Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Saint Luke: Physician, Apostle, and Evangelist

Partially from the Archives....

From's Saint of the Day e-mail for today:

Saint Luke

Saint of the Day for October 18

(d. c. 84)

Saint Luke’s Story
Luke wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospelwriters. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him “our beloved physician.” His Gospel was probably written between 70 and 85 A.D.
Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem, and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion.
Luke’s unique character may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles:
1) The Gospel of Mercy
2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation
3) The Gospel of the Poor
4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation
5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit
6) The Gospel of Joy


Luke wrote as a Gentile for Gentile Christians. His Gospel and Acts of the Apostles reveal his expertise in classic Greek style as well as his knowledge of Jewish sources. There is a warmth to Luke’s writing that sets it apart from that of the other synoptic Gospels, and yet it beautifully complements those works. The treasure of the Scriptures is a true gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.

Saint Luke is the Patron Saint of:


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I love how the Anglican Church celebrates the feast days of the Biblical Saints--the Saints of the New Testament--while still seeing every follower of Christ as a saint as well. 

Here is the Collect, the prayer prayed collectively by the Anglican Communion today in remembrance of Saint Luke:

ALMIGHTY God, you inspired your holy servant Luke the Physician to write an orderly account of the Gospel and of the healing power of your Son; As he delivered your restoring words of wholeness, deliver us now from all sickness of body and soul; Through the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (Scriptural references for this prayer: Luke 1.1-2; Colossians 4.14; Proverbs 22.1-2; 1Timothy 6.3-4)

Each Friday morning for the past thirteen years, Father Acker and I (and now often Father Gregory) meet for weekly healing services including Morning Prayer and Holy Communion. During this time of prayer and praise, we pray this portion of The Liturgy for Healing (Book of Common Prayer 2011 page 145):

Bless physicians, nurses, all all others who minister to the suffering; grant them wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience. 

[Response:] Lord, have mercy upon us.

And as we also do each Friday, we pray this portion of the Holy Communion service called The Prayer for the Church (Book of Common Prayer 2011 page 110):

And we humbly ask you in your goodness, O Lord, to comfort, visit, and relieve all those who [are in need of your healing touch, remembering especially (and we pray for God's healing to be upon those we mention by name and affliction) and] all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, danger, distress, or any other difficulty; Relieve and strengthen, help and deliver them by your mighty hand. Lord, in your mercy;

[Response:] Hear our prayer. 
So as we thank God today for the example He gave us of a wonderful human physician, apostle, and evangelist in Saint Luke, we also thank Him for His healing His timing. Some Christians (and even some pastors and elders) have been suspicious of my fifteen-year illness, claiming that either I didn't have enough faith for God to heal me or that I had such sin in my life that He was refusing to heal me--the usual evangelical arguments about illness. 
Our women's Bible study at Pine Valley Community Church is working our way through Kay Arthur's Precept studies in Romans; this year we're tackling Part Three: Romans 8-11. And in the video this week (which were filmed when Kay Arthur sported the fluffy hair and "colorful" fashions of the '80s!), Kay assured us that God brings suffering into our lives to refine us, to help us to become more loving, more compassionate, and more like Christ. I was relieved that she didn't follow the "name it and claim it" factions of evangelical thought--in fact, she gently disparaged the whole name). I felt strengthened and inspired by her thoughts on Romans 8 and Christian suffering. 

It is also in the stories of the Catholic Saints that I've found value in physical suffering--as well as in the Psalms which we read through each month in The Book of Common Prayer 2011. The Psalter breaks down the 150 Psalms into 60 readings, 30 for Morning Prayer and 30 for Evening Prayer. So the first few psalms are arranged under Day 1 Morning and Day 1 Evening, each numbered day corresponding to the day of the month. And it is in the saints such as Saint Teresa of Avila who endured illness for most of her life that I have found great consolation and inspiration:
Detail of St. Theresa of Avila by François Gérard

"Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough." 
-- Saint Teresa of Avila

"God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.”   
--Saint Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle

"One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer." --St. Teresa of Avila 

And thus we return to Saint Luke the Physician who allowed The Great Physician to work through him in traveling with Saint Paul and in writing the Gospel According to Saint Luke and The Acts of the Apostles.
Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Season of Michaelmas

Updated from the Archives...

