Archive for November 2011

Feast of Sts. Genesius I of Clermont, Praejectus of Clermont, and Amarin (January 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Frankish Kingdoms in 628 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GENESIUS I OF CLERMONT (DIED 660/662)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Clermont

His feast transferred from June 3

Patron of

SAINT PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT (625-676)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Clermont

His feast transferred from January 25

Martyred with

SAINT AMARIN (DIED 676)

Roman Catholic Abbot

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St. Genesius I of Clermont became Bishop of Clermont against his will in 656.  He founded a hospital, abbeys, and hospitals before running away in disguise to Rome.  Yet his flock demanded the saint’s return.  He died in 660 or 662.  St. Genesius was patron of St. Praejectus, born into lesser nobility.  St. Praejectus studied under St. Genesius I, whom he succeeded (not immediately) as bishop in 666.  St. Praejectus founded churches, hospitals, and monasteries.  Political intrigue led to his murder.  One Hector, a Frankish nobleman, was accused of various offenses.   Authorities arrested, tried, and executed him.  One Agritus blamed St. Praejectus for Hector’s execution.  Agritus murdered the bishop and St. Amarin, abbot at Volvic monastery, at the monastery on January 25, 676.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Lord God,

you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Saints Genesius I of Clermont, Praejectus of Clermont, and Amarin,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on November 21, 2016

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Feast of St. Gaspar del Bufalo (January 7)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Unification of Italy

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO (A.K.A. SAINT CASPAR DEL BUFALO) (January 6, 1786-December 28, 1837)

Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood

His feast transferred from January 2

The son of a cook in Rome, St. Gaspar del Bufalo became a Roman Catholic priest in 1808.  Later that year, he joined Pope Pius VII and other clergymen who refused to swear allegiance to Napoleon Bonaparte in exile.  They returned to Rome in 1814.  The saint founded the Missionaries of the Precious Blood the following year.  He spent years engaged in extensive evangelism in central Italy and worked in the Santa Galla Hospice in Rome.  He also earned a reputation as an excellent preacher.  At the end of his life, although he was quite ill, the saint returned to Rome in late 1837 to tend to people during a cholera outbreak.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized St. Gaspar del Bufalo in 1954.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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God of grace and glory,

we praise you for your servant Saint Gaspar del Bufalo,

who made the good news known in Italy.

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Alban Roe and Thomas Reynolds (January 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. George’s Cross

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALBAN ROE (July 20, 1583-January 21, 1642)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

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SAINT THOMAS REYNOLDS (1561–January 21, 1642)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

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St. Alban Roe was a complicated man.  He could be cheerful and generally positive yet unpredictable and cantankerous.  This description fits many other saints.  It even fits me sometimes.  Moral perfectionism is unrealistic, so may we not be overly critical of Father Roe.  Rather, may we focus on the positive:  This man loved God and Jesus so much that he gave his life for them.

Born Bartholomew Roe in England, he and his brother converted to Roman Catholicism and became monks.  Bartholomew took the name Alban.  He began to study for the priesthood in 1607 but was expelled in 1610 due to bad temperament.  He joined the Benedictine community at Lorraine in 1613 and was ordained a priest two years later.  Then St. Alban Roe returned to England as a missionary, but authorities captured and deported him.  The saint returned in 1618, when authorities arrested and incarcerated him until 1623.  They expelled him again.  He returned yet again in 1625.  Authorities apprehended him again and held him until 1642, when they convicted him of treason and executed him via hanging, drawing, and quartering.

The Roman Catholic Church beatified St. Alban Roe in 1921 and canonized him in 1970.

Hanged, drawn, and quartered with St. Alban Roe was St. Thomas Reynolds.  Ordained in 1592 after studying at Rheims, Reynolds returned to his native England and faced exile again in 1606.  Yet the saint returned again and fulfilled his priestly vocation until his arrest in 1628.  He spent the next fourteen years in prison until he died at age 80.

Both of these men could have lived safely in France, but their faith demanded that they take great risks for God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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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 Alban Roe and Thomas Reynolds,

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Mirocles of Milan and Epiphanius of Pavia (January 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Northern Italy

Image in the Public Domain

Milan = Mediolanum

Pavia = Ticinum

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SAINT MIROCLES OF MILAN (DIED November 30, 316)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan

SAINT EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA (438-January 21, 496)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Pavia

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Of the life of St. Mirocles of Milan we know little.  He died in 316, having become Bishop of Milan sometime before 313.  We do know, however, that he was a relative of Focaria, mother of St. Epiphanius of Pavia.  Raised in the household of Crispinus, Bishop of Pavia, St. Epiphanius became a deacon at age 20 then the bishop’s handpicked successor eight years later.

