OREMUS: 19 July 2010

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Sun Jul 18 17:00:10 GMT 2010

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OREMUS for Monday, July 19, 2010
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, O God,
the source and end of all things:
in the resurrection of Christ
you reveal the first fruits of the Spirit,
the pledge of things to come.
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 95

Come, let us sing to the Lord;*
 let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving*
 and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,*
 and a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,*
 and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,*
 and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,*
 and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture
   and the sheep of his hand.*
 O that today you would hearken to his voice!
'Harden not your hearts,
   as your forebears did in the wilderness,*
 at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,
   when they tempted me.
'They put me to the test,*
 though they had seen my works.
'Forty years long I detested that generation and said,*
 "This people are wayward in their hearts;
 they do not know my ways."
'So I swore in my wrath,*
 "They shall not enter into my rest."'

Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song;*
 sing to the Lord, all the whole earth.
Sing to the Lord and bless his name;*
 proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations*
 and his wonders among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;*
 he is more to be feared than all gods.
As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols;*
 but it is the Lord who made the heavens.
O the majesty and magnificence of his presence!*
 O the power and the splendour of his sanctuary!
Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples;*
 ascribe to the Lord honour and power.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name;*
 bring offerings and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;*
 let the whole earth tremble before him.
Tell it out among the nations: 'The Lord is king!*
 he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
   he will judge the peoples with equity.'
Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad;
   let the sea thunder and all that is in it;*
 let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy
   before the Lord when he comes,*
 when he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness*
 and the peoples with his truth.

Psalm 97

The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice;*
 let the multitude of the isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,*
 righteousness and justice
   are the foundations of his throne.
A fire goes before him*
 and burns up his enemies on every side.
His lightnings light up the world;*
 the earth sees it and is afraid.
The mountains melt like wax
   at the presence of the Lord,*
 at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declare his righteousness,*
 and all the peoples see his glory.
Confounded be all who worship carved images
   and delight in false gods!*
 Bow down before him, all you gods.
Zion hears and is glad and the cities of Judah rejoice,*
 because of your judgements, O Lord.
For you are the Lord: most high over all the earth;*
 you are exalted far above all gods.
The Lord loves those who hate evil;*
 he preserves the lives of his saints
   and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light has sprung up for the righteous,*
 and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,*
 and give thanks to his holy name.

FIRST READING [1 Sam. 8:4-end]:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, 'You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.' But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to govern us.' Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, 'Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.' 

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, 'These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.' 

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, 'No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.' When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, 'Listen to their voice and set a king over them.' Samuel then said to the people of Israel, 'Each of you return home.' 

Words: Percy Dearmer (1867-1936) after John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Tune: Monks Gate

He who would valiant be
'Gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy
Follow the master.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound -
His strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might,
Though he with giants fight:
He will make good his right
To be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, thou dost defend
Us with thy Spirit,
We know we at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away!
I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

SECOND READING [Acts 22:30-23:11]:

 Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them. 

While Paul was looking intently at the council he said, 'Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God.' Then the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike him on the mouth. At this Paul said to him, 'God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?' Those standing nearby said, 'Do you dare to insult God's high priest?' And Paul said, 'I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest; for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.” ' 

When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, 'Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.' When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) Then a great clamour arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees' group stood up and contended, 'We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?' When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks. 

That night the Lord stood near him and said, 'Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.' 

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

We rejoice in your generous goodness, O God, and
celebrate your lavish gifts to us this day, for you have
shown your love in giving Jesus Christ for the salvation
of the world. Especially we give thanks for

     the labors of those who have served us today...
                             (We thank you, Lord)
     friends with whom we have shared...
     those whom we love and have loved us...
     opportunities for our work to help others...
     all beauty that delights us...

Gracious God, we know you are close to all in need, and
by our prayers for others we come closer to you. We are
bold to claim for others your promises of new life in
Jesus Christ, as we claim them for ourselves. Especially
we pray for
     those in dangerous occupations...
                              (Lord, hear our prayer.)
     physicians and nurses...
     those who are ill or confined to nursing homes...
     for those whom we love and for those who love us...
     those who mourn...
     the Roman Catholic Church...

Our Father in heaven, 
give us those wings, 
that our mind may wing its way up
to the heights of the noble words your Son taught us:
Then we would leave behind the earth altogether
and traverse all the middle air; 
we would reach the beautiful ether, 
come to the stars and behold all their orderly array. 
But not even there would we stop short,
but, passing beyond them, would become a stranger 
to all that moves and changes, 
and apprehend the stable Nature, the immovable Power 
which exists in its own right, 
guiding and keeping in being all things, f
or all depend on the ineffable will of the Divine Wisdom. 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

Enrich us abundantly with your grace, O Lord,
that, firm in faith, secure in hope, and constant in love,
we may keep your commandments with watchful care. Amen.
The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

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 first collect is adapted from a sermon on the Lord's Prayer by Gregory.

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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