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Focus on the Feasts: September 2018

MARTIN SCHONGAUER The Angel of Saint Matthew, ca. 1490, Engraving

Focus on the Feasts is a monthly series about about fixed Holy Days on the Church calendar in the Anglican tradition.

The Church Calendar helps disciples remember and imitate the pattern of Jesus's life. The general cycle of seasons is introduced in the article, "What Time is It?--An Overview of the Church Calendar and Liturgical Year."

In my first post in this series, I framed an introduction to the church calendar with this idea: God is making a family, that is the purpose of history.

I developed that idea, along these lines: "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."

Our Feasts in September celebrate three foundational family truths: the Holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; the holy evangelist and apostle St. Matthew; and the St. Michael and all the holy angels.

The Feast of the Holy Cross is akin to the great Holy Week commemorations of Passion Sunday and Good Friday reverberating in the midst of the month of September. On this special day, we remember the passion of our Lord Jesus, the instrument of his saving death, and his invitation that we, too, take up our cross and follow him.

The collect for each day appears below along with suggested passages from the Holy Scriptures for reflection and meditation.

Holy Cross Day [September 14]

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

"Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

-Galatians 6:14

Saint Matthew [September 21]

Lord Jesus, you called Matthew from collecting taxes to become your apostle and evangelist; grant us the grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, that we may follow you as he did and proclaim to the world around us the good news of your salvation; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' 12 But when he heard it, he said, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'"

-Matthew 9:9-13

Holy Michael and All Angels [September 29]

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

"Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven."

-Revelation 12:7-8

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."

-Psalm 91:11

Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

-Matthew 18:10-14


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