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Please join us for Champagne Sunday Brunch after mass. All are welcome. The menu will include turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy.
We had a great time at the pet blessing good times by all. 2018 pet blessing.
June 24th: There will be no Saturday morning mass.
June 25th: Fr. Martin Yost returns to Holy Cross as a special guest celebrant. Mr. Chase Skorburg will be a special guest preacher.
There will be no Rector’s Study Group before mass.
June 20: Translation of St. Edward
On this day we recall St. Edward the Martyr, King of the English, who was betrayed and murdered on March 18, 978. He was buried without any royal honors at the town of Wareham, Dorset. A year later the Martyr-King’s body was disinterred and found to be incorrupt. His relics were taken to Shaftesbury Abbey, where they were reinterred. The place became a pilgrimage destination and a place of healing and miracles. On this day, June 20, 1001, his relics were again moved with great solemnity to a prominent shrine within the monastery church. Shaftesbury Abbey was destroyed at the time of the Reformation, but Edward’s relics were hidden so as to prevent their being desecrated. In 1930 the relics were rediscovered, and in September 1984, the Martyr-King was again buried with devotion, this time at a monastic Orthodox church dedicated to St. Edward in Brookwood Surrey. They may be venerated there to this day.
June 22: Alban
Considered protomartyr (or first martyr) of Britain, St. Bede says that Alban suffered martyrdom around the year 303 in the town of Verulamium in Roman Britain (now called St. Albans, in Hertfordshire). Alban had given shelter to a Christian priest fleeing from the authorities. Alban was greatly impressed by the priest’s faith, and received baptism at his hands. When soldiers arrived, Alban dressed himself in the priest’s mantle and cloak and gave himself up to the authorities. He was taken before the magistrate and scourged. When he refused to deny Christ, Alban was taken to the top of a hill and beheaded. St. Bede records that on the way, Alban miraculously caused a fountain of water to flow from the top of the hill, and that Alban’s executioner was so impressed by the saint, that he refused to lay hands on him, for which the executioner himself was executed. The executioner who took his place was struck with blindness after killing Alban. St. Bede also records that the priest whom Alban sheltered was, with several companions, martyred several days later. The place of Alban’s martyrdom became a place of pilgrimage and healings, and a monastery was eventually built on the spot. This monastery eventually became the Cathedral Church of St. Alban, which remains to this day. St. Alban’s shrine was destroyed during the Reformation, but was restored during the 20th century, and relics of the saint preserved in Cologne were reinterred in the shrine, which has again become a place of pilgrimage.
Sunday, February 5th: The Annual Parish Meeting will be held after mass.
Wednesday, February 8th: There will be no afternoon mass.
Thursday, February 9th: Holy Cross will host the neighborhood crime watch meeting at 6:00 pm.
Sunday, February 12th: We look forward to welcoming Fr. Victor Austin, Theologian in Residence in the Diocese of Dallas), as our special guest preacher. He will also address the Rector’s Study Group on the topic of suffering. All are welcome.
February 3: Anskar
Born about the year 796 in Corbie, in what is now northern France, Saint Anskar (or Oscar) was an archbishop of the see of Hamburg-Bremen, and was known as the “Apostle to the North”. He was a monk of the abbey of Corvey (which remains an active monastery to this day), and went on preaching missions to what is now Denmark and Sweden, preaching faith in Christ and making many converts. He became the Archbishop of Hamburg, with the right to send missionaries and consecrate missionary bishops for the northern countries. And the conversion of many of the Scandinavian peoples to faith in Christ is a direct result of the ministry of Anskar.
February 4: Cornelius the Centurion
Cornelius was a centurion (an officer of the Roman army) of the Italian Cohort residing at Caesarea. Acts 10 records that Cornelius was a devout man who feared God, prayed constantly, and gave alms liberally. One day in a vision, Cornelius saw an angel who said “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” and instructed him to send servants to Joppa and bring back Simon Peter (Acts 10.4-5). Cornelius obeys, and finds that Peter had had a corresponding vision, in which a sheet full of ritually unclean animals was lowered from heaven, and a voice told him “Rise, Peter; kill and eat”. When Peter protests that the animals are ritually unclean, the voice says “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” When Cornelius’s servants arrive asking for Peter, Peter understands his vision to mean that the Gospel is to be preached among non-Jews (such as Cornelius). Accordingly Peter went and preached to Cornelius and his household, and they all believed in Christ and were baptized. Thus Cornelius is the first non-Jew to come to faith in Christ, and his feast represents, as Peter says to him, that “God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10.34f). Thus Jesus came not merely to the Jews, but to men of good will from every nation under heaven.
