Archive for June 2012

Feast of Colbert S. Cartwright (August 7)   2 comments

Above:  Girls Receiving an Education Via Television in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1958, After the Closure of Public Schools to Avoid the Racial Integration Thereof

Image Source = Library of Congress

COLBERT “BERT” SCOTT CARTWRIGHT (AUGUST 7, 1924-APRIL 13, 1996)

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Minister, Liturgist, and Witness for Civil Rights

As I add people to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I rely heavily on ecclesiastical calendars, feeling free to transfer feasts from one day to another and to merge commemorations.  It is my my calendar, after all.  Yet, as I read, I find references to individuals whom I think ought to be listed on a calendar of saints; more people should know about them.  Colbert S. Cartwright was such a person, so I add him to my calendar today.

Colbert “Bert” S. Cartwright, born in Coffeeville, Kansas, on August 7, 1924, to Lin and Inez Cartwright,  was a “Preacher’s Kid,” his father being the pastor of First Christian Church in town.  Bert earned his Bachelor of Arts from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1946, having joined to honor societies there.  He continued his studies at Yale Divinity School, receiving his Bachelor of Divinity in 1948 and his Master of Sacred Theology two years later.

Cartwright’s ministerial record was as follows:

  • First Christian Church, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1950-1953
  • Pulaski Heights Christian Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1954-1963
  • Central Christian Church, Youngstown, Ohio, 1964-1970
  • South Hills Christian Church, Fort Worth, Texas, 1971-1979
  • Area Minister, Trinity-Brazos Area (with offices in Fort Worth), 1979-1989

Cartwright retired in 1989.  He served on the committee which produced Chalice Hymnal (1995) before, despite his failing health, beginning work on Chalice Worship (1997), helping to bring it to manuscript form before he died.  O. I. Cricket Harrison, Cartwright’s collaborator on Chalice Worship, wrote the following about him:

As Colbert Cartwright and I began this voyage of discovery, seeking to craft a worship resource that would serve the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) well into the twenty-first century, he spoke candidly and often of the fragile nature of his health.  It is a testament to his indomitable spirit and his deep, abiding, and amazingly clear-sighted love for the church that Bert completed his work on Chalice Hymnal and the Chalice Hymnal Worship Leader’s Companion, as well as crafting this present volume into final manuscript form.  I pray that all those who use these resources will thank God for the many gifts of this servant of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was my honor, joy, and pleasure to work with Bert on Chalice Hymnal.

In 1987, when Cartwright was still Area Minister, the denomination published his book, People of the Chalice:  Disciples of Christ in Faith and Practice.  The book helped me understand more about a denomination to which I have never belonged.  It also told me much about him and his progressive and ecumenical priorities, which shine brightly there.  He used the pronoun “I” quite often.  For example, when writing against the death penalty yet admitting to internal satisfaction at the execution of violent criminals, he wrote:

My problem at this point is not that I am schizophrenic or hypocritical (though that is always a possibility) but that I am not my own master.  Whether I always like it or not, I must represent Christ.  I hope I shall ever grow to integrate Christ’s will more fully into my life.  But I feel I shall always represent something beyond my own limiting views and opinions.  Does not every Christian have this same experience?  We are not our own.  We are bought with a price.  A part of that price is subjecting our wills to that of Christ our Master.

–page 99

That commitment to the mind of Christ was evident during Cartwright’s ministry in Little Rock, Arkansas, from 1954 to 1963.   During that time the U.S. Supreme Court issued two Brown decisions (1954 and 1955) and the Federal government ordered the integration of Central High School in 1957.  The following school year, the local public schools closed rather than integrate.  This decision devastated many students for years and decades to come.  And I remind you, O reader, of the ferocity of the anger and hatred present in the anti-integration protests.  Pulaski Heights Christian Church, Cartwright’s pastorate, had an admirable history of progressive social justice actions.  (It still does.  He preached a pro-civil rights sermon the Sunday after the first Brown decision in 1954.  The Arkansas Gazette newspaper printed extended excerpts from that sermon.  Cartwright also marched with the students who integrated Central High School in 1957, helped form then led the Arkansas Council of Human Relations from 1955 to 1963, worked with the American Friends Service Committee to build community unity after 1958, and engaged in interfaith pro-civil rights activism.  All of this required much courage.  And Colbert’s stance prompted some people to leave his congregation in protest.  But he did the right thing.  And the stained-glass windows in the new (1959) worship space of Pulaski Heights Church honor his “courage and conviction.”

