Archive for January 2011

Feast of Joan of Toulouse and Simon Stock (March 31)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Simon Stock (Kneeling on the Left)

Image Source = Giovanni Dall’Orto

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BLESSED JOAN OF TOULOUSE (DIED IN 1286)

Carmelite Nun

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SAINT SIMON STOCK (CIRCA 1165-1265)

Carmelite Friar

His Feast Day Transferred from May 16

The English-born St. Simon Stock was a Carmelite friar, who, according to certain accounts, lived for a time in a hollow tree trunk.  Becoming the Carmelite General in 1247, he spent the rest of his life expanding the order throughout Europe, including the British Isles.  He did this despite opposition from within the Roman Catholic Church, although a Papal bull (issued by Innocent IV in 1252) helped greatly.

St. Simon Stock was devoted to Mary, Dei Mater, who, according to accounts, appeared to him on July 16, 1251 and revealed the brown scapular to him.  There is much doubt in many contemporary Roman Catholic quarters with regard to the veracity of this vision, but the brown scapular has long been a sacramentary of great significance among the Carmelites.

The saint died in 1265.

He crossed paths with Blessed Joan of Toulouse in 1265, when visiting that city, the site of a Carmelite monastery.  Joan approached the saint and asked to become a Carmelite.  St. Simon Stock, as head of the order, had the authority to consent to this request, which he did.  She made her vows in his presence, thereby becoming the first Third Order Carmelite.  Blessed Joan, not having a convent, continued to live in her home.  She devoted her life to God and good works, including daily Mass and devotions, running errands and performing other tasks for the elderly and the ill, visiting the poor, the sick, and the lonely, being cheerful, and training boys to help others.

The meaning of life is to love God with one’s entire essence, to love oneself as a bearer of the image of God, and to love one’s fellow human beings in the same way.  The ultimate guides for this are the Golden Rule and the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  St. Simon Stock and Blessed Joan of Toulouse devoted most of their lives to this purpose.  How ought this goal to play out in your life?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 27, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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A Collect and the Associated Readings for a Monastic from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), of The Episcopal Church:

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:  Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servants Blessed Joan of Toulouse and Saint Simon Stock, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34 or 34:1-8

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Jonas and Barachisius (March 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  King Shapur II of Persia (Reigned 309-379)

Image Source = British Museum

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SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS (DIED IN 327)

Roman Catholic Martyrs

King Shapur II of Persia was a great empire builder and a cruel man.  He persecuted Christians within his realm, forced one King of Armenia to commit suicide, and killed most of the inhabitants of the city of Susa.  And that is a partial list of his offenses.

In 327, King Shapur II was busy persecuting Christians and ordering the destruction of monasteries and church buildings.  Jonas and Barachisius, two Christian brothers from the city of Beth-Asa, traveled to the city of Hubaham to encourage the Christians there, who were under a death sentence.  The brothers encouraged their fellow Christians to remain true to the faith, even to martyrdom.  Jonas and Barachisius met the same cruel fate in ways I choose not to describe.  There is little to no point in vivid descriptions of tortures.

Church history is replete with accounts of potentates attempting to crush Christianity with violence.  They kill people.  Sometimes they drive the church underground for a long time.  But they cannot succeed in their ultimate goal.  Love, you see, is more powerful than any weapon or campaign of persecution.  And the ultimate victory belongs to God alone.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULA, CONFIDANTE OF SAINT JEROME

THE FEAST OF CHARLES MATHIAS, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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The Collect and Assigned Readings for Martyrs from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), hymnal and service book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.  Inspire us with the memory of Saints Jonas and Barachisius, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Posted January 26, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 29, Saints of 300-399

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Feast of St. Tutilo (March 28)   4 comments

Abbey of St. Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Image Source = Roland Zumbuhl, of Picswiss

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SAINT TUTILO (DIED IN 915)

Roman Catholic Monk, Scholar, Artist, and Composer

While an undergraduate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, I spent considerable amounts of time at the Wesley Foundation.  I had ceased to be a United Methodist by then, having already converted to The Episcopal Church.  But I moonlighted at the Wesley Foundation.  Long conversations with the Director have influenced my thinking profoundly.  Gene, now retired, was (and presumably remains) a committed Christian who dared to ask great questions and to contradict the local prevailing “wisdom.”  So he was correct about a great many things, I am convinced.  Yet he was quite mistaken regarding the matter of monasticism.  Monks and nuns, he said, were useless.