The times were tumultuous.  The Western Roman Empire was on its last legs in 466, when St. Epiphanius became Bishop of Pavia.  A decade later, Odoacer destroyed the city shortly before Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor, abdicated in 476.  The map of Western Europe changed greatly, with Odoacer ruling as King of Italy and with other successor states rising in the rest of the former empire.  St. Epiphanius could not escape the turmoil of his time.  He went on diplomatic missions related to barbarian invasions and had to negotiate the ransom of his sister, Honorata, kidnapped from Pavia abbey, and that of Romans who had sided with Odoacer, not Theodoric the Great, who succeeded Odoacer and founded the Ostrogothic Kingdom.  Theodoric deprived many of his opponents of their civil rights.  St. Epiphanius interceded for these people before Theodoric, who agreed, provided that the bishop intercede for captives the Burgundians had taken in 489, during the war between Theodoric and Odoacer.  St. Epiphanius undertook that mission during the Winter weather, dying of exposure to the elements en route to keep his word.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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Almighty God,

you raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servants Saints Mirocles of Milan and Epiphanius of Pavia.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

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

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Deicola, Gall, and Othmar (January 19)   1 comment

Above:  Plan of the Abbey of St. Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DEICOLA (530-625)

Roman Catholic Monk

His feast transferred from January 18

brother of 

SAINT GALL (550-CIRCA 646)

Roman Catholic Monk

His feast transferred from October 16

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SAINT OTHMAR (CIRCA 689-CIRCA 759)

Roman Catholic Abbot at St. Gallen

His feast transferred from November 16

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St. Deicola and St. Gall, Irish brothers and monks, accompanied St. Columban  on his missionary journey to Europe.  Theuderic II of Burgundy and Austrasia expelled the St. Deicola, the elder brother, at age 80, as well as St. Columban, in 610.  St. Deicola settled at Lure, Gaul, where he founded a monastery and devoted the remaining years of his life to prayer and meditation.  Illness forced St. Gall to break way from St. Columban’s main missionary band in 612.  The latter traveled to Italy, but the former and some hermits settled in the area of Lake Constance, in modern-day Switzerland.

St. Othmar founded the great Abbey of St. Gall and became its first abbot.  He and his monks cared for the poor of the surrounding community, operated a hospital, and established the first Swiss leper colony.  St. Othmar died in exile because of false accusations two nobles had made against him.  His good deeds, alas, did not prevent him from suffering due to the perfidy of others.

From the Abbey of St. Gall generations of faithful monks did great things for God.  Consider the cases of St. Tutilo and St. Nokter Balbulus, for example.

What will your legacy be?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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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 Saints Deicola, Gall, and Othmar,

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,

in the unity of 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

–Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), pages 249 and 927

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Euthymius the Great and Theoctistus (January 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Judea/Palestine within the Roman Empire in 400 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT (377-January 20, 473)

Roman Catholic Priest, Monk, and Abbot

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SAINT THEOCTISTUS (DIED 451)

Roman Catholic Abbot

Born in Melitene, Cilicia (Lesser Armenia), in what we call Turkey in 2011, St. Euthymius the Great studied under Oterius, Bishop of Melitene, who ordained him to the priesthood.  The bishop also appointed St. Euthymius the Great (He is not the only saint named Euthymius.) to oversee the monasteries in the diocese.  Aged 36 years, St. Euthymius the Great left on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and remained in the area with other monks.  He founded monasteries across Judea/Palestine, leaving one under the leadership of a companion and fellow abbot, St. Theoctistus.  Preferring to live alone, St. Euthymius the Great spent much of his life dwelling in a series of caves, where he devoted himself to communing with God.

Although not everybody has a vocation to live simply in a cave and commune with God there, the lives of those who did have this calling and who followed it can teach us valuable lessons.  We do not need to be connected technologically to others constantly.  We do not need to watch television often or listen to music all the time or surf websites all the time.  We do not need to collect dust catchers.  But we do need to be quiet in the presence of God and acknowledge and accept our dependence on God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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Do you want to read more?  Here are some useful links:

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/01/teachings-of-st-euthymius-great.html

http://www.biblewalks.com/sites/EuthemiusMonastery.html

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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 Saints Euthymius the Great and Theoctistus,

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,

in the unity of 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

–Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), pages 249 and 927

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles (January 14)   1 comment

Above:  Gaul in 481 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES (468/470-August 27, 543)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Arles

His feast transferred from August 27

brother of

SAINT CAESARIA OF ARLES (DIED CIRCA 530)

Roman Catholic Abbess at Arles

Her feast transferred from January 12

In this post I combine the feasts of two saints, a brother and a sister, a bishop and an abbess.

