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Current Feasts, Saints and other Holy Days

Thomas Ken - March 22

Bishop of Bath and Wells, Poet

Thomas Ken

Thomas Ken’s long life spanned a period of many changes in England and within the Church of England. He was born in 1637. In 1657 he became a fellow of New College, Oxford, and was a teacher at Winchester College from 1672. He was a man of real moral strength and devotion, whose commitment to God and the church was the foundation of his life. His well-known hymns, “Awake my soul and with the sun”, and “Glory to thee, my God, this night”, show the simple clarity of his faith. The doxology he appended to both hymns has been a source of inspiration to many.

In 1683 Thomas became chaplain to King Charles II. To a man of Thomas’ devout simplicity, the licentious court life was a painful experience, but he maintained his integrity, going so far as to refuse the king’s mistress, Nell Gwynne, the use of his house. The king respected him for this and in 1684 appointed him bishop of Bath and Wells. The link of affection must have remained strong, for in 1685 Bishop Thomas gave the king absolution on his death-bed.

After Charles II’s death, James II came to the throne. James, as a Roman Catholic, wished by Royal Declaration of Indulgence to suspend the penal laws of the Restoration Settlement of 1660 against Nonconformists in England (including Roman Catholics). Thomas Ken and six other bishops refused the king’s demand to read the indulgence in church. All were arrested and tried, but acquitted. The king’s orders were generally disobeyed throughout the country, such was the feeling against the king’s intentions.

When in 1688 James abandoned the throne, and William and Mary were offered the crown, Bishop Thomas felt that he could not in good conscience swear allegiance to them. He had already sworn to James and could not ignore or recall the oath. The authorities would not accept this, and Thomas was deposed from his see in 1689. He then lived quietly without complaint, refusing reinstatement after the death of his successor. Thomas Ken died in 1711.

Source: https://www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Worship-Resources-Karakia-ANZPB-HKMOA/For-All-the-Saints-A-Resource-for-the-Commemorations-of-the-Calendar/For-All-the-Saints

Thomas Cranmer - March 21

Archbishop of Canterbury, Liturgist & Martyr

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer was born at Aslockton in Nottinghamshire in 1489. He spent twenty-six years of his life at Cambridge University, first as a student, then as a fellow of Jesus College and a university preacher.

In 1529 King Henry VIII was having difficulty getting the ecclesiastical courts to cooperate with his plans. The king hoped to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon declared invalid. He engaged Cranmer to spearhead a move to refer the matter to theologians in various European universities and sent him on various embassies. Cranmer was called home to succeed William Warham as archbishop of Canterbury, an appointment he accepted with reluctance. Cranmer had a high sense of duty to his sovereign, and in May 1533 pronounced the king’s marriage to Catherine invalid and that to Anne Boleyn valid.

Cranmer’s position enabled him to direct the course of the English Reformation. Although it seems he was not linked with those at Cambridge influenced by Luther in the 1520s, Cranmer came under the influence of reformed theologians during his three years in Germany. It was during this time that he secretly married Margaret Osiander.

Cranmer developed a love for the Scriptures during his time as a fellow of Jesus College. Later, as archbishop, he was instrumental in having a copy of the Bible placed in every church, and his subsequent writings show that he had a good knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. Many of his liturgical writings found their way into the first English Prayer Book and remained largely unchanged in the 1662 book, which has been used by Anglicans throughout the world for four centuries.

When the nine-year-old Edward VI succeeded his father in 1547, the stage was set for the English church to take on a more Protestant flavour under the protector Somerset. Cranmer welcomed this, though without taking the first initiatives. By the time the young king died in 1553, the English church had a new Book of Common Prayer, largely of Cranmer’s composition and showing unmistakable Reformed influences. The Church allowed its clergy to marry. The Reformation in England had accelerated.

The accession of Queen Mary in 1553 quickly brought a return of papal authority, and Cranmer was arrested. He spent the last two and a half years of his life in prison, first in the Tower and then at Oxford. During this time he was tried for treason, then for heresy. The psychological strain was immense, and it is not surprising that he signed a number of recantations during this time. However, just before being led to the stake to be burnt as a heretic, he publicly renounced all his recantations. He told the crowd that his right arm, which had signed the recantations, would be the first part of his body to be burned. So he died on Saturday, 21 March 1556, with his right arm held steadily in the fire. As he died he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Source: https://www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Worship-Resources-Karakia-ANZPB-HKMOA/For-All-the-Saints-A-Resource-for-the-Commemorations-of-the-Calendar/For-All-the-Saints

St Joseph of Nazareth - March 20

St Joseph of Nazareth

While March 19 is the Feast Day for St Joseph of Nazareth, this will be celebrated on March 20 this year due to Sundays in Lent taking precedence.

Joseph appears in the New Testament only a few times, mainly in the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. These are part of the proclamation of who Jesus is rather than historical narratives. No reliable biographical material about Joseph is available.

The interest of both Matthew and Luke in Joseph is to show that Jesus belongs to David’s line. They present Joseph as a loyal and faithful Jew, a good and just man. He trusts the message of the angel that Mary’s pregnancy is “of the Holy Spirit”, when he himself had suspected her of unfaithfulness. He attends to the appropriate rites of circumcision, naming and purification associated with the birth of Jesus, and makes the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover. He protects the child by taking him and his mother to Egypt during Herod’s reign, and shares with Mary the anxious search for Jesus on the journey back from Jerusalem when Jesus is twelve.