To the contrary, they are some of the most useful people on the planet.  Historically they have devoted their lives to prayer, medicine, education, scholarship, and the care of orphans and of children whose parents could not care for them adequately.  Today many faithful monks and nuns devote their lives to prayer.  That is an excellent way to spend one’s time on Earth.

Consider the case of St. Tutilo.  He spent much of his life at the Abbey of St. Gall, a center of learning, music, and art during the Middle Ages.  (Monasteries and convents developed and preserved such treasures during that difficult period of time.)  At the abbey St. Tutilo was in his element.  There he worked on illuminated manuscripts, many of them books of Gregorian Chants, many of which he composed.  Details of his life remain sketchy, but, according to surviving accounts, all of the following words described him:  scholar, teacher, monk, composer, school master, goldsmith, builder, sculptor, builder, painter, poet, musician, genius, and humorist.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question #1, says it best:

What is the chief and highest end of man?

Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

St. Tutilo fulfilled that description.  May you do so also, as God directs.

May we never underestimate the power of a holy life.  Names may fade into history and documentary evidence may crumble and become lost forever, but God remembers.  The full record of the holy saints of God is not lost; it is merely not entirely accessible in this life.

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Loving God, the memory of most of those who have trusted in your promises is lost to recorded history, if ever it was part of the historical record.  And most of us who live today and affirm you with our faith will join them in historical anonymity.  Of others, such as St. Tutilo, there is scant available information.  We thank you for the examples of St. Tutilo and all others who are nearly or entirely forgotten to us.  People understood their witness in their times; may we likewise function as beacons of divine light, for your glory and the benefit of others.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 44:1-15

Psalm 29

Philippians 4:2-9

Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULA, CONFIDANTE OF SAINT JEROME

THE FEAST OF CHARLES MATHIAS, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of St. Ludger (March 26)   1 comment

St. Ludger’s Abbey (Founded Circa 800 and Rebuilt in the 1600s), Helmstedt, Lower Saxony, Germany

Image Source = Times

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SAINT LUDGER (CIRCA 742-809)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster

There was a time when Christianity was young in much of Europe.  Today the faith is fading in many places, but let us take courage.  The Kingdom of God is like a mustard plant, which goes where it will.  The mustard plant is really a glorified weed.  I write this post from northern Georgia, U.S.A., where we have a similarly stubborn plant, kudzu.

The existence of many of the churches, convents, and monasteries, and therefore the good works which people who lived, worked, and worshiped there committed, is due to the good work of many faithful missionaries, bishops, priests, abbots, monks, nuns, and lay people.  Among these faithful souls was St. Ludger, who, while a boy, in 753, met St. Boniface of Mainz, who impressed St. Ludger greatly.

Educated at the Utrecht Cathedral School, where he excelled in his studies, St. Ludger entered the diaconate in 767.  He studied under St. Alcuin of York  for a year then returned to Utrecht and continued his studies there.  The two saints maintained their friendship for years.

In 772, conflict between Frisians and Anglo-Saxons forced St. Ludger to take shelter, along with his precious books, to the abbey at Utrecht, where he remained for three years.  Then St. Ludger traveled to Deventer, in the modern-day Netherlands, to rebuild a church the pagan Saxons had destroyed and to conduct missionary work there.  He succeeded.

Ordained a priest in 777, St. Ludger tended to the missions in East Frisia, in Lower Saxony.  For seven years the saint did this work and returned to Utrecht each Autumn to teach at the cathedral school.  In 784, however, the Frisians expelled the missionaries, burned the churches, and committed apostasy.  The saint entered a brief retirement at the abbey of Monte Cassino, beginning in 785.  After two years of this, however, St. Ludger returned to the territory now called the Netherlands, where he rebuilt the Christian presence.

