Feast of Luis de Leon (February 27)   Leave a comment

spain-and-portugal-1584

Above:  Map of Spain and Portugal, 1584

Image in the Public Domain

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LUIS DE LEON (1527-AUGUST 23, 1591)

Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

Luis de Leon expanded his horizons, much to the disapproval of the Inquisition.  Our saint, born in 1527 at Belmonte, Cuenea, Spain, was an Augustinian priest who taught the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Salamanca.  He chose to move beyond scholastic theology and studied Platonism, Arabic philosophy, Jewish mysticism, et cetera.  De Leon also mastered the Hebrew language so he could study the Hebrew Bible better.  During our saint’s study of the Old Testament he identified certain mistranslations in the Vulgate of St. Jerome.  News of this led to de Leon’s incarceration (without sacraments as well as knowledge of the charges against him) by the Valladolid Inquisition from March 1572 to December 1576.  Eventually the Inquisition cleared de Leon of all charges and released him.  His experience with the Inquisition influenced some of de Leon’s subsequent writings, as when he contrasted the arrogance of certain authority figures with the humility of Christ:

What can we say about kings and princes who not only lower and despise some of their subjects but think that this is the only way they themselves can feel important and try their best so that the groups they have lowered and despised will be held down and despised generation after generation?

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 93

De Leon’s academic and ecclesiastical career advanced post-Inquisition.  In his masterpiece, The Names of God (1583), he meditated on the titles of Christ.  Our saint received academic promotions and, in 1591, shortly before his death, became the provincial for the Augustinian order in Castille.  He died at Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, on August 23, 1591.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, you have enlightened your Church by the teachings of your servant Luis de Leon;

enrich it evermore with your heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses, who by their life and teaching

may proclaim to all people the truth of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:1-10

Psalm 34:11-17 or 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Matthew 5:13-19

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 684

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Feast of St. Gabriel Possenti (February 27)   Leave a comment

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Above:  St. Gabriel Possenti

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI (MARCH 1, 1838-FEBRUARY 27, 1862)

Penitent

Also known as Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

St. Gabriel Possenti came from a large and devout family of Assisi, the Papal States.  Our saint, born Francesco Possenti, was a son of Agnes (died in 1842) and Sante Possenti.  Several of Francesco’s siblings died of various ailments.  Our saint, educated by Christian Brothers and Jesuits, struggled with varieties of sin.  For a while his pattern was as follows:  nearly dying of one disease or another, promising to enter religious life if he were to recover, recovering, and reneging on that vow and returning to a life devoted to temporal pleasures, such as chasing women.  Finally, in 1857, at the age of 19 years, our saint joined the Passionist order.  He devoted his life to prayer, spent much time contemplating the death of Jesus, and had a devotion to Our Lady.  Before St. Gabriel could become a priest he died of tuberculosis at Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy, on February 27, 1862.  He was 23 years old.

Pope Pius X declared St. Gabriel a Venerable in 1905 and a Blessed three years later.  Pope Benedict XV canonized our saint in 1920.

St. Gabriel is the patron of young people, students, clerics, Catholic Action, and Abruzzi, Italy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Jesus, founder and member of the reconciled society,

thank you for St. Gabriel Possenti, whom you called to a forgiving and forgiven life,

and for the success with which you crowned his work.

May we too reflect the glory we receive from you.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 34 or 119:1-8

Ephesians 6:11-18

Matthew 25:31-46

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 687

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Feast of St. Paula of St. Joseph of Calasanz (February 26)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Map of Spain and Portugal, 1855

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PAULA OF SAINT JOSEPH OF CALASANZ (OCTOBER 11, 1799-FEBRUARY 26, 1889)

Foundress of the Daughters of Mary

Paula Montal Fornes devoted her life to God and helped many people.  The native of Arenys de Mar (near Barcelona), Spain, came from a pious family.  Her father, Ramon Montal, died when she was 10 years old.  Our saint helped her mother, Vicenta Fornes Montal, raise the other children in the family.  Paula also helped to support the family financially by working as a lace-maker and a seamstress.  Furthermore, she helped to care for other children in the parish.  When she was 30 years old our saint and a friend, Inez Busquets, founded a school at Gerona.  Paula founded a college in 1842 and another school four years later.  In 1847 she founded the Daughters of Mary to operate and staff these institutions.  Our saint, who assumed the name St. Paula of St. Joseph of Calasanz, led the congregation, which received papal approval in 1860.  She died at Olesa de Montserrat, Barcelona, on February 26, 1889.  She was 89 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 1988, beatified her in 1993, and canonized her in 2001.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Gracious and eternal God, by your grace St. Paula of St. Joseph of Calasanz,

kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church,

inflame us with the same spirit of discipline and love,

that we may always walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

1 Kings 19:9-18

Psalm 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 685-686

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Feast of Antonio Valdivieso (February 26)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Map of the New World (1596), by Theodor de Bry