Just over a week ago on 29 September, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Michael and the Archangels. This is a feast that I was not terribly familiar with, so I was glad to read an informative explanation in the "Saint of the Day" e-mail from

Angels—messengers from God—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are named.

Michael appears in Daniel's vision as "the great prince" who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God's armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.

Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel's visions, announcing Michael's role in God's plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.

Raphael's activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit's son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah's marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit's blindness and the restoration of the family fortune.

The memorials of Gabriel (March 24) and Raphael (October 24) were added to the Roman calendar in 1921. The 1970 revision of the calendar joined their feasts to Michael's.

Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God's protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly.

As I've read much British literature over the years (mostly in graduate school but also for my own enjoyment), I have come across the term "Michaelmas" as a British holiday (along with "Candlemas" which occurs on 2 February) and never knew what it celebrated; I only knew it occurred sometime in autumn. So for my own edification and perhaps for yours as well, I discovered an article about Michaelmas from the Historic-UK Web site (read complete entry here: Michaelmas):

Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”.

There are traditionally four “quarter days” in a year (Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December)). They are spaced three months apart, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes. They were the four dates on which servants were hired, rents due or leases begun. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms.

St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin - the edge into winter - the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defences during the later months of the year.

The Scripture readings for Morning Prayer included Revelation 12:7-12 regarding Michael the Archangel and the War in Heaven:

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers [1] has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
(English Standard Version)

In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Common Prayer 2011, and in The Divine Hours series edited by Phyllis Tickle, I found several Collects to pray on Michaelmas, and I liked this one the best -- from Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime, Midday Prayer for Monday nearest September 28:

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted the ministries of the angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant now that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Christian season of Michaelmas lasts from 29 September all the way to the beginning of Advent, so we have much time to pray this song during Morning Prayer, immediately following the First Reading of Holy Scripture in the Book of Common Prayer 2011

The Angels' Song of the Lamb (Magna et mirabilia):
Great and amazing are your deeds, 
O Lord God the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations.
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your Name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship you,
     for your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15.3-4)

So there -- we have the historical and spiritual background of Michaelmas as well as Scripture and prayer with which to celebrate this day and season, remembering that although the Archangels are both wonderful in their beauty and terrible in their fury, they are created beings, made by the King of kings and the Lord of lords for His purposes and for our help. We humans, formed in the likeness of God, were created but "a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:5), made by the Magnificent One, the Lord God of Hosts.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Yes--Another Bundle of Book Reviews!

(Image: my Darcy quote necklace, courtesy of Cass Grafton and Ada Bright upon the release of their wonderful book, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.)

I read voraciously, and I'm struggling to catch up with my spring and summer reading that I reviewed on Goodreads--some in more detail than others, depending upon how quickly I flew through them. My "summer treat" of a month (okay, I admit it: two months!) of Kindle Unlimited resulted in briefer reviews with fewer details, especially since I don't have access to the books to look up a few facts here and there; when I'm reading up to four to five books per week, they often blend together. (Certainly the Pride and Prejudice variations get all mushed up in my head since they pretty much feature the same characters each time!)

So here are my reviews of six books, only half of them P&P variations...and all from the same series by a single author. But we'll start and end with some classics! Enjoy!!

Anne of InglesideAnne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In my not-so-humble opinion, L.M. Montgomery writes some of the most beautiful prose in the English language. Her imagination sparkles through Anne, now a mother of six, and her children who have the same "scope for imagination" as their mother. This novel covers about six years in the lives of the young Blythes, with stories woven around different happenings to each of the children, thus paving the way for the next book in the series, Rainbow Valley, which, written 20 years before Anne of Ingleside, again shares stories of the young Blythes as well as the addition of a new family in the manse, a family torn apart by the death of the pastor's wife and their children's mother.

