Daily Devotion for April 23, 2015
St. George’s Day
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
[Save me from its guilt and power.]
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Music by Thomas Hastings, 1830
Lyrics by Augustus M. Toplady, 1776
Morning Prayer of (St.) Thérèse of Lisieux
O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of Christ Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to His infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of His Merciful Love.
O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.
Traditional Prayer of St. George
Almighty God, who gave to your servant George boldness to confess the name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Teach me Your Way
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; Unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name forever more. Great is your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of hell. All praise be to You, Oh God my Redeemer, today and forever.
For the Forgiveness of Sins
My Jesus, I place all my sins before you. In my estimation they do not deserve pardon, But I ask you to close your eyes to my want of merit, and open them to your infinite merit. Since you willed to die for my sins, grant me forgiveness for all of them. Thus, I may no longer feel the burden of my sins, a burden that oppresses me beyond measure.
Assist me, dear Jesus, for I desire to become good no matter what the cost. Take away, destroy, and utterly root out whatever you find in me that is contrary to your holy will. At the same time, dear Jesus, illumine me so that I may walk in your holy light.
[The infinite merit of Jesus Christ.]
The blessing of the Lord rest and remain upon all his people, in every land, of every tongue; the Lord meet in mercy all that seek him; the Lord comfort all who suffer and mourn; the Lord hasten his coming, and give us, his people, the blessing of peace, this day and always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Willingness to Suffer
The place of suffering in service and of passion in mission is hardly ever taught today. But the greatest single secret of evangelism and missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by faithfully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to racial and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simpler lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die if it is to multiply.
~ John Stott from The Cross of Christ
Romans 14:7-9 (NASB)
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Notes on the Scripture
The Legend of St. George
Some of the non-Biblical saints have become so popular that they have become cultural icons, known to Christians and non-Christians alike. Today, St. Nicholas would be the star, but in past centuries, he would have been eclipsed by Saint George. Today, practically all anyone remembers of him was that he slayed a dragon and, perhaps, has an emblem of a red cross on a white background.
But his former popularity is shown by his widespread adoption as a patron saint, including the countries of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as innumerable cities, orders (notably the Order of the Garter in England and the Order of Saint George, Russia's highest military decoration), and organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America.
Order of the Garter
Much like St. Nicholas, there are practically two different St. Georges: one religious and one legendary. The Catholic Encyclopedia takes the position that there seems to be no ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint George, but that little faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories about him.
The “religious” St. George, who we can be reasonably certain existed, was a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, around 300 A.D. He was a gifted soldier and leader and, before he turned 30, had become one of Diocletian's most prized Tribunes, the equivalent of a general today. He had been raised in Palestine and was a devout Christian from his youth.
If the name Diocletian rings a bell, it is probably because he was the greatest persecutor of Christians in the entire history of Rome. While sporadic and often deadly Christian persecutions came and went, beginning with Nero around 40 A.D., they were never systematic or a part of government policy. But Diocletian was to Christians what HitlerThis is an overstatement in one large sense, because Hitler killed Jews because of their race, whether or not they professed Judaism. None were spared. Diocletian's murders, on the other hand, were purely religious and could be avoided by renouncing Christ. was to Jews: He legislated that they be rounded up and, unless they renounced Christ, be killed.
George loudly renounced the Emperor’s edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the pagan gods. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted. Diocletian no doubt regretted discovery that one of his best generals was outlawed by his edict; but he could not back down or make exception.
And George proved as stouthearted a soldier for Christ as he had been for the Emperor. He was tortured three times by laceration and revived, but would not relent; and he was killed by decapitation.
The impact of his martyrdom on the history of Christianity was enormous. One of Diocletian's own daughters was converted because of it, and she, too, was put to death. Ten years later, the Emperor Constantine legalized Christian worship in the Edict of Milan and within another decade both the Emperor and the Roman Empire were Christian. While the timing and degree of Constantine's adoption of Christianity are murky, he participated in the first great meeting of Christian churches, the Council of Nicea, in 324 A.D.
The more colorful legends about St. George vary in details, depending on which country tells them, for his dragon-slaying is said to have occurred in at least three different places: Libya, Palestine, and Turkey (Cappadocia).
Here is a synthesis of the various legends. A city (possibly named Silene) is harassed by a dragon, who poisons its inhabitants or lives in the spring where they get their water. To placate the dragon, he is given sheep every day, and eventually raises his demand to a virgin. The poor women are chosen by lot and eventually, the princess - daughter of the king - is chosen. Alternatively, it is discovered that the only way to make the dragon disappear permanently is by offering him the beautiful maiden princess.
But in every version, there comes a time when the princess is offered to the dragon. The best versions have her quite young, dressed in her wedding gown and tied to the outside of the city wall. St. George rescues her by slaying the dragon with his holy sword after a great battle. In gratitude to God, or simply due to the impression of a man killing this great monster, the citizens of the city abandon their paganism and accept Christ.