OREMUS: 19 July 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Jul 18 21:16:50 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Tuesday, July 19, 2005 
Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa,
and Macrina, Deaconess, Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c.379

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, merciful God;
so abundant is your compassion
that you healed the wounds of our sins
and lifted out of death into new life
through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever.

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 102

Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come before you;*
 hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Incline your ear to me;*
 when I call, make haste to answer me,
For my days drift away like smoke,*
 and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My heart is smitten like grass and withered,*
 so that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the voice of my groaning*
 I am but skin and bones.
I have become like a vulture in the wilderness,*
 like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and groan;*
 I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.
My enemies revile me all day long,*
 and those who scoff at me
   have taken an oath against me.
For I have eaten ashes for bread*
 and mingled my drink with weeping.
Because of your indignation and wrath*
 you have lifted me up and thrown me away.
My days pass away like a shadow,*
 and I wither like the grass.
But you, O Lord, endure for ever,*
 and your name from age to age.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
   for it is time to have mercy upon her;*
 indeed, the appointed time has come.
For your servants love her very rubble,*
 and are moved to pity even for her dust.
The nations shall fear your name, O Lord,*
 and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion,*
 and his glory will appear.
He will look with favour on the prayer of the homeless;*
 he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation,*
 so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord.
For the Lord looked down from his holy place on high;*
 from the heavens he beheld the earth;
That he might hear the groan of the captive*
 and set free those condemned to die;
That they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,*
 and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the peoples are gathered together,*
 and the kingdoms also, to serve the Lord.
He has brought down my strength before my time;*
 he has shortened the number of my days;
And I said, 'O my God,
   do not take me away in the midst of my days;*
 your years endure throughout all generations.
'In the beginning, O Lord,
   you laid the foundations of the earth,*
 and the heavens are the work of your hands;
'They shall perish, but you will endure;
   they all shall wear out like a garment;*
 as clothing you will change them,
   and they shall be changed;
'But you are always the same,*
 and your years will never end.
'The children of your servants shall continue,*
 and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight.'

A Song of the Wilderness (Isaiah 35.1,2b-4a,4c-6,10)

The wilderness and the dry land shall rejoice,
the desert shall blossom and burst into song.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weary hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to the anxious, 'Be strong, fear not,
your God is coming with judgement,
coming with judgement to save you.'

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Then shall the lame leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;

The ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing,
with everlasting joy upon their heads.

Joy and gladness shall be theirs,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalm 146

   Praise the Lord, O my soul!*
 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers,
   nor in any child of earth,*
 for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth,*
 and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob
   for their help!*
 whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas,
   and all that is in them;*
 who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,*
 and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
   the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;*
 the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous;
   the Lord cares for the stranger;*
 he sustains the orphan and widow,
   but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The Lord shall reign for ever,*
 your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

READING [Jonah 2]:

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of
the fish, saying,
'I called to the LORD out of my distress,
   and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
   and you heard my voice.
You cast me into the deep,
   into the heart of the seas,
   and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
   passed over me.
Then I said, "I am driven away
   from your sight;
how shall I look again
   upon your holy temple?"
The waters closed in over me;
   the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
   whose bars closed upon me for ever;
yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
   O LORD my God.
As my life was ebbing away,
   I remembered the LORD;
and my prayer came to you,
   into your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols
   forsake their true loyalty.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
   will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
   Deliverance belongs to the LORD!'
Then the LORD spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out
upon the dry land.

For another Biblical reading,
Revelation 12:13-17

Words: Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, 1698
Tune: Mount Sion     
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O 'twas a joyful sound to hear
our tribes devoutly say,
up, Israel! to the temple haste,
and keep your festal day.
at Salem's courts we must appear,
with our assembled powers,
in strong and beauteous order ranged,
like her united towers.

O ever pray for Salem's peace;
for they shall prosperous be,
thou holy city of our God,
who bear true love to thee.
May peace within thy sacred walls
a constant guest be found;
with plenty and prosperity
thy palaces be crowned.

For my dear brethren's sake, and friends
no less than brethren dear,
I'll pray: May peace in Salem's towers
a constant guest appear.
But most of all I'll seek thy good,
and ever wish thee well,
for Zion and the temple's sake,
where God vouchsafes to dwell.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Eternal God, we rejoice today in the gift of life, which
we have received by your grace, and the new life you give
in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for
     the love of our families...
                         (We thank you, Lord.)
     the affection of our friends...
     strength and abilities to serve your purpose today...
     this community in which we live...
     opportunities to give as we have received...

God of grace, we offer our prayers for the needs of
others and commit ourselves to serve them as we have been
served in Jesus Christ. Especially we pray for
     those closest to us, families, friends, neighbors...
                         (Lord, hear our prayer.)
     refugees and homeless men, women and children...
     the outcast and persecuted...
     those from whom we are estranged...
     the church in Africa...
     the Diocese of Pelotas, Brazil,
     The Rt Revd Dr Sebastiao Armando Gameleira Soares, Bishop...