February 5: The Martyrs of Japan
St. Paul Miki and his companions, were twenty-six Christians who were martyred by the shoguns of Japan after refusing to renounce faith in Christ on February 5, 1597. They included six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits priests, and seventeen Japanese laymen. All were crucified and pierced through with spears at Nagasaki. 250 years later, when European Christians returned to Japan, they found that faith in Christ had survived underground, without the assistance of clergy or books, among a number of Japanese.
Sunday, December 4th: The Rector’s Study Group meets at 9:30 on Sunday mornings in the rector’s study. All are welcome. We are currently continuing our discussion of Christian prayer.
Please note that our regular mass schedule is, for the time being: Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, and Saturdays at 10:00 am.
Sunday, December 11th: The next Vestry meeting will be held after mass.
December 3: Francis Xavier
Born at Navarre, in the Basque region of Spain, in 1506, St. Francis Xavier was one of the early companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola and with him a co-founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). After ordination to the priesthood at Rome, Xavier became a missionary, laboring for the gospel in Mozambique, southern India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Japan, and the islands off of China. It is estimated that the number of people who received the light of the Gospel through the preaching of Francis Xavier is second only to the number converted to faith in Christ by the Apostles themselves. Xavier labored for only ten years in the mission field, but suffered much, and worked many miracles. He died of sickness in a hovel on Shangchuan Island (modern Guangdong Province) in the South China Sea while awaiting transportation to mainland China in the year 1552. His relics are kept in a Jesuit Church in Goa, India, where Xavier had labored for a number of years; though his right arm (with which he blessed so many souls) is venerated at the mother church of the Society of Jesus, the Gesu, in Rome.
December 4: John of Damascus
Born around the year 676 in the city of Damascus, John grew up in a Christian family in a land recently conquered by Islam. He received an excellent education from a Sicilian monk named Cosmas whom John’s father hired as a tutor. John became very learned in the disciplines of law, philosophy, theology, and music. Upon his father’s death, John inherited the family’s traditional role of chief counselor of Damascus, serving the Islamic Caliph. After faithfully serving in this capacity, John eventually retired to the monastery of Mar Saba in the Judean wilderness, outside of Jerusalem, where he lived out his days as a priest-monk. Already ancient in John’s lifetime, Mar Saba is still active today. The iconoclast controversy raged during John’s lifetime, and John entered the fray, defending the ancient Christian tradition of venerating holy images (icons). His great work on the subject, “Apologetic Treatises Against those Decrying the Holy Images” is still read and studied today, along with a number of John’s other works, including his systematic exposition of the faith, “An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”, and a polemic against various heresies. In the 19th century Pope Leo XIII declared John to be a “Doctor of the Church”. He is sometimes called the “Doctor of the Assumption” because of his exposition and defense of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. He died at Mar Saba on December 4, 749.
December 5: Clement of Alexandria
Born about the year 150 AD, probably in Athens. He was originally named Titus Flavius Clemens. He became a convert to Christianity, and set out travelling through the Levant in search of a teacher. After studying with several masters, Clement eventually settled at Alexandria, in Egypt, to study from a master named Pantaenus, in whose teaching Clement says that he “found rest”. Alexandria was a great center of learning in the ancient world. Clement became the head of the Christian Catechetical School there, which trained Christian clergy, apologists, and teachers, and which was very influential in the early exposition of the faith. A number of Clement’s writings survive, and remain valuable to student’s of Christian theology. Clement died about the year 211 AD.
