The Collect for St. John’s Nativity

Today we celebrate the birthday of Saint John the Baptist!
We’ve looked at this holy day in the Church Calendar before; here you will find three brief takes on the significance of this feast: Happy Birthday, John the Baptist!  You can also read a little about his life and of some lectionary history for his feast day here.

This year, I’d like to look at the Collect for this Day.  Here it is in the 1662 Prayer Book:

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance; Make
us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching, and after his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the most part, this is the same as what we’ve got in the 2019 Prayer Book today.  The first half is virtually identical; only the word doctrine is now swapped out for teaching, which means the same thing, though the connotations have changed slightly.  Today the word doctrine more often is used to refer to a specific area or type of teaching, rather than biblical-theological teaching as a whole.  So that’s a subtle language update that helps preserve the original meaning of this prayer.

It’s also important to note that doctrine/teaching is paired with a holy life.  An unvirtuous teacher is not a good Christian example, neither is a virtuous man with sloppy theology.

The “purpose” section of the Collect, in the second half, is a bit more rearranged, however.  We pray that we may follow John’s doctrine and example so that…

that we may truly repent (2019)
that we may truly repent according to his preaching (1662)

Both versions start with this, and rightly so!  The call to repentance was the most obvious and prolific subject of his preaching that we find in the Gospels, most especially in Luke 3.  The phrase “according to his preaching” is not in our text of the prayer, probably dropped for its redundancy with the subject of his doctrine/teaching in the previous phrase.

boldly rebuke vice (both)

This is the second purpose for our following his teaching and life.  This, too, was a major part of his recorded preaching, as the identification of vice and sin is rather necessary for a genuine call to repentance.  The difference is that the modern prayer puts this second while the 1662 prayer puts this in the middle of the list.

patiently suffer for the sake of truth (2019)
patiently suffer for the truth’s sake (1662)

Third in the modern prayer and last in the old, suffering for the cause of God’s truth is part of St. John the Baptist’s example.  Being last in the 1662 form of the prayer, this has a place of subtle emphasis; it’s the last thing we hear, a sobering “last word on the matter”.  John was a martyr, after all, and many, many others would soon follow him.

and proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord (2019)

Absent from the traditional collect is the theme of proclaiming the advent of Jesus.  Some might read this to be pretentious: John the Baptist was a unique herald, The Forerunner, specially imbued by the Holy Spirit to “prepare the way of the Lord” and point people to his relative, Jesus, when his ministry began.  We are not called or qualified to anything on par with that!  But we do proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord, even though we don’t know the day or the hour of his return, nor even have a promise that he will return within our lifetimes.  The return of Christ is a reality that permeates the New Testament epistles, and has also characterized the liturgy (particularly that of Holy Communion) ever since as we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  So we follow in John’s footsteps in this ministry of proclamation, albeit on a different level of the scale.

 

The First Collect for Pentecost

In the 2019 Prayer Book, the Day of Pentecost, or Whitsunday, is one of the few days in the calendar (along with Christmas, Easter Day, and Holy Saturday) that has two Collects of the Day to choose from.  This is not entirely unprecedented.  In pre-reformation history, different collects existed for different masses to be held at different times of the day.  In the development of the Anglican Prayer Book tradition, additional collects have been drawn in, and Pentecost (and its subsequent days) is one of those days that has attracted more than one collect to celebrate it.

But in the 1662 Prayer Book, there is only one:

GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by the sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

This is essentially identical to the first collect in our book:

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What we have here is, I think, a little different from the focus that modern evangelicals normally take on the Pentecost account.  Typically today we link the term “pentecostal” to the miraculous gift of speaking in tongues, and the the powerful “move” of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ’s Church.  But this collect redirects that to a particular focus.  We are not simply celebrating a spiritual gift, we are celebrating the spiritual fruit that results from that gift.  The speaking in many languages was not the point of Pentecost; the point of Pentecost was the preaching of the Gospel to all nations.  Using multiple languages was simply a necessary means under the circumstances of the moment.

So let’s break down this collect a little bit.