In 793, St. Ludger declined an offer by Charlemagne to make him Bishop of Trier but accepted the challenge of evangelizing the Saxons.  The building of abbeys was crucial to this work, for they provided many missionaries among the Saxons in what we call Germany today.  He also built many churches and convents, thereby providing firm foundations for the Church in that region for a long time to come.  This missionary work occupied the rest of St. Ludger’s life, including his tenure as Bishop of Munster (805-809).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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The Collect and Lections for a Missionary, from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and service book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant St. Ludger, who made the good news known in Germany and The Netherlands.  Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love, and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Posted January 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 26, Saints of 700-799, Saints of 800-899

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Feast of Didacus Joseph of Cadiz (March 24)   Leave a comment

Trinity Symbol

Image Source = Ryan Thomas Jones

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BLESSED DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ (MARCH 30, 1743-MARCH 24, 1801)

Capuchin Friar and “Apostle of the Holy Trinity”

Born in Cadiz, Spain, Didacus Joseph grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family.  He dedicated his life to God, for he became a Capuchin friar and eventually a priest and popular preacher.  The Blessed’s relative lack of education was an initial obstacle to his admission into the order, but he overcame this difficulty.

Didacus Joseph was devoted to the Holy Trinity, a theme he worked into his popular, powerful, and life-changing sermons frequently.  He also heard many confessions, spent many nights in prayer, and visited many in prisons and hospitals, in addition to committing many other charitable works.  Didacus Joseph’s work was so effective that, when he died in 1801, people hailed him as a second Paul, the savior of the faith in Spain, and the apostle of his century.

There were also accounts of Didacus Joseph levitating above a pulpit from time to time, requiring assistance to descend to the floor.  I doubt the veracity of such stories.  As a high-ranking Vatican official said regarding St. Joseph of Cupertino, another alleged leviatator, in a middle-1990s U.S. cable television documentary about saints, the law of gravity applies to saints.

But the great legacy of the life of the Blessed Didacus Joseph of Cadiz is his love of the Trinitarian God, a devotion he expressed in his preaching, his praying, and his caring for the practical and spiritual needs of others.  A man is as he thinks; a woman is as she thinks.  Based on the words and deeds of the Blessed Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, I conclude that his thoughts brought him into frequent communion with God.  May yours do likewise, and lead to the spiritual fruits God dictates.

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Blessed God, we thank you for the life and legacy of Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, who overcame obstacles and fulfilled his sacred vocation, for your glory and the benefit of many.  May we also live for you and the improvement of our fellow human beings, showing God to them, as you enable us.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Isaiah 6:1-8

Psalm 63

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of St. Deogratias (March 22)   3 comments

Above:  Carthaginian Ruins

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DEOGRATIAS (DIED IN 457)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage

History records that competing forces tore the Western Roman Empire apart.  Among these was the group called the Vandals, Slavic and Germanic tribes.  They, along with many others, embraced the Arian heresy.  But their Arianism did not weaken the Empire; their military campaigns of conquest did.  They had conquered Spain by 439, when they took the city of Carthage, in northern Africa.  They exiled the bishop, Quodvultdeus, and most of his clergymen.  There was no bishop in the city for fourteen years.

Emperor Valentinian III (reigned 425-455), toward the end of his reign, persuaded the Vandals to permit the appointment of a new bishop, circa 454.  This bishop was a priest named Deogratias, whose Latin name means “Thanks be to God.”

Gaiseric, the Vandal leader, sacked Rome in 457.  He returned to northern Africa with many enslaved captives, including family members, whom he sold apart from each other.  Bishop Deogratias, full of compassion, sold much of the material wealth of his diocese to raise funds to ransom as many of these slaves as possible and to distribute food daily.  He also converted two large Carthaginian churches into shelters for these unfortunate people.

Members of the Arian faction, resentful of Deogratias, tried and failed to assassinate him.  He did die soon, however, apparently of exhaustion.  The Vandals did not permit the appointment of another bishop for twenty-three years.

Today “vandal” has passed into language as a negative term and the humanitarian legacy of St. Deogratias survives.

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Compassionate God, we thank you for the heroic and humanitarian legacy of your servant, St. Deogratias, Bishop of Carthage.  Inspired by his example, may we, as opportunities present themselves and we are able to help, assist those in dire circumstances, such as captivity.  May we see Jesus in them, and may we show Christ to them.  Amen.

Isaiah 61:1-4

Psalm 142

James 2:14-26

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF OXFORD

THE FEAST OF JESSIE BARNETT, SOCIAL ACTIVIST IN ATHENS, GEORGIA, U.S.A.

