Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Feast of the Annunciation, March 25

The Annunciation (by myself). The iPod replaces the more traditional book which Mary holds for a modern twist.

The Feast of the Annunciation celebrates the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to tell the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would bear the son of God and was to name him Jesus, meaning Savior. The feast is celebrated exactly nine months before Christmas illustrating the perfection of Christ even in birth. It was St. Luke the Evangelist who after the Resurrection and Pentecost interviewed Mary and recorded the Annunciation, the Nativity and the birth of John the Baptist in his Gospel. The Angelus,which goes over the Annunciation as a prayer is as follows:
V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the power of Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your Word.
Hail Mary...
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary...
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

And my favorite Annunciation hymn. Medieval Basque tune and words.

The angel Gabriel from Heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

“For know a bless├Ęd mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy Name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say—
“Most highly favored lady,” Gloria! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Restored Shrine of St. David of Wales

Here are the pictures from the dedication of the Shrine of St. David in his Welsh Cathedral. The procession began at the city cross, where the bishop blessed the City of St. Davids. The procession then moved to the Cathedral where a choral Eucharist was celebrated and the Shrine was dedicated. Celebrations continued for the next 5 days with shrine prayers and choral Eucharists everyday. The Cathedral also celebrated the feast of St. Non, St. David's mother, on Sunday, March 3.

Below is a link to the diocesan website with more pictures of the Shrine and celebrations, and the sermon delivered by the Canon Chancellor and Guardian of the Shrine, Dr. Patrick Thomas on St. Non's Day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Pope of Alexandria, Shenouda III, died on Saturday.

Patriarch of Egypt and All Africa since 1971, Shenouda has lead the Coptic Church for 4 decades. He supported his people, about 10% of the population in Egypt, through several periods of sectarian violence, the latest being the burning of Coptic churches and military attacks on Coptic protesters. Shenouda died at age 88 on Saturday, March 17, and hundreds of Christians gathered in and around the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria to mourn his death.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne; 20 March

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne at Durham Cathedral.
     St. Cuthbert is certainly one of Britain's, if not of all Anglicanism's, greatest bishops. The humility, love and compassion that he shared with his community, along with the many centuries of devotion paid to him after his death mark him both as one of the most loving and most loved leaders of English Christianity. Love is a reflexive act; the compassion, and trust shown to him by the Northern community is equally important to the care that he held for the people of his bishopric in the 7th century. His cult has survived war and peace; the Viking invasions beginning in 793, the danish invasions of the 10th century, the Norman Invasion, and it has even survived the impious destruction during the Reformation. His bones still lie at Durham where on March 19, 2012 a restored Banner of St. Cuthbert, a copy of a the medieval relic of his shroud and a symbol of northern England and the latest addition to the treasures of his tomb, will be dedicated.
St. Cuthbert's Shrine at Durham Cathedral.

Cuthbert was born in 634, near Melrose. He was a shepherd until he saw a vision as a boy. It is one of the early chapters in the Vita Sancti Cuthberti by the Venerable Bede that is dedicated to this vision called Quomondo cum pastoribus positius animam Sancti Aidiani Episcopi ad coelum ab angelis ferri aspexerit (literally, how while he was posted with the shepherds, he witnessed the soul of the Holy Bishop Aidan being carried to heaven by angels). This is what prompted him to enter into the monastery of Melrose at an early age. Cuthbert did well as a monk in the eyes of the abbot, Boisil. He came to accept the Roman customs after the Synod of Whitby and was made prior of Melrose. When his new abbot, Eata, went to Lindisfarne, Cuthbert followed and became prior of Lindisfarne where he pursued missionary work in Northumberland and southern Scotland.  In 676 he decided to take monastic life a step further and live as a hermit on the Farne islands of the Northumbrian coast. there he remained for 9 years, living on a simple diet of onions and fish. He built himself an oratory and practiced the Celtic rite of saying the psalms in the cold sea water. It is recorded that when he came out from the water, the otters dried his feet and the birds brought him fish out of their own admiration. And while on the island he would bless those who came to seek his comfort.
Cuthbert leaves Farne to become bishop

In 685 Cuthbert was appointed the Bishop of Hexham, (which he swapped for Lindisfarne) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus. He left the Farne with King Ecgfrith and Bishop Trumwine and returned to his missionary work in the bishopric. During his short episcopate, he traveled through his diocese on foot, ministering to the rural and urban poor alike and performing miracles for their relief. He lived first to extol and praise God and to worship him by living like him and to extend the good news of Christ's love to all people in his flock so that we might be comforted and learn to comfort others.

The site of Cuthbert's first hermitage.
His humility, his sanctity, and his high love for his people make him a model bishop. He died on 20 March, 687 on the Farne islands, where he returned after he predicted his death two months before. He was buried in the church at Lindisfarne, and when the Vikings attacked in 793 and later in 875, the monks carried his body from the island, and embarked on a 120-year journey that brought them to Durham in 995. There, when the ox-cart could no longer move, they laid his body in a tomb where it rests today, still retaining the head of St. Oswald, vestments presented by King Ecgfrith, and his own pectoral cross and portable altar. He was the most popular saint in Northern England as his shrine attracted pilgrims from all over the British isles, and continues to do so.
St. Cuthbert in the Galilee Chapel at Durham.

