Archive for February 2012

Feast of Sts. Amator of Auxerre, Germanus of Auxerre, Mamertinus of Auxerre, and Marcian of Auxerre (April 20)   1 comment

Above:  Gaul in 481

SAINT AMATOR OF AUXERRE (DIED 418)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Auxerre

His feast transferred from May 1

converted

SAINT GERMANUS OF AUXERRE (DIED 448)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Auxerre

His feast transferred from July 31

converted

SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE (DIED 462)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from March 30

oversaw

SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE (DIED CIRCA 488)

Roman Catholic Monk

His feast = April 20

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Once again it happened.  I started with one name I pulled from a book and uncovered a series of connections resulting in overlapping hagiographies.  This was a happy occasion, for such incidents help me learn of the reinforcing quality of Christian faith in community.

Our first link in this chain of holiness is St. Amator of Auxerre.  One ought not to confuse him with a hermit also named St. Amator.  No, this St. Amator was Bishop of Auxerre from 388 to 418, a time during which he converted the remaining heathens living within the borders of his diocese.  He also converted St. Germanus of Auxerre.

St. Germanus of Auxerre, born in that city, was a Gallic nobleman.  Well-educated, he practiced civil law and became a Western Roman imperial official in Gaul.  At this stage of his life the saint sought and enjoyed a wide variety of pleasures, many of them dubious.  One pleasure was hunting.  Another was hanging hunting “trophies” in a tree once used for pagan worship.  The latter aroused the ire of St. Amator, who had the tree cut down and the “trophies” burned.  St. Amator then forced St. Germanus to take the tonsure, become a deacon, and train to become his successor.  St. Germanus devoted the rest of his life to prayer, study, and charitable works.  He also succeeded St. Amator as Bishop of Auxerre.  As bishop (418-448) St. Germanus governed the diocese wisely, gave his possessions to help the poor, and built the St. Cosmas and St. Damien Monastery at Auxerre.  The saint died at Ravenna in 448, where he had pleaded for mercy for rebellious Bretons.

St. Germanus also converted St. Mamertinus of Auxerre, of whom we know little.  We do know, however, that St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the St. Cosmas and St. Damien Monastery.  One of his monks was St. Marcian of Auxerre.  A native of Bourges, St. Marcian fled to Auxerre to flee a Visigothic invasion.  At Auxerre St. Marcian became a lay brother.  He was responsible for tending to the animals, with whom he had a great rapport, whether they were wild or domesticated.  He was also renowned for his humility.  The saint’s reputation was so great that the abbey became St. Marcian Monastery after he died.

I think of an All Saints’ hymn, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.”  It reads in part:

….And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,

and one was a shepherdess on the green….

And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,

and one was killed by a fierce wild beast:

and there’s not any reason,

no, not the least,

why I shouldn’t be one too….

Be a saint, O reader, and influence others positively.  Set off a chain reaction of holiness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER, EDUCATOR

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

Grant that we, encouraged by the examples of your servants

Saint Amator of Auxerre,

Saint Germanus of Auxerre,

Saint Mamertinus of Auxerre,

and Saint Marcian of Auxerre,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of St. Simeon Barsabae and His Companions (April 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Exaltation of the Cross

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SAINT SIMEON BARSABAE (DIED 341)

Bishop of Seleucia and Ctesiphon

The account of the martyrdom of St. Simeon Barsabae and his companions requires contextualization.  Relations between the Roman Empire and the revived Persian Empire under the Sasanid Dynasty were difficult, punctuated by wars.   The Sasanids governed from 226 to 651, thus the beginning of their tenure coincided with a difficult century for the Roman Empire.  Rome stabilized somewhat in the late 200s yet experienced civil war in the early 300s.  Constantine I “the Great” (reigned jointly from 306 to 323 and alone from 323 to 337) legalized Christianity.  This was a political move, an attempt to stabilize the empire and extend its lifespan by grafting onto it the hierarchy and organization of the Church.

Meanwhile, in Persia, King Shapur/Sapor II (reigned 310-379) perceived his Christian population as disloyal.  Persian policy had been to persecute heterodox populations, but religious toleration had taken its place.  Then Constantine I legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire.  Acting on the premise of guilt by association, Shapur II resumed persecution of Christians and other non-Zoroastrians.  Attempting to use Zoroastrianism to unify his realm by force if deemed necessary, Shapur II declared heresy (as he defined it) a death penalty offense.