So do I.  And I hope that you, O reader, will join me in doing so.  And perhaps his example will inspire you do to something daring for the glory of God and the benefit of your fellow discriminated-against human beings, whether individually or as a congregation.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant

Colbert “Bert” Scott Cartwright,

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

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

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

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.  

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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A Review of Chalice Worship:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/chalice-worship-1997/

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Feast of Sts. Gregory Thaumaturgus and Alexander of Comana “the Charcoal Burner” (August 11)   2 comments

Above:  Pontus and Syria in the Roman Empire, 150 Common Era

SAINT GREGORY THAUMATURGUS (CIRCA 213-268)

Also known as Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea and Saint Gregory the Wonder-Worker

Roman Catholic Bishop of Neocaesarea

His feast transferred from November 17

ordained

SAINT ALEXANDER OF COMANA “THE CHARCOAL BURNER” (DIED CIRCA 251)

Roman Catholic Martyr and Bishop of Comana, Pontus

His feast = August 11

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (circa 213-268) was born at Neocaesarea, Pontus, Asia Minor, where he studied law.  About 233 the saint, his brother, his sister, and her husband were en route to Beirut when they stopped at Caesarea, Syria.  There they met Origen, who converted them to Christianity.  They remained there for years instead of going on to Beirut.  And they became disciples of Origen.

About 238 St. Gregory returned to Neocaesarea, where he intended to practice law.  But all seventeen Christians there named him their bishop instead.  He tended to the flock for three decades, helping his parishioners survive a plague, a siege, and the Decian persecution.  And, when the saint died, he still had only seventeen members in his flock.

St. Gregory earned his great reputation.  He was allegedly a wonder-worker, hence his surname.  But he did argue against two heresies.  The first was Tritheism, which was, as the term indicates, three deities instead of one one in the Trinity.  The other heresy was Sabellianism, which argued that God the Father projected Himself as God the Spirit on some occasions and as God the Son on others.  This understanding of the Holy Trinity contradicted the unchanging, stable divine transcendence upon which Origen insisted.  (Origen favored the Son and the Spirit as being generated eternally from the Father.)  Speaking of Origen, St. Gregory defended his controversial teacher against strong criticisms.

St. Gregory needed to appoint a Bishop of Comana, Pontus (not to be confused with Comana, Cappadocia), some time prior to 251.  He interviewed various candidates and found none of them acceptable.  Then someone suggested sarcastically that the Bishop of Neocaesarea speak to St. Alexander the Charcoal Burner.  St. Gregory did and behold, he found that St. Alexander was a wise and holy man suited to serve as bishop.  St. Alexander died for his faith circa 251, during the Decian persecution.

Sometimes we labor hard for God and do not see spectacular results.  How often might St. Gregory have become discouraged because of the lack of church growth, other than to replace people who died, moved away, or fell way?  But, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.  Today churches around the world bear the name “St. Gregory the Wonder-Worker.”  Perhaps keeping the faith was his greatest wonder.  Certainly his legacy has endured.

And, as for St. Alexander, I propose him as the patron of all with unexpected vocations, of everyone whom others underestimate and scorn unjustly.  Each of us has a variety of spiritual gifts and vocations, some of them not obvious even to us.  The man who suggested sarcastically that St. Gregory interview that charcoal burner had no idea what he setting in motion.

Wherever we are, whomever we are, regardless of the challenges we face, may we find our vocations in God.  The may we live into them, for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of our people,

we thank you for your holy servants

Saints Gregory Thaumaturgus and Saint Alexander of Comana “the Charcoal Burner,”

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their example and the teaching of their holy lives,

may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of St. Victricius of Rouen (August 7)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in the Roman Empire

SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN (CIRCA 330-CIRCA 407)

Roman Conscientious Objector and Roman Catholic Bishop

St. Victricius was born near the Schedlt River in Roman Gaul (now the border region of France and Belgium).  His father was a soldier, and the saint also pursued a military career.  Then, one day, he converted to Christianity.  Taking up arms ceased to be a possibility for him.  Flogged and sentenced to death for turning into a conscientious objector, the saint escaped death somehow and obtained a discharge from the army.

The saint preached for a time before becoming Bishop of Rouen circa 386.  He encouraged monasticism, fostered missionary work in what is now Belgium, and founded parishes.  In 396 he traveled to England to settle a dispute (the subject of which I cannot find a record) among several bishops.  Late in his life the saint also faced an allegation of heresy (undefined in the sources I consulted), but Pope Innocent I (reigned 401-417) cleared him of the charge.  The Bishop of Rouen also wrote The Praise of Saints, which survives.