     Hopefully the Anglican Church, and all Churches will continue to honor St. Cuthbert as one apostle of Christ in England, and a bearer of Christ's love in the same land. The bishops of today's Church have the job of preserving the faith that Cuthbert brought to the people of Northumbria, and extending the love of Christ that he extended to his people. More importantly, the Church needs to continue St. Cuthbert, it needs bishops, priests and laypeople who will dedicate their lives to the extension of Christ's comfort through and in Christ's saving message. It is essential that the Church holds on to the traditions, to the image of Christ and his love in people, and the images and relics of those who spread his love, so that we never forget what our duty is: to spread the words of love of Christ. Only through our perseverance can the "Fire in the North," as he was called by Fr. David Adam of Bamburgh, and us like him, spread to set the whole world ablaze with the light of Christ.

Collect (from the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Holy Island):
We thank you Father for the life of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne: his reverence for all living creatures, his observance of a dedicated life under rule, his missionary zeal, his kindness to all who came  to him for comfort-and all for love of you. So in our pilgrimage of life strengthen us to walk with care in these ways that he observed through the study of prayer and personal example, that we may bring peace and integrity to your world in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Durham window with the miracles in Cuthbert's life and death.

Monday, March 5, 2012

St. Chad of Lichfield, March 2

March 2nd was the feast day of the early English bishop Chad. Chad or Cedda lived in the seventh century before the middle angles of the Mercian kingdom had been converted. He was a student of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, who has appeared in this blog so many times, and traveled to Ireland as a monk before returning, with Egbert, Finan, and Colman, to convert the Mercians. Practicing the Celtic version of monasticism, he lived a life with the people while strictly keeping to the rules of prayer and discipline. Bede is very careful to note his devotion repeatedly. While in Ireland his brother, Cedd founded the monastery of Lastingham in Northumbria under King Oswiu. The abbey was a success and Chad took over as abbot at his brother's death.
The Synod of Whitby in 663-664 had caused Northumbria's Celtic bishops to return into Scotland, leaving the North without episcopal oversight. After Tuda, Wilfrid, one of the supporters for the Roman Customs in the Synod, was appointed as bishop, but went to France to seek consecration because of a shortage of bishops in Britain and did not return for 2 years. Chad in the mean time was appointed bishop because it seemed that Wilfrid was going to stay in Gaul. But he returned and at this time Theodoric of Tarsus had been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the Patriarch of Rome. Theodoric traveled to Northumbria quickly to settle the dispute between Wilfrid and his new Roman rites and observances and the Celtic, more orthodox ways of Chad and Oswiu. Chad was ordered to step down, which he did, but soon after, the king of a still pagan Mercia, Wulfhere asked for a bishop and Chad was appointed. He established his episcopal seat in Lichfield where he built a monastery dedicated to St. Mary. He spent the rest of his life establishing monasteries and churches all over Mercia until his death on 2 March 672. Chad was venerated as a saint immediately following his death, and a cult centered in Lichfield flourished through the Middle Ages.  The Cathedral at Lichfield marks his shrine with an Icon and continues to remember his feast.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feast of St. David of Wales; 1 March

This print refers to one of David's miracles. When he was preaching to a crowd who could not hear him, the earth underneath his rose up into a hill and a dove landed on his shoulder...a sign of the Holy Spirit

Saint David is one of the greatest and best remembered bishops in Wales. Living in the sixth century he preached all over Wales and southern England (which at that time was heavily Welsh also) establishing many churches and monasteries. It is claimed that he founded the monastery of Glastonbury by his 11th century biographer, Rhygyfarch. But he certainly founded  a monastery at St. Davids in Pembrokeshire, Wales, choosing a patch of earth that was sunken among the coastal hills in order to hide any church buildings from raiders. Even as an abbot and a bishop, David lived an austere lifestyle in prayer, diet and general modesty, without the seclusion that other ascetetics. Instead of hermitage, a common Christian Celtic practice,  David emphasized the importance of the community. He made a pilgrimage to both Rome and Jerusalem and was made an archbishop by patriarch (pope) of Jerusalem (this is the basis for the claims of later medieval bishops of St. Davids that they should have archiepiscopal status, when Canterbury's power was extended over Wales after the Norman invasion). David held great influence in the Celtic church in Wales and abroad, a renowned scholar for his travels and elevation as archbishop, David also called together many synods to keep tight order within the church. He was always among the people, disregarding rank or any social or civil status, which was probably one of the main reasons for his popularity and veneration as a saint immediately following his death. The exact year of his death is disputed, traditionally believed to be in 589, though we do know that he died on march first, leaving his people with words “Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will wall the path that our fathers have trod before us.” Just this past March 1st , St. David’s Cathedral in Wales dedicated his restored shrine, moving his relics from the trinity chapel, where they were discovered about a century ago, to the redecorated medieval shrine in the chancel. Celebrations are continuing until March 5th with daily prayers at the shrine, Choral Eucharist’s and medieval monastic chants. The rebuilding of his shrine is a big step in restoring devotion to saints in the Anglican Church as a diocesan objective. His tomb will become once again the greatest center of pilgrimage in Wales. Hopefully, other churches and cathedrals will follow in the footsteps of the people of St. David’s in retaining an important and beautiful piece of the Anglican tradition.