I've read the Anne series so many times that my paperback books are falling to pieces; someday I'd like to get a nice hardcover set, perhaps including the newly-published ninth book in the series, although I do have almost all of them on my Kindle.

These books are some of the sweetest and most poignant depictions the minds, hearts, and souls of children. L.M. Montgomery is a masterful storyteller as well as a splendidly-sensitive writer. Each of her books is a treasure.

The Honorable Mr. Darcy The Honorable Mr. Darcy by Jennifer Joy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Darcy is accused of murdering George Wickham during the Netherfield Ball while he and Elizabeth were locked in the library. If Darcy confesses the truth to clear his name, Elizabeth will be forced to marry him. But who actually killed the scoundrel? A mystery which Elizabeth seeks to solve...and which places her in mortal danger...with Darcy to the rescue!

This was my second reading of this suspenseful mystery novel; I'm not sure when I read the first, but when one remembers "whodunnit" only a third of the way through the book, it becomes obvious that one has read said mystery novel. I remember being quite shocked at the perpetrator when I read it the first time, and the suspense is wonderful!! A terrific mystery and a splendid unveiling of Mr. Darcy's true character and his protectiveness of Elizabeth balanced with his admiration of her skillz of deduction. Yes, Lizzy has skillz.

The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth: A Pride & Prejudice Variation The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Jennifer Joy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A continuation of The Honourable Mr. Darcy, this mystery revolves around the murder of someone very close to Elizabeth, someone whom Lady Catherine threatened the day before the militia parade. Darcy must help Elizabeth through her grief and to solve the mystery before Elizabeth's life is again endangered by a murderer in Meryton.

I really enjoyed this second mystery in the series. I had read the first one before this summer, but the second volume of this series was new to me and very intriguing. When an author as talented as Jennifer Joy combines my love of mysteries with my love of all things Austen, I know I'm in for a treat!! :D

The Inseparable Mr. and Mrs. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation The Inseparable Mr. and Mrs. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Jennifer Joy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another mystery for Darcy and Elizabeth to solve! Now engaged, Elizabeth and Darcy soon realize that someone is trying to kill a person at Longbourn! Plus, Georgiana must be introduced to her sister-to-be, and many other mysterious hijinks occur that team up Darcy and Elizabeth once again in solving another mystery in Meryton.

A wonderful series, I read all three volumes so quickly that I'm having to press to remember details. A lovely series for mystery lovers as well as fans of Elizabeth and Darcy.

Dark Desires Dark Desires by Eve Silver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Young Darcie has been betrayed by everyone she loved. Alone in a dangerous part of London, a gruff gentleman takes pity on her and takes her into his home. But this gentleman seems to have a strange predilection for bodies...dead bodies. Is he a resurrectionist? Or is his interest much more mundane? And is he falling for Darcie as quickly as she is for him?

A wonderful Gothic mystery--compelling characters and a very original story line. A delightfully chilling read!!

Macbeth Macbeth by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are among the most compelling characters Shakespeare ever wrote. She seems heartless in her ambition; he seems almost weak in comparison. Yet as the play continues, Macbeth gains power and thrives on ambition, to the point of killing Macduff's entire family...after killing his best mate Banquo and trying to kill Banquo's son, Fleance. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth seems to wane in power, finally devolving into madness and eventual suicide.

I taught this play as a four-week high school Shakespeare class at Brave Writer, my second time doing so with the six plays I cycle through each spring. We had some of the most thought-provoking discussions I've ever enjoyed at Brave Writer about power, women's roles, masculinity, violence, ambition, etc. And of course, the role of the supernatural and fate in the actions of the play. I love discussing Shakespeare with teens; they come up with some of the most insightful and surprising observations--often that I didn't notice myself until a student pointed it out to me! I love collaborative learning!! :D

Along with Hamlet, I see Macbeth as being the best of the Shakespeare canon.

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So I hope to post something besides book reviews next time...such as photos and thoughts about the U2 concert a couple of weeks ago, plus Michaelmas came and went with nary a whisper from me. And I've scribbled down some amazing quotations lately, too! 

Have a lovely week, everyone!! 

Reading happily with you, 


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