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Posted January 23, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 22, Saints of 400-499

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Feast of St. Serapion of Thmuis (March 21)   1 comment

Above:  Ruins of Mud Brick Structures at Thmuis, Egypt

Image Source = http://www.unreportedheritagenews.com/2010/12/2300-year-old-temple-discovered-at.html

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SAINT SERAPION OF THMUIS (DIED CIRCA 360)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Thmuis; Liturgist

Information about many of the early saints is scant.  This is a problem for those who study antiquity, for many, if not most, germane written sources have not survived to the present day.  We do know, however, that St. Serapion was Bishop of Thmuis, a city in Lower Egypt, that is the region close to the Mediterranean Sea.  Today Thmuis is a collection of ruins, but it was an important urban center at the time.  We know also that St. Serapion was a good friend of St. Antony of Egypt and an ally of St. Athanasius of Alexandria in his defense of Christian doctrine against the Arian heresy.

Few of the saint’s many writings have survived the ravages of time, people, and elements.  A partial Sacramentary does exist, however.  This interests me greatly, for liturgical practices have caught my attention for most of my life.  So, as I read the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article about the Sacramentary of St. Serapion, I geeked out.  Then I found his prayer for healing in The Oxford History of Christian Worship.  Really, I follow these details the way some people obsess over baseball statistics.

Above all, let us never underestimate the importance of a holy life–in this case, one devoted to pastoral care, the defense of basic Christology (in this case, the proposition that Christ was not a created being), and the orderly conduct of Christian worship.  Arianism has not gone away, for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others, have nurtured it, but it is no less a heresy than it was in the Fourth Century of the Common Era.  And, as an Episcopalian, I affirm the value of a certain level of ritualism; it feeds my soul.

The Book of Sirach, a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus, says in 44:9-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

But of others there is no memory;

they have perished as if they had never existed;

they have become as though they had never been born,

and their children after them.

But these also were godly men,

whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;

their wealth will remain with their descendants,

and their inheritance with their children’s children.

Their descendants stand by the covenants;

their children, also, for their sake.

Their offspring will continue forever,

and their glory will never be blotted out.

Their bodies are buried in peace,

but their name lives on generation after generation.

The assembly declares their wisdom,

and the congregation proclaims their praise.

We modern Christians are the spiritual children of St. Serapion of Thmuis.  May we stand by the covenants, declare his wisdom, and ensure that people remember his name.

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Loving God, to whom no one is anonymous or forgotten, we thank you for the holy life and legacy of St. Serapion of Thmuis.  May love of you and your co-eternal Son, Jesus Christ, reign in our hearts and govern our lives, so that others may look and find Christ in us.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 44:1-15

Psalm 84

2 Corinthians 13:11-14

John 1:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ST. AGNES, MARTYR

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of St. Eulogius of Spain and St. Leocrita, Martyrs (March 11)   1 comment

Above:  The Old City of Toledo, Spain

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT EULOGIUS OF SPAIN, A.K.A. EULOGIUS OF CORDOBA OR CORDOVA (DIED MARCH 11, 859)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toledo

SAINT LEOCRITA, A.K.A. LEOCRITIA OR LUCRETIA (DIED MARCH 15, 859)

Convert from Islam to Christianity

As I write these words, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, is under a death sentence for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.  She denies this charge, the origin of which has to do with a disgruntled neighbor with a grudge more than anything Bibi said.  Nevertheless, Bibi will almost certainly die soon under the blasphemy law of Pakistan.  And, in many modern Islamic nations, anyone who converts from Islam places his or her life at risk, for the penalty for that is execution, too.

This is an old story.  Consider the cases of St. Eulogius of Spain, whose feast day in the Roman Church is March 11, and St. Leocrita, whose Roman feast day is March 15.  (I have merged these feasts for the purposes of my Ecumenical Calendar.)  Their stories are intertwined tales of the sometimes high cost of discipleship.

The Muslim conquest of Spain began in 711.  For almost 800 years, until 1492, there remained a Muslim state on the Iberian peninsula.  Life for non-Muslims under this political reality was one of second-class citizenship.  There were, for example, taxes that Muslims did not have to pay.  And, depending on the mood of the emir or caliph, there were varying degrees of religious toleration or persecution.  But the death penalties for alleged blasphemy and apostasy predated the conquest and rule of Spain.

