The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Monday, November 22, 2004

Fr. Carl's sermon for Christ the King Sunday before Advent

Please scroll down for the November Ordo through Nov. 25

During this past week, in our First Lesson readings at the Daily Offices, we read, in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees, of Mattathias and his sons, heroic Israelites during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Antiochus IV (175-164 BC), who styled himself Epiphanes, "God revealed," or “the manifest one,” but nicknamed Epimanes, "the Mad," due to his abnormal and erratic behaviour, was the 8th ruler of the Seleucid empire. Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great’s leading generals, became satrap (governor) of Babylonia in 321 BC, two years after the death of Alexander. The Seleucid empire (312–64 BC), was carved out of the remains of Alexander the Great's Macedonian empire by its founder, the aforementioned Seleucus I Nicator. Some 150 years later, Antiochus Epiphanes undertook an aggressive series of military campaigns to consolidate his power and to secure the territory of the Seleucid kingdom, which by this time, included Palestine. In 168 BC, his military ambitions came to an brought abrupt halt when a legate of the Roman Senate ordered him to withdraw from Cyprus and Egypt. The Romans, however, allowed him to keep southern Syria, against the Egyptian claim, thereby allowing him to keep that portion of the Seleucid realm intact. Many historians remark on his enduring hatred for the Jews, which may have been exacerbated by this rebuff. Whether it was simply a case of resistance from the Jews of Antiochus’ attempts to thoroughly Hellenize them, or whether he truly did despise them, he made a rather furious and determined effort to exterminate them and their religion. He devastated Jerusalem in168 BC (1 Macc. 1:21-31), defiled the Temple, offered a pig on the altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, prohibited Temple worship, forbade circumcision on pain of death, sold thousands of Jewish families into slavery, destroyed all copies of Scripture that could be found, and slaughtered everyone discovered in possession of such copies, and resorted to every conceivable torture to force Jews to renounce their religion. 1 Maccabees records all of these nasty things that Antiochus did, and even other horrible things such as killing women who had had their children circumcised against his orders. This led to the Maccabaean revolt, a truly heroic venture in the history of the Jews, as recorded for us in 1 Maccabees.

The aforementioned desecration of the Temple altar occurring on the 15th day Kislev in the year 167 BC (1 Macc. 1:54). Kislev is the ninth month in the 13 month Jewish civil calendar, approximating to the last part of November and early December. Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers recaptured Jerusalem in 164 BC, and on Kislev 25 (1 Macc. 4:52), three years after its defilement, the Jews cleansed and rededicated the Temple. Hanukkah is the eight-day festival celebrating this event. This year, Hanukkah begins on December 8.

Mattathias, of a priestly family line, lived in Modin (Modein), a village just to the north of Jerusalem. His lament over the ruin of Jerusalem and other parts of Judea by Antiochus is recorded at the beginning of Chapter 2 of 1 Maccabees. As we discovered this past week in our readings, his lament, however, was not to result in the same passive capitulation of the other Jews. Beginning at verse 14 in Chapter 2, we read, “Then Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourned very sore. In the meanwhile the king’s officers, such as compelled the people to revolt, came into the city Modin, to make them sacrifice. And when many of Israel came unto them, Mattathias also and his sons came together. Then answered the king’s officers, and said to Mattathias on this wise, ‘Thou art a ruler, and an honourable and great man in this city, and strengthened with sons and brethren: Now therefore come thou first, and fulfil the king’s commandment, like as all the heathen have done, yea, and the men of Juda also, and such as remain at Jerusalem: so shalt thou and thy house be in the number of the king’s friends, and thou and thy children shall be honoured with silver and gold, and many rewards.’ Then Mattathias answered and spake with a loud voice, ‘Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments: Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances’.”

Today, the last Sunday in the Church year, is also designated as the Feast of Christ the King – a day on which we are encouraged to contemplate Who is the King of kings; a day on which we, like Mattathias and his sons, might judge whether we will be led like sheep, going astray and worshipping earthly rulers, or whether we will stand fast in “the religion of our fathers” as they did.