St. Simeon Barsabae (died 341), Bishop in Ctesiphon, capital city of Persia, refused to betray his faith.  And many of his fellow Christians likewise refused.  The persecution during which these valiant people died was notoriously harsh and violent.  St. Simeon had to witness the beheading of about a hundred of his fellow Christians.  Among them were the following:

  1. Usthazanes, the royal tutor, whom the saint had led back to Christ after apostasy;
  2. Abdechalas and Ananias, two priests;
  3. and Pusicius, a layman who had encouraged Ananias.

Finally, on Good Friday, St. Simeon and his daughter, Askitrea, went to Jesus.

The persecution of Persian Christians persisted after Shapur II’s death.  I refer you, O reader, to the case of St. James Intercisus.  Yet, as the 1968 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica tells me,

Nonetheless, substantial Christian communities survived in parts of Iran long after the close of the Sasanian dynasty.–Volume 17, page 672

Persecutors, I suppose, think that they are doing what is necessary for the greater good.  Yet they are mistaken, of course.  An immoral or amoral monster probably does not look at his reflection and recognize evil, or at least bad behavior.  He probably justifies his actions to himself.  I find it ironic that one would commit murder in the name of Zoroastrianism, a faith tradition which affirms life.  Yet people have killed in the name of Christ, love incarnate.  God, save us from your alleged followers!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF STEVE DE GRUCHY, SOUTH AFRICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ARNULF OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND SAINT GERMANUS OF GRANFEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ETHELBERT OF KENT, KING

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT SOUTHWELL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Everloving God,

by your grace and power

your holy martyrs Saint Simeon Barsabae and his companions triumphed over suffering

and were 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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A Related Post:

The Church’s One Foundation:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/the-churchs-one-foundation/

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Feast of Sts. Murin of Fahan, Laserian of Leighlin, Goban of Picardie, Blitharius of Seganne, Fursey of Peronne, Foillan of Fosses, and Ultan of Peronne (April 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of Gaul in 628 Common Era

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SAINT MURIN OF FAHAN (CIRCA 550-645)

Abbot of Fahan

His feast transferred from March 12

mentor of

SAINT LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, A.K.A. SAINT MOLAISSE (DIED 639)

Abbot and Bishop of Leighlin

His feast transferred from April 18

brother of

SAINT GOBAN OF PICARDIE (DIED CIRCA 670)

Abbot and Hermit

His feast transferred from June 20

Traveled with

SAINT FURSEY OF PERONNE (DIED CIRCA 648)

Monk

His feast transferred from January 16

Evangelized with

SAINT BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE (DIED 600S)

Monk

His feast transferred from June 11

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SAINT FOILLAN OF FOSSES (DIED CIRCA 655)

Abbot

Brother of Saint Fursey of Peronne

His feast transferred from October 31

Other feast days = January 16 and November 5

brother of

SAINT ULTAN OF PERONNE (DIED 686)

Abbot

His feast transferred from May 2

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This post began when I found one name–St. Laserian.  Reading about him led to other names, which led to still more names.  Thus, from one lead I have arrived at seven names, including two sets of brothers.  Thus is fitting, for faith is at its best when it is both individual and shared.  We human beings ought to encourage one another in righteousness.

We begin our stroll down Holiness Lane with St. Murin of Fahan (circa 550-645).  Also known as Mura McFeredach and Murin McFeredach, he became Abbot of Fahan, in Ireland, when St. Columba appointed him to that post.  St. Murin wrote voluminously, including a biography of St. Columba.  St. Murin also served as a spiritual mentor to our next saint, Laserian of Leighlin.

St. Laserian of Leighlin, a.k.a. Molaisse (died 639) was a monk who became an abbot and a bishop.  He lived at Iona Monastery before going to Rome, where Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (reigned 590-604) ordained him.  Then St. Laserian transferred to the monastery at Leighlin, in southern Ireland.  Then he favored the Roman manner of observing Easter over the Celtic one.  He defended this position at the synod at White Fields in 635.  With the synod at an impasse, the saint and some fellow monks traveled to Rome, to meet with Pope Honorius I (reigned 625-638).  At Rome the Pope consecrated the saint a bishop and appointed him papal legate to Ireland.  Back in Ireland, St. Laserian ruled in favor of Roman practices.  He succeeded his brother, St. Goban of Picardie, as Abbot of Leighlin in 637.

St. Goban of Picardie (died circa 670) became a hermit.  He traveled with his spiritual mentor, St. Fursey of Peronne, to East Anglia.

