Monthly Archives: February 2011

The “Gesima” Sundays

Every year, at some point roughly midway between Christmas and Easter, we find the Sundays in our Book of Common Prayer designated by those big “Gesima” words — Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. Originally there was also a Quadragesima Sunday but that is now called the First Sunday in Lent.

Those designations are quite different in character from the names of most special Holy Days. Christmas, Good Friday, Ascension, and Transfiguration — all these have reference to some special religious event. Beginning with Septuagesima Sunday, they mark the Sundays which are seventy, sixty, and fifty, days before Easter. Quinquagesima Sunday is exactly fifty days before Easter; all the others are approximations, actually a few days off by the secular calendar.

So, why are these days important? They are important because they remind us that Easter approaches and that the Lenten Season of penitence, review and preparation for the Resurrection, the event that marks the gift of eternal life, are close upon us. The “Gesima” Sundays mark a kind of Pre-Lenten season, a forward extension of Lent itself. These Sundays mark a divide between the joys and thankfulness of Christmas and Epiphany and the introspection of Lent, to be followed by the greatest joy of all at Easter.

Beginning with Septuagesima Sunday, we are reminded that the joy of our Lord’s birth at Christmas and His being shown forth to the Gentiles at Epiphany is beginning to wind down, to be put behind us, as we contemplate the sorrows of our Lord’s coming Passion and Crucifixion and as we try to prepare ourselves for the greatest gift and miracle of the Resurrection, the conquest of death. It is in this sense of subdued preparation for self-examination during Lent, that the “Gesima” Sundays are traditionally marked in Anglicanism by the omission of the glad phrases and strains of the Gloria in Excelsis. The origin of the observance of these Sundays is somewhat obscure, but is at least as ancient as the latter part of the seventh century.

The Collects for Septuagesima and Sexagesima are the ancient ones, slightly modified. They are somber Collects, with references to punishment for our sins and petitions for merciful deliverance from adversity. These Collects seem to reflect in part the temper of the times in which they were originally composed, times of barbarian invasion, of famine, war and pestilence. After thirteen hundred years, these dangers, or kindred ones, are very much present with us, weighing upon our spirits.

Self-examination, repentance, turning to God for forgiveness and salvation — these are the meanings of the three “Gesima” Sundays preceding Lent. Seventy, sixty, and fifty, days until Man’s Salvation conquers death and rises into life everlasting. —The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen

Saint Matthias The Apostle

Liturgical Day:  February 24

In the nine days of waiting between Jesus’ Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, the disciples remained together in prayer.  During this time, Peter reminded them that the defection and death of Judas had left the fellowship of the Twelve with a vacancy.

The Acts of the Apostles records Peter’s proposal that “of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us, one of them must be ordained to be a witness with us to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).  Two men were nominated, Joseph called Barsabas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  After prayer, the disciples cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, who was then enrolled with the eleven.

Nothing further is told of Matthias after his selection.  According to tradition he was an exemplary Apostle, but we know nothing more.  Matthias seems an appropriate example to Christians of one whose faithful companionship with Jesus qualifies him to be a suitable witness to the resurrection, and whose service is unheralded and unsung. –Lesser Feasts and Fasts

O Almighty God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles; Grant that thy Church, being always preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen. –The Collect for St. Matthias the Apostle (Book of Common Prayer, page 233)

ISMA Convention

In addition to its land-based ministries, Mariners’ Church has many ministries to serve the Great Lakes maritime community. For example, Fr. Rich is the Chaplain of the International Ship Masters’ Association (ISMA), Detroit Lodge No. 7.

Mariners’ also hosts the Blessing of the Fleet (March 13, 2011) and the Great Lakes Memorial (November 13, 2011), both of which involve significant ISMA participation.

This week, the Detroit Lodge is hosting the Annual Grand Lodge Convention which attracts Ship Masters from all the major ports of the Great Lakes system.

Fr. Rich gave the following invocation at a recent ISMA dinner:

Invocation for the ISMA Dinner, January 25, 2011

Let us pray.
Almighty God, we thank you for our many blessings: for another day of divine mercies; for opportunities to serve you and our country; and for our good land and great waters which you have given us for our heritage.

As a people grateful for the blessings of our freedom, grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice among men and nations.

We thank you for the honorable service and dedicated leadership of those who serve as officers of the International Ship Masters Association, and especially those who serve the Detroit Lodge No. 7. And we also remember, with gratitude, all those who have been active participants in the life and legacy of the ISMA throughout its long history. And we ask you to bless and guide all those who will continue the good works and service of our association during the years to come.

Now we ask you to bless this food to our use, and us to your service. And make us ever mindful of the needs of others, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.