Today has also been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church – a day on which we are encouraged to pray for our brothers and sisters in over 130 countries around the world, who even today live under regimes similar to that of Antiochus Epiphanes, or should we say Epimanes? Certainly many rulers or ruling parties in various countries exhibit today the same sort of irrational anger, even hatred, towards Christians and Jews as did Antiochus towards the Jews in the 2nd century before Christ. Are they any less “mad” today than he was?

Subsequent to the impassioned statement by Mattathias that he and his family would remain steadfast in the covenant of their fathers, they rebelled with force both against Antiochus and against lapsed and lapsing Jews. Most famous, as mentioned, are the exploits of one of the sons, Judas Maccabeus, in liberating Jerusalem and rededicating the altar in the Temple. The autonomy of the Jews was secured by Judas and his successors for a century.

As we know, by the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jews were yet again under the yoke of unbelieving rulers. In anticipation of the Messiah, likely recalling the heroism of a century and-a-half before, they most probably were hoping for another Judas Maccabeus – someone to drive out the hated Roman occupiers, someone of royal descent, a brilliant military general and politician. Such expectations for the qualities of a king would not be so very different today, would they? But of course we know, or at least we should know from our study of the Bible, that God does not think as we do. Instead of a king fashioned according to human expectations, Christ the King was, and is so very different. Not regal, not wilful, not pompous, not aggressive; but humble and loving. And oh how that humility and love have overpowered mighty men and kings who all are truly powerless in the face of God.

This past week, we commemorated the life of Hugh, 12th century bishop of Lincoln. Hugh was almost unbelievably forthright, and especially it seems to the reigning monarchs of England. In spite of his bluntness, he somehow managed, literally, to keep his head on his shoulders through the reigns of Henry II, who as we might recall had Thomas a Becket “offed” right in Canterbury Cathedral, and Richard I – the lion-hearted – for whom Hugh refused to raise money for foreign wars. Hugh lived into the second year of King John, with whom his relationship was less happy. John showed him an amulet, which he said was sacred and would preserve him. Hugh replied, "Do not put your trust in lifeless stone, but only in the living and heavenly stone, our Lord Jesus Christ." The following Easter he preached at length on the duties of kings, and the king slipped out partway through.

Today, on the feast of Christ the King, we are reminded in one of our Collects that it is God’s will that the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ. Might we all emulate Hugh in our forthright proclamation of this King to Whom we will bow and obey. Many of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, without any knowledge whatever of Hugh of Lincoln, follow in his footsteps with no thought of consequences.

In the information package that we received leading up to this Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, there are suggested sermon notes. In the preface, we are encouraged to remind our congregations that, in spite of the precipitous decline in the Church in the West, it is growing at an amazing pace in many parts of the world – 5,000 new converts daily in both India and China – both countries where Christians are often severely persecuted. At the end of the sermon notes, is this quotation, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor murdered for his faith in a World War II concentration camp, wrote in The Cost of Discipleship that, ‘in Jesus Christ His followers have witnessed the kingdom of God breaking in on earth. They have seen Satan crushed and the powers of the world – sin and death – broken.’ Bonhoeffer knew painfully that God’s kingdom is still exposed to suffering and strife. We long for the day when God will hasten the end of the kingdoms of this world and will establish perfectly His own kingdom in power and glory. The kingdom is coming. The seed is being sown. And the Bible’s picture harvest is of a “multitude that no-one could count,” taken from every corner of the world.”


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

November Ordo 17-25

Readings for Morning and Evening Prayer according to the Book of Common Prayer, Canada, 1962, plus the day's readings for Holy Communion.

