Grace Abounds
A media ministry of Grace Episcopal Church
The Kalendar
Lent continues through the first thirteen days of the month.  As discussed in last month’s newsletter, the season takes precedence over Holy Days.  Nonetheless, let’s not neglect a saint with a prominent local connection, Tikhon of Moscow (d. 1925).  Tikhon served as Lord Archbishop of the Aleuts and North America, of the Russian Orthodox Church.  In this capacity, and as a result of the efforts of our own Bl. Charles Grafton, Tikhon participated in the consecration of Bishop Weller as suffragan in Fond du Lac on 8 January 1900.  A photo of the participants may be found here:  The consecration caused a strong negative reaction in much of the wider Church, being referred to as “The Fond du Lac Circus”.

1 March is St. David’s Day. It is traditional in Britain to eat a leek on this day as a token of Welsh heritage. David (d. 601) was an early missionary who succeeded in converting pagans in Britain and in the Middle East, as well. He ended his ministry as archbishop of Wales. Northeast of Wales, at Lichfield, in what was then the kingdom of Mercia, is found the shrine of St. Chad (d. 672). Chad (feast 2 March) is credited with introducing the Christian faith to the middle part of what is now England. 

Two important feasts fall in February. The first is the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple (2 February). This feast is, in fact, defined as a “Holy Day,” i.e., a feast of Our Lord as opposed to a saint. “Presentation” was known until the 1979 prayer book as “The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (see Luke 2.22-38), and is known popularly as “Candlemas”. The popular name derives from the tradition of blessing candles for use throughout the church year on this day, this tradition probably deriving from the Christian supplantation of the Anglo-Saxon pagan practice of bearing torches on this day in honor of the earth goddess, Ceres.

The month of January begins with the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. The feast is also known as the Feast of the Holy Circumcision. Falling eight days after Christmas, this would have been the day for Jesus to be circumcised under Jewish Law, but is a day used to commemorate that our Lord’s Name is holy. The name Jesus means “the Lord saves” in Hebrew, and in an ancient calculus a name connotes power; a name effects what it says, and for this we give thanks.

In Advent the emphasis is on the season rather than on feast days. Nonetheless, the calendar remains filled with observances to mark. The first week of the month includes three important fathers of Church doctrine. The first is St. John of Damascus (d. 760), whose teaching still forms the principal base for the catechism used in many Orthodox churches, and whose writing on icons was instrumental in the resolution of the Iconoclastic Controversy at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. Clement of Alexandria (d. 210) was an important early figure in biblical interpretation.

We begin the month on All Saints’ Day. The commemoration of All Saints originated in Ireland, and spread from there to England. After the late 6th C. arrival in England of St. Augustine of Canterbury, the Celtic commemoration of All Saints was learned on the Continent, being observed eventually in Rome by the ninth century. In the East, from the third century a day commemorating all martyrs had been observed. All Saints’ Day is the only principal feast on the Calendar that may be observed twice. It must be observed on its given date, but may also be observed on the following Sunday.