August 19 – Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian

“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.”

Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian

A leader in Christian Europe in the first half of the 11th century A.D., Bernard is honored in his native France and around the world. Born into a noble family in Burgundy in 1090, Bernard left the affluence of his heritage and entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of 22. After two years he was sent to start a new monastic house at Clairvaux. His work there was blessed in many ways. The monastery at Clairvaux grew in mission and service, eventually establishing some 68 daughter houses. Bernard is remembered for his charity and political abilities, but especially for his preaching and hymn composition. The hymn texts “O Jesus, King Most Wonderful” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” are part of the heritage of the faith left by Saint Bernard.

Source: Commemorations Biographies

Published in: on August 19, 2017 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

March 7 – Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs

At the beginning of the third century, the Roman emperor Septimus Severus forbade conversions to Christianity. Among those disobeying that edict were Perpetua, a young noblewoman, and her maidservant Felicitas. Both were jailed at Carthage in North Africa along with three fellow Christians. During their imprisonment, Perpetua and Felicitas witnessed to their faith with such conviction that the officer in charge became a follower of Jesus. After making arrangements for the well-being of their children, Perpetua and Felicitas were executed on March 7, 203. Tradition holds that Perpetua showed mercy to her captors by falling on a sword because they could not bear to put her to death. The story of this martyrdom has been told ever since as an encouragement to persecuted Christians.

Source: Commemorations Biographies

Published in: on March 7, 2017 at 9:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Patrick, Missionary to Ireland – March 17



Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confessio, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466.


Source: Commemorations Biographies

For an educational but slightly unique sharing of St. Patrick story:

Knock knock


Reformation Day, October 31

Martin Luther, Augustinian monk, pastor and professor at the University of Wittenberg found many problems with the Roman Catholic Church’s complex system of indulgences and good works. On October 31, 1517, Luther posted 95 Theses on the door of his church, All Saints’ Church, also known as “Castle Church”.

In the 95 Theses, Luther attacked the indulgence system, insisting that the Pope had no authority over purgatory and that the doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the Gospel.

Luther’s teaching for the moral and theological reform of the church can be summarized as: Scripture alone is authoritative (sola sciptura) and justification is by faith (sola fide) not by works and grace alone (sola gratia) is the free gift of God’s grace (undeserved mercy) for Christ’s sake alone, not as something merited by the sinner.

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed and widely copied with the recent invention of the printing press. Within two weeks, copies of the Theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.

Luther published a short commentary on Galatians and his work on the Psalms. Many of his important works were written within a few years following the posting of the 95 Theses. Three of his best-known works were published in 1520: To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church and On the Freedom of a Christian.

While Luther did not intend to break with the Roman Catholic Church, a confrontation with the Papacy was not long in coming. In 1521 Luther was excommunicated. What began as a reform of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the beginning of the Lutheran Church.

Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  

August 19th, Bernard of Clairvaux

See Full Commemoration Bernard Commemoration

Bernard of Clairvaux was the author of the hymn, O Sacred Head.  Thank God for that gift:


O sacred Head, sore wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

J.W. Alexander’s translation, 1830

Published in: on August 19, 2015 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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St. Philip and St. James


Philip and James

Writing for St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

Somebody might ask, “Why did the Gospel writers tell us only how Peter and James, John and Philip were called, but not the others?” It is because these, more than the rest, were in such a lowly walk of life. There is nothing worse than being a tax collector or more ordinary than being a fisherman. Philip was clearly not from a noble class, as is clear from where he came. They reveal their lowly ways of life so that we will believe them when they declare the glorious parts of their life. They did not choose to pass by anything that would be considered shameful, but since they are so careful to tell us all these sort of details, no matter whether they relate to the Teacher or to the disciples, how can they be suspected when they write about those things that require our reverence? Even more so, since they pass over many signs and miracles, while the events of the cross, which are considered to be so shameful, they tell us about with great clarity and boldness. They even tell us about the lowly jobs of the disciples, and the faults and failings in the Master’s ancestors, some of whom were notorious for their very public sins. They are very clear about this. Thus, it is very clear that they are concerned about the truth above all else and did not write to gain favor or for the sake of appearances.

—John Chrysostom

St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

St. Philip is mentioned in the lists of the apostles (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), but only in John’s Gospel is more told about him. Philip was from Bethsaida in Galilee and one of the first disciples called after Peter and Andrew. Philip also was instrumental in bringing Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:43-51). It was to Philip that Jesus posed the question about where to buy bread to feed five thousand men (John 6:5). During Holy Week, Philip with Andrew brought some inquiring Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22). And on Maundy Thursday evening, Philip asked Jesus to show the Father to him and to the rest of the disciples (John 14:8). According to tradition, Philip went to labor in Phrygia and was buried there.

St. James was a son of Alphaeus and was also called “the Younger” (to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee, “the Elder,” whose festival day is July 25). His mother, Mary, was one of the faithful women who stood at the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40). James is mentioned in the same apostolic lists as Philip, but there is no other mention of him in the New Testament. There is also no information regarding his field of labor or the circumstances of his death, except that he may have been martyred by being sawed in two.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, Your Son revealed Himself to Philip and James and gave them the knowledge of everlasting life. Grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, and steadfastly to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on May 4, 2015 at 9:01 am  Leave a Comment  

November 11th, Martin of Tours, Pastor

Saint Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours, Pastor

Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around the year A.D. 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ’s soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul. Incidentally, on St. Martin’s Day in 1483, the one-day-old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the name “Martin” Luther.

Source: Commemorations Biographies

Published in: on November 11, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  

November 9, Martin Chemnitz (birth), Pastor and Confessor

My friend and fellow pastor Joshua Schneider with his favorite theologian. Could this qualify as a bro-mance?

