Sergius of Radonezh was born at Rostov in Russia about 1314. At that time Russia was in considerable turmoil after the Mongol invasions of the previous century and the civil war in Russia that led to control of the country by the Tartars. In the turmoil, Sergius’ family was forced to leave Rostov. They took up farming at Radonezh near Moscow. The invasion and warfare had severely disrupted religious life, and many of the early monasteries had been destroyed. A revival of the monastic tradition in eastern Europe began in the early fourteenth century, influenced by the practice of contemplative prayer associated with Gregory Palamas. In Russia this led a number of people to seek quiet in the forests north of Moscow.
As a young man of twenty, Sergius joined his brother Stephen and others in a community of hermit Christians in the forests. Following a simple lifestyle they lived close to nature. Over the course of time Sergius brought his fellow hermits into an ordered communal life and founded the great monastery of the Holy Trinity near Radonezh, 70 kilometres north of Moscow, in what is now Zagorsk. This was the first religious community to be established in Russia after the Tartar invasion. Through his influence many other monasteries were founded.
A man of peace, Sergius laboured to keep the peace amongst the quarrelling Russian princes. He did however rally support for Prince Dimitri Donshoi in his attempts to gain independence for the Russian people form the Tartars. The Tartars were finally defeated in 1380. Sergius was also concerned for peace in his monastery. His emphasis on community life rather than the solitary emphasis of some contemplatives was disliked by some of the monks, who would have preferred Stephen as abbot. Sergius withdrew and founded a separate monastery, but was later restored to Holy Trinity by the metropolitan Alexis. His influence was widespread, and by the end of his life he had founded about forty monasteries. The constitution he adopted for Holy Trinity made it a model for all later Russian communities.
Sergius refused to be made bishop of Moscow when the see was offered to him in 1378. Sergius’ appeal was to the common people, from whom he had his own origins. He was honoured as a humble, simple, kind and godly monk. He emphasised the vocation of Christian service to any in need. The people saw true saintliness in his life and revered him for his mystical life of prayer and worship. He is regarded as Russia’s greatest saint. Sergius died in 1392.
Churchill Julius was bishop of Christchurch from 1890 to 1925 and the first “Archbishop of New Zealand” from 1922 to 1925.
Churchill Julius was born at Richmond in England in 1847 and was brought up in a strict evangelical household. He attended Blackheath Proprietary School, then run by Bishop Selwyn’s cousin, Edward Selwyn. After a bout of ill health, Churchill attended King’s College School in London and Worcester College, Oxford.
Oxford was still the centre of the Anglo-Catholic revival. Julius however came under the influence of Canon Christopher of St Aldate’s, the stronghold of evangelicalism in Oxford. He remained an evangelical, but with no antipathy to the Oxford Movement.Julius was warmed by Christopher’s devout and industrious life, especially during a cholera epidemic. He graduated in 1869, was ordained deacon in 1871 and priest in 1872.
After several curacies he became vicar of Islington, a London slum. He excelled in the development of a well organised parish and the provision of activities for the young people. He demonstrated a love of humanity and developed a strong social conscience. Then in 1883 Bishop Thornton of Ballarat, invited Julius to become archdeacon there, so 1884 he and his family sailed to Australia. Julius again showed himself a gifted motivator in the development of the parish and in particular its educational work.
Churchill Julius was nominated to the Diocese of Christchurch in 1889 in succession to Bishop Harper and was consecrated in 1890. New Zealand was entering one of its first periods of industrial turmoil. Julius was involved with labour organisations from the outset and used his outstanding eloquence to speak out against cruelty, oppression and tyranny in the workplace. He delivered a stinging attack on competitive individualism and willingly accepted the label “Christian Socialist”, by which he meant social co-operation and organisation with a religious base.
The bishop was a strong proponent of the role of women in the church and in society. In 1893 he secured the services of Sister Edith from the Deaconess Community of St. Andrew to found a community in Christchurch for work in education, nursing and welfare. The community eventually became the Community of the Sacred Name. Julius admired the work of Sisters Etheleen and Geraldine in Dunedin at St Hilda’s School and invited their community, the Sisters of the Church, Kilburn, to establish a school in Christchurch. St Margaret’s College was opened in 1910. In 1916 the bishop surrendered half his stipend so that it could be used for education, moved from Bishopscourt to his own house, and used Bishopscourt to found a teaching order. The teaching order did not eventuate, but the “Bishop’s Hostel”, opened in August 1917, continued for the benefit of teachers’ college and university women students. This became Bishop Julius Hostel (now Bishop Julius Hall).
Within the province as a whole Julius was a strong advocate of a standing committee of General Synod, which was set up in 1916. He was also in favour of a primatial see. Elected primate in 1922, Julius was the first primate to be titled “Archbishop”, an innovation he opposed, hoping that no-one would call him “Your Grace”.
Churchill Julius retired as Bishop of Christchurch and Archbishop in 1925 and died in 1938.
Matthew is listed as one of the twelve apostles of Jesus in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and Acts.
In Matthew’s Gospel he is identified as the tax collector who left his occupation to follow Jesus. In Mark and Luke, this same tax collector is called Levi, and it is usually assumed that Levi and Matthew are one and the same person, though that cannot be proven.
If Matthew is Levi, then he apparently collected taxes around Capernaum, which was in the district controlled by Herod Antipas. In Palestine, as elsewhere in the Roman Empire, the collection of taxes was farmed out to private entrepreneurs. The taxes were for Herod’s treasury, not Rome’s. Rome exacted tribute from its subject territories rather than direct taxes. According to Luke, when Levi became a follower of Jesus, he held a feast in Jesus’ honour, possibly in response to Jesus’ acceptance of him despite his despised occupation. He occupation would have made his fellow Jews regard him as being in the same category as robbers, prostitutes and sinners generally who were beyond God’s grace.