17th: Hilda, Abbess of Whitby Colour: White
M: 1 Macc.2:29-48; Acts 4:5-31; OH 12; C 316 (CBOO 159)
HC: IG 118; C 316 (CBOO 159); E&G 316; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: 1 Macc. 2:49-end; OH 847; Acts 4:32 – 5:11; C 316 (CBOO 159)

18th: Hugh, Bp of Lincoln Colour: White
M: 1 Macc. 3:1-26; Acts 5:12-end; OH 215; C 312 (CBOO 159)
HC: IG 116; C 312 (CBOO 159); E&G 312; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: 1 Macc. 3:27-41; OH 846; Acts 6:1-7:16; C 312 (CBOO 159)

19th: Elizabeth, Queen of Hungry, Matron Colour: White
M: 1 Macc. 4:1-25; Acts 7:17-34; OH 554; C 316
HC: IG 118; C 316; E&G 316; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: 1 Macc. 4:26-35; OH 847; Acts 7:35-8:4; C 316

20th: Edmund, Kg & Mtr • 1st Evensong of Christ the King Colour: Red
M: 1 Macc. 4:36-end; Acts 8:4-25; OH 616; C 310 (CBOO 160)
HC: IG 115; C 310 (CBOO 160); E&G 311; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: 1 Macc. 6:1-17; OH 821; Acts 8:26-end; C 259, 100

M: Ps. 80; Eccles. 11 & 12; Heb. 11:1-16; OH 494; C 259, 100
HC: IG 137; C 259, 100; L&G 259; Gl., Cr.; Pref. of Ascension
E: Ps. 81, 82; Mal. 3:13 - 4:end; OH 494; Heb. 11:17 - 12:2; C 259, 100

22nd: Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr Colour: Red
M: Wisd. 1; Matt. 5:1-16; OH 554; C 316 (CBOO 160)
HC: IG 118; C 316 (CBOO 160); E&G 316; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Wisd. 2; OH 847; Rev. 1; C 316 (CBOO 160)

23rd: Clement, Bp of Rome Colour: White
M: Wis. 3:1-9; Matt. 5:17 - end; OH 215; C 312 (CBOO 161)
HC: IG 116; C 312 (CBOO 161); E&G 313; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Wis. 4:7-end; OH 846; Rev. 2:1-17; C 312 (CBOO 161)

24th: St. John of the Cross, Dr. Colour: White
M: Wis. 5:1-16; Matt. 6:1-18; OH 553; C 317
HC: IG 119 Alt.; C 317; L&G 318; Gl., Cr., Pref. of Saints
E: Wis. 6:1-21; OH 846; Rev. 2:18-3:6; C 317

25th: Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin & Martyr Colour: Red
M: Wis. 7:15-8:4; Matt. 6:19-end; OH 554; C 316 (CBOO 161)
HC: IG 118; C 316 (CBOO 161); E&G 316; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Wis. 8:5-18; OH 838; Rev. 3:7-end; C 316 (CBOO 161)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

November Ordo 8-16

Morning Prayer, Holy Communion, and Evening Prayer readings from the Book of Common Prayer, Canada, 1962

8th: Octave Day of All Saints: Founders, Benef., Miss’ys Colour: White
M: Esther 5; 1 Peter 4:1-11; OH 217; C 302, 299
HC: IG 110; C 302, 299; E&G 302; Gl., Cr.; Pref. of Saints
E: Esther 6 & 7; OH 843; 1 Peter 4:12-end; C 302, 299

9th: Feria Colour: Green
M: Eccles. 1; 1 Peter 5; OH 814 or 815; C 254
HC: IG 83; C 254; E&G 254; Common Preface
E: Eccles. 2:1-23; OH 821; 1 John 1:1 - 2:6; C 254

10th: Feria Colour: Green
M: Eccles. 3; 1 John 2:7-17; OH 814 or 815; C 254
HC: IG 83; C 254; E&G 254; Common Preface
E: Eccles. 4; OH 821; 1 John 2:18-end; C 254