We do not know the date of St. Eulogius’s birth, but he was at least 30 years old in 848, when he was already a priest.  His family, Spanish nobility dating to Roman imperial times, was devout.  The saint, an excellent student of available knowledge in various disciplines, trained his mind well.  He studied such matters as the Bible, theology, philosophy, hymnody, poetry, history, and science.  The saint also cultivated concern for his fellow Christians.  For a brief time, after the beginning of a wave of persecution in 850, St. Eulogius cancelled Masses, thinking that this might decrease the number of Christian martyrs.  His bishop reversed this decision.

St. Eulogius became Archbishop of Toledo about 859.  It was a brief archepiscopal tenure, for he met his own martyrdom.  He had changed his mind since 850, for he offered encouragement to those dying for their Lord and Savior, even writing memorials to them.  He had spent years alternating between freedom and imprisonment for this reason.  And so it happened that Leocrita, a young Moorish woman, converted from Islam to Christianity under the influence of a relative.  St. Eulogius granted St. Leocrita shelter.  The authorities captured and executed both of them, Eulogius on March 11, 859, and Leocrita four days later.  The charge against the archbishop was proselytizing, while the accusation against the young woman was apostasy.

Former President Jimmy Carter recalled a sermon the Reverend J. Robert Harris, pastor of Plains Baptist Church, Plains, Georgia, from 1955 to 1967, delivered one Sunday.  If it were illegal to be a Christian, Harris asked, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  In the cases of Eulogius and Leocrita, the answer is “yes.”

Blessed be the blood of the martyrs, past, present, and future, and blessed be the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT AGNES, MARTYR

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I have written the Collect and chosen the readings.–KRT

Faithful God, we thank you for the holy examples of Saints Eulogius and Leocrita, who brought glory to you in life and death.  May we, who succeed them in the Christian faith, follow you wherever you lead, and thereby witness to you with our whole being.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 2

2 Timothy 4:1-8

Luke 6:20-26

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Posted January 21, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 11, Saints of 800-899

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Feast of St. John of God (March 8)   2 comments

Above:  Caduceus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF GOD (MARCH 8, 1495-MARCH 8, 1550)

Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God

Sometimes the process of finding of one’s vocation, the intersection of one’s deepest joys and the world’s greatest needs, takes some time.  However long this process might last, it is never too late to pursue one’s calling from God.

Consider the case of St. John of God.  Born in Portugal in 1495, he bounced around in various careers.  He served the Count of Oroprusa (in Castille and Spain) as Bailiff.  Then, in 1522, the saint began to fight in military campaigns, first against the French (who were fighting the Spanish) then the Turks in Hungary.  After the close of his military career, in 1536, the saint became a shepherd near Seville.

Yet there was greater work awaiting the saint.  He became a penitent at age 40.  He sought ways to devote his life to God.  But what was the best way for him to accomplish this noble goal?  Might he travel to Africa, to rescue Christian slaves?  It was surely a noble cause.  The saint chose instead to sell sacred books and pictures in Gibraltar, in 1538.  There he heard St. John of Avila preach on St. Sebastian’s Day, the bookseller overreacted, crying aloud, beating his breast, begging for mercy publicly, wandering the streets, and generally behaving like a lunatic.  So he wound up in an asylum, where St. John of Avila advised him that the best penance was doing something to help others.

So the former bookseller began his greatest work for God.  Initially he began to help his fellow patients.   After his release, the saint sold wood to raise funds for helping the poor of Granada.  In 1540 he opened a shelter for the poor and offered medical care on the streets before finding a suitable building to function as a hospital.  He offered these services freely, in the name of God, despite the scandal which arose from the fact that he did not refuse to help people of allegedly bad character.  The only bad character at the hospital, the saint said, was himself.

A decade of this hard work led to illness and death on March 8, 1550.  The archbishop presided over the saint’s funeral.  Canonized in 1690, he is the patron saint of the sick, of hospitals, and of nurses, printers, and booksellers.  The Order of Hospitallers, which he organized to assist him in his work among the poor of Granada, became the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God in 1572.  The website (http://www.hospitallers.org/) of the U.S.A. Province of the order says this:

We, the Brothers of St. John of God, are called to witness to the people of God, Christ’s healing love as expressed by our charism of hospitality, through a community of faith and a compassionate service to God’s suffering people.