St. Caesarius of Arles was one of the greatest bishops of his generation, along with Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” and St. Gregory of Tours.  St. Caesarius was religious even as a young man.  His parents were not devout, however.  So his decision (at age 17) to pursue monastic life did not please them.  He began his life as a monk at the monastery at Lerins, where rose to a position of being in charge of discipline at the abbey.  His rigorous standard displeased many of the other monks, a fact which St. Caesarius took so poorly that he began to starve himself.   So the abbot removed St. Caesarius from that post and sent him to Arles for medical care.  The saint had lived at Lerins for a decade, and Arles was his new home.

Restored to health, St. Caesarius became Bishop of Arles in 502, in his early thirties.  He held that post he held for four decades.  He earned a reputation for aiding the poor, ransoming prisoners, and performing many other good deeds.  The saint founded a monastery and a convent at Arles.  He also encouraged reverence for the sacraments, the frequent taking of the Eucharist, and home Bible studies.  The saint also sided with St. Augustine of Hippo with regard to the question of Semi-Pelagianism (the official Roman Catholic position about the relationship of divine grace and human free will in salvation in time), arguing against it.  Hundreds of sermons survive to this day.  Not surprisingly, they reflect the influence of St. Augustine of Hippo.  And St. Thomas Aquinas read and quoted St. Caesarius of Arles favorably.

St. Caesarius wrote the first monastic rule for women in the Western Church.  He appointed his sister, St. Caesaria, abbess  of the convent at Arles he founded in 512.  She and her sister nuns cared for the poor, the sick, and children.  St. Gregory of Tours and St. Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus wrote of her favorably.

One might disagree with St. Caesarius regarding Semi-Pelagianism.  I do.  But that does not matter.  He was a good man, a devout Christian, and a great theological mind.  And he and his sister cared actively for “the least of these.”  I honor these great saints.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Lord God,

you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Saints Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver (January 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sargent Shriver Holding a Peace Corps Proclamation

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ROBERT SARGENT SHRIVER, JR. (NOVEMBER 9, 1915-JANUARY 18, 2011)

U.S. Statesman and Humanitarian

husband of

EUNICE MARY KENNEDY SHRIVER (SEPTEMBER 7, 1921-AUGUST 11, 2009)

Humanitarian

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Born in Westminster, Maryland, Sargent Shriver attended Yale University from 1934 to 1938 then Yale Law School from 1938 to 1941.  He opposed U.S. entry in World War II initially yet enlisted in the Navy out of patriotism.  He served mostly in the South Pacific and earned a Purple Heart at Guadalcanal.  Shriver returned to civilian life after the War and married Eunice Kennedy, sister of Senator John F. Kennedy, in 1953.  Shriver worked on his brother-in-law’s 1960 presidential campaign.  Then he became first Director of the Peace Corps (1961-1966), architect of the Great Society (as in the Job Corps and Head Start) under President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Shriver went on to serve as Ambassador to France (1968-1970), Democratic nominee for Vice President (1972), and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.  He and his wife, Eunice, founded the Special Olympics.  President Bill Clinton awarded Shriver the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.  This was a well-deserved honor.

Doctors diagnosed Shriver with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2003.  He died at Bethesda, Maryland on January 18, 2011, aged 95 years.

Shriver was a devout Roman Catholic.  His faith informed his views on everything from abortion (he opposed it) to anti-poverty programs (he supported them).  The simplistic labels “liberal” and “conservative” prove inadequate here, as they do much of the time.  The bottom line is this:  Sargent Shriver sought to love his neighbor as he loved himself.  He succeeded.  What else is there to say?

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Eunice Mary Kennedy learned from her mother that she should contribute to society.  Eunice, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in sociology in 1943, served in the Special War Problems Division, U.S. Department of State, then led a juvenile delinquency project for the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 1950-1951 she worked as a social worker at the women’s penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia.  Then she left for Chicago, where she worked at the House of the Good Shepherd and for the municipal juvenile court.

Eunice, who married Sargent Shriver in 1953, began to lead the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation, devoted to preventing mental retardation and to helping the mentally retarded, four years later.  In 1962 she and her husband started a summer camp at their home in Maryland.  The summer camp evolved into the Special Olympics six years later.  For her great humanitarian work Eunice received many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984.

