Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saints of the day

Such an interesting combination of the old and the new, the theoretical and the practical today.

First you've got St. Cyprian, bumped from September 13th by the arrival of John Chrysostom, and a real earlybird of the church who was beheaded on September 14, 258. He is best known for his teachings in the church: letters and treatises, and much debate over whether or not to receive those who have lapsed from the faith back into the fold. (He was for it--after a time of penitence.) One position he held, that those baptized by heretics need to be re-baptized, is itself now considered a heresy. I'm actually very grateful that Being Completely Right In All Things Doctrinal is not a requirement for sainthood; if it were, I'm sure no one would be considered worthy.

On the other hand, you've got James Chisolm, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Virginia in the mid-1800's who died in the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1855. Instead of leaving for the mountains for the summer, he stayed behind, visiting the sick, bringing people food and drink, burying the dead, and generally going about the work of caring for people in need. He died of Yellow Fever on September 15, 1855.

Kind of a both/and day: both faith and works, both theory and practice. And in both cases, people willing to risk and ultimately sacrifice their lives for their faith. Could I do that? I do not know. I'm not sure I want to be put to the test. In fact, I'm quite sure I don't.

The collect for James Chisolm says this: "Help us remember that in giving up our lives to your service, we win the eternal crown that never fades away in that heavenly kingdom." But I would like to think that we could serve God and our neighbor out of love and not because of any reward. Maybe I'm crazy, but I would like love to motivate me. Then again, I'm not really big on crowns.

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