Apart from the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke, Joseph is scarcely mentioned in the New Testament. Matthew refers to Jesus once as “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55). Luke calls Jesus “son of Joseph” (Luke 4:22). In John, Philip tells Nathanael about “Jesus, son of Joseph” (John 1:45), and the crowd asks, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” (John 6:42). None of this adds anything to our knowledge of Joseph beyond that he was a carpenter.

Later Christian writings attempted to supply details of Joseph’s life, but they have no historical foundation. Since other members of Jesus’ family are mentioned in the ministry of Jesus whereas Joseph is not, it is presumed that Joseph died before Jesus’ ministry began. Veneration of Joseph developed in the eastern church from the fourth century, but was much later in the western church, being promoted there from the fifteenth century.

Source: https://www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Worship-Resources-Karakia-ANZPB-HKMOA/For-All-the-Saints-A-Resource-for-the-Commemorations-of-the-Calendar/For-All-the-Saints

St Cyril of Jerusalem - March 18

Bishop, Teacher of the Faith

St Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril was born, probably in Caesarea, about 315 and became bishop of Jerusalem about 349. During the fourth century, the adoption of Christianity by the emperor Constantine gave prominence to the church, and brought attention to the places of Jesus’ ministry in Palestine with the “discovery” of many relics. At the same time, the growing interest in asceticism and pilgrimage greatly increased the number of people in Palestine. Jerusalem, rebuilt and renamed Aelia Capitolina following its destruction in 70 and 135 CE, was now becoming a significant Christian centre.

During the theological controversies of the fourth century, Cyril was faithful to the theology of Nicea. In the political wrangles that accompanied the theological debates, he more than once found himself out of favour, both with the dominant Arian tradition of the eastern part of the empire and also with the western supporters of the Nicene tradition. His support for the Nicene party alienated him from the Arian faction, but his dislike of the Nicene catch word “homoousios” (“of one substance with the Father”) as un-Scriptural made him suspect in the eyes of the supporters of Nicea. On three occasions he was exiled from Jerusalem. The triumph of the Nicene party in 381 gave Cyril several peaceful years in Jerusalem before his death in 386.

In the fourth century, the instruction of Christian converts was an elaborate process. In his Catechetical Lectures, Cyril provided a substantial course on the Christian faith. These lectures, based on the articles of the creed, were delivered during the weeks of preparation for baptism, which always took place at Easter. After Easter, Cyril gave a further series of lectures on the sacraments, called the Mystagogical Catecheses.

The many pilgrims coming to Jerusalem probably provided the stimulus that made the church there under Cyril a major centre of liturgical innovation, particularly in the celebration of the Christian year, with an emphasis on the events of Holy Week and Easter. Devotions were developed for the pilgrims at the different sites associated with Jesus’ ministry, passion, death and resurrection.

Source: https://www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Worship-Resources-Karakia-ANZPB-HKMOA/For-All-the-Saints-A-Resource-for-the-Commemorations-of-the-Calendar/For-All-the-Saints

St Patrick - March 17

Bishop, Patron Saint of Ireland

St Patrick of Ireland

Patrick was born around 390 and grew up in a Romanised village on the west coast of Britain somewhere between the Severn and the Clyde. When nearly sixteen, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and spent six years in slavery. Patrick had been nominally Christian, but he found himself being drawn more and more to God in prayer. Eventually he escaped from slavery and begged passage on a boat sailing to the continent.

Many adventures and difficult times followed before he managed to return to his family. This was a period of marked spiritual growth for him, with a profound deepening of his inner life. Whether he was trained for the priesthood in Britain or in Gaul is uncertain, but he returned to Gaul to study under Germanus of Auxerre. Patrick’s training gave him a good knowledge of the Latin Bible, and he was undoubtedly influenced by the form of monasticism established by Martin of Tours.

About 432 Patrick returned to Ireland as bishop (apparently consecrated by Germanus), setting up his base at Armagh. From this centre he walked over much of northern and central Ireland, evangelising the people and making many converts. His ministry was marked by simplicity and deep pastoral care. He proclaimed the unearned and boundless love of God. He encountered strong opposition, and his life was often in danger, but he was always ready to face persecution. In his preaching he made no distinction between classes and he was deeply concerned to abolish paganism, although he tried to be sensitive to the culture of the people. He did not throw down their standing stones, but simply carved crosses on them. From this we can trace the development of the magnificent Celtic “high crosses”.

Patrick tried unsuccessfully to introduce the diocesan system he had seen in Gaul, but the monasteries he founded became the chief feature of the Irish church. These sprang up every-where, some so large as to include several thousand monks. For his clergy he used volunteers from Britain and Gaul and his own converts.

His writings, and in particular his own account of his spiritual development, his Confessions, show Patrick as a very humane person, deeply attached to his Lord, with an uncomplicated faith. The hymn known as “St Patrick’s Breastplate” is attributed to him.

Patrick died about 461.

Source: https://www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Worship-Resources-Karakia-ANZPB-HKMOA/For-All-the-Saints-A-Resource-for-the-Commemorations-of-the-Calendar/For-All-the-Saints

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Phone: (06) 358 5403

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229 Ruahine Street,
Palmerston North
Email: stpeters@inspire.net.nz
Phone: (06) 358 5403

Office Hours

Tuesday to Friday
9:00am to 12:00pm

Closed on Public Holidays

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