Grace Abounds
A media ministry of Grace Episcopal Church
The Kalendar
Three apostles are celebrated in October: James of Jerusalem (the brother of our Lord) on the 23rd, and Simon and Jude on the 29th (tr. From the 28th). St. Luke the Evangelist is remembered on the 18th. St. Luke is both the patron of physicians and painters. He himself was a physician (Col. 4.14), and tradition holds that he painted the first icon, of the Virgin Mary. The feast of St. Francis of Assisi is 4 October. Francis reminds us of the fact that all of God’s Creation is to be honored. There will not be a blessing of animals on Saturday the 6th because of a conflict with diocesan Deacon School.

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.

The month of August includes three major and a number of lesser feasts. 

  • Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August.  The feast falls this year on a Sunday.  Transfiguration is one of three feasts that takes precedence over a Sunday.  The feast commemorates the time when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John; when His glory was revealed and God the Father commanded, “This is my beloved Son ... listen to him”  (Mt. 17.1-8; Mk. 9.2-8; Lk. 9.29-35).  The figure of the transfigured Jesus is a foreshadowing of the risen and ascended Lord, of Jesus in His glory.  Peter, James and John see Him as He really is, and not with His glory veiled.  This reminds us that as we are created in the “image and likeness of God” (Gen 1.26-28), we too will rise one day in glory.

The first day in July for which the Church calendar prescribes an optional special observance is Independence Day. An observance of Independence Day in the Church was first proposed in the draft Prayer Book of 1786, but General Convention in 1789 voted this down, based in large part on the intervention of Bishop William White (Pennsylvania—his feast day is on the 17th), who argued such an observance to be inappropriate in a church in which the majority of clergy had been loyal to the British crown throughout the War of Independence. The Fourth of July was not included in the church calendar until the 1928 Prayer Book.

The month begins with the Feast of St. Justin, (d. 167), an early witness to the faith in Rome, who is generally remembered as “Justin Martyr” (as if this title were his surname).  Justin was a prominent apologist, addressing arguments to the Roman emperor about the truth of the faith.  His witness involved both his arguments and his death, and his “surname” recognizes that the meaning of the Greek word martyr is “witness”.

The feast of Sts. Philip and St. James, apostles, begins the month. Philip is the disciple who baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch at Acts 8.26-39, fulfilling Jesus’ injunction at Acts 1.8 that the disciples will be His witnesses “... in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” James is “James the Less” (a son of Zebedee), to distinguish him from James, the Lord’s brother. This feast is followed immediately by that of St. Athanasius (d. 373), the principal defender of orthodoxy against the Arian heresy. Arianism argued Jesus to be a created being, i.e., not God. This understanding of the Messiah as a very special human being anointed by God was dominant in imperial court circles, and persists in much popular belief today. Athanasius was exiled no less than five times as a staunch defender of the true faith. Athanasius is also remembered both for the Athanasian Creed (Quincunque Vult, pp. 864—5 in the prayer book) and for compiling the first list (in his Easter sermon of A.D. 367) of all of the books of the Bible.