Focus on the Feasts: August 2018
Updated: Sep 20, 2018
The Church Calendar helps disciples remember and imitate the pattern of Jesus's life. One part of the Calendar is the cycle of liturgical seasons introduced in the article, "What Time is It?--An Overview of the Church Calendar and Liturgical Year."
Another part is the fixed Holy Days or Feasts of the Church. This series, Focus on the Feasts, is about that part. It begins with an introductory idea and prayers for the August Feasts.
"God is making a family. That is the purpose of history." I heard that sentence in a sermon by Fr. Henry Pendergrass on Palm Sunday, 2004. It stuck with me.
The flash of that insight illuminated connections between salvation history, biblical theology, the doctrine of justification by faith, the liturgical practice of the Church, and the meaning of human history in the providence of God.
A relevant scripture passage comes to mind.
"When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir" (Galatians 4:4-7).
God is making a family. That is the purpose of history.
As God pours out his graces through the order of time--an order he creates and sustains--he is making a family: a family of children adopted in the Son, crying out to the Father, and receiving the Spirit in our hearts.
This family shares common elements with every family. Every family has a story punctuated by special events that shape the members. Each family has heroes and models, patriarchs and matriarchs, who are remembered and honored. So does the Church.
Our fixed calendar of Feasts and Holy Days guides these celebrations. It's our family calendar. It contains annual celebrations of luminous lives in the family of God and remembrances of the events that make us who we are in the life and love of the Holy Trinity.
In the month of August we celebrate one event and two lives: The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ (Aug. 6); St. Mary the Virgin (Aug. 15); and St. Bartholomew (Aug. 24).
The prayer book gives us special prayers, or collects, for these days. They are included here for prayer. And they are followed by scripture for meditation and reflection.
May they enrich our faith, enliven our hope, and deepen our love as we receive ample graces from God and take our places in the family he is making through the Son and the Spirit.
The Transfiguration [August 6]
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
--2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Saint Mary the Virgin [August 15]
O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Saint Bartholomew [August 24]
Almighty and everlasting God, you gave your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”