In the beginning, O God,
you laid the foundations of the earth
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
have pity on our human frailty
and cast us not away like clothing that is worn,
for you alone are our salvation for ever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lord of eternity, creator of all things,
in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us 
the way to resurrection
that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness:
may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina
press onwards in faith to your boundless love
and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

Amid the cares of our daily lives,
make us attentive to your voice
and alert to your presence,
that we may treasure your Word above all else. Amen.

The psalms and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from _Celebrating
Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis
1992, which is used with permission.

The first collect and the canticle are from _Common Worship: Daily
Prayer, Preliminary Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops'
Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving is adapted by Stephen Benner from
_We Give You Thanks and Praise: The Ambrosian Eucharistic
Prefaces_, translated by Alan Griffiths, (c) The Canterbury Press
Norwich, 1999.

The intercession is from _Book of Common Worship_, (c)
1993 Westminster / John Knox Press. 

The second collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for
the Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

The closing prayer uses a sentence from a prayer in _Opening Prayers:
Collects in Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

Basil the Great is remembered as the founder of Eastern monasticism. All
Eastern Orthodox monks are Basilian monks and follow a variation of the
monastic rule that he outlined. However, it is often overlooked that the
community of monks organized by Basil was preceded and inspired by a
community of nuns organized by his sister, Macrina.
Macrina the Elder lived in the days of the Emperor Diocletian, who made a
determined effort to destroy the Christian faith. She and her husband fled into
hiding, and survived into the time of Constantine. One of their sons, Basil the
Elder, and his wife Emmelia, had several distinguished sons, including Basil the
Great (14 June), Gregory of Nyssa (9 March), Peter of Sebastea, Naucratios,
and Dios of Antioch.
Their oldest offspring, however, was their daughter Macrina (called Macrina
the Younger to distinguish her from her grandmother). She was betrothed at
the age of twelve, after the custom of the day, but when her fiance died, she
determined to devote her life to prayer and contemplation and to works of
charity. After the death of her father, she and her mother formed a community
of women who shared her goals. She often brought poor and hungry women
home to be fed, clothed, nursed, or otherwise taken care of, and many
eventually joined the community, as did many women of means.
After the death of their parents, Macrina was chiefly responsible for the
upbringing of her ten younger brothers. When they were disposed to be
conceited about their intellectual accomplishments, she deflated them with
affectionate but pointed jibes. Her example encouraged some of them to
pursue the monastic ideal, and to found monastic communities for men. (Dios
founded one of the most celebrated monasteries in Constantinople.) Three of
them (Basil, Gregory, Peter) became bishops, and all of them were leading
contenders for the faith of Nicea against the Arians.
Gregory, in his Life of Macrina, records his last visit with her, and her farewell
speech and her prayers and teachings about the resurrection.
Gregory of Nyssa, his brother Basil the Great (14 June), and Basil's best friend
Gregory of Nazianzus (9 May), are known collectively as the Cappadocian
Fathers. They were a major force in the triumph of the Athanasian position at
the Council of Constantinople in 381. Gregory of Nyssa tends to be
overshadowed by the other two.
Gregory of Nyssa was born in Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia (central
Turkey) in about 334, the younger brother of Basil the Great and of Macrina
(19 July), and of several other distinguished persons. As a youth, he was at
best a lukewarm Christian. However, when he was twenty, some of the relics
of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (10 March) were transferred to a chapel near
his home, and their presence made a deep impression on him, confronting him
with the fact that to acknowledge God at all is to acknowledge His right to
demand a total commitment. Gregory became an active and fervent Christian.
He considered the priesthood, decided it was not for him, became a
professional orator like his father, married, and settled down to the life of a
Christian layman. However, his brother Basil and his friend Gregory of
Nazianzus persuaded him to reconsider, and he became a priest in about 362.
His brother Basil, who had become archbishop of Caesarea in 370, was
engaged in a struggle with the Arian Emperor Valens, who was trying to stamp
out belief in the deity of Christ. Basil desperately needed the votes and support
of Athanasian bishops, and he maneuvered his friend Gregory into the
bishopric of Sasima, and (in about 371) his brother Gregory into the bishopric
of Nyssa, a small town about ten miles from Caesarea. Neither one wanted to
be a bishop, neither was suited to be a bishop, and both were furious with
Basil.) Gregory did not get along well with his flock, was falsely accused of
embezzling church funds, fled the scene in about 376, and did not return until
after the death of Valens about two years later.
In 379, Basil died, having lived to see the death of Valens and the end of the
persecution. Shortly thereafter, Macrina died. Gregory was with her in the last
few days of her life. Afterwards, he took to writing sermons and treatises on
theology and philosophy. His philosophy was a form of Christian Platonism. In
his approach to the Scriptures, he was heavily influenced by Origen, and his
writings on the Trinity and the Incarnation build on and develop insights found
in germ in the writings of his brother Basil. But he is chiefly remembered as a
writer on the spiritual life, on the contemplation of God, not only in private
prayer and meditation, but in corporate worship and in the sacramental life of
the Church.
His treatise On The Making of Man deals with God as Creator, and with the
world as a good thing, as something that God takes delight in, and that ought
to delight us. His Great Catechism is esteemed as a work of systematic
theology. His Commentary on the Song of Songs is a work of contemplative,
devotional, mystical theology. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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