Florence Nightingale died on this day in 1910. She is honored throughout the world as the founder of the modern profession of nursing.
Trained as a nurse in Germany, she briefly superintended a hospital In London.
In 1854, responding to God’s call and animated by a spirit of service, she volunteered for duty during the Crimean War and recruited 38 nurses to join
her. As they worked in British field hospitals to organize the first modern nursing service, they radically reduced the high death toll and infection rate that had prevailed there. Wounded soldiers called Florence “the Lady with the Lamp” from her late-night rounds to check on them.
After returning to England, Florence Nightingale founded an institution in London for the training of nurses and published her main work, Notes on Nursing. She became a major advocate for public health in India and the role of statistics in medical care.
A lifelong Anglican, her religion sustained her through extended ill health. During her final years, unable to leave home, Florence Nightingale engaged in spiritual conversation with prominent religious leaders and regularly received Holy Communion.
Pray for nurses everywhere.
Today is the feast of St. Laurence, who was martyred in Rome on August 10, AD 258. He was one of the seven deacons of the Church there, assisting the Bishop, Pope Sixtus II. As the senior deacon (“archdeacon”) Lawrence had responsibility for maintenance of the Church’s possessions and for supervision of the distribution of alms.
During the persecution of the Emperor Valerian, immediately after Bishop Sixtus had been killed, the prefect of Rome summoned Laurence to municipal court. By this time Christian congregations were growing, although they were still illegal. They were attracting wealthy converts. There were rumors that the Church in Rome secretly possessed “treasures”—perhaps chalices and patens made with precious metals and jewels. The prefect gave Laurence three days to collect the Church’s treasured goods and surrender them to the court.
After three days Laurence returned to the court with a group of the most vulnerable people who were being cared for by the Church-- the impoverished, those who were crippled or blind, widows and orphans. He said to the prefect, “These are the treasures of our Church.” The prefect most likely replied with the Latin equivalent of “Oh, a smart ass, eh?” We’ll show you!” Having disrespected the court Lawrence was summarily put to death.
Still today we celebrate Laurence’s courage and his witness to true value over false value. He affirmed the preciousness of human life even at its most vulnerable. He showed that his Church’s chief treasure consisted in the mutual love and care that was shared among all Her members.
Today we present a recorded version of the service of Compline from Ascension and St. Agnes. Compline is traditionally the final prayers of the evening before one goes to bed. It is the last hour in the monastic Liturgy of Hours, the times in which monks gather to pray throughout the day. It deals with themes of safety through the night, protection for ourselves and for the world, and the guarding of our souls to everlasting life. The office does not change very much from day to day, like Vespers does, so it can be very easily learned and prayed every day. We’ve attached an order of service for you to be able to follow along. Feel free to listen and pray along with this recording whenever you feel moved to do so. I hope it brings you great comfort and peace.
You can pray Compline by clicking the button below, or by finding the page under "Worship" in our website menu.
Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, one of the five turning points in Christ’s journey, it is a turning point. (The five are Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension.)
Christ takes his apostles to a mountain (probably Mount Tabor). Mountains are symbols of revelations in Scripture, and this one certainly is: where human nature meets Jesus. It is a connecting point.
Having journeyed for 7 or 8 days to get there, the disciples are weary. They rest. Jesus prays. As he prays his face changes and his clothes are dazzling white. Light is symbolic; in today’s Old Testament reading, Moses returns from a mountain with the Ten Commandments, and a face shining so much that he wears a veil. Suddenly, the disciplines see two more men with Jesus – Moses, the Giver of the Laws and Elijah, the Restorer of the Laws. The beautiful symbolism is that the old laws are giving way to the new Law of Christ Jesus. Just in case the disciples missed the point, God speaks from a cloud – “This is my Son, the Chosen – (check) listen to him.” What further proof could the disciples need that Jesus was the Messiah?
What further proof do we need? God has shown us that the Way of Jesus is our way – and His. “Listen to him.”
Thanks be to God.
I wrote this prayer some twenty years ago. It appears in Race and Prayer: Collected Voices, Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester Talton.
The first of Africa’s children
my daughter looked at up close
was the strong and cheerful man
who lives as near neighbor to our church.
She, a pale-ivory girl three years old,
was amazed to see,
close before her, human skin
in a different flavor: chocolate.
A father himself,
this man invited her to touch his wrist
(like Jesus with Thomas)
and see that this color was permanent;
she cannot rub it off.
He smiled and laughed,
And so did she.
may it always be so with us,
that like you,
we may rejoice in our unity
and delight in our diversity.
In the Church of England’s first Book of Common Prayer in 1549 Archbishop Cranmer set these words in the Mass immediately after the prayer of general confession and the priest’s absolution: “Hear what comfortable words our Savior Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him. ‘Come unto me, all ye that travail and be heavy laden, and I shall refresh you.’” (Matthew 11. 28) In the Authorized (“King James”) translation of the Bible published in 1611, in words that are repeated in Handel’s oratorio Messiah, the prophet Isaiah says (40. 1-2a) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem . . .” And in John’s Gospel (14. 26) Jesus in speaking to His disciples calls the Holy Ghost “the Comforter.”