11th: REMEMBRANCE DAY Colour: Black
M: Ps. 46; Micah 4:1-5; Romans 8:31-end; OH 329; C 608
(CBOO 126 or see Collect overleaf)
HC: IG109; C 608 (CBOO 126 or see Collect overleaf); L&G 301;
Pref. of Easter
E: Ps. 144; Ecclus. 51:1-12; OH 821; 1 Cor. 15:50-end; C 608

12th: Martin of Tours, Bp. (transf.) Colour: White
M: Eccles. 7:15-end; 1 John 4:7-end; OH 215; C 312 (CBOO 158)
HC: IG 116; C 312 (CBOO 158); E&G 313; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Eccles. 8; OH 846; 1 John 5; C 312 (CBOO 158)

13th: Charles Simeon, Priest • 1st Evensong of Trinity XXIII Colour: White
M: Eccles. 9; 2 John; OH 215; C 304
HC: IG 111; C 304; L&G 304; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Eccles. 10; OH 846; 3 John; C 256

14th: TRINITY XXIII Colour: Green
M: Pss. 137, 138; Ecclus. 18:1-13; Luke 14:15-end; OH 215; C 256
HC: IG 84; C 256; E&G 256; Gl., Cr.; Common Preface
E: Ps. 103; 1 Macc. 3:42-end; OH 820; 2 Cor. 5; C 256

15th: Feria or Comm. of Faithful Departed Colour: Green
M: 1 Macc. 1:1-19; Acts 1; OH 814 or 815; C 256
HC: IG 84; C 256; E&G 256; Common Preface
E: 1 Macc. 1:20-40; OH 821; Acts 2:1-21; C 256

16th: Margaret of Scotland Colour: White
M: 1 Macc.1:41-end; Acts 2:22-end; OH 554; C 316
HC: IG 118; C 316; L&G 316; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: 1 Macc. 2:1-28; OH 847; Acts 3:1 – 4:4; C 316

Monday, November 01, 2004

November Ordo


Unless otherwise indicated, Psalms are from the Psalter for the Day.
Canticle at Mattins on Sundays & Saints Days is Te Deum; on Ferias the Benedicite.
IG = Introit and Gradual from Introits and Graduals pub. by AC Convent Society.
E&G or L&G = Epistle (or Lesson) and Gospel of the Day
OH = Office Hymn from the Book of Common Praise (1938).
CBOO = The Canadian Book of Occasional Offices (1964).
Feast days in italic print are optional - Ferial may be said instead.
The Litany and Ten Commandments should be read once a month.

1st: ALL SAINTS' DAY Colour: White
M: Pss. 1, 15, 112; Wis. 3:1-9; Rev. 19:6-10; OH 217; C 299;
HC: IG 108; C 299; L&G 299; Gl., Cr., Pref. of Saints
E: Pss. 146, 149; Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15; OH 843; 1 Cor. 1:1-8; C 299

2nd: ALL SOULS' DAY • In Octave of All Saints Colour: Black
M: Pss. 23, 99; Isaiah 43:1-7; John 5:24-29; C 301, 299 (CBOO 157)
HC: IG 109; C 301, 299 (CBOO 157); L&G 301; Dies Irae HB #70;
Pref. of Easter
E: Pss. 121, 130; Job 19:21-27a; Rev. 1:9-18; C 301, 299 (CBOO 157)

3rd: In Octave of All Saints • comm. Richard Hooker Colour: White
M: Dan. 7:9-end; James 3; OH 55; C 299, 317
HC: IG 108; C 299, 317 L&G 299; Gl., Cr., Pref. of Saints
E: Dan. 9; OH 843; James 4; C 299, 317

4th: In Octave of All Saints • comm. Martin de Porres Colour: White
M: Dan. 10; James 5; OH 217; C 299, 304
HC: IG 108; C 299, 304; L&G 299; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Dan. 12; OH 821; 1 Peter 1:1-12; C 299, 317

