June 15: Evelyn Underhill, mystic, 1941

Today, June 15, the Episcopal Church remembers Evelyn Underhill, mystic and writer, 1941.

To go up alone into the mountains and come back as an ambassador to the world, has ever been the method of humanity’s best friends. The windows of Christ’s Mysteries split the [Light] up into many-coloured loveliness, disclose all of its hidden richness…make its beauty more accessible to us…And within  this place we too are bathed in the light transmitted by the windows, a light which is yet the very radiance of Eternity.

The only child of a prominent barrister and his wife, Evelyn Underhill was born in Wolverhampton, England, on December 6th, 1875, and grew up in London. She was educated there and in a girls’ school in Folkestone, where she was confirmed in the Church of England. She had little other formal religious training, but her spiritual curiosity was naturally lively, and she read widely, developing quite early a deep appreciation for mysticism. At sixteen, she began a lifelong devotion to writing.

In the 1890’s, Evelyn began annual visits to the European continent, and especially to Italy. There she became influenced by the paintings of the Italian masters and by the Roman Catholic Church. She spent nearly fifteen years wrestling painfully with the idea of converting to Roman Catholicism, but in the end she discerned that she was called to remain as an Anglican.

In 1921, Evelyn Underhill became reconciled to her Anglican roots, while remaining what she called a “Catholic Christian.” She continued with her life of reading, writing, meditation, and prayer. She had already published her first great spiritual work, Mysticism. This was followed by many other books, culminating in her most widely read and studied book, Worship (1937).

Evelyn Underhill’s most valuable contribution to spiritual literature must surely be her conviction that the mystical life is not only open to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience, and also (at the time, a startling idea) that modern psychological theories and discoveries, far from hindering or negating spirituality, can actually enhance and transform it. In Mysticism, she writes:

We are, then, one and all the kindred of the mystics; and it is by dwelling upon this kinship, by interpreting—so far as we may—their great declarations in the light of our little experience, that we shall learn to understand them best. Strange and far away though they seem, they are not cut off from us by some impassable abyss. They belong to us. They are our brethren; the giants, the heroes of our race. As the achievement of genius belongs not to itself only, but also to the society that brought it forth; as theology declares that the merits of the saints avail for all; so, because of the solidarity of the human family, the supernal accomplishment of the mystics is ours also.

She died, at age 65, on June 15th, 1941.

from A Great Cloud of Witnesses (Church Publishing)

June 14: Basil the Great, 379

Today the Church remembers Basil the Great, Bishop of Ceasarea, 379.

Almighty God, who have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like your bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who live and reign for ever and ever.

Basil was born about 329, in Caesarea of Cappadocia, into a Christian family of wealth and distinction. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight, and ordained a deacon soon after. Educated in classical Hellenism, Basil might have continued in academic life, had it not been for the death of a beloved younger brother and the faith of his sister, Macrina.

Macrina had founded the first monastic order for women at Annesi. Fired by her example, Basil made a journey to study the life of anchorites in Egypt and elsewhere. In 358 he returned to Cappadocia and founded the first monastery for men at Ibora.

Assisted by Gregory Nazianzus, he compiled The Longer and Shorter Rules, which transformed the solitary anchorites into a disciplined community of prayer and work. The Rules became the foundation for all Eastern monastic discipline. The monasteries also provided schools to train leaders for Church and State.

Basil was ordained presbyter [or, priest] in 364. In the conflict between the Arians (supported by an Arian Emperor) and orthodox Christians, Basil became convinced that he should be made Bishop of Caesarea. By a narrow margin, he was elected Bishop of Caesarea, Metropolitan of Cappadocia, and Exarch of Pontus.

He was relentless in his efforts to restore the faith and discipline of the clergy, and in defense of the Nicene faith. When the Emperor Valens sought to undercut Basil’s power by dividing the See of Cappadocia, Basil forced his brother Gregory to become Bishop of Nyssa.