I have noticed that governments disapprove of violence not their own.  So to engage in violence of which the state disapproves is a crime but so is to refuse to commit violence which the same state sanctions, depending on where and when one lives.  Although I am not a thorough-going pacifist, I respect those who are.  May no government or person harass them.

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Dear Jesus, whom agents of the Roman Empire, which made a desert and called it peace, crucified,

we praise you and rejoice for the witness for nonviolence which was the life of your servant

Saint Victricius of Rouen.

Inspired by his example, may we live nonviolently,

seeking peace with each other.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Lamentations 3:25-36

Psalm 11

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Matthew 5:38-42

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASILIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT IRANAEUS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF RANDOLPH ROYALL CLAIBORNE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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Feast of St. Peter Julian Eymard (August 2)   2 comments

Above:  Lutheran Eucharistic Adoration

SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD (FEBRUARY 4, 1811-AUGUST 1, 1868)

Founder of the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Priests’ Eucharistic League, and the Organizer of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament

Growing up in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., I knew that I was out of place.  One piece of evidence to support this reality was the fact of my piety, centered on the Holy Communion, which the congregations celebrated  quarterly.  So I have high regard for St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), who encouraged devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

The saint, born at La Mure d’Isere, near Grenoble, France, in 1811, was a cutler and the son of a cutler.  (A cutler, by the way, made, repaired, and sold knives and other cutting instruments.)  He entered seminary at Grenoble in 1831.  Ordained a priest four years later, the saint engaged in pastoral work until 1840, when he joined the Marists, becoming (in time) the spiritual director of a school at Belley.  In 1845 he became the Marist provincial at Lyons.

The saint had always been devoted to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  In 1856 the Bishop of Paris approved his plan for an order of priests devoted to the perpetual celebration of the Blessed Sacrament; this order was the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament.  Two years later the saint founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a similar order for nuns.  Pope Pius IX approved the priestly order during the saint’s lifetime; Pope Leo XIII approved the monastic order in 1895.  The saint also founded the Priests’ Eucharistic League and organized the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

The saint wrote books about his favorite sacrament. One quote I found at a saints website follows:

The Holy Eucharist is the perfect expression of the love of Jesus Christ for man, since it is the quintessence of His life.

I agree.  And I am grateful that the 1979 Book of Common Prayer declares the Holy Eucharist to be the central act of Christian worship and the default service in The Episcopal Church.  Through the 1928 Prayer Book, in contrast, Morning Prayer was the usual ritual.

The saint died at La Mure on August 1, 1868, after a stroke.  Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1962.

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Blessed Lord Jesus Christ,

whom we know in the breaking of the bread and in the drinking of wine,

thank you for the witness and life and your servant

Saint Peter Julian Eymard.

May it inspire us to seek you more often

or to continue to seek you frequently

in the sacrament of his body and blood.  Amen.

Exodus 16:1-16

Psalm 23

Romans 1:1-7

Luke 24:13-35

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASILIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT IRANAEUS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF RANDOLPH ROYALL CLAIBORNE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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Feast of St. William Pinchon (July 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  England and France, 1152-1327 Common Era

SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON (1175-1234)

a.k.a. Saint William of Saint-Brieuc

Roman Catholic Bishop

His feast transferred from July 29

July 29, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is the sole province of the Feast of Sts. Mary and Martha of Bethany, Friends of Jesus.  So, on my calendar, St. William Pinchon’s feast day is July 30, not July 29, when Rome recognizes his commemoration.

St. William Pinchon (1175-1234) was a Breton, a native of Brittany, a part of France which is historically, culturally, and linguistically distinct from the rest of that nation.  A priest at Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, the saint became bishop of that diocese in 1220.  He cared for the poor and had a reputation for holiness.  These were not the reasons for his exile (1228-1230) to Poitiers.

Peter I, Duke of Brittany (reigned 1213-1237) liked power.  He sought to seize church lands for himself.  (Land has, as a matter of history, been a basis of wealth and power.)  The bishops stymied these efforts.  What the Duke could not take he tried to tax.  The bishops stymied him again.  The Duke even lived under an excommunication decree from 1219 to 1221.  And the Duke, in his struggles against the Church, exiled St. William Pinchon for two years.  Yet the saint returned to his diocese in 1230, dying there four years later.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 1247.

