Below is a listing of events at the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical Christian community in the Benedictine tradition located in Orleans MA. Liturgies are held at the Church of the Transfiguration. Also included are events presented by Elements Theatre Company (www.elementstheatre.org) and Gloriae Dei Cantores (www.gdcchoir.org). For more information please call 508-240-2400.
John the Baptist, the prophet and forerunner of Jesus, was the son of elderly parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and was related to Jesus on his mother’s side. His birth is celebrated six months before Christmas Day, because, according to Luke, Elizabeth became pregnant six months before the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.
Although John figures prominently in all four Gospel accounts, only Luke tells us of his birth. Zechariah, a priest of the Temple at Jerusalem was struck speechless because he doubted a vision foretelling John’s birth. When his speech was restored, Zechariah uttered a canticle of praise, the Benedictus, which is sung at Lauds.
If theology is thinking about faith and arranging those thoughts in some systematic order, then Irenaeus has been righty recognized by both Catholics and Protestants as the first great systematic theologian. He was a third generation Christian, having been discipled by Polycarp who was discipled by John. He in turn took Christianity to Lyon in southern France.
Iraneaus’s enduring fame rests mainly on his large treatise, entitled Against Heresies. Here Irenaeus describes the major Gnostic systems thoroughly, clearly, and often with biting humor. This defense of Christianity has become a classic.
Peter and Paul, the two greatest leaders of the early church, are commemorated separately; Peter on January 18 for his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, and Paul on January 25 for his dramatic conversion. They are commemorated together on June 29 in observance of the tradition of the church that they both died as martyrs in Rome during the persecution under Nero in AD 64.
Gospel Canticle Antiphon “Quia Vidisti me”
Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and have believed, alleluia.
Saints Aquila and Priscilla were a Jewish couple from Rome who had been exiled to Corinth, and were friends of St. Paul in the first century. They hosted St. Paul on his visit to that city and were probably converted by him. Their friend Paul calls them “my helpers in Christ, who have for my life laid down their own necks” (Romans 16:3-4).
Benedict is considered to be the father of western monasticism. Living during the fifth and sixth centuries, Benedict founded a monastery at Monte Cassino in southern Italy, which was to become the mother house for Benedictines in the centuries that followed. (Benedictine monasticism was one of the great stabilizing forces in preserving Western civilization during the dark ages.) Benedict’s greater legacy, however, was his practical and moderate Rule which still guides Benedictine houses today.
“The story of Mary Magdalene reminds everyone of a fundamental truth: She is a disciple of Christ who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him, and has followed him closely, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love, which is stronger than sin and death”
Pope Benedict XVI (2006)
COLLECT FOR THE FEAST OF ST. JAMES
Almighty ever-living God,
who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles
by the blood of Saint James,
grant, we pray,
that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith
and constantly sustained by his protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus, lived in Bethany and were close friends of Jesus. He often went to their home and happily received their hospitality. There he raised Lazarus from the dead. There Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with fragrant ointment to prepare him for his death and burial. Another time when Jesus was there for dinner, Martha busied herself with all the details of preparing the meal while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet. From this Martha has become the symbol of the active Christian life and Mary the symbol of the contemplative life.
Martyred in Rome in 258 AD
From the Hymn to St. Lawrence (Lauds)
When Lawrence was led out to die,
Love made him prodigal of life,
No armor would he use but faith
Against the persecutor’s strife.
“Here we have the story of Bartholomew and the other apostles, to assure us that we need not give up our usual manner of life in order to serve God. The most humble station in life is the means of maturing the highest Christian character, even that of an apostle. Bartholomew read the scriptures and prayed to God; and thus was trained at length to give up his life for Christ, when he demanded it.” –John Henry Newman
John Chrysostom was Patriarch of Constantinople in the late fourth century and early fifth century. As an ascetic and a monk he set about to reform the morally corrupt city. He was so effective that he was banished twice, and died in exile. John was given the name “Chrysostom,” which means “the golden-mouthed,” because he was one of the greatest preachers in the history of the church. People flocked to hear him. He was also the favorite saint of Mother Cay, one of our founders.
Matthew, identified as Levi in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, was a tax collector who became one of the first disciples of Jesus. Matthew tells us that he was seated in the tax booth when Jesus called him. Immediately he left everything and followed Jesus. Tax collectors were viewed as collaborators with the dreaded Roman establishment. They were spurned as traitors and outcasts. Matthew was hardly the type of man that a devout Jew would have among his closest associates. He is an encouragement to us who tend to use our “unacceptability” as an excuse. Matthew wrote his Gospel specifically to reveal how Jesus “completed” the Jewish faith and how he fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.
The feast of the archangel Michael is held on September 29th. He is the great leader of the heavenly hosts and represents the victorious heavenly powers. Four times he is mentioned by name in Scripture; twice in Daniel where he fights on behalf of God’s people against the forces of evil, once in Jude where he disputes with the devil over the body of Moses, and once in Revelation where he leads the hosts of heaven in victory over the dragon and his forces and throws them out of heaven. He has long been regarded as the helper of Christian armies against the heathen, and as the protector of individual Christians again the devil. Thus, he is usually depicted with a sword standing over or fighting with a dragon.
Vespers 5:30 pm
Francis was born in 1182, the son of a wealthy merchant of Assisi. His early youth was spent in harmless revelry and fruitless attempts to win military glory. He soon gave this up for a life of poverty, joyfully and literally following the sayings of Jesus. When Jesus spoke to him from a cross in the neglected chapel of San Damiano and told him to go build up His house, Frances took this to mean repairing the chapel. Over time he realized that God was speaking about the larger Church. He founded the Franciscan Order and devoted himself and his order to serving the poor. Not long before his death he received the marks of Jesus’ wounds, the stigmata, in his own hands, feet and side. He was canonized in 1228 and the great basilica of St. Francis was built over his tomb in Assisi. His great love of nature and for animals led the church to make him the patron saint of animals.