On Sunday September 16th, the church of St. Alban the Martyr celebrated its 90th anniversary. In the upcoming December issue of Anglican Life, there are many photographs of that day, and a story all about the many activities that took place.
The Chi Rho (pronounced ˈkī-ˈrō) is a very familiar symbol to those of us who frequent churches where vestments are worn and hangings are used. It is often seen on the back of chasubles and on Eucharistic vessels. It is an ancient christogram, and is formed by the combination of the first two letters of the word “Christ” in Greek, which is Christos (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ in Greek). The X and the P come together to form the symbol so that the vertical part of the Rho connects with the centre of the Chi.
The origins of its use are said to stem from a dream that the Emperor Constantine had in which he was ordered to put a “heavenly divine symbol” on the shields of his soldiers. Having done as the dream ordered by putting a symbol that very closely resembled today’s Chi Rho on the shields, the army went on to defeat its foe in battle. The success of this conflict was credited to divine protection, and the drowning of the losing military leader in the River Tiber was likened to the drowning of Pharaoh in Exodus.
Later, the Chi Rho was further understood as a symbol not just of Christ, but of his resurrection and victory over death. In that case, the simple Chi Rho was often depicted in a circle, within which were also the Alpha and Omega—the beginning and then end of the Greek alphabet—as Jesus said that he is the Alpha and the Omega.
This ancient symbol of Christ is still frequently used today in modern Eucharistic ornaments, and there are many ancient examples of its use that we can see as well.
Sixty years ago today, October 23rd, 1958, there was a bump in the Cumberland Mine No. 2 colliery, in Springhill Nova Scotia. A bump is a geological event, much like an underground earthquake, caused by the removal of the coal. Many miners were instantly crushed and killed, while others were trapped in the mine for days while bare-faced miners made every effort to rescue them. Miners arrived from other mines in the province to help. After five and a half days (the morning of Wednesday, October 29th) contact was established with a group of 12 survivors on the other side of a 160-foot (49 m) rockfall. A tunnel was dug and it broke through to the trapped miners in the small hours of the morning of Thursday, October 30th. On November 1st, another group of survivors was found. None were found alive after that; only the bodies of the dead were removed after November 1st. In total, there were 174 miners in No. 2 colliery at the time of the bump: 75 died, and 99 were trapped but then rescued.
In the aftermath of the bump, the Anglican Church of Canada responded with the formation of the Primates World Relief and Development Fund, which we still have with us today. It was formed one year after the bump to help surviving miners and the families that were left behind, many of whom suffered with significant financial trouble in the wake of the disaster.
While listening to the reports coming out of Springhill, Peggy Seager wrote “The Ballad of Springhill” about the disaster. There are several excellent versions of this song available on YouTube if you want to listen to it.
St. Luke icon (commons.wikimedia.org)
18th is the feat day of St. Luke. St. Luke the Evangelist is one of the four writers of the Gospels, and many of the early church fathers believed that he also wrote the book of Acts. Luke is understood to have been a physician, and it is also believed that he was a martyr for his faith in Jesus Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles, he wrote the word “we” when writing about the missions of St. Paul, leading us to suppose that he may have been there at those times.
In the Epistle to the Colossians, we can read the following passage:
“Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you received instructions: If he comes to you, receive him), and Jesus, who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision. They have been a comfort to me. Epaphras greets you. He is one of you, a servant of Christ, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand mature and complete in the entire will of God. I bear witness of him, that he has a great zeal for you, those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you.” Colossians 4:10-14
From this, scholars have concluded that Luke may have been a gentile, and therefore the only writer of the New Testament who can be confirmed to be not Jewish. However, there are some scholars who believe that Luke was a Greek Jew who did not strictly follow the rituals and rules of Judaism, and was therefore not considered a “true” member of the Jewish faith.
In addition to his writings, there is also a tradition that Luke was the fist icon painter, and he is supposed to have painted many pictures of Mary and Jesus.
Here are a few pictures of the decorations from Port aux Basques for Thanksgiving:
Pictures from the Cathedral’s celebration of Thanksgiving:
From November’s Anglican Life:
The ACW ladies of St. Nicholas’s Church in Cox’s Cove take great pride in being actively involved in the work of the church and community.
As part of their outreach, a number of the ladies recently knitted or crocheted some 15+ “Prayer Shawls” to be given to the Western Memorial Regional Hospital, Corner Brook, for patient use.
Many of our American friends are confused when we say that we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, but that’s because we follow a different tradition for Thanksgiving—nothing to do with Pilgrims coming over to America.
Our Thanksgiving usually happens on the second Monday in October, and it celebrates the harvest (and the blessings that we have received over the past year). It has been officially celebrated in Canada since November on 1879, but was changed to October in 1957.
We often decorate our churches with a harvest or autumnal theme, using fruits and vegetables from the garden, colourful leaves, and flowers. While the holiday is on the Monday, we often celebrate with our families on Sunday with a big meal together. Many of us eat turkey (not a rare occurrence in Newfoundland!), but this is the time of the year when we break out the pumpkin pies and other things that are considered more fall or winter foods.
Of course, thanksgiving meals were held in Canada long before it was Canada, and there are some accounts of such meals from the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher, who came from England to find a Northwest Passage to Asia. We also have accounts of the explorer Samuel de Champlain (1604) holding feasts of thanksgiving, often sharing food with First Nations neighbours.
A prayer for Thanksgiving:
O Lord, fill us, we pray, with adoring gratitude to you for all that you do for us and for those in our lives; fill us with love, joy, peace, and all the good fruits of the Spirit. Amen.
From the upcoming November issue of Anglican Life:
As the years went by, we became very nostalgic about what once was, and we set about to capture what we could while we could. As a community, we formed “The Placentia Bay Islands and Area Heritage committee” in an attempt to immortalize that which had been so dear to us. To this end, we began gathering any items we could find from times gone by, to place in our new church and our Heritage House. In recent years, the congregation of St. Michael’s has turned the back of the church into a display area for items from the old churches, this area is shared with a children’s space, so it is truly a place where “old meets new.”
Above is a painting, donated by the Rev’d Morley Boutcher to the church in Arnold’s Cove, showing St. Alban’s Church in Spencer’s Cove.