The early church believed that Matthew was the author of the Gospel that bears his name. Matthew may well be a significant figure associated with the origins of the Gospel. However, the Gospel as we have it has been shaped by the community of which Matthew was once part. This was put together by the final editor or redactor, who used most of Mark’s Gospel, a collection of Jesus’ teachings also used by Luke, and a smaller amount of independent material presumably from Matthaean church circles.
John Coleridge Patteson was born in London in 1827 of well-to-do parents. He was educated at a private school in Devon and then at Eton, where he proved to be a good student and sportsman. He was also deeply religious. In 1845 he went to Oxford. There he was influenced by the Oxford Movement, though he never became a “party member”. Patteson studied briefly in Germany, where he became competent in Hebrew and Arabic and showed his outstanding flair for languages. Ordained deacon in 1853 and priest the following year, he offered himself to Bishop Selwyn for work in Melanesia. He arrived in New Zealand in 1855. Two years later he was put in charge of the Melanesian Mission, and on 24 February 1861 was consecrated as the first bishop of Melanesia. Like Selwyn, Patteson was another of a new style of bishop: missionary, at the forefront of the church’s work, boldly leading the church into new areas rather than ministering to a settled diocese. It was a conception of the episcopate that caused debate in England, where the action of a Church of England bishop operating beyond the boundaries of British rule seemed strange, if not illegal.
Patteson inherited the missionary system established by Bishop Selwyn, in which young men and women from the islands were taken to Auckland for instruction during the summer. They were then returned to their islands, in the hope that they would provide some Christian input and influence in their communities. It was not very successful, and Patteson, for all his admiration of Selwyn, determined that missionary work must be done in the islands themselves and in one of the Melanesian languages.
The ten years of Patteson’s episcopate were spent opening up the islands of Melanesia to the gospel, and arranging for the education of young Melanesians, first at Kohimarama in Auckland, then from a base on Mota in the Banks Group, and then on Norfolk Island from 1867. One of his objects was to establish a group of Melanesian priests. This in itself was a novel idea. He was a brilliant linguist, but his greatest gift was that of friendship. He had no sense of prejudice about colour at all and, although he realized that the Melanesians seemed uncivilized, he had a clear vision of what they might become. Indeed Patteson seemed freer than most of his European contemporaries from the nineteenth century view of Melanesian life as something to be replaced with Christianity. He was convinced that the Melanesians could accept and practise Christianity within their own culture. He wrote: “No Melanesian is excluded now from any position of trust. . . . Some day Melanesian bishops may preside over native churches throughout the islands of the sea.”
Travel in Melanesia was always risky, and Patteson’s life was often in danger. Certainly, his health suffered in the 1860s. In the same period there grew up a considerable labour trade, as entrepreneurs in Australia and Fiji sought cheap indentured labour from Melanesia. While many Melanesians were enthusiastic travellers, some of the labour traders were unscrupulous and even used Patteson’s name to lure people on to their ships. Missionaries in particular opposed the trade, in part because it disturbed their own operations. On 20 September 1871 Patteson was murdered on the island of Nukapu. Joseph Atkin and Stephen Taroaniara, who accompanied Patteson, died a week later of wounds received at the lime. It was widely believed that Patteson’s death was in retaliation for the “slave” trading, but this is by no means certain. Patteson’s death did however ensure more rigorous regulations on labour trading, and gave strong impetus in England to the missionary work of the church. What is also clear from Patteson’s attitude is that his life was taken by those for whom he would gladly have given it.
Theodore arrived in England in 669 as the newly appointed archbishop of Canterbury. He found the church confused and drifting. When he died in 690, he left it well organised and self-confident, ready to face what would become one of the most brilliant centuries in the history of the church in England.
A Greek by origin and a native of Tarsus, Theodore was already sixty-six years old when nominated archbishop of Canterbury. On arrival at Canterbury, Theodore discovered that south of the Humber there was only one bishop in office, and in the north only two. The English church had been badly affected by the plague, and there were strong tensions between supporters of the Celtic and the Roman traditions.
Theodore’s vigour and reforming spirit became evident immediately. New bishops were appointed, a synod of all the bishops was called, and a fresh set of canons was promulgated, through which he was able to reconcile some of the differences between the Roman and Celtic traditions. Several new dioceses were created by Theodore, though the rather high-handed manner in which he divided Northumbria led to some friction which lasted several years. His wisdom in dealing with moral problems was soon recognised, and his judgements on issues of conflict commended themselves for their justice and practicability. He gave a priority to education and insisted that this be of the broadest kind. He established a school under Adrian at Canterbury, which produced several future bishops. His own intellectual ability won him the admiration of others. Among his achievements, he is remembered for the encouragement of the use of Gregorian plainchant in English church worship.
Theodore was about eighty-seven when he died on 19 September 690. The Venerable Bede wrote of him: “Theodore was the first archbishop whom the entire church of the English obeyed,” a remark underlining Theodore’s success at largely unifying the Roman and Celtic traditions in England.
8:00am Holy Communion (BCP)
10:00am St Francis Pet Blessing Service
10:00am Zoom Service
Sept 25 - St Sergius of Radonezh
Sept 25 - Daily Offices
Sept 24 - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept 23 - Churchill Julius
Sept 21 - St Matthew
Sept 20 - John Coleridge Patteson
Sept 19 - St Theodore of Tarsus
Sept 17 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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