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.
Perpetua was a young widow, mother of an infant and owner of several slaves, including Felicity. Together they were catechumens preparing for baptism.
In 202 AD, Emperor Septimius Severus decreed that all persons should sacrifice to the divinity of the emperor. There was no way that a Christian, confessing faith in one Lord Jesus Christ, could do this. Perpetua and Felicity were arrested and held in prison. At the public hearing before the proconsul, Perpetua refused even the pleas of her father, saying “I am a Christian.” They were sent to the arena in Carthage and given to the wild beasts.
Before she died, Perpetua cried out to the other Christians “Stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not let what we suffer be a stumbling block to you.”
Thus we have the account of the first women martyrs on our calendar of saints.
I bind this day to me forever, by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation; His baptism in the Jordan River; His death on the cross for my salvation; His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way; His coming on the day of doom; I bind unto myself today.
From the “The Breastplate of St. Patrick”, a prayer written by St. Patrick in 433
Joseph accepted the responsibility of protecting Mary and being a father to Jesus in the face of circumstances that would distress even a man of such faith and obedience as he was. He is honored for the nurturing care and protection he provided for the infant Jesus and his mother, in taking them to Egypt to escape Herod, and in raising Jesus as a faithful Jew in Nazareth. He is considered the patron saint of the working man, because he not only worked with his hands, but taught his trade to his son.
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:28, 30‒33)
Although Mark was not one of the original twelve, he was a disciple of Jesus. He joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but left early. So Paul refused to take him on his second journey. Instead, Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus. He was later reconciled with Paul, and became a good friend of Peter. The church of Alexandria claimed Mark as its first bishop and most famous martyr. St. Mark’s Church in Venice commemorates Mark, and he is buried there beneath the altar.
Rarely in the history of the church has the course of its development been more significantly determined by one person than it was by Athanasius in the fourth century, when the great statements of our faith were formulated. St. Basil the Great said he was “the God-given physician of the church’s wounds.”
At the Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 Athanasius became the champion for the orthodox faith, defending it against the Arians and was successful in winning approval for the phrase in the Nicene Creed—“of one Being with the Father,” which continues to be recognized as the definitive statement of Christ’s divinity.
The two apostles commemorated today are among those less well known. We have only a few references to them in the Gospels. This James is often referred to as James the Less in order to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee and from James “The brother of the Lord,” or perhaps to indicate youth or lack of stature.
Philip had the gift of raising issues that were in everyone’s mind. He questioned Jesus about how he was going to feed the 5000, with no money to buy food. At the Last Supper Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. He was not the only one who missed that seeing Jesus was the same as seeing his Father.
In the nine days of waiting between Jesus’s ascension and the day of Pentecost, the disciples remained together in prayer. During this time, Peter reminded them that the death of Judas had left the fellowship of the Twelve with a vacancy. Two men were nominated, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. After prayer, the disciples cast lots, and Matthias was chosen to join them. And with that, Matthias disappears from recorded history.
Justin was born into a Greek-speaking, pagan family in about AD 110 near Shechem in Samaria. He studied Greek and became a philosopher. He was dramatically converted to Christ and became the first Christian philosopher to attempt to reconcile the claims of faith and reason. Justin is primarily known for his writings in defense of his new faith. While teaching in Rome, he engaged in philosophical debates. As a result, he was brought before the prefect Rusticus and told to recant his faith. When Justin refused, he and his companions were beheaded, and he became known as Justin, the martyr—or Justin Martyr.
Barnabas, the name given by the apostles to Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, means “son of encouragement.” What an appropriate name! Barnabas encouraged Saul after his conversion and was the instrument God used to reconcile Paul with the leaders of the church that he had persecuted. He took young Saul/Paul under his wing and invited him to Antioch to lead the church in that city with him. He was the leader on Paul’s first missionary journey. When Mark, also traveling with them, had a fall-out with Paul and left the trip, Barnabas took young Mark and encouraged him back into service. Barnabas modeled the gift of encouragement—much needed in the church of God.
Columba was an Irish monk who for thirty years was abbot of Iona on the small island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. He was first a missionary in Ireland where he founded monasteries at Derry, Durrow, and Kells. Columba and his companions then sailed to Scotland and founded Iona which became the center for the conversion of the Picts. From Iona Columba’s disciples founded missionary centers throughout Scotland and northern England—Lindisfarne being the most famous of these.
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.
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.