Monday, July 30, 2012

This Week's Feast Days


William Wilberforce [1759-1833] wanted to have a deep effect on his world and was torn between serving God in the church or in the realm of secular politics.  He chose the latter.  He served as a member of Parliament for 45 years and was the champion of causes such as religious liberty [that's when the government can't legislate one's morality; we're still working on that one in the USA] and the abolition of slavery [it took awhile for that notion to take hold in the USA, too].

Wilberforce, who was a member of our Mother church, the Church of England, tempered his secular political life and efforts with daily prayer and study of scripture.  In our time, and in our nation, this would have made him a figure of ridicule by the late night "comedians"; in his day, it ensured the end of institutional slavery throughout the British Empire.  I hasten to add that this took great resolve and just plain bloody-mindedness on Wilberforce's part; another reason to credit his faithful habits for keeping him both grounded and focused.

More of Wilberforce, and of his friend John Newton, who wrote a number of the hymns found in the Episcopal Church hymnal, may be found here.

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, kindle in your Church the never-failing gift of love, that, following the example of your servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

July 31st:

Ignatius of Loyola [1491-1556] was the founder of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits.  He was everything a truly great teacher should be: patient, learned, faithful, and [this is the important one, now] mystical.  Through these qualities, he created the most intellectual order of clergy ever known in the Western Church.

More on his life may be found here.

Almighty God, from whom all good things come: You called Ignatius of Loyola to the service of your Divine Majesty and to find you in all things. Inspired by his example and strengthened by his companionship, may we labor without counting the cost and seek no reward other than knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

August 1st:

Joseph of Arimathea, who surrendered his tomb to be used by the disciples as a resting place for the remains of Jesus, was a tin merchant.  Whether due to the conventions of pious legend, or because of the presence of tin for export from the British Isles to Rome, Joseph is identified as the one who brought Christianity to the Britons.  More of his story and role in scripture may be found here.

Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and laid it in his own tomb: Grant to us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.