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people

Think back to the Gospel of St. John, and what Jesus taught about the Spirit in chapters 14-16.  There he introduces us to the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who would lead the apostles “into all truth.”   This is a teaching work, something that often gets missed when one gets caught up in the subject of charismata – supernatural charismatic gifts of the Spirit in a post-1900 Pentecostal context.

by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:

In Acts 2, the Spirit descended upon the apostles like tongues of flame.  We tend to talk about “being on fire for the Lord”, and the burning zeal of evangelism, more often than we talk about that flame being a source of light.  This collect reminds us of an interpretive approach that Pentecostalism sometimes is prone to miss: the gift of the Holy Spirit unto the people of God is about enlightenment, teaching, receiving knowledge… as Jeremiah prophesied, they will all “know the Lord.”

Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things,

Having “a right judgement” is biblical wisdom language.  It refers to the ability to make right, or good, decisions based upon knowledge of God’s Law.  This is very much like the Old Testament Pentecost, which celebrated the giving of the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai.  People were to know that Law, and keep it, and that was wisdom.  But in the New Covenant from Christ, we receive the Law of Christ not on tablets of stone, but written on our hearts by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The New Pentecost is similar to, but infinitely better than, the Old Pentecost.  By the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can know Christ and follow in his ways.  This collect directs us to pray for that very walk.

and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;

Worship is never far from biblical and liturgical injunctions.  We are to rejoice in God, specifically here in the Spirit’s “comfort.”  This is a reference to the Spirit being called the Comforter (or Helper in the ESV translation) in John chapters 14, 15, and 16.  The Greek word behind this is παρακλετε, paraclete, which can also be rendered Advocate, Mediator, or Intercessor.  This word can be used in a courtroom setting – one who aids someone else’s legal defense – but it is unclear how particular the biblical use of this word was intended to be.  The Holy Spirit helps us in many ways, after all, not just in pleading our innocence-in-Christ before the Father.

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The collect ends as most do, acknowledging the fullness of the holy Trinity.

Evening Prayer on the Day of Pentecost

Here’s a little surprise, or bonus, for this evening: I’ve recorded the Daily Office of Evening Prayer for Pentecost evening!

Outline so you can have your books (2019 Prayer Book, ESV Bible, and a Hymnal) ready and follow along:

  • Opening Sentence (BCP 55)
  • Confession of Sin (BCP 41)
  • The Invitatory (BCP 43)
  • Abide with me (Hymnal)
  • Psalm 145 (BCP 461)
  • First Lesson: Acts 2
  • Canticle: Magnificat (BCP 45)
  • Second Lesson: Acts 10:34-end
  • Canticle: Nunc dimittis (BCP 46)
  • Apostles’ Creed (BCP 46)
  • The Prayers (BCP 47)
    • Collect for the Day of Pentecost #1 (BCP 614)
    • Collect for Resurrection Hope (BCP 49)
    • Prayer for Mission #1 (BCP 51)
  • Anthem: Hail thee, festival day (Hymnal)
  • One-minute Reflection
  • Additional Prayers (BCP 675-680)
    • #98 For the Acceptance of Prayer
    • #99 For the Acceptance of Prayer
    • #100 For the Answering of Prayer
    • #108 After Public Worship
    • #115 For the Coming of God’s Kingdom
  • The Great Thanksgiving (BCP 51)
  • Closing Prayers (BCP 52)

Rogationtide at home

The Rogation Days are here!  Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday are the three “purple days” at the turning point of the season from Easter to the Ascension.  As the liturgical color implies, these are days of fasting and prayer.  They’re not penitential, as such – certainly not in the way that Lent or even Advent is – but they are days of particular supplication to the Lord of the harvest for our safety and the safety of our land.  If you want to see last year’s introduction to the Rogation Days, click here.

The question I want to focus on today is how you might observe the Rogation Days at home.  Most of us still have closed churches, after all, so there wasn’t much we were able to do to mark yesterday (Rogation Sunday) as particularly special.  Here are few traditional ideas and resources to draw upon.