The legacy of St. John of God rests on how he spent the last ten years of his life.  What will you do for God and your fellow human beings with what remains of your time on Earth?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SARAH, BIBLICAL MATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF ST. FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME

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The Collect from Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976):

Father, you gave John of God love and compassion for others.  Grant that by doing good for others we may be counted among the saints in your kingdom.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Readings I Have Selected:

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 38:1-4, 6-10, 12-14

Psalm 51

1 Corinthians 13

Matthew 25:31-46

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Starhunter–Resurrection (2001)   7 comments

The Pensive Percy Montana

EPISODE #22

I have conducted many Internet searches regarding Starhunter.  There is a consensus that this is “hard science fiction,” my favorite variety of that genre.  Indeed, Resurrection, the final episode of the 2000-2001 series, contains much “hard science fiction.”  It is also replete with human moments.  Dante and Travis learn how to deal with each other, finally achieving an equilibrium.  Travis learns how to adjust to his new situation, in which he is no longer the pirate king.  And Percy, who dislikes Travis, wonders how her cousin’s presence will affect her relationship with her uncle.  We see also how much Dante has forgiven Luc for her deceptions in the first part of the series.

The major story threads come to a head in Resurrection.  Unfortunately, the episode ends in a cliffhanger, leaving major questions unanswered.  On the other hand, at least I care about what might have happened since.  I recall some tepid cliffhangers from later seasons of Star Trek:  The Next Generation; Starhunter is much better at dramatic tension.

Resurrection begins with Eccleston staggering into a bar on Mars.  Eccleston disappeared into another dimension at the end of The Divinity Cluster, at the beginning of the series.  But he is back, looking and sounding much worse for the wear.  The emcee invites him to sing.  So Eccleston performs a harrowing version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

The Emcee

The Emcee is an Orchard informant.  He informs Navarre of Eccleston’s return.

Eccleston

This is the emcee’s final act, for Eccleston vaporizes him with a touch.

Tosca

In the next scene, Tosca listens to the emcee’s transmission to Navarre.  She says “Wing a ding-ding” to herself in a Southern accent.  (Actress Angie Hill did grow up in Virginia.  Most accents in Starhunter are Canadian or British, so a Southern accent stands out.)

Meanwhile, Raider ships pursue and fire on the Tulip.  The former luxury liner is in a particularly bad state, having developed a crack in its reactor and depleted its supply of torpedoes.  The Raiders could board the ship easily, if they want, but Seneca orders them to break off the attack.  The Raiders return to their headquarters, where we, the viewers, see Seneca’s side of a long-distance transmission.  The Raiders are about to begin the final stage of what they call Operation Barbarossa, and he sends the other party coordinates of the Tulip, for picking up “the chosen one,” that is, Travis/Zephryn.

Travis

Back on the Tulip, Travis says that the Raiders are headed toward Earth.  Now he realizes that Seneca had lied to him; the seeds will not heal Earth’s atmosphere.  No, they will kill all life on the planet.  Granted, Earth is barely habitable, but millions of people–mainly scientists, engineers, and their families–live there, trying to rehabilitate the planet.  Percy, who is moody, does not believe Travis.  And Luc, at Dante’s suggestion, returns to her quarters to retrieve the communication code required to contact Navarre.  Luc might not trust Orchard communication channels, but this is an emergency.

Percy leaves the Bridge to do some welding in the engine room.  So father and son are alone.  Travis needs to rest, so Dante escorts him to designated quarters.  And, for the first time in this episode, Dante decides not to receive a transmission from Rudolpho.

Percy and Luc

Percy tries to restore the engines, at least partially, when Luc visits her.  The security officer seeks to comfort Percy, who wants nothing of it.  “We’re not buddies.  Just go,” the engineer retorts.

Dante

Dante is glad to have Travis back.  This a man who has spent the last eleven years and few months seeking his son.  Yet Dante is unsure about how to deal with Travis, who is a stranger to him.  Travis, likewise, does not know how to relate to his father.  He is rude to Dante in one scene, but does apologize shortly thereafter.

Percy

Dante checks in with Percy.  She cannot repair the engines, but she might be able to fix the communications system.  That is her next scheduled task.

Percy

Percy returns to her quarters, where she keeps the parts required to restore communications.  While there, she sees Eccleston appear before her then vanish.