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO VALDIVIESO (1495-FEBRUARY 26, 1550)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Leon and Martyr

Antonio Valdivieso, born at Burgos, Spain, in 1495, was a Spanish Dominican priest and a disciple of Bartolome de Las Casas (1474/1484-1566), who also defended the rights of indigenous people.  Valdevieso arrived in Nicarague in 1544.  He confronted the governor and other colonial officials who oppressed the native people.  Our saint went so far as to return to Spain and express his concerns to King Charles I/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1516-1556) in person.  The monarch made our saint the Bishop of Leon and sent him back to Nicaragua in 1545.  Valdivieso suspected that this was effectively a death sentence.  He was correct.  Our saint continued to oppose the governor and his administration in person.  Valdivieso, based at the cathedral in Leon, made himself a thorn in the side of officialdom.  On Ash Wednesday (February 26),  1550, the governor and some henchmen killed our saint and two other Dominicans.  Valdivieso became the first bishop in the Americas to die for the rights of indigenous people.

He was one of many Roman Catholic clerics to lay down their lives for that just cause.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Ever-loving God, by your grace and power your holy martyr

Antonio Valdivieso triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death;

strengthen us with your grace that we may faithfully witness to Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21

Psalm 3 or 116

Hebrews 11:32-40

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 680-681

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Feast of Theodor Fliedner and Elizabeth Fedde (February 25)   Leave a comment

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Above:  The Luther Rose

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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THEODOR FLIEDNER (JANUARY 21, 1800-OCTOBER 4, 1864)

Renewer of the Female Diaconate in the Lutheran Church

His feast transferred from October 4

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ELIZABETH FEDDE (DECEMBER 25, 1850-FEBRUARY 25, 1921)

Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess

Her feast = February 25

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Above:  Theodor Fliedner

Image in the Public Domain

Theodor Fliedner revived the female diaconate in the Lutheran Church.  He, born at Eppstein, Hesse, on February 21, 1800, was a son of a Lutheran minister.  Our saint, educated at Giessen, Gottingen, and Herborn, became the minister at a church at Kaiserworth (now Dusselforf) in 1821.  There he became involved in prison ministry.  Eventually Fliedner founded a halfway house for released female inmates.  Our saint also founded a nursery school.

The Moravian Church, the original Protestant denomination, founded in 1457, nearly extinguished after 1620, and renewed in 1727, revived the ancient order of deaconesses in 1745.  Their example inspired Fliedner to do the same for the Lutherans.  In 1836 he founded a deaconess training center at Kaiserworth.  He sent deaconesses around the world.  In 1846 William Alfred Passavant, Sr. (1821-1894), asked Fliedner to send some deaconesses to the United States.  In early 1849 our saint and four deaconesses–Elizabeth Hupperts, Paulina Ludwig, Luise Hinrichsen, and Elizabeth Hess–departed for America.  They arrived in Pittsburgh, where the deaconesses helped to open the new Lutheran deaconesses’ hospital the following year.  Fliedner toured the United States before returning to his home.  In 1864, when Fliedner died, he was responsible for the existence of 30 motherhouses and the fact that 1,600 women were deaconesses.

elizabeth-fedde

Above:  Elizabeth Fedde

Image in the Public Domain

Among the deaconesses for whom Fliedner was indirectly responsible was Elizabeth Fedde, born at Feda, Vest-Agder, Norway, on December 25, 1850.  Her parents were Andreas Willumsen Fedde (1814-1873), a sea captain-turned-farmer, and Anne Marie Olsdatter (1818-1864).  Our saint trained as a deaconess at Christiania (now Oslo), Norway; her trainer was Katinka Guldberg, a deaconess who had trained at a motherhouse Fliedner had established.  Fedde worked at a minimally supplied hospital in Troms for a few years.  Then she received a letter from Gabriel Fedde, her brother-in-law and a lay minister with the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission, encouraging her to come to the United States.  She arrived in New York City in April 1883.