In his treatise, On the Holy Spirit, Basil maintained that both the language of Scripture and the faith of the Church require that the same honor, glory, and worship is to be paid to the Spirit as to the Father and the Son. It was entirely proper, he asserted, to adore God in liturgical prayer, not only with the traditional words, “Glory to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit;” but also with the formula, “Glory to the Father with the Son together with the Holy Spirit.”

Basil was also concerned about the poor and, when he died, he willed to Caesarea a complete new town, built on his estate, with housing, a hospital and staff, a church for the poor, and a hospice for travelers.

He died at the age of fifty, in 379, just two years before the Second Ecumenical Council, which affirmed the Nicene faith.

from A Great Cloud of Witnesses (Church Publishing).

June 13: Anthony of Padua, 1231

Today, the Church remembers Anthony of Padua: priest, confessor, doctor, preacher, 1231.

O God, who by your Holy Spirit gave your servant Anthony a love of the Holy Scriptures, and the gift of expounding them with learning and eloquence, so that your people might be established in sound doctrine and encouraged in the way of righteousness. Grant us always an abundance of such preachers, to the glory of your Name and the benefit of your Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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June 12: The First Book of Common Prayer, 1549

Today, we remember the publication of the first Book of Common Prayer. It is typically remembered on a weekday following the Day of Pentecost. This year, at St. Alban’s, we observe it today: June 12. 2019.

Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, did restore the language of the people in the prayers of thy Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The first Book of Common Prayer came into use on the Day of Pentecost, June 9, 1549, in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI. From it have descended all subsequent editions and revisions of the Book in the Churches of the Anglican Communion.Read More

Choir Notes: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

by Clarence Zuvekas

Sunday, May 12 — One of the great musical settings of Psalm 23 is the arrangement by the American composer Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) of My Shepherd Will Supply My Need. The text was penned by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), who is regarded as the father of English hymnody.

The tune arranged by Thomson is an American composition of unknown provenance. It first appeared in print in an 1828 collection of hymns, and, in a form more familiar to us, it was included in the 1854-55 Southern Harmony collection. Thomson studied music at Harvard and, like Aaron Copland and many other of his American contemporaries, in Paris, with the revered composition teacher Nadia Boulanger (whose students addressed her simply as “Mademoiselle”).

Thomson composed in almost every genre, including film scores, one of which (Louisiana Story) won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1949. He was also an influential music critic.

Capital Campaign: Exciting Times for St. Alban’s

As Fr. Jeff has extolled, these are exciting times at St. Alban’s!

The Vestry has approved the hiring of a capital campaign consultant and we are in the final contract negotiation phase.

The consultant will be CCS Fundraising of Falls Church, who was the unanimous top choice of the interview panel and has extensive local and national experience with Episcopal church capital campaigns.

So, what should the congregation expect?

In April, the CCS Study Coordinator will arrive at St. Alban’s and embed with our church staff full-time to support the four-week Feasibility Study. A study steering committee will be empaneled, consisting of Fr. Jeff, Nancy Harrell, Bill Calvert and one or two other church members.

With the CCS coordinator, the committee will finalize the Case-for-Support. Additionally, the committee will mail invitations to 50-60 potential donors for confidential interviews with the CCS Coordinator(s).

These interviews will allow CCS to assess the donors’ feelings about the direction of St. Alban’s, the kitchen project itself, and the interest to both financially support the project and volunteer, should St. Alban’s undertake a full capital campaign.

An e-survey will be made available to congregants who are not interviewed.

From the interviews and e-survey, CCS will assess the likelihood that St. Alban’s could reach a campaign goal of $1.1 million, and will identify any potential issues regarding leadership or volunteerism for a capital campaign. This information will be documented in a formal report and presented to the Vestry by the CCS V.P. in late May or June.

From there, the Vestry will decide if St. Alban’s should proceed with a formal capital campaign and the ramping up of the pre-construction processes.

Please feel free to contact Bill Calvert, Betsy Anderson, Fr. Jeff or any vestry member with your questions or comments.

These are exciting times in the life of our parish family. The future is bright, the Spirit is active, and we are engaged in the work Jesus has given us to do.

Bill Calvert
Capital Campaign

Betsy Anderson
Kitchen Committee