St. Fursey (died circa 648) and his brothers, St. Foillan of Fosses (died circa 655) and St. Ultan of Peronne (died 686), were Irish noblemen.  They were sons of Fintan, prince of South Muster, and Gelgesia, daughter of Aedhfinn, prince of Hy-Briuin, in Connaught.  The three brothers and St. Goban evangelized in East Anglia and founded a monastery at Great Yarmouth, on the coast of the North Sea.  They did this circa 630.  England was politically divided in the 600s, for kingdoms waged wars against each other.  Thus it happened that, in 642, forces of the Kingdom of Mercia invaded East Anglia and destroyed the monastery at Great Yarmouth.

The four saints fled to Francia, where King Clovis II of Neustria and Burgundy (reigned 639-657) welcomed them.  In Francia they finished their days and completed their work.  St. Fursey evangelized with St. Blitharius of Seganne (died 600s), a Scottish-born monk also known as St. Blier.  St. Blitharius settled in Seganne, Champagne, where he died of natural causes.  St. Fursey founded a monastery at Ligny, in Neustria.  St. Foillan formed an association Sts. Itta of Metz and Gertrude of Nivelles, becoming the founding Abbot of Fosses, in modern-day Belgium.  He died on October 31, 655, after saying Mass.  Outlaws murdered him.  His brother, St. Ultan, succeeded him as abbot.

What about St. Goban?  He became a hermit in the forest near the Oise River and built a church and a hermitage near Premontre.  He died when bandits beheaded him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF STEVE DE GRUCHY, SOUTH AFRICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ARNULF OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND SAINT GERMANUS OF GRANFEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ETHELBERT OF KENT, KING

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT SOUTHWELL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Everlasting God,

you have sent your messengers

to carry the good news of Christ

into the world;

grant that we who commemorate

Saint Murin of Fahan,

Saint Laserian of Leighlin,

Saint Goban of Pirardie,

Saint Blitharius of Seganne,

Saint Fursey of Peronne,

Saint Foillan of Fosses,

and Saint Ultan of Peronne

may know the hope of the gospel

in our hearts

and show forth its light in all our ways;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 67 or 96

Acts 16:6-10

Matthew 9:35-38

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 682-683)

True Grit (2010)   3 comments

Above:  A Screen Capture of Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn

TRUE GRIT (2010)

Starring

Jeff Bridges as Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn

Matt Damon as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf

Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney

Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross

Based on the novel by Charles Portis

Music by Carter Burwell

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Rated PG-13

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True Grit is a powerful tale of justice, revenge, and mercy, and of the high cost the quest for vengeance exacts on the one who undertakes it.  Along the way the viewer encounters disturbing and unglamourous acts of violence (with the consequences being obvious), a dark cinematographic palate, excellent acting, a soundtrack replete with hymn tunes, and formal and intriguing dialogue almost entirely lacking in contractions.

Mattie Ross, the fourteen-year-old female protagonist, seeks revenge against Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father and fled Arkansas.  Steeped in the Bible and “an eye for an eye” notions of justice, she believes that one must pay for everything in this world; the only free thing is grace.  Mattie hires Rooster Cogburn, a frequently drunk U.S. Marshal known for being mean, to pursue Chaney.  That much constitutes seeking justice through legal means.  But Mattie really seeks revenge.  Convinced that God is looking out for her and noting that she has “a good horse,” Mattie dons her father’s coat and hat, carries his gun, and joins Cogburn and LaBoeuf, a Texas Ranger, on the manhunt.  The lawmen try to dissuade her, but Mattie’s true grit convinces them otherwise and wins their respect for her.

Mattie does not know, however, that her bloodlust will cost her a forearm, alter her personality, and transform her into a cranky spinster.  The decisions we make matter.  Mattie would have done well to leave law enforcement to legal officials.  And she should have left revenge to God.  That is also in the Old Testament.

The actors are wonderful.  Jeff Bridges portrays Cogburn as a gruff yet caring man, the individual who risks all to save Mattie’s life, if not her arm and personality.  Matt Damon’s preening Texas Ranger is the perfect foil to the frequently inarticulate Cogburn.  And Hailee Steinfeld, thirteen years old at the time of filming, spouts complex dialogue convincingly and makes her character the most formidable of all these three.

Carter Burwell’s score quotes old hymns, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”  This is especially appropriate for the movie, given that the arms of Rooster Cogburn save her life.  Yet there is more to it than that.  Justice and mercy balance each other.  Mattie’s problem is that she does not understand mercy.  So she acts in such a way that she loses an arm.  In a sense, she had only one arm all along.

I recommend True Grit as a worthwhile meditation on the high cost of violence and revenge.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/strengthen-us-good-lord/

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/true-grit-2010/

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