She died at Hyannis, Massachusetts, on August 11, 2009, aged 88 years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of St. John the Good (January 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Europe in 526 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, A.K.A. SAINT JOHN CAMILLUS (DIED 660)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan

Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he “has faith” if his actions do not correspond with it?  Could that sort of faith save anyone’s soul?  If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good luck to you I hope you’ll keep warm and find enough to eat”, and yet give them nothing meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that?  Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like–quite dead….Yes, faith without actions is as dead as a body without a soul.

–James 2:14-17, 26 (J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, 1972)

No bishop had lived in Milan for eighty years.  The Western Roman Empire was no more, and Arian Lombards forced the exile of previous bishops.  But St. John Camillus filled the vacancy.  He argued against the Arian heresy, which teaches that Christ was a created being.  (The Jehovah’s Witnesses have incorporated this heresy into their alleged orthodoxy.)  He also resisted the Monothelistist heresy, which claims that the human and divine wills of Jesus Christ had a common will and activity.  Monothelitism undermines the doctrine that Jesus was fully human.  Having correct Christology is important, but so is living one’s faith, as James reminds us.  St. John Camillus earned his nickname, “the Good,” by his demonstrated holiness, as evident in his many good works in Milan.

St. John the Good died in 660, but, in 2011, people still speak of him as one who had an active faith, complete with good deeds and sound Christology.  If, in fourteen centuries, the human species and memories of us survive, may our successors make the same statements about us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Almighty God,

you raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant St. John the Good.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

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

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Revised on November 14, 2016

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Feast of St. Pepin of Landen, St. Itta of Metz, Their Relations, St. Amand, St. Austregisilus, and St. Sulpicius II of Bourges (January 9)   12 comments

Above:  A Map of Gaul in 628 C.E.

Faithful Christians Across Generational Lines

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SAINT AUSTREGISILUS (DIED 624)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Bourges (612-624)

who mentored

SAINT AMAND (CIRCA 584-675)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Maastricht

and ordained

SAINT SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES (DIED 646)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Bourges (624-646)

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SAINT PEPIN OF LANDEN (CIRCA 580-640)

Mayor of the Merovingian Palace (623-629, 639-640)

husband of

SAINT ITTA OF METZ (593-652)

Roman Catholic Abbess at Nivelles

sister of 

SAINT MODOALD OF TRIER (DIED 640/645)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Trier (626-640/645)

brother of 

SAINT SEVERA OF SAINT GEMMA (DIED 680)

Roman Catholic Abbess

aunt of 

SAINT GERTRUDE OF NIVELLES (626-659)

Roman Catholic Abbess

sister of 

SAINT BEGGA OF ANDENNE (615-693)

Roman Catholic Abbess

sister of

SAINT BAVO OF GHENT (622-659)

Roman Catholic Hermit

brother of 

SAINT MODESTA OF TRIER (DIED 680)

Roman Catholic Abbess

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SAINT AMALBERGA OF MAUBERGE (DIED 690)

Roman Catholic Nun

mother of

SAINT GUDULA (DIED 680/714)

Roman Catholic Nun

sister of

SAINT PHARAILDIS OF GHENT (CIRCA 650-CIRCA 740)

Holy Virgin

sister of

SAINT REINELDIS OF SAINTES (630-CIRCA 700)

Roman Catholic Martyr

sister of

SAINT EMERBERTUS OF CAMBRAI (DIED 710)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Cambrai

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This post tells the story of one extended family, a bishop who proved instrumental in sparking a chain reaction of holiness, his mentor, and another holy man whom that mentor ordained.  Each saint has his or her own feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, but I have chosen to assign them a common feast day and tell one large story, not sixteen smaller ones.

St. Austregisilus (died 624) was a courtier who became a monk at Lyon then an abbot at Lyon.  Then, in 612, he became Bishop of Bourges.  He mentored St. Amand (circa 584-675), a Frankish nobleman who, at age 20, rebelled against his family’s wishes and became a monk at Bourges.  St. Amand lived under the direction of St. Austregisilus, called a simple cell home, and ate bread and drank water for fifteen years.  Made a missionary bishop without a diocese in 628, St. Amand began his work in Ghent and expanded his work across Flanders (modern-day Belgium).  He experienced much success after a period of initial fruitless labor.  St. Amand supervised the founding of monasteries, including the first one in Flanders.  Bishop of Maastricht by 649, he left that see to continue his missionary work.

St. Austregisilus ordained St. Sulpicius II of Bourges (died January 17, 646), known for devoting his life to evangelism, good works (namely charitable works to aid the poor), and the study of the Bible.  Born into a Gallic noble family, St. Sulpicius II became chaplain to King Clotaire II (reigned 584-629) before succeeding St. Austregisilus as Bishop of Bourges (624-646).