What does this kind of comfort mean? A modern day dictionary definition of “comforter” is (1) a warm quilt, made by sewing two sheets together with feathers in between and (2) a person who provides consolation. But that’s not what Cranmer and the translators of the Bible had in mind. In England during the 16th and early 17th centuries words from Latin were being adapted; “Englished.” One of these was “comfort,” derived from two Latin words, cum fort—with strength. Cranmer was saying, “Hear what strengthening words our Savior Christ saith.” Isaiah in the Authorized Version of the Bible was saying, “Strengthen my people.” And the Holy Ghost who was promised to the disciples by Jesus would breathe into them strength--the power to discern truth and live for it.
All this is akin to the sense of the classic definition of treason as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” It’s not giving a warm quilt or a fuzzy bear or consolation. Treason is giving aid and strength to the enemy.
In our present circumstances we are certainly experiencing travail—painful labor--with medical pandemic and economic and social disruption as heavy burdens. We certainly long for consolation. The Church offers us that, and yet we also need something that reaches beyond consolation. The Good News is that the Church provides us with much more than just solace--not just a warm quilt or a fuzzy bear, but the strength of the Holy Spirit, given to us today. We receive that Spirit in order to be able to live and to discern truth in the midst of confusion and danger--to question taken for granted assumptions and to respond to our difficulties with courage and perseverance, loving God and our neighbor. Cranmer’s words in introducing Jesus’s words are more than an expression of consolation. They proclaim encouragement and hope; an assurance of the gift of God’s strengthening power for us and within us, individually and together.
“Hear what strengthening words our Savior Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him. ‘Come unto me all ye that travail and be heavy laden, and I shall refresh you.’”
Today is the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The founder of the Society of Jesus. The religious order (community) more commonly known as the Jesuits (you may have heard of them!), St. Ignatius was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man, Ignatius was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds. But, in 1521, Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, Ignatius experienced a conversion, an encounter with Christ. And, reading the life of Christ and of the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused new desires to do great deeds. Ignatius realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him.
His personal motto and that of the Jesuits is “For the greater glory of God.” Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556, of malaria. This prayer is attributed to him:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Thursday is the feast day of William Wilberforce, a Christian, politician and crusader for social justice.
Wilberforce was born in England in 1759. He earned a reputation for a hedonistic life style at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Nonetheless, he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees.
Then he became a Christian and Member of Parliament. For him, Parliament was a platform for putting Christian principles into action and serving God.
His efforts resulted in the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which diminished, but did not stop, the slave trade, a lucrative one for British merchants. He allied with Quakers and others to pursue his efforts. He is credited with the first grass-roots campaign in history, encouraging writing of letters, publishing of pamphlets and fiery speeches denouncing the practice.
Not satisfied with that, he kept working until the Slave Abolition Act was passed in 1833.
Neither completely eradicated the practice of slave trading and slavery. But they began a movement that ultimately resulted in the end of the trade in the British Empire. He also founded the Society for Suppression of Vice, the Church Missionary Society and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (later re-named the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Wilberforce died three days after passage of the 1833 Act. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
During the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic (1930-1961), government forces killed tens of thousands of people inside and outside the country. One of them was Charles Raymond Barnes, an American shot to death on July 26, 1938.
Ordained an Episcopal priest in 1920, Barnes served in the dioceses of Harrisburg and British Honduras (now Belize) before arriving in the Dominican Republic in 1936 to serve as vicar of Epiphany Church in the capitol, Santo Domingo. Poverty was rampant across the island of Hispaniola, and many Haitians had fled to the Dominican Republic to work in the fields. After harsh deportation measures proved unsuccessful, Trujillo ordered the immigrants to be killed. Barnes wrote about these atrocities, hoping that international pressure would bring them to an end.
Upon leaving the country, a friend of his was found in possession of what he had written. Soon the dead body of Barnes was discovered at his home. Regarded as the martyr of the Dominican Episcopal Church, he is buried in the chancel of his former parish, now the Cathedral of the Epiphany. By faith he still speaks to us.
Today’s Kalendar commemorates William Reed Huntington, Priest. Born in 1838 he died on July 27, 1909. He was for many years a leader in the House of Deputies at General Convention and was influential in the revision of the American Prayer Book that was adopted in 1892. Here is a beautiful collect that he composed; one that remains in our current Prayer Book:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into joy before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Huntington also was an advocate for reunion among the separated Christian communions. At the General Convention in Chicago in 1886 his proposal for a resolution on reunion was adopted, with the following preface: “Christian unity . . . can be restored only by the return of all Christian communions to the principles of the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence.” What followed were four foundational principles for reunion: the Bible, the Creeds, the Sacraments, and Episcopal Ministry. These principles, with the wording that follows, were adopted in 1888 at the Lambeth conference of all bishops in the Anglican Communion. The statement is now known as the “Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral:”
(a) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as
"Containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being
the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
(b) The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the
Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian
(c) The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself --
Baptism and the Supper of the Lord -- ministered with unfailing
use of Christ's words of Institution, and of the elements
ordained by Him.
(d) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the
methods of its administration to the varying needs of the
nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of the Church.
Sadly, reunion has not yet taken place, nor is this likely to happen soon. But we can hope for it and act now in love and concern for our fellow Christians. Let us pray for growth toward unity in the words of this collect from the Prayer Book (BCP 255): Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Rev. Frederick Erickson, a retired university professor,