My reading taught me that the Breton bishops controlled vast tracts of land and ran some cities.  So I understand that the political reality was that ecclesiastical authority diminished ducal power.  One might evaluate these facts one way through a post-Enlightenment and/or mainly Protestant lens yet differently through a more traditional Roman Catholic and/or pre-Enlightenment one.  I grasp that fact, and I am not entirely unsympathetic to Duke Peter I.  But was exile necessary?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including Saint William Pinchon.

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of Sts. Philip Evans and John Lloyd (July 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Wales

SAINT PHILIP EVANS (1645-1679)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

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SAINT JOHN LLOYD (DIED 1679)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Today I honor two Welsh martyrs whose crime was to be Roman Catholic priests.  I have commented in other posts about British martyrs on why religious persecution is wrong, so I choose to let those remarks stand while I proceed to the historical details.

St. Philip Evans, educated at St. Omer Monastery in France, became a Jesuit in 1665, at age 20.  Ten years later, at Liege, he entered the priesthood then embarked for his Welsh mission.  For three years Evans ministered there.

St. John Lloyd, educated at Ghent (now in Belgium, but a Hapsburg domain) and at Valladolid, Spain (also a Hapsburg domain at the the time).  Ordained at Valladolid in 1653, he began this twenty-four-year long Welsh mission the following year.

1678 was a bad year to be a Roman Catholic priest on the island of Great Britain.  (There were many such years in in the 1600s.)  But, in 1678, there was a fictional plot by Roman Catholic to assassinate King Charles II.  (This was ironic, given the Roman Catholic sympathies of the House of Stuart.)  Anyway, a wave of anti-Roman Catholic hysteria swept the land,where authorities political and religious had planted, watered, and nurtured anti-Roman Catholicism for a long time.  And hysterical people did not check facts, to confirm or refute them.  So the two priest-martyrs became prisoners. They became casualties of hysteria and religious bigotry.  Their crime was to be priests, a charge considered on par with committing treason.  They died at Cardiff on July 22, 1679.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized them in 1970.

Sources I have consulted list different feast days:  July 22 and 23.  The former is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, however, so it seems that July 23 is the preferred date.  I prefer it, for I have reserved July 22 for St. Mary Magdalene on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

I desire to make some comments about hysteria and religious bigotry.  Both are sinful and irrational.  I am a Christian by choice.  It is the faith of my upbringing, but I chose a long time ago to cast my lot with Jesus, and I intend not to commit apostasy, as many have.  My religious education includes comparative religion, so my choice to remain a Christian is an informed one.  This does not mean that I am hostile to all other traditions, just that I am certain of my choice and wish that more people would share it.  I have taught students from a variety of religious backgrounds and opinions.  Muslims have been among them.  And none of these followers of Allah have been dangerous people, such as militants or potential terrorists.  No Salafists, Wahabis, or suicide bombers have signed up for my courses.  Lived Islam for the great majority of Muslims is peaceful and charitable.  There is a difference between Islam and Islamism, in other words.  So I take this opportunity to refute anti-Muslim fear, hatred, and hysteria, which seems more pervasive in the United States in 2012 than a decade ago.

Likewise I refute any anti-Roman Catholic fear, hatred, and hysteria at any time and place.  Roman Catholics are, of course, my coreligionists on the opposite side of the Tiber River.  Parts of their ecclesiology and other aspects of their theology keep me on my side of the river, but I claim them as brother and sister Christians.  And Sts. Philip Evans and John Lloyd are among my forebears in faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Philip Evans and Saint John Lloyd

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 714

Feast of Sts. Flavian II of Antioch and Elias of Jerusalem (July 20)   1 comment

Above:  Europe in 526 Common Era

SAINT FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH (DIED 512)

Roman Catholic Patriarch

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SAINT ELIAS OF JERUSALEM (DIED 518)

Roman Catholic Patriarch

His feast transferred from July 4

Before I write about these saints I must provide background information.

Nestorianism is a heresy derived from Nestorius (died circa 451), Bishop of Constantinople (428-431).  He refused to accept St. Mary of Nazareth as Mother of God.  (If Jesus was God incarnate and Mary was his mother, she was the Mother of God.  It is simple logic.)  In the mind of Nestorius the human Jesus and the divine Christ–two natures–coexisted in the same person but were conjoined.  In other words, they were both there but were independent of each other.  This was the “Siamese twins” understanding of how Jesus was both human and divine.  (I have simplified a profound theological statement, I know.)  The Council of Ephesus (431) condemned Nestorianism, the legacy of which persists in the (Assyrian) Church of the East, the (Indian) Christians of Saint Thomas, and offshoots.  The Chaldean Rite of the Roman Catholic Church formed when former Nestorians reunited with Rome.

Twenty years after the