OREMUS: 19 July 2007

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Jul 18 18:12:57 GMT 2007

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OREMUS for Thursday, July 19, 2007 
Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and Macrina, Deaconess,
Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c

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

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 34

I will bless the Lord at all times;*
 his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the Lord;*
 let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord;*
 let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me*
 and delivered me out of all my terror.
Look upon him and be radiant,*
 and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me*
 and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the Lord
   encompasses those who fear him,*
 and he will deliver them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;*
 happy are they who trust in him!
Fear the Lord, you that are his saints,*
 for those who fear him lack nothing.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger,*
 but those who seek the Lord
   lack nothing that is good.
Come, children, and listen to me;*
 I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who among you loves life*
 and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
Keep your tongue from evil-speaking*
 and your lips from lying words.
Turn from evil and do good;*
 seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,*
 and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,*
 to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry and the Lord hears them*
 and delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted*
 and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
Many are the troubles of the righteous,*
 but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.
He will keep safe all his bones;*
 not one of them shall be broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,*
 and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
The Lord ransoms the life of his servants,*
 and none will be punished who trust in him.

Great and Wonderful (Revelation 15:3-4)

Great and wonderful are your deeds,
Lord God the Almighty.

Just and true are your ways,
O ruler of the nations.

Who shall not revere and praise your name, O Lord?
for you alone are holy.

All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

FIRST READING [Amos 5:10-17]:

They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
   and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Therefore, because you trample on the poor
   and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
   but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
   but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
   and how great are your sins 
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
   and push aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
   for it is an evil time.

Seek good and not evil,
   that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
   just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
   and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
   will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:
In all the squares there shall be wailing;
   and in all the streets they shall say, 'Alas! alas!'
They shall call the farmers to mourning,
   and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing;
in all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
   for I will pass through the midst of you,
says the Lord. 

Words: Charitie Lees De Chenez
Tune: Breslau, Festus

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Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
a great High Priest, whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on his hands,
my name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see him there
who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.

Behold him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!

One with himself, I cannot die;
my soul is purchased by his blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Savior and my God.


Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to
God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with
the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this
he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one
does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as
Aaron was.

So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by
the one who said to him,
'You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you';
as he says also in another place,
'You are a priest for ever,
   according to the order of Melchizedek.' 

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

We give you praise and thanks, O God, for all gifts of
love we have received from you, and for your persistent
mercy in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for
     work we have accomplished pleasing to you...
                         (We thank you, Lord.)
     the faithful witness of Christian people...
     the example of righteousness we see in parents and teachers...
     the innocence and openness we see in children...
     all works of Christian compassion...

We give you our cares and concerns, O God, because we
know you are kind and care for your children in every
circumstance. Especially we pray for
     those who struggle with doubt and despair...
            (Lord, hear our prayer.) 
     people afflicted with disease...
     those called to special ministries...
     people neglected or abused...
     Baptist, Disciples of Christ, and other free churches...

Hear us, Lord, when we cry to you.
Calm our bodies and minds with the peace
which passes understanding,
and make us radiant with the knowledge of your goodness;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. 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

The canticle is 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 closing prayer uses a sentence from a prayer in _Opening Prayers:
Collects in Contemporary Language_. 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.

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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