December 6: Nicholas of Myra
This is the Nicholas who evolved into “Santa Claus” in the western Church. In truth, little is known for certain about St. Nicholas except that he was bishop of Myra in Lycia of Anatolia (the southern coast of modern Turkey) in the 4th century, and that he died on December 6 in 345 or 352 AD. He is said to have gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Land as a youth, and to have become bishop of Myra upon his return. Likewise he is said to have been imprisoned during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian, and to have been released when Constantine (who was himself a Christian) became emperor. He is said to have been one of the Fathers present at the Council of Nicaea in 325. One popular legend says that there was a poor man in Myra with three daughters. He could not afford his daughters’ dowries, and so rather than being married, they would either have to turn to prostitution or be sold into slavery. The legend says that St. Nicholas threw three bags of gold through the window of the man’s house during the night, and each bag landed in a shoe (or stocking) of each of his daughters. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of pawn-brokers, and the three gold balls often appearing on pawn shops are an allusion to this story. Nicholas is also the patron of mariners, merchants, bakers, travelers, children, and a great number of European cities and states. His relics were stolen from Myra by Italian merchants in the 11th century, and brought to Bari in Italy, where they are still venerated. An oily substance, known as “Manna di S. Nicola” flows from his bones, and is collected and used medicinally by the faithful. St. Nicholas is one of the most popular saints of Christianity, both East and West.
December 7: Ambrose of Milan
Born around 340 to a Christian family, Ambrose was raised in Trier (modern Germany). He had two siblings, Satyrus and Marcellina who are also saints. Ambrose began his career as a politician, as his father had been. Eventually Ambrose became Governor of the north-Italian province of Aemilia-Liguria. In 374, the Bishop of Milan died and a riot between Arians (who denied the divinity of Christ) and Catholics broke out in the city over the Episcopal succession. Ambrose came to the scene to restore calm, and as he was addressing the crowd, they began to call out “Ambrose, bishop!” Although he was a believer, Ambrose had never been baptized, remaining a catechumen because of what was regarded as the radical manner of life that being a disciple of Christ entailed (the practice of deferring baptism for this reason, sometimes until one was on one’s deathbed, was not uncommon at that time). Within a week, Ambrose was baptized, confirmed, ordained, and installed as Bishop of Milan. As bishop, he remained celibate and embraced an ascetic lifestyle, giving away all that he had to the poor. He also undertook intense theological study, becoming one of the greatest teachers of the Christian faith there has ever been, and one of the original “doctors of the Church”. Before his conversion to Christianity, St. Augustine of Hippo attended Ambrose’s sermons and found them compelling, eventually receiving baptism at the hands of Ambrose at the Easter Vigil at Milan in 387. Ambrose died in 397. His body may still be venerated in the church of San Ambroglio in Milan.
December 8: Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The orthodox faith teaches that Jesus Christ is both perfectly and completely man, and perfectly and completely God, all in one divine person. Likewise the Church teaches that the manhood (the humanity) of Jesus was “from the substance of his mother” (in the words of the Athanasian Creed). Scripture teaches that there were two primary actors in the becoming-flesh of the eternal Word: the Holy Spirit, and the Blessed Virgin Mary (see Luke 1). The Church has ever affirmed that Mary was prepared for this most special and unique of vocations from the very moment of her conception. Mary is not unique in being “called from the womb” (cf. Isaiah 49.1). Jeremiah the prophet speaks this way about himself (Jer. 1.5), and the Gospel of St. Luke speaks similarly of St. John the Baptist (Lk. 1.15). Indeed we were all called by God from the womb (and so the Church has always recognized the inviolable dignity of every human life, from the moment of conception – cf. Psalm 139.15). The providential preparation of St. Mary for her most important vocation meant that God preserved her from sin and from the effects of sin, and that by grace her heart was made and was kept susceptible to the will of God. The Church officially puts it this way: “her soul, in the first instant of its creation… was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I was tempted to begin today with Psalm 47.5: “God is gone up with a merry noise : and the Lord with the sound of the trump.”
I won’t. Instead consider what Jesus says in today’s Gospel:
“As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” And he said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and, `The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.”
The apocalyptic register of today’s Gospel lesson seems appropriate given the political situation in our country. The great Prussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, famously said that war was politics by other means. Riffing on that sentiment of Clausewitz, the late great Rene Girard observed that it also works the other way around: politics is war by other means.
People on every side of every divide in American life – and the divides in American life seem to be proliferating – but people on every side of every divide can agree that this election cycle was remarkable. And most agree – and certainly the self-described and self- appointed “experts agree – that the RESULTS of the election were remarkable. I have certainly never experienced anything like it in my lifetime, and I am struck by the fact that those much older than I am seem to have felt much the same. There has never been anything quite like it.