5th: In Octave of All Saints Colour: White
M: Esther 1; 1 Peter 1:13-end; OH 215; C 299
HC: IG 108; C 299; L&G 299; Gl., Pref. of Saints
E: Esther 2; OH 215; 1 Peter 2:1-10; C 299

6th: In Octave of All Saints • comm. of Leonard, Abbot Colour: White
M: Esther 3; 1 Peter 2:11: 3:7; OH 217; C 299, 304 (CBOO 158)
HC: IG 108; C 299, 304 (CBOO 158); L&G 299; Gl., Pref. of Saints
1st Evensong of Trinity XXII
E: Esther 4; OH 821; 1 Peter 3:8-end; C 254, 299

7th: TRINITY XXII Comm. All Saints Colour: Green or White
[Note: ‘All Saints’ Sunday may be said with a comm. of Trinity XXII]
M: Ps. 118; Wis. 11:21 - 12:2; Luke 13:18-end; OH 12; C 254, 299
HC: IG 83; C 254, 299; E&G 254; Gl., Cr.; Common Preface or
IG 108; C 299, 254; L&G 299; Gl., Cr., Pref. of Saints
E: Ps. 121, 122, 123; 1 Macc. 2:49-69; OH 820; 2 Cor. 4; C 254, 299

Father Carl's Sermon for Trinity XXI

Trinity XXI 2004
On most Sundays in the Church year, there is a common thread in the readings appointed for the Divine Liturgy. Often the link is somewhat obscure; at other times, the theme is fairly obvious. On some Sundays, there is more than one topic, though sometimes, as is the case today, not all of the subjects are found in all three readings.

In the Collect and Epistle, we might presume that the dominant theme for today is that of peace: we prayed for it in the Collect; and in the Epistle, we heard St. Paul’s well-known passage from his letter to the Ephesians where he uses military imagery to symbolize how the Christian should be armed in order to withstand the fight against spiritual wickedness in high places, thus realizing a peaceful existence in this world. And in passing, we might remark on yet another example of the importance of certain numbers in the Jewish and early Christian mindset. Seven is the number of perfection: St. Paul exhorts us to be armed with seven things: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit and prayer.

One of those seven, the “Gospel of peace” might seem to reinforce the theme of peace as today’s primary subject; however, when we come to the Gospel reading from St. John, we are confronted with the realization that there is likely another more dominant theme for today. Yes, one might argue that, pursuant to the healing of the nobleman’s son, peace would have come to the household; however, peace of mind, such as the nobleman and his household would have realized, is not the same kind of peace to which the Epistle makes reference.

Rather, the common thread in all three readings is faith.. In the Collect, “Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people…” In the Epistle, “above all, taking the shield of faith;” and, of course, the Gospel is all about the faith of the nobleman, in believing that what Jesus told him would happen, did in fact come to pass.

Earlier this week, in the normal readings during the Church year at Evensong on the Tuesday between Trinity 20 and Trinity 21, we come to Chapter 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which begins, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith, of course, has become an omnibus word throughout the ages: that aspect which speaks to belief, confidence or trust can be as applicable to the secular world as to the realm of religion. We might have faith in our employer or employees in the sense that we trust them, we believe that they will do as they have agreed, either by written contract or verbally. Equally, it can speak to the quality of fulfilling one’s trust – e.g. someone is faithful to his wife. We speak of good faith and bad faith in terms of loyalty or deception.

But our particular concern is as it relates to our religious beliefs. Faith, in the religious context is used in at least two distinct senses: 1) objectively, referring to the body of truth (“the Christian faith”) to be found in the Creeds, in the definitions of accredited Councils, in the teachings of the doctors and saints, and, above all, in the revelation contained in the Bible. 2) to this objective faith is opposed “subjective” faith, one of the three Theological virtues. Some will maintain that faith in this context is entirely a gift from God, removing all necessity of any kind of involvement on the part of us, His creatures. However, there is an observable, tightly intertwined symbiosis between God and man; we His creatures are the ones in whom the gift of faith is displayed; therefore, logically, there must be some kind of activity on our part. A long-standing definition is that this virtue of faith is the human response to Divine truth, which is a supernatural, as opposed to a natural act. In this sense, we can make an act of faith only in virtue of God’s action in our souls. This faith, as taught in the New Testament, is that by which a sinner is justified in the sight of God; it is the God-inspired, the spiritual apprehension or acknowledgement of divine truths, or of realities beyond the reach of physical experience or logical proof.