The most obvious thing we’ve got is the set of Collects for the Rogation Days, on page 635 of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer.  In addition to praying them in the Daily Office on these three days, consider using them in family devotions, private prayers, before a meal, or in the context of a small group for prayer or worship or study.  You can read more about those Collects in this post from last year.

Similarly, you can sing the hymn O Jesus, crowned with all reknown, a classic song for the Rogation days, and the only one labeled as such in the 1940 hymnal.  To that, the 2017 hymnal adds O God of Bethel, by whose hand and the 1940 recommends also We plow the seeds, and scatter.

Another resource that should not be overlooked is the Great Litany.  Rogation Sunday was one of the major days of the year in English tradition for a grant procession out of the church building, with prayer and supplication, and the Litany was the primary tool for such a public devotion.  It would be a marvelous thing to make use of the Litany on your own through these three days – the most traditional time to pray it would be at the end of Morning Prayer, but the tradition has evolved over the past near-century such that you should feel free to pray the Litany in any context, even on its own!

You could even combine the Litany with a version of the historical tradition of Beating the Bounds.  On Rogation Sunday the grand procession would encircle the entire parish, literally surrounding the village in prayer.  As the great Anglican divine, George Herbert, described it:

The Country Parson is a Lover of old Customs, if they be good, and harmless; and the rather, because Country people are much addicted to them, so that to favour them therein is to win their hearts, and to oppose them therein is to deject them. If there be any ill in the custom, that may be severed from the good, he pares the apple, and gives them the clean to feed on. Particularly, he loves Procession, and maintains it, because there are contained therein 4 manifest advantages.

  1. First, a blessing of God for the fruits of the field:
  2. Secondly, justice in the Preservation of bounds:
  3. Thirdly, Charity in loving walking, and neighbourly accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if there be any:
  4. Fourthly, Mercy in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution and largesse, which at that time is, or ought to be used.

Wherefore he exacts of all to be present at the perambulation, and those that withdraw, and sever themselves from it, he mislikes, and reproves as uncharitable, and unneighbourly; and if they will not reform, presents them. Nay, he is so far from condemning such assemblies, that he rather procures them to be often, as knowing that absence breeds strangeness, but presence love.

George Herbert, A Priest to the Temple Or The Countrey Parson, chapter 35

What you see there is very rooted in centuries of history that are, on the practical level, defunct and so far removed from us that it would be impossible to replicate.  But in spirit, these are very “earthy” practices that can be recaptured pretty easily.  Obviously with social distancing in place it would be rather difficult to form a town-wide parade!  But at the level of the home, this could be an opportunity for the household to walk around the property line, praying for one another and for the neighbors.  It could be an opportunity to chat with the neighbors over the fence or across the road, pray for them or even with them!  With the Spring planting now in full swing in many places, pray for your gardens or fields.  Consider how you might use your bounty to bless others, especially the poor or needy.

Andm, if you want yet more ideas and background history, I commend to you The Homely Hours, a lovely blog with a wealth of historic Anglican insight, with a particular high-church-like attention to the traditions of our forebears.

Video: Passiontide through Easter Week

We’re a few days into Passiontide already, but Holy Week is still not quite here, so this is a good time to share this introduction to Passiontide, Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter/Pascha.

subject index:

  • 00:00 Nomenclature
  • 05:03 Major Themes and Traditions of these three weeks
  • 11:33 Walkthrough of Passiontide & Holy Week in the 2019 Prayer Book
  • 15:08 Walkthrough of Easter Week in the 2019 Prayer Book
  • 19:47 Daily Office Lectionary and other liturgical features
  • 23:47 Closing in prayers

Learning the Daily Office – part 9 of 12

So you’ve heard about the Daily Office, specifically the Anglican tradition of daily prayer and scripture reading, and you want to enter into this beautiful and formative tradition?  Great, grab a prayer book and go!  Except, maybe someone already said that and you don’t know where to start… or worse, you did try it and it was just too much?  The length of the Office was overwhelming and the contents too complicated to navigate when you’ve got no experience with liturgy.  We understand, we’ve all been at that place before!  Some just don’t remember it as well as others.

