Grace Abounds
A media ministry of Grace Episcopal Church
The Kalendar
3 September is the feast of Phoebe, Deacon of the church in Cenchreae (1st  C.)  Phoebe is commended by Paul to the church in Rome (Rom. 16.1-2).  Was Phoebe as a deacon described functionally or in terms of office?  The Greek word for “servant” is diakonos.  Phoebe is not described by Paul as a “deaconess”.  She is not described using a generic description for servant, but in terms of an office, “of the church in Cenchreae”.  The fact that she is described as a “helper of many and even of me” connotes as well the role of patron and financial supporter.  Regardless of how her ministry in Cenchreae is described, she was the bearer of Paul’s letter to the Romans, and was afforded a crucial role in the spread of the Gospel.

A feast commemorating American witnesses, Constance and Her Companions, is celebrated on 9 September .   This company is recalled as “The Martyrs of Memphis” for their sacrificial service in 1878, when they nursed (and became) victims of the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis (in which one third of the population died).  Those responsible for medical care were principally religious from Memphis and Boston, including physicians ordained as priests.  The cathedral in Memphis served as the main hospital for fever victims, and the beautiful high altar at the cathedral is a memorial to the nuns who there perished as nurses.  The grave of the martyr priests is inscribed, “Greater Love Hath No Man”.  Saints are not just ancient and distant.  Saints are around us today, and the example we see in Constance and her companions is that being Christ-centered means that the Cross is always a part of following our Lord; dying to self is always a part of new birth in new creation.

Holy Cross Day (14 September) commemorates the finding, in A.D. 335, of a relic of the cross on which Jesus died, on Mt. Calvary, during the excavation of the site supervised by the Dowager Empress Helena (Constantine’s mother).  On this day we recall that in the cross is our sign of victory over death.   

Additional notable dates include:  Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258, feast 13 September), remembered especially for his emphasis on the identification of the faithful as the gathered Body of Christ.  Cyprian is quoted on this subject as emphasizing the importance of the Church as a holy mystery, writing, “"He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother …”  Hildegard of Bingen (17 September, d. 1179), the Benedictine abbess, composer, visual artist and mystic is remembered today principally for her musical compositions.  Theodore of Tarsus (d. 690) is remembered on 19 September.  He was a Syrian who served as the last Archbishop of Canterbury from the Eastern Church. 

The feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist is 21 September.  Matthew was the tax collector who took up his own cross in following our Lord, and in authoring the Gospel which bears his name.  The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels is 29 September, “Michaelmas”.  This day still marks the official opening of the Fall term in English courts and universities, and recalls Michael the Archangel, named as the captain of the host of angels in Revelation 12.  In the East this feast is referred to as the Synaxis, referring to the meeting of all angels.

Finally, let’s not forget Our Lady of Walsingham!  The feast we observe (15 October) is the feast of the translation of Our Lady’s image, and is therefore appropriate for the celebration in Sheboygan, to which her image has been translated (in the establishment of the shrine at Grace).  24 September is, however, the date for the feast which commemorates the apparition of Mary to the Lady Richeldis in Walsingham in 1061.