It is this last phrase, “realities beyond the reach of physical experience or logical proof” to which, at least in part, our reading from Hebrews speaks, “the evidence of things not seen.” Or as a more modern translation renders the entire phrase, “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.”

In his record of the Gospel, John seems to have been consciously drawing to our attention the contrast between the type of faith that is tenuous in that it is based on signs and wonders; i.e. things seen; vs. the kind of faith that accepts, that believes implicitly, wholeheartedly in our Lord’s promise – the realities of things unseen. Today’s reading lays this very contrast before us. Jesus says to the nobleman, and I suspect also for the benefit of, or exhortation to all those within earshot, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” But then, apparently right on the spot, the nobleman displays the hope in things not seen – he goes away believing, faithfully, in Jesus’ word that his son had been healed. And, as a very important related aside: the hope that the writer of Hebrews mentions, the Christian virtue of hope, is not that kind of wishfulness that we most often take the word to mean today. “I hope that it doesn’t rain tomorrow;” or, “I hope that Ottawa wins the Stanley Cup.” Rather, Christian hope, the kind of hope that the nobleman displayed when he left Jesus, is assurance, confidence that God will do as He says. That is what we mean when we say that we live in hope of the resurrection – not some vague, tenuous wish, but rather, assurance.

Sceptics and non-believers will often counter that such faith – in things unseen – does indeed fall entirely into the realm of wishful thinking. Such a viewpoint is entirely to be expected as we live in perhaps the most materialistic society in human history. We have become very attached indeed to things, the world of the physical, though there was also apparently just as much emphasis on physical proof during Jesus’ time, “Unless ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”

We also live in an age that, among other things, might be called a scientific age – one in which very much “seeing is believing,” even if the vast majority of consumers are practically speaking, scientifically illiterate. Our society, with a few notable exceptions – genetic engineering for example – has come to trust in science, in its various forms, far more than in God. If we leave aside that which we might classify as speculative science, which many might convincingly argue is a whole lot of wishful thinking but in which huge numbers place their faith, it would be largely accurate to observe that physical science is based on exact weighing and measuring in one form or another. In such empirical or observable science, conclusions are verifiable. We might observe that many people, not necessarily scientists, would prefer to approach life from such a perspective – no surprises, as everything is entirely predictable and reproducible, objective if you will.

But this does not make up the whole of life. Not everything, day in and day out, can be weighed or measured objectively. We cannot measure the beauty of a Rembrandt painting, nor can we weigh the loveliness and splendour of a sunset, yet they are just as real as a pound of butter weighing 454.6 grams.

Just as when we step beyond the consideration of the human body, entirely measurable and weighable, to contemplation of the human mind, entirely unmeasurable and unweighable, so too when we enter the deliberation of art and morality, we leave behind the world of exact measurement and proof. Art and morality are realities, straddling the border between the seen and the unseen – we can touch a painting, we can observe the love a mother has for her children, but we cannot measure either. They are truths, albeit more subjective than objective. Still, because they too can be seen, we usually don’t apply the word faith to them.

The faith of which we speak in our Christian profession steps even further beyond the physical realm. We cannot see God the Father the way we can see a sunset, we cannot handle Jesus’ promises the way we can touch a piece of art, we cannot understand the mind of the Almighty the way we can a mother’s love for her children.

Because God and His characteristics, His promises are beyond our sight, does that make them unbelievable? Well, last time I checked, all scientists believed in electricity, yet noone has ever seen an electron. Faith is the evidence of things not seen.