Diving into the full Prayer Book life of worship doesn’t work for everyone; sometimes you have to work your way up toward that discipline, adding one piece at a time as you grow comfortable with each feature and learn how to “do” them all.  This post series is basically a twelve-step program to help you advance in the life of disciplined prayer from zero to super-Anglican.  The pace is up to you – the goal of this sort of spiritual discipline is consistency, not “how much” you do.

Step One: Pray a Psalm followed by the Lord’s Prayer.
Step Two: Add a Scripture Reading
Step Three: Add more Psalms and Lessons
Step Four: Add the Apostles’ Creed
Step Five: Add Canticles
Step Six: Add the Confession
Step Seven: Add some Prayers
Step Eight: Add the Invitatory

Step Nine: Add the Collect of the Day

You’ll be aware that, in the Prayers, we’ve been skipping the Collect of the Day.  Now it’s time to add that in.  Under where it says “The Collect of the Day” it notes that you can find them in “The Collects of the Christian Year” section of the Prayer Book.  In the rubrics above (in italics) you’ll see it names pages 598-640 for that section.

Functionally, this is a very simple addition: look up the Collect of the Day that applies, and pray it at this point in the service.  Most of the time, the Collect of the Day is the same all week, based upon the most recent Sunday.  But there are also holy days that come with their own Collect of the Day.  The Prayer Book’s calendar also directs that the Collects for Sundays and Holy Days are normally to be used starting at Evening Prayer before the day in question begins.  The experiential challenge here is that you need to understand the basics of the Church Calendar in order to find the correct Collect of the Day.  Presumably, you’ve been going to an Anglican church for a while, if you’ve put this much effort into learning to pray the Anglican Daily Office, so that experience should be enough to give you a sense of where you are in the year.  You’ll hear the Collect of the Day for each Sunday at the communion service, right before the readings, so that’ll tell you if you grabbed the right one the evening before and earlier that morning, and it’ll set you straight for the rest of the week (again, except for other holy days that might come up).

It may be helpful to buy a special calendar, or use your prayer book to mark one up yourself ahead of time, so you can easily see what the Collect of the Day every day.  This can be a fun activity to do with kids, too, inviting them to color each day’s box the traditional liturgical color… my four-year-old loves it!

The main point of this piece of the Daily Office is to provide a tie-in to the liturgical rounds of prayer that are more fully emphasized in the Service of Holy Communion.  For the most part, the Daily Office is meant to be a stable liturgy, changing little from day to day and season to season, the Collect being one of its only links to the ebb and flow of our liturgical year.  And so, learning to identify the Collect of the Day is a milestone in your education of the liturgy, connecting your regular daily prayers to the life of the greater Church beyond your home.

That being said, don’t worry overmuch about this.  Most of the time, the Collect of the Day is just an extra bookmark in your Prayer Book where it simply moves from Sunday to Sunday.  If you miss a holy day or grab the wrong week from time to time, you’ll survive.  Liturgy is meant to be formative, not stressful.  Checking in at church each Sunday will usually provide you with everything you “need to know” about this piece of it.

Summary

Your Morning & Evening Offices are now looking like this:

  1. (Opening Sentence)
  2. The Confession of Sin
  3. The Invitatory
  4. Invitatory Psalm or Phos Hilaron
  5. The Psalm(s) Appointed
  6. Old Testament Lesson (occasionally the first lesson is from the NT instead)
  7. First Canticle
  8. New Testament Lesson
  9. Second Canticle
  10. The Apostles’ Creed (consider standing up for this!)
  11. The Prayers
    1. Lord have mercy…
    2. The Lord’s Prayer
    3. Suffrage
    4. The Collect of the Day
    5. A Collect for (the day of the week)
    6. A Prayer for Mission

This covers almost the entire Prayer Book liturgy for daily Morning and Evening Prayer.  Two more steps remain to complete it, and then two extra steps to expand it further if you are so inclined.

Collects of the Day this week

Last week was a bit complicated for tracking the Collect of the Day in the Daily Offices.  In a normal week, you start the Sunday’s Collect on the Saturday evening before, and use it through Saturday morning until the next Sunday Collect kicks in.  Last week, however, had two holy days, one of which redefined the rest of the week:

  1. Sunday morning: Collect for the Last Sunday of Epiphany
  2. Sunday evening through Monday evening: Collect for St. Matthias Day
  3. Tuesday morning and evening: Collect for the Last Sunday of Epiphany
  4. Wednesday morning through Saturday morning: Collect for Ash Wednesday

This week we have the Lenten/Spring Ember Days, causing a similar mix-up of the Collect of the Day:

  1. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: Collect for the First Sunday in Lent
  2. Wednesday: Collect for an Ember Day
  3. Thursday: Collect for the First Sunday in Lent
  4. Friday, Saturday: Collect for an Ember Day

One of the things that makes this tricky is the fact that we, in the 2019 Prayer Book, only have two Collects for the Ember Days.  Sometimes, like in Advent a few months ago, this works out fine because a holy day (in that case, St. Thomas) sometimes cuts in and overwrites one of the Ember Days, allowing us to use both Collects on one day each.  But now that we have three Ember Days unfettered, and only two Collects to use, how should we handle this?  Perhaps the simplest approach is to use the first Collect each morning and the second Collect each evening.

Another tradition worth mentioning is the fact that the classical prayer books (that is, those before 1979) call for the repetition of the Ash Wednesday Collect after the current Collect of the Day throughout the season of Lent.  The 2019 Prayer Book does not direct for this to be done, but with the rubrics the way they are, there is nothing “illegal” about applying this tradition in our recitation of the Daily Office.  So give that possibility due consideration also!

The -gesimas are back!

For those of you who are already using a classical prayer book, this is old news.  But for those who are using the 2019 Prayer Book, this is kind of a background information update that you might not be aware of.  This past Sunday was the beginning of the traditional Pre-Lent mini-season, of which I have written here before.  Feel free to give that article a read if you haven’t before, or want to re-discover what this sadly-defunt tradition has to offer.

Or, if you don’t feel like reading, you can listen to me yammer away about it on YouTube!

 

Subject Index:

St. James of Jerusalem Day

October 23rd is the feast of St. James of Jerusalem in modern calendars.  The traditional calendar didn’t give him a separate day of his own because for a large chunk of history he was identified as one of the twelve apostles, commemorated along with Philip on May 1st.  Recent trends of interpretation have preferred to see this James as a separate person, not one of the twelve.  You can read a little bit more about that in last year’s entry.  I suppose it’s better accidentally to commemorate one person twice a year than to forget to commemorate someone because we confused him with someone else.  We’ve got that same problem with St. Aelfric, too, to be fair.

Anyway, let’s move on and look at the Collect of this Day.

Grant, O God, that following the example of your apostle James the Just, kinsman of our Lord, your Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through Jesus Christ our Lord…

It’s interesting to come across this just as a public strife has arisen between fans of John MacArthur and Beth Moore surrounding recent comments of the former against the latter.  There is, indeed, something of a theological gap between the two of them, and, further, a theological gap between both of them and the Anglican tradition from which we could stand aloof to their quarrel – or at least the quarrels of their respective fandoms and supporters.  “I follow Johnny Mac!” and “I follow Beth!” are voraciously-defended causes right now.

St. James of Jerusalem presided at a church council in Jerusalem around the year 50.  The primary issue was responding to Judaizers – people who insisted that Gentiles had to become practicing Jews in order to be proper Christians.  Circumcision, the keeping of the Law of Moses, the Saturday Sabbath, dietary regulations, and the like, were the prominent visible aspects of their cause.  The apostles, including Sts. Peter and Paul, had already been teaching against the Judaizers’ cause, though the former had paid lip service to them in the recent past, much to St. Paul’s consternation.  But a case had been made against St. Paul and his company, and it was time to settle the matter formally.  The full story can be read in Acts 15, and I put together a walk-through of that text a few years ago if you care to read it.