Fedde’s time (1883-1895) in the United States was productive.  In Brooklyn our saint worked as a home nurse, founded the Norwegian Relief Society, and, in 1885, began to rent a hospital.  Also in 1885, Passavant invited Fedde to work at the Lutheran deaconesses’ hospital in Pittsburgh.  She spent some time there.  Then, in 1888, while vacationing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, our saint helped to organize the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses’ Home and Hospital there.  She lived and worked in that city for a few years.  Meanwile, Fedde built her first hospital in Brooklyn in 1889.  Three years later our saint opened the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses’ Home and Hospital in Brooklyn.  Planning for the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses’ Home and Hospital in Chicago, opened in 1897, began in 1895.  Fedde participated in the planning process.

Our saint returned to Norway in 1895.  She married Ole Sletteb and remained wedded to him for the rest of her life.  Fedde died at Egersund, Rogaland, Norway, on February 25, 1921.  She was 70 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Theodor Fliedner and Elizabeth Fedde,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Venerable Felix Varela (February 25)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Felix Varela

Image in the Public Domain

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VENERABLE FELIX VARELA (NOVEMBER 20, 1788-FEBRUARY 27, 1853)

Cuban Roman Catholic Priest and Patriot

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I have always concluded that Christianity and liberty are inseparable.

–Felix Varela, Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 91

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Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998) agreed with that perspective.

The Venerable Felix Varela was an important figure in Cuban history.  He, born in Havana on November 20, 1788, grew up in St. Augustine, Florida, with his maternal grandfather.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in 1811, taught philosophy, physics, music, theology, and chemistry at San Carlos College, Havana.  In 1821 Varela became a delegate to the Cortes in Madrid.  He introduced two crucial bills–one to abolish slavery in Cuba and another to grant Cuban independence.  For this alleged sedition Varela had to go into exile in 1823.

Our saint spent the rest of his life in exile.  In New York City he served as a priest.  In 1827 he founded the Church of Immigrants, later renamed the Church of the Transfiguration.  He also lobbied for Cuban independence via the Spanish-language newspaper he founded.  This activism concerned the Spanish government sufficiently to send an assassin, but Varela talked him out of committing the act.  Our saint, who became the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of New York in 1837, received his doctorate in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore.  The defender of the rights of immigrants also considered the lack of religiosity to be a threat to the moral fabric of society and antecedent of tyranny.  He also criticized Roman Catholics who opposed liberty and constitutional government, for he argued that the suppression of liberty leads to fanaticism and dogmatism.

Varela retired to St. Augustine, Florida, where he died on February 27, 1853.  He was 64 years old.

The Roman Catholic Church declared Varela a Venerable in 2012.

The cause for his beatification and canonization is in progress.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Venerable Felix Varela,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski (February 23)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski

Image in the Public Domain

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 BLESSED STEFAN WINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI (JANUARY 22, 1913-FEBRUARY 23, 1945)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski was a diligent and faithful priest.  The native of Chelmza, Poland, was an altar boy and a Boy Scout.  Our saint, who remained involved with the Boy Scouts well into his adulthood, became a priest on March 13, 1937.  Next her served as the secretary to Bishop Stansislaw W. Okoniewski, until transferring to Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church, Toruniu, the following year.  Agents of the Gestapo arrested Frelichowski in 1939.  For the rest of our saint’s life he lived in a series of concentration camps, the last one of which was at Dachau.  At all of them Frelichowski performed his priestly duties, to the benefit of his fellow prisoners.  In 1945, while ministering to fellow prisoners dying of typhus, our saint contracted that disease.  He died, aged 32 years, on February 23.

Pope John Paul II beatified Frelichowski in 1999 as a Martyr of Charity.

Our saint is the Patron of Polish Scouts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PHILIP AND DANIEL BERRIGAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF ANNE ROSS COUSIN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD THOMAS NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER; BROTHER OF BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ENGLISH BAPTIST EVANGELIST, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS NIECE, CAROLINE MARIA NOEL, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEPHA ROSSELLO, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTER OF OUR LADY OF PITY

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Grant, O Lord, that as we commemorate Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski,

your witness, your faithful one, so we may overcome the prince of this world

by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony;

and finally obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up

for all who love the appearing of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Daniel 3:14-25 or Wisdom 3:1-9

Psalm 69:29-36

Revelation 7:13-17

Matthew 10:24-33

–Adapted from The Church of South India, The Book of Common Worship (1963), page 65

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