Today the church remembers Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253.Richard of Chichester was a tireless student of theology, a man constant in devotion to the Lord, and one whose life was filled with unselfish service to others. Although he was born to a prosperous family, Richard was orphaned at an early age and soon impoverished by a negligent guardian. He entered Oxford unable to afford even a gown or a fire in winter. Yet he did very well in his studies and was eventually able to go on to further study at the University of Paris and at Bologna. He returned to England as a small-town parson, a role he always loved. However, his fame as a counselor and preacher soon spread far and wide. Against the wishes of King Henry III, Richard was consecrated Bishop of Chichester. The king denied him access to the cathedral and to the bishop's palace, so Richard spent two years wandering barefoot through his diocese, living very simply on the charity of his flock. When the quarrel with the king was finally settled and Richard moved into the palace, he lived there almost as a beggar, wearing a hair shirt, fasting often, and sleeping on the floor. He was an efficient administrator and a stern disciplinarian when the occasion called for it. Yet he entertained the poor lavishly and ultimately willed his episcopal estate to the poor, to hospitals, to widows, and orphans. The words of hymn 654 in The Hymnal 1982 are attributed to him. Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.
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We thank you, Lord God, for all the benefits you have given us in your Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he has borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of your saintly bishop Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.