The short of it is that James, acting as what we would now call the diocesan bishop of Jerusalem, heard the case, made a ruling, saw it confirmed by the assembly, and released an official statement to make their decision public.  Enmity and strife was resolved with a little bit of comprise, but primarily a restatement of gospel truth.  Remember, godly compromise is only possible when both sides are essentially correct and only peripherally in disagreement… many of the judaizers were outright heretics (cf. the epistle to the Galatians), so there was very little room for compromise anyway.

What makes this episode particularly noteworthy is that St. James was supposed to be a “safe” choice for the judaizer cause.  He had been a faithful Jew, like most of the first disciples and apostles, and he was known continually as a devout Jewish man even after his conversion to Christ.  Simply the fact that he continued to live, minister, and lead the church in Jerusalem when all the other apostles had fled due to persecution by Jewish authorities (cf. Acts 12) is a significant clue to how Jewish James must have appeared.  If the judaizers were going to get a bishop on their side, James would be their man.  But, of course, he wasn’t.  He had a strong personal affinity for the Jewish religion and culture, and he was among the least willing to give up the formal trappings of the Old Covenant, but despite that he understood that this was a voluntary choice and not a Gospel mandate.

Only with the Gospel mandate, or creedal orthodoxy, or however you care to summarize it, can “reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity” be achieved.  This speaks volumes to the MacArthur versus Moore conflict; this speaks to the ordination of women conflict within the ACNA; this speaks to the substantial disagreements between parties within the Anglican tradition, not to mention the many denominations beyond the confines of the Anglican Way.  Some compromises are possible, but ultimately one truth will prevail over the other(s) if unity is to be achieved.  Let us pray for leaders akin to the spirit and wisdom of St. James of Jerusalem – bishops who can discern biblical truth from personal preference and piety – through whom Christ can bring true reconciliation to his people in variance and enmity.

Generic or Specific Saints’ Day Collects

When I started getting into catholicism (in the broad sense – Roman, Eastern, Lutheran, Anglican, hadn’t decided yet) one of the things I found myself hoping for was that there’d be more information on the Saints.  Where did the twelve apostles go, besides Paul?  What did they do, and how did they die?  It was a naive hope, of course, because we’ve all got the same Bible, and the Bible is still the surest witness to the history of that generation.

We all have access to the same histories, too, which indicate the further stories all of the apostles, but some of that is legendary, and it’s often hard (if not impossible) to separate fact from fancy.  To some degree it doesn’t matter: if we know what kind of people the apostles were (thanks to the Bible) then we can infer the kinds of things they did, even if the details have gotten muddled over the centuries.

But we can’t teach as doctrine what history only assumes and the Bible doesn’t tell or infer… so how do we celebrate saints days like today’s?  We know nothing about Bartholomew’s activity in the Bible, and assuming he’s the same man as Nathaniel we’ve only got about one instance of Jesus even speaking directly to him (toward the end of John 1).

So what we do is have a Collect of the Day that’s more generic.  The wording is a little different between classic and modern prayer books but in this case the content is the same:

Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As you can see, we assert nothing specific about his life, only the generic fact that he believed and preached the Word of God, as did all the apostles, especially after the Day of Pentecost.  New-to-traditional-Christianity-me was disappointed at this sort of thing; I was unconsciously feeling the gnostic pull, hoping for secret knowledge and insight that was previously denied me in the generic non-denominational setting.  But it is good, in its own way, that we don’t know much about most of the apostles.  For the reason that we celebrate them isn’t for their own sake.  If that were so we’d need to know a lot about them… each would need his own biography in the Bible!  But we celebrate the saints for the sake of Christ.  We live by their light not because they shine like the sun but because they’re moons that reflect the sun’s light back toward us from another angle.  (This analogy has long been used of Mary, too, to the extent were you’ll occasionally see a moon associated with her in certain strands of iconography.)

So, with St. Bartholomew, the lesson is going to be generic but fundamental: let us love the Word which the apostles taught, and let us go and preach the same.