“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Dear Redeemer Family:
I wasn’t going to do this this month. But, the commemorations for September include some very important witnesses to the faith. So, I give you who, what and why.
On September 13th, we commemorate St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, who died on this date in 407. He is very important to western culture, yet many have never heard of him. John was a priest in Antioch, and famous for his preaching. His preaching earned him the nickname “Chrysostom” which means “golden mouthed.” It also got him in trouble. As bishop of Constantinople, he preached against corruption among the royal court. The empress, who had been his supporter, sent him into exile. In fact, he was in exile so much, that he was only actually Bishop in Constantinople for a couple of months. Why is he important to us? He is the one who wrote the original liturgy. His full liturgy is still used by the Orthodox Churches. If you attend one, his worship service runs about 3 to 4 hours.
Remember that when you think that my sermons are running over. The Roman Catholic Church took John’s liturgy and simplified it. Remember that if you are ever attending a High Mass. Martin Luther took the Roman Catholic liturgy and simplified it, and on and on. Basically, all worship liturgies go back to his. And, when the Church allowed the theater again (after a several century ban on it), the first plays were the Passion Plays. They based the acts of the Passion Plays on the parts of the liturgy. That practice continued to virtually all western playwrights. The screenwriters for movies continued the process. So, virtually anyone who has attended a worship service, a play or a movie have been affected by St. John!
September 17th, we commemorate Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, who died on this date in the year 1179. I’ve mentioned Hildegard before. She is absolutely fascinating. I have several of her books. She lived virtually her entire life, from age 10 on, in convents. Yet, she was widely influential within the Church, and beyond. Becoming abbess, she reformed her community as well as other convents. She also began having visions, which she had recorded in a book which she called Scivias. But, her importance goes well beyond being a mystic. She was an advisor to princes, kings, and popes. And quite often she would, in interestingly diplomatic ways, chew them out for any wrong doing. She wrote religious poems, plays and hymns. In fact, the first hymn that we have that we know was written by a woman is from her pen. She wrote 9 books, more like chapters to us, on Medieval medicine, some of which is still used. She also wrote on theology, unheard of for a woman in her time. She also wrote on natural history. She was also a musician and artist. I have seen several of her pieces of art, very interesting.
These are two very important witnesses to Our Lord who we remember this month. May we learn from their faith!