Most remarkable to me has been the hysterical reaction of some on the left who felt most alienated by the outcome. The famous pop starlet, Miley Cyrus, treated America to a bout of sobbing on Twitter as she attempted to wrap her mind around what had taken place. There have been protests in Dallas and Fort Worth and Austin, and there have been riots in the streets of a several other American cities. The house of my society in New Haven was defaced with leftist graffiti. Trump has been burned or hanged in effigy in New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. A number of my friends have announced on social media that they cried themselves to sleep out of fear after the election. It was even reported that the immigration website of Canada had crashed due to a post-election surge in traffic.
The apocalypticism felt by many in light of Trump’s victory is frankly ridiculous. The sun rose on Wednesday morning of last week, as it has done every morning since, and as it will no doubt continue to rise each morning for some time. That is not to say that ideas don’t have consequences, as Richard Weaver famously put it, nor is it to suggest that elections don’t have consequences. But our attitude, as Christians, towards any potential consequences, and towards secular politics itself, must be tempered by an appropriate apocalyptic, as well as a recognition that, as Wendell Berry said several decades ago, “our country is not being destroyed by bad politics; it is being destroyed by a bad way of life. Bad politics is merely another result.”
Empires rise and fall. Indeed our sacred texts, under one aspect, are largely a record of the rise and fall of various empires. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, etc. etc. Right down to the Americans. One of the things I have most appreciated about the presidency of Barack Obama is his critique of what has come to be called “American exceptionalism.” Surely our country IS exceptional, in any number of ways. Yet so were the Egyptians. So were the Romans. But where is Pharaoh today? Where is Caesar? There is a political reality that is destined in God’s providence to come “down from heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband.” But the name of that political reality is not the United States of America. It is rather the heavenly city, new Jerusalem, and its boundaries within this world are coextensive with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
Jesus said in today’s Gospel: “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And Peter goes even further, in his second epistle (3.10): the elements of the material universe will themselves be burned up, together, he says, with the earth and all the works that are upon it, and the heavens themselves, he says, will pass away with a loud noise. That ought to temper the excitement of political conservatives about what their candidate might accomplish. Likewise it ought to temper the disappointment of political liberals about what opportunities may have been lost, or about what kind of “progress” might have been forestalled.
It was controversial, in the context of the Roman empire, for the first Christians to call Jesus “the Lord” – kyrios, in Greek. That was a title that belonged to Caesar. It was fine for local people to worship their gods, but the worship of their gods had to be under the auspices of Roman hegemony. It had to recognize “Caesar, kyrios.” It was on account of this demand that so many Christians in the first centuries of the Church’s existence lost their lives to Roman justice, being fed to lions, beheaded, crucified, burned to death. But our brethren in those years held fast to their confession: there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. And the blood of those early martyrs, as Tertullian said, became the seed of the ascendant Church.
We American Christians in 2016 are tempted with the same form of idolatry – of thinking that our faith (and any particular faith for that matter) can only be practiced legitimately under the hegemony of the regnant order. That our faith is one thing among many possible things that we are free to choose or not to choose. But that’s not how “lordship” works. Perfect freedom is in the service of Jesus the Lord, in the service of what is true. It is not, in the final analysis, something that can be chosen, nor is it something that can be given or taken away by the constitution of the United States.
The slightly-adapted words of Psalm 146, which I quoted in a recent newsletter, before the election, remain apt now, in the election’s wake: “O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man : for there is no help in them. For when the breath of [Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton] goeth forth [they] shall turn again to [their] earth : and then all [their] thoughts perish. Blessed is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help : and whose hope is in the Lord his God; Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is : who keepeth his promise for ever.”
In the wake of the election, one political philosopher at Notre Dame wrote the following, and for what its worth, I concur absolutely:
“We have made politics our God, and many will be tempted to regard this election either as an apocalypse or [as] redemption. It is neither. My fondest hope would be that we would invest far fewer of our hopes and fears in the government, [and] more in our families, communities, churches and [in] local democracy. Some good and some ill will come from the new administration. I am committed to calling out the latter as much as hoping for the former. But I am most committed to building a culture of faith, hope and charity, one that might hope to make politics far less important in our lives, and see people in their wholeness, not merely as partisans…”
“As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down…”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.