jerusalem–with the knowledge of Christ, to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

As we hear in the words of the Psalmist, “BE joyful in the LORD, all ye lands: * serve the LORD with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.”  The great commission as prefigured in the Psalms.

Jew and Gentile alike lay in the darkness and moral ruin; but the message of peace was sent forth, and the messengers who bore it were the missionaries of the Gospel. In our own day the majority of the world is still in the darkness of heathenism, or slipping into unbelief, and even among Christian nations there is much room for missionary work,

St. Paul, in applying these words of Isaiah, gives expression to his conception of the splendor of missionary endeavor. It is the bringing to souls, held in a captivity worse than that of Babylon, the good news of salvation; and the first messengers who cross the mountains around Jerusalem to go out to the world with the Gospel of Christ are the Apostles.

Beloved in Christ, it is to missionary work that all the Christian world at one time or another owes its knowledge of Jesus. Every Christian nation has its story of the pioneers of Christianity, its soldiers of Christ, the first who brought the good tidings to that country while it was still heathen. But of all this noble army Saint Andrew is the leader, the first missionary, the first to follow Christ, the first to bring another soul to Jesus.

You see, Saint Andrew had truly the missionary spirit of promptness in accepting Christ’s invitation, “Come and see” (Saint John :39); of zeal in bringing another, his brother Peter, to Christ; and later, of readiness in obeying Christ’s call to leave his boats and nets, and to follow Him. He had the missionary’s love of souls and fellow man, the missionary’s appreciation of the capacity of the soul for the call of Christ. (St. John 12:20-22).

As Saint John Chrysostom once noted, look at the faith of Andrew and his brother and their obedience.  For though they were in the midst of their work when they heard his command they did not delay or procrastinate. They did not look inward to what they had, and try a cost benefit analysis or even say, “Let us return home, and talk things over with our family.” Instead, “they left everything behind and followed,” even as Elisha did when he followed Elijah. For Christ seeks this kind of obedience from us, such that we delay not even for a moment, no matter what excuse we may think that we have to resist the call.

As to the second question, the missionary imperative, Saint Andrew’s first instinct was to bring others to Christ. As we have heard, the first man he brought was his brother Simon. How could he possibly know what the Lord had in store for his brother? His sibling, a simple fisherman like him, was to be made the rock on whom the Lord would build his Church. Who knows what the Christ might do with those we introduce or bring closer to him?

God may need us to be the instrument, or the fishing hook, even to bring future deacons, priests, bishops, religious, or even great saints to him. Likewise, little did Saint Andrew know that bringing the simple boy with fish and bread to the Lord would lead to one of the greatest miracles Jesus ever performed, or that his introducing some Greeks, some non-believers to Christ, would inaugurate a new stage in the spreading of the Good News. We just never know what can happen when we introduce someone to Jesus.

Here is a key lesson for those of us who are traditional Anglicans.  After the years in the wilderness, we have may have grown comfortable, comfortable in our parishes, perhaps even complacent in our lives.  How easy it is to look inward—inward to the boats, and nets and things that make the livings that make life comfortable.  The inward gaze, to run home to evaluate or question the call to follow and fish, that will be the end for us.  We shall become a footnote to ecclesiastical history.  Beloved in Christ, we are called out as was Saint Andrew—we are called to bring the unalloyed faith to a darkened and hurting world.  So, let us redouble our efforts this Advent and in memory of Saint Andrew to bring each other into closer relationship with Christ and to bring others to him—it is our mission.

Finally, Saint Andrew brought people to the Lord not just by his actions, but by his words as well. We don’t have any extant letters  or homilies from him. But we do have an ancient account of his martyrdom, in which we can see the way he died and extrapolate from there to how he would have lived.

The martyrdom account says that it took him 38 hours to die on that X-shaped Cross. During those two days, it adds, he preached incessantly to the people. We can only imagine how difficult it must have been for St. Andrew to preach under those circumstances, difficult even to draw breath.  Yet, he preached the Gospel not only with his lips, but in his life and until its very end. This ultimate witness on the Cross, his two-day long martyrdom, shows us quite clearly how much he was dying to bring the Good news to others, a truth worth living for until the very end, and a truth worth dying for.

So, on this Saint’s day, let us ask the tough questions…the Saint Andrew’s questions.  Do we have his missionary spirit, and what are we doing to show it?  In regard to home missions, are we interested in the souls of our friends and relations in leading them to Christ?

With respect to foreign missions, to our ACC Missionary Society of St. Paul, do we devote time to a study of missionary fields, their needs, and possibilities? Are we regular in prayer for all foreign missions, and especially for those for which we have undertaken to pray?  In almsgiving, do we strive to support others in the mission field?

Surely Saint Andrew’s Day calls us all to renewed effort in missionary work, and Saint Paul reminds us “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things,” and this applies not only to those who go out them­selves into the mission field, but to those who by their prayers and alms enable others to act as substitutes for them.

        And so we turn to St. Andrew as we prepare to cross the threshold of Advent and ask that it might be a great period of preparation for us. May we be serious about making straight the paths for the Lord, so that when we hear the words “Behold the Lamb of God”, we may cling to this Lamb, bring others to Him, and preach Him, with our lives and with our lips, for as long as we have breath! Amen!

Read Full Post »

Everlasting God, our maker and redeemer, grant us with all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of thy Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection, that, in the last day, when thou dost gather up all things in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of thy promises; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Emyl Jenkins from husband Bob Sexton

Audrey Crabtree Reinbold
Nina Crabtree
Walter Crabtree
Frank W. Collier from Avril Lim

St. Alban
S. Strouther Smith
Cary Berger
Harry Graham
Bishop William J. Rutherford
Bishop John T. Cahoon
Bishop Harry B. Scott
Rosalie Applegate
Barbara Brankley
Paul Bargamin
Ann Syndor
Ted Smith
Summer (Kit) Moore
David Brydon
Daniel Fowler from Ed Darby and Family

Roy and Beatrice Rhodd
Glenford and Lynette Kow
Pauline Rhodd- Cummings
Richard Kow from Simone Rhodd and Family

Herbert Dixon from Mary Lou Baden

James Winston and Annette Magill Nalls
Robert Ward Carroll, II
Catherine Magill Houck and the departed of the Magill family
CAPT John L. Nalls, USMC
Robert F.W. and Edith Ferre Carroll
Endre and Eleanor (Carroll) Brunner
LTCOL Gerald and Alice Parker in loving memory from the Nalls and Carroll Families.

Schenique Alleyne in loving memory from her mother and father

Bianca Barfield from her son Charles

Alice Rawles

Thornton brother of Inez Frazier

William Hood in loving memory from his wife Barbara Hood

Our war dead from Saint Alban’s and her people

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts