On the 24th of February, we celebrate the memory of St. Matthais, the first Apostle chosen by Council for the episcopal ministry, after Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven. The election and ordination of St. Mathias established the precedent for the episcopal office within the Church, which functions in Apostolic Succession and submission to the Councils of the Church, flowing down to us by the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit.


In Acts 1:23-26 it says – “And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”


St. Clement of Alexandria, in his Stromateis (vi.13), says about St. Matthias – “Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity of nature, since also Judas was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas.”


COLLECT


ALMIGHTY GOD, who assigned Saint Matthias a place in the Synod of the Holy Apostles, grant us, through his intercession, that, rejoicing at how Thy love hast been allotted to us, we may be numbered with the Saints of Thy Church. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who livest and reignest with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Almighty and Everlasting God,
We humbly beseech Thy Majesty
That as Thy only-begotten Son was this day
presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh,
So too, Thou wouldst grant us
to be presented unto Thee with purified souls
and bring us into Thy holy presence.
Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, Who livest and reignest with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end! Amen.

The Prayer of St. Symeon

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)

Prayer for the Purification of the Holy Theotokos

Hail Virgin Theotokos full of Grace,
for Christ our God,
the Sun of Righteousness,
has dawned from thee,
granting light to those in darkness.
And thou, O Righteous Elder,
rejoice, taking in thy arms,
the Deliverance of our souls,
Who grants us Resurrection.

Prayer for the Blessing of Candles

ALMIGHTY GOD, Heavenly Father, Source of all light, Creator of the world,
Today Thou wast revealed unto Simeon
As the saving light to all nations.
Bless + these candles and make them holy.
May we who carry them to praise Thy glory,
walk in the path of righteousness,
and come into that light, which shines forever!
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who livest and reignest with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end! Amen.

The Blessed Charles Martyr of England

By Bp. Joseph (Anglican Vicariate)

On January 27th, 1649, King Charles I was condemned to death by a Puritan “court” appointed by one house of the legislature that had been reduced to a minority of its number by a military purge.

King Charles was not allowed to examine the evidence or confront the witnesses against him or respond to the predetermined sentence. Escorted from Westminster Hall, the King said, “I am not suffered to speak; expect what justice other people will have!”

King Charles Accused
King Charles on the Scaffold
King Charles’ Last Words
The Head of Charles Displayed

Charles I was martyred for his Faith on the 30th of January, and stands today as a witness for the Apostolicity, Catholicity and Orthodoxy that was intended for the English Patrimony, a continuity of faith that is truly evidenced within the Anglican Vicariate of the Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Collect

O Lord we offer unto thee all praise and thanks for the glory of Thy grace that shined forth in Thine anointed servant Charles; and we beseech Thee to give us all grace that by a careful studious imitation of this Thy blessed Saint and Martyr, that we may be made worthy to receive benefit by his prayers, which he, in communion with the Church Catholic, offers up unto Thee for that part of it here Militant, through thy Son, our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

May Christ hear the prayers of St. Charles Martyr before His throne!

(From “Private Forms of Prayer” 1660, by Bp. Brian Duppa, Lord Bishop of Salisbury and Winchester)

Blessed Charles Martyr, The Last Monarch to Rule England solely upon a Christian Theology of Kingly Anointing

By Bp. Joseph (Anglican Vicariate)

Today, the Anglican Vicariate celebrates St. Gregory the Great (540-604), Patriarch of Rome, Missioner of the British People –

St. Gregory the Great was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604 and is known for his contributions to Western Liturgy. He built 6 monasteries in Sicily and founded a seventh in his home in Rome. He is recognized as one of the four great Doctors of the Latin Church and he was the first monk to become Pope. Despite his bodily ails and the frightful times he lived in, it has been said that no teacher of equal eminence has arisen in the Western Church.

St. Gregory the Great sewing the British slave children for the first time, at the Roman market

Encountering British slaves, who glowed with pale white skin in the slave market of Rome, St. Gregory said “They are not Angles, but angels” (Non Angli, sed angeli), and resolved to go himself to England to convert these people to Christ. According to the Venerable Bede, thwarted in his own efforts by being made Bishop of Rome, St. Gregory sent St. Augustine of Canterbury. Thus, the Latinization of the Celtic Church began, bringing order to ecclesial chaos, and the great missionary movement that would result in the flowering of English Orthodoxy and the Anglican Patrimony was firmly established upon British soil. St. Gregory was revered in England as “Our Gregory” (Gregorius noster) and it was in England, at a monastery in Whitby, that the first full length life of St. Gregory was written, in 713AD.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY GOD,
who chosest Thy bishop Gregory
to be a servant of the servants of God:
grant that, like unto him, we may ever strive to serve Thee,
by proclaiming Thy Holy Gospel to all nations,
and may ever rejoice to sing Thy praises;
through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
Ever one God, world without end.
Amen


Text: Portions from Eric Staples, Catholic Saints, and Wikipedia.

By Bp. Joseph (ACA&A)

Today we remember the memory of St. Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), the Anglican Divine that wrote extensively about sanctification (“Holy Living and Holy Dying”) and the importance of English-speaking Christians to return to the Ancient liturgies of the Church – particularly, the Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem. His prayer book, which was never adopted officially, is the Eastern Rite of the Ancient Church translated into English, simplified and abridged to reduce repetition. His manifestly holy life, his theological acumen as bishop, and his patience in suffering, as friend and companion of the holy martyr, St. Charles the King Confessor, gave him a reputation as teacher to the Church. He is an example for all of us who would see unity and integrity between the Ancient East and the Anglican West.

May Christ hear the prayers of St. Jeremy Taylor before His throne!

(July 31st)

Edited By Bp. Joseph

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born at Loyola in the mountains of northern Spain in 1491. A member of the minor nobility, Ignatius spent his youth and early adulthood as a courtier and soldier. He occasionally vowed to dedicate himself more fully to God, but never quite followed through. It was only after he read the lives of the saints while convalescing from a leg wound incurred during a battle that he finally began his spiritual pilgrimage with real intent at the age of 30.

Soon after this, St. Ignatius began to experience ecstatic visions, but within a year suffered a period of intense spiritual dryness (what St. John of the Cross termed the “dark night of the soul”), which nearly drove him to despair. He persevered, however, and out of this was born Spiritual Exercises, one the most important spiritual works of all time. Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of the Faith – the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam – “for the greater glory of God.”

As the Reformation set the world on fire and religious schisms became an ever-present reality, many Roman Catholic thinkers and mystics began the painful process of examining the faults within the Roman Church that caused such a dramatic break with the established modes of history and ravaged the culture of Christendom.

As the Council of Trent labored on over many years, what was immediately apparent that the moral corruption of the Church was largely to blame for the social unrest, and this realization prompted a move to purify the Church and make the training of priests much less of a laze faire process, and a strict, if not puritanical, ascetical discipline. This was not the “Counter-Reformation”, but the “Catholic Reformation” in which many elements of the superstitious Christianity of the uneducated masses began to be challenged with the light of Aristotelian “Non-Contradiction” through the popularization of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

In the midst of this great religious conflict in France during the early 1500’s, Ignatius of Layola and Francis Xavier began to internalize these lessons, and attempted to counter Protestant heresies at the same time through new methods of teaching and discipleship. They established a loose confraternity, and then, based upon the papal dispensation that they received, started a full-scale Counter Reformation operation, which was meant to bolster the flagging powers of the Pope through scholarship and politically strategic involvement. The Pope approved this new order in 1540, and the Jesuits immediately set about their grand vision of global missionary work.

The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits as they would come to be called, were a unique socio-political organization of highly elite and disciplined intellectual churchmen who would be the Counter-Reformation Pretorian Guard of the papal claims. It became clear that the Roman Catholic had halved its number of faithful, and so, to increase its chances of survival and influence, it would have to look outside of Europe to establish a New Christendom. While always remaining faithful Roman Catholic, and coming into great conflict with Anglicans through a contradiction of spiritual visions, St. Ignatius endeavored to reform Catholicism from within, and led one of the greatest missionary movements in history, converting many non-Western lands to Christianity..

Collect:

O God, who for the greater glory of thy Name, didst endue thy Church militant with an increase of strength through the life and labours of blessed Ignatius: grant us, by his example, so to wage our earthly warfare, that we may be found worthy of a heavenly crown; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Today we make “King Alfred’s Cakes”, commemorating the defeat of the Danes in 878AD and the founding of the Abbey of Altheney, dedicated to Our Blessed Savior, St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Egelwine.

These cakes recall when King Alfred was on the run and took refuge with peasants, eating the same oat bread as his yeomen and servants. When it was his turn to watch the cakes, he burnt them, and was scolded by an anonymous peasant woman. Sparing the woman because of her ignorance of his kingship, he went on to win the war, and the people celebrated his victory with these cakes ever after!

We celebrate the English patrimony today and our long history of Christian Faith, which has transformed the culture of a little, insignificant island into a witness to the greatness of the Holy Trinity and the beauty of shared life through the Holy Sacraments!

King Alfred the Great
King Alfred being Scolded for Burning the Cakes Before Battle
King Alfred Cakes, Made with Oats and Apples
The Site of the Former Abbey of Our Savior at Altheney, Destroyed in the Reformation in 1535, Now Marked with a Memorial Since 1801

By Bp. Joseph

May 29th marks the 567th anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople and the death of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, in 1453AD; and it also marks the 360th anniversary of the Restoration of the Monarchy in England after the execution of St. Charles I, through 19 years of Puritan tyranny during the reign of Oliver Cromwell, and restoration of Charles II to the throne on today’s date, in 1660AD. 207 years stood between the two events. One was an apocalypse, the other was a rebirth after a horrible tribulation. In both situations, crazed iconoclasts attacked the edifice of Apostolic Christianity, martyred noble kings in an effort to erase the godly mandate that these nations had received to protect, propagate and disseminate the wholistic Christian culture of the Conciliar Faith, and in both situations these heretics forced upon the people something perverse, fearful, angry and spiritually dark in the name of “God.” The Greeks suffered for over 400 years “in Egyptian captivity,” and the English only 19. The English were able to restore their empire and their church, while the Rus took the Byzantine mandate and established the “Third Rome.” While there can be no comparison to the depths of the Greek suffering, it is profound that this date, May 29th, ties together such an important lesson for all Christians to learn.

Byzantium in all of its glory…

By Bp. Joseph (ACA&A)

St. Vincent of Lerins from Uncut Mountain Supply

Always, Everywhere and By All –

Today we celebrate the memory of St. Vincent of Lerins, monastic and scholar, from the Roman colony of Belgia, now in modern day France. He died in the year of the Council of Chalcedon, 451AD, having written apologies against Arianism, Appolonarianism, Nestorianism and the emergence of Monophysitism. He was known for his theological contributions in the new field of canonical interpretation in doctrinal matters, and tried to balance the legalistic mentality of the Roman Church with the philosophical approach of the Greek and Syriac speaking Churches.

The “Vincentian Canon” is a famous quote from St. Vincent of Lerins work, thought to have been written against the extremes and ahistorical positions of Augustinianism, called the “Commonitoria” (A Memorandum). This work was written just three years after the Council of Ephesus, the Third Ecumenical Council. The core of St. Vincent’s doctrinal understanding can be summed up in the phrase: “semper, ubique, et ab omnibus” (Always, Everywhere and by All), insisting that all doctrine must reflect what has been universally received, and not the personal interpretations, local variations or the regional differences that arise within the process of conversion to the Gospel and life in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This canonical rule of thumb is easily understood as the “Principle of Synodality” seen in the Conciliar Mind of the Church, expressed through the Ecumenical Councils, and ratified by universal reception and affirmation of doctrine in all Local, Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

St. Vincent’s witness is a badly needed within contemporary Anglicanism, as it plunges into whole-sale abandonment of tradition, innovation of doctrine and outright heresy, and forgets the Apostolic Deposit in favor of fashionable philosophies and secular interpretations. The only way that we may save English-speaking Churches in the Anglican Patrimony is by rediscovering and applying St. Vincent’s Canon to our doctrinal and liturgical understanding, and submitting to the Orthodoxy of Doctrine and Catholicity of Order that is reflected in St. Vincent’s approach.

May Christ hear St. Vincent’s prayers for us in the Anglosphere before His Throne!

REMAINS OF ENGLAND’S EARLIEST SAINT DISCOVERED

Scientific Study of the Hidden Crypt of St. Eanswythe

CHRISTIAN TODAY
March 7, 2020

Experts have confirmed that human remains kept in a church in Kent are those of England’s oldest saint, St. Eanswythe.


Local archaeological and history experts, working in partnership with researchers from Queen’s University, Belfast, said the bones at St. Mary & St. Eanswythe Church are almost certainly those of the saint.

Uncovered Relics of the Young St. Eanswythe

Eanswythe was an Anglo-Saxon and member of the Kentish royal family, being the granddaughter of Ethelbert, the first English king to convert to Christianity following the arrival of Augustine.

She is the patron saint of Folkestone and is believed to have founded one of the earliest monastic communities in England in AD 660 , situated on the Bayle – the town’s historic centre.

Researchers believe she was in her late teens or early 20s when she died, although at present the cause of her death is still unknown.

The remains were hidden in the north wall of the Church of St. Mary & St. Eanswythe, sparing them the destruction of the Reformation, and were rediscovered in 1885.

The identification of the remains as St. Eanswythe are based on a tooth and bone sample that produced calibrated age ranges “that are in good agreement”, said Stephen Hoper, of Queens University’s Radiocarbon Dating Facility.

“The results would indicate that there is a high probability of a mid-seventh century date for the death of this individual,” he said.

The discovery makes St. Eanswythe the only verified member of the Kentish royal dynasty and the first of the British Royal Saints.

St. Eanswythe

Dr Andrew Richardson, of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, said it was a “stunning” discovery “of national importance.”

“It now looks highly probable that we have the only surviving remains of a member of the Kentish royal house, and of one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon saints,” he said.

St. Mary and St. Eanswythe Church, Kent, England