Seneca

Seneca completes another transmission.  Afterward he says to himself, “They seem so eager for our mission to succeed.  There is some subterfuge at work here.  We must be diligent.”

On board the Tulip, Percy tells Dante about Eccleston’s brief appearance, but her uncle does not believe her.

On the Bridge of the Tulip

Luc, after finding the communication code, sends an urgent message to Navarre.  She asks him to arrange for the Orchard to meet the Raider ships at Earth “with deadly force.”  Tosca overhears this transmission, too.

Percy and Travis

Travis visits Percy in her quarters.  She says that she will leave the Tulip soon, now that he is here.  Percy accuses her cousin of using the others on the ship for something, not that she cares what it is.  Travis does not deny this, but replies that everybody uses other people.

Caravaggio reminds Dante about Rudolpho’s transmission.  Dante says, “Not now, Car.”  Immediately, Navarre sends a transmission in which he invites Luc to join him on Mars; he is sending a shuttle.  Dante convinces Luc to accept the invitation, for she will serve the greater good.

Immediately before Luc departs the Tulip, she has the following discussion with Dante:

LUC:  Well, Captain Montana, it’s been quite a ride.

DANTE:  Take care of yourself.  Keep me posted.

LUC:  I’ll report back as soon as I can.  My one regret is that I had to lie to you in the beginning. I’m really sorry about that.

DANTE:  Don’t apologize.

Eccleston and Percy

Eccleston materializes in Percy’s quarters.  At first he is disoriented, but he explains that he has returned to this dimension for a reason “important beyond all measure.”  There is no sensory input as we know it where he has been; there is just a “terrible beauty.”

Travis and Dante

In his quarters, Travis explains to Dante what it is like to have a perfect memory.  It is as though his head is always full of noise.  Only self-discipline prevents Travis from going mad.

Raider Ships Approach Earth

Luc joins Navarre on Mars.  They agree that it is imperative to stop the Raiders from seeding the Earth.  All they need to do is figure out how to do it.

Eccleston

Eccleston tells Percy that “something terrible is about to happen…in all of us.”

Luc and Navarre

Navarre informs Luc that “the Resistance has never fully recovered since the death of Darius.”  He says that giving into despair is not an option; neither is failure.

Tosca

Tosca and armed guards barge in.  Then a guard kills Navarre.

Percy brings Eccleston to Travis and Dante, both of whom are surprised.  Eccleston says, “I was wrong, terribly wrong.  The Cluster isn’t about freedom.  If triggered in enough people, it will begin a process that guarantees the extinction of the entire human race.”  He continues by explaining that he has seen those who are waiting to be resurrected–reborn–in us.  He wants to prevent this, but he needs help, for he is too weak to do this on his own.

Eccleston, Travis, and Dante

Travis is skeptical, so Eccleston grabs his head and says, “Know what I know, see what I see.”  Travis touches Travis, and blue light glows.  Afterward, both Montanas realize that Eccleston speaks the truth.

Tosca and Luc

Tosca denies being involved in the plot to murder Darius.  Besides, she says, Luc’s father was more valuable to her alive.  Tosca says that Darius a great man, for he was the first to realize that Travis Montana was the first naturally occurring instance of the Divinity Cluster and that Luc’s father was the architect of the plan to capture Travis.  This is the plan Tosca seeks to complete.  So Tosca transmits a message to an Orchard vessel:  “Begin extraction of the chosen one.”  That ship approaches the Tulip.

(Yep, Tosca has been in contact with Seneca.)

Eccleston, Travis, and Dante

Eccleston tells Travis and Dante that some Orchard members “crave the transformation.”

Eccleston, Travis, and Dante

Eccleston asks Travis, who has always been exposed to the Divinity Cluster, and Dante, to whom Tosca introduced the beginning of the Cluster, to grab his hand and visualize Earth.  Eccleston tells Percy not to join in, for nobody has introduced her to the Cluster, so her life might be in danger; he does not want her to die.  A blue light results in the transfer of the Tulip from Mars orbit to the outer threshold of Earth’s Moon.

Tosca

Thus begins the process of Tosca’s plans going awry.  She is angry when she learns that the Tulip has moved so suddenly and quickly.  She suspects that this is the work of Eccleston and Travis.