My friend and fellow pastor Joshua Schneider with his favorite theologian. Could this qualify as a bro-mance?

[“But deliver us from evil.”] We are taught in the petition to lift up our heads, to think upon, and to desire the blessed life to come. This life is eternal where there will be full deliverance from all evil. Because we are too occupied and immersed in the matters and affairs of this world and of this life, we also request that God would inspire, excite, kindle, generate, and preserve in us this thought and desire. The death of the godly is their deliverance from all evil and a beginning of everlasting happiness.

Therefore, when we say, “Deliver us from evil,” we desire that our heavenly Father would keep us from an evil death. We ask for His deliverance so that we may not die . . . the death of sinners. . . . We ask that we may not die carelessly in our sins, unprepared without repentance (John 8:24), but that He would grant us a godly and saving end of this life. We ask to die in the Lord (Rev. 14:13). . . .

Furthermore, we pray that God would put into us a concern and desire to prepare ourselves in advance for those things that are necessary to be properly prepared for death. This is done so that we may be prepared for death, because we do not want to be like those who do not have oil in their lamps when the bridegroom comes and calls us (Matt. 25:3). We ask that in the last hour of this life we may have true repentance, the Word, the Sacraments, faith, hope, and the spirit of grace and prayer. These things we ask so that when we are to die, we may be found in Christ. . . . In this we rightly commend our souls into the hands of our Father. If we are found improperly prepared, we pray that He would not allow this to happen by a sudden unannounced death, but would mercifully grant us time for such preparation. We ask that our death may be a deliverance from all evil and a passage out of this vale of misery to eternal life.

—Martin Chemnitz

Aside from Martin Luther, Martin Chemnitz (1522-86) is regarded as the most important theologian in the history of the Lutheran Church. Chemnitz combined a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and the Church Fathers with a genuine love for the Church. When various doctrinal disagreements broke out after Luther’s death in 1546, Chemnitz determined to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. He became the leading spirit and principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of Scripture and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. Chemnitz also authored the four volume Examination of the Council of Trent (1565-73), in which he rigorously subjected the teachings of this Roman Catholic Council to the judgment of Scripture and the ancient Church Fathers. The Examination became the definitive Lutheran answer to the Council of Trent, as well as a thorough exposition of the faith of the Augsburg Confession. A theologian and a churchman, Chemnitz was truly a gift of God to the Church.

Prayer for the day

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the teaching of Martin Chemnitz, You prepare us for the coming of Your Son to lead home His Bride, the Church, that with all the company of the redeemed we may finally enter into His eternal wedding feast; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

August 19, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian

There is no glory in having a gift without knowing it. But to know only that you have it, without knowing that it is not of yourself that you have it, means self-glorying, but no true glory in God. And so the apostle says to men in such cases, "What do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you received it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). He asks, Why do you glory? but goes on, "as if you had not received it," showing that the guilt is not in glorying over a possession but in glorying as though it had not been received. And rightly such glorying is called vain-glory, since it has not the solid foundation of truth. The apostle shows how to discern the true glory from the false when he says, "He that glories, let him glory in the Lord," that is, in the truth, since our Lord is truth (1 Cor. 1:31; John 14:6).

We must hate and shun that presumption which would lead us to glory in goods not our own, knowing that they are not of ourselves but of God, and yet not fearing to rob God of the honor due unto Him. . . . Ignorance is brutal, arrogance is devilish. Pride only, the chief of all iniquities, can make us treat gifts as if they were rightful attributes of our nature, and, while receiving benefits, rob our Benefactor of His due glory. . . .

The Father of Christ, who makes all things new, is well pleased with the freshness of those flowers and fruits and the beauty of the field that breathes forth such heavenly fragrance. And He says in benediction, "See, the smell of My Son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed" (Gen. 27:27). Blessed to overflowing, indeed, since of His fullness have we all received (John 1:16).

—Bernard of Clairvaux

A leader in Christian Europe in the first half of the twelfth century AD, Bernard is honored in his native France and around the world. Born into a noble family in Burgundy in 1090, Bernard left the affluence of his heritage and entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty-two. After two years, he was sent to start a new monastic house at Clairvaux. His work there was blessed in many ways. The monastery at Clairvaux grew in mission and service, eventually establishing some sixty-eight daughter houses. Bernard is remembered not only for his charity and political abilities but especially for his preaching and hymn composition. The hymn texts "O Jesus, King Most Wonderful" and "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" are part of the heritage of the faith left by St. Bernard.


O God, enkindled with the fire of Your love, Your servant Bernard of Clairvaux became a burning and shining light in Your Church. By Your mercy, grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline and may ever walk in Your presence as children of light; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on August 19, 2013 at 7:59 am  Comments (1)  

June 11, Barnabus

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Readings from the Bible
1st Reading: Isaiah 42:5-12
Epistle: Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3 Gospel: Mark 6:7-13

Hymn of the Day: 837 Lift high the cross

St. Barnabas, Apostle

Saint Barnabas was an early Christian convert, one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem. Like almost all Christians at the time, Barnabas was Jewish, specifically a Levite. As an apostle, he and Saint Paul undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the demands of the Judaizers. (These were Jewish Christians who said the new converts must keep the Mosaic Law, with all its rituals, including circumcision.)

St Paul asked Barnabas to accompany him on a journey (Acts 15:36). Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Paul did not, as he had left them on the former journey (Acts 15:37-38). The dispute ended by Paul and Barnabas taking separate routes. Paul took Silas as his companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while Barnabas took his younger cousin, John Mark, to visit Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).

There is no further mention of his subsequent activity, except for a brief reference by Paul a few years later (1 Corinthians 9:6).

Source: ‘Barnabas’ ‘Saint Barnabas.’

Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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