Lent Madness: Joseph of Arimathea vs. Augustine of Hippo

Well these two are a mouthful. You may want to consider voting based on the letters in their names (17 for J of A vs. 16 for A of H).

Another result is official: Isaac Watts defeated Enmegabowh by a single vote! You see? Your vote counts! And I promise there will be no hanging chads in the Lent Madness electoral process. See the updated bracket here: Lent Madness 2010 and remember that there’s still time to vote between Theresa of Avila and Bartholomew.

Joseph of Arimathea, mentioned in all four gospels, was the man who donated his own prepared tomb to Jesus after the crucifixion. He was apparently a wealthy individual, a member of the religious elite, who became a secret disciple of Jesus until he boldly asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. He and purchased fine linen and then he and Nicodemus  went Golgotha to take down Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial by anointing it with aloes and myrrh.

According to Arthurian legend, Joseph of Arimathea was the first keeper of the Holy Grail. This, of course, can’t be verified but St. John Chrysostom wrote that he was one of the seventy sent out by Jesus in Luke’s gospel.

A Collect for Joseph of Arimathea: Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and laid it in his own tomb: Grant to us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), not to be confused with Augustine of Canterbury, is considered a “Church Father” — a man who was instrumental in the development of Western Christianity. He believed the grace of Christ was central to the human experience, especially related to the notion of human sin. In his book “The City of God,” Augustine famously developed the idea of the church as this City. And another seminal work “Confessions” is an account of his early life.

His mother, Saint Monica, brought him up in the Christian faith, a faith he abandoned in his youth to pursue more worldly pleasures. He studied rhetoric and eventually came under the influence of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. Once converted back to Christianity, he dedicated himself to the priesthood (and the inherent celibacy). Living under a monastic rule he was named Bishop of Hippo (in present day Algeria) in 395.

Augustine was a prolific writer, learned theologian, and teacher. He wrote many works of Christian apologetics against various heresies of his day. Shortly before his death, Roman Africa was overrun by Vandals. He spent his last days in penitential prayer. When the Vandals destroyed Hippo, Augustine’s cathedral and library were the only buildings not destroyed.

A Collect for Augustine of Hippo: Lord God, the light of the minds that know you, the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that serve you: Help us, following the example of your servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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