Seneca

Seneca is angry, too.  He suspects Orchard intrigue.  Tosca replies that she is as surprised as he is.  She continues, “Proceed with your mission…”

The Raiders, at Earth

Eccleston says that Travis must stop the Raiders; Dante’s son must “see the seeds then see them somewhere else, like the sun.”  Then the Raiders target the Tulip and fire a weapon that disables the ship’s systems, including Caravaggio.

Tosca and Luc

Tosca sends a transmission to the Tulip.  She says to send Travis to the Orchard or else Luc will die.  Travis remains on the ship, and Dante knows that he can do nothing to help his former security officer.  Next, Tosca sends a transmission to the Orchard Moon base:  “Extract the chosen one immediately.  Destroy the Tulip only after Travis is safe.”

Percy and Dante

Dante and Travis prepare to leave the Tulip, but Percy insists on remaining behind, to reboot Caravaggio.  Dante says he will be back, and uncle and niece embrace.

Dante and Travis, in a shuttle, follow the Raider ships into Earth’s atmosphere.  Travis tries to see the seeds then see them somewhere else.  Then the shuttle runs out of fuel.

Dante’s Shuttle

Then the Raiders fire on the shuttle.

Seneca

Seneca gives the order to release the seeds immediately.

Travis tells Dante that he could not see the seeds then see them somewhere else.  As Seneca watches the shuttle fall toward Earth, he says, “Goodbye, Zephryn.”

Tosca

Tosca is angry to learn that Travis is aboard a shuttle falling toward Earth.  Luc asks, “Something go wrong?”

The Raiders target the Tulip. Percy reboots Caravaggio just in time to learn this fact.

Eccleston and Percy

Eccleston asks Percy to take his hand; he will protect her as best he can.  She agrees.  His final words to her are, “Remember what you love.”

Where is the Tulip?

The Tulip vanishes.

Tosca

Tosca is having a very bad day.  “What do you mean it disappeared?!” she asks.  Frustrated, she points a gun at Luc and pulls the trigger.

Meanwhile, the shuttle is about to crash.  Travis says, “I love you father.”  Dante replies, “I love you son.”  They hold hands, and Dante tells Travis to “see home.”

On board a deserted Tulip, Caravaggio views Rudolpho’s transmission.  Rudolpho is out of the bounty hunting business, now that he has won a court case.  So he gives the Tulip to Dante.  “Use her well.  Use her to make every dream you’ve ever had come true,” he says.

Dante with Young Travis

Dante awakens on Titan, in November 2264.  Penny is alive, and Travis is a small boy.

Danger!

Warning sirens wail.  The Raiders are attacking.  This is the day that the Raiders killed Penny and abducted Travis.

So ends Starhunter.

There are some unanswered questions, among them:

  1. Did Travis save Earth?
  2. Will Dante be able to save Travis and Penny this time, now that he is back in the past?  (Starhunter has established the ability to move back and forth in time.)
  3. Where did Percy and Eccleston go?
  4. Where did the Tulip go?
  5. Did or will Eccleston succeed in his mission to prevent human extinction?
  6. Is Luc alive?
  7. Will the Resistance within the Orchard triumph?

I know; some people will mention Starhunter 2300.  As I have written in previous posts, that series takes place in a parallel universe.  It seems that the universe of Starhunter 2300 is one in which 2300 minus 2276 equals fifteen years.  (The year 2276 comes from the Starhunter episode Black Light, and Rebirth, the first episode of Starhunter 2300, opens on January 3, 2300.)  And Rebirth opens with Percy on board the Tulip, which has been in hyperspace, where it is not at the end of Resurrection.  Furthermore, the Travis Montana of Rebirth has never met Dante (after his abduction, that is), has just met Percy for the first time in 2300, and has never heard of the Divinity Cluster.  I suspect that the writers of Starhunter 2300 did not watch Starhunter closely.

Besides, Starhunter is the better series.  Its characters are more interesting.  Even Percy, who is in both series, is more fascinating and prominent in the older series.  Also, the stories in Starhunter are edgier and generally better than those in Starhunter 2300, a series I have watched on Hulu.  (Not that Starhunter 2300 lacks merit.)

I close this post by encouraging you, O reader, to watch Starhunter again and again in a method consistent with copyright laws.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2011 COMMON ERA

I used the Power DVD program to acquire screen captures from a legal DVD.

Posted January 18, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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