St. Pepin of Landen (circa 580-February 27, 640) served as Mayor of the Merovingian palace under Dagobert I (from 623 to 629) and Sigebert III (from 639 to 640).  He had a reputation for offering wise counsel and providing good government.  After he died his wife St. Itta of Metz (592-652), on the advice of St. Amand, founded the abbey at Nivelles and became the abbess there.  Her daughter, St. Gertrude (626-March 17, 659), succeeded her as abbess.  St. Gertrude educated her cousin, St. Gudula (died between 680 and 714), a nun, at the Nivelles abbey.  St. Gudula‘s mother was St. Amalberga (died 690), who was either the niece or sister of St. Pepin of Landen.  (The sources disagree on the nature of the relationship between the two.)  Both St. Amalberga and her husband, Witger, chose to leave luxurious lives to devote their remaining days to God and monasticism.  St Gudula returned to her home after the death of St. Gertrude and devoted herself to prayer and good works.

Sources are vague as to the parentage of Sts. Itta of Metz, Modoald of Trier, and Severa of St. Gemma, but some point toward Arnaold (circa 560-circa 611), Bishop of Metz from 601 to 609/611.  His wife had been Oda, who died no later than 584.

St. Gertrude had three sainted siblings.  St. Begga of Andenne (615-December 17, 693) became a nun then an abbess after her husband died.  She founded seven churches and build a convent a Andenne, Flanders (now Belgium).  Her brother, St. Bavo of Ghent (622-659) abandoned a disorderly and undisciplined life, gave up his material wealth, and dedicated his life to God.  He became a missionary in France and Flanders before become a hermit and building an abbey at Ghent.  His other holy sister, St. Modesta of Trier (died 680), became abbess at Trier.  Her uncle, St. Modoald of Trier (died 640/645), Archbishop of Trier from 626, appointed her to that post.  He, a counselor to King Dagobert I, was brother of St. Itta of Metz and St. Severa of St. Gemma (died 680), abbess at St. Gemma Convent, Villeneuve.

St. Gudula was one of four sainted children of St. Amalberga and Witger.  St. Pharaildis (circa 650-circa 740) entered into a loveless marriage involuntarily.  She promised her body to God, not her abusive husband, and preserved her virginity during her lifetime.  St. Reineldis (630-circa 700), her sister, devoted herself to good works at Saintes.  Unfortunately, the Huns raided the city and martyred her.  Then there was St. Emerbertus (died 710), the Bishop of Cambrai.

Details about the lives of these holy men and women are mostly sketchy now, as I write these words in late 2011.  This fact does not surprise me, for I know that many (if not most) sources meet various unhappy fates over time.  So sometimes all we know about a saint is a name, a few dates (sometimes uncertain), some stories, and a reputation for holiness.  So be it.  At least we know that much.  How much will people know about us fourteen centuries hence?

Let us now praise famous men,

and our fathers in their generations.

The Lord apportioned to them great glory,

his majesty from the beginning.

There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,

and were men renowned for their power,

giving counsel by their understanding,

and proclaiming prophecies;

leaders of the people in their deliberations

and in understanding of learning for the people,

wise in their words of instruction;

those who composed musical tunes,

and set forth verses in writing;

rich men furnished with resources,

living peaceably in their habitations–

all these were honored in their generations,

and were the glory of their times.

There are some of them who have left a name,

so that men declare their praise.

And there are some who have no memorial,

who have perished as though they had not been born,

and so have their children after them.

But these were men of mercy,

whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;

their prosperity will remain with their descendants ,

and their inheritance to their children’s children.

Their descendants stand by the covenants;

their children also, for their sake.

Their posterity will continue for ever,

and their glory will not be blotted out.

Their bodies were buried in peace,

and their name lives to all generations.

Peoples will declare their wisdom,

and the congregation proclaims their praise.

–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 44:1-15 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition)

The sixteen saints whose common story I have told in this post constituted a network of holiness.  May our families and personal networks likewise be holy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Lord God,

you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Saint Pepin of Landen,

Saint Itta of Metz,

Saint Modoald of Trier,

Saint Severa of Saint Gemma,

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles,

Saint Begga of Andenne,

Saint Bavo of Ghent,

Saint Modesta of Trier,

Saint Amalberga of Mauberge,

Saint Gudula,

Saint Pharaildis,

Saint Reineldis of Saintes,

Saint Emerbertus of Cambrai,

Saint Amand,

Saint Austregisilus,

and Saint Sulpicius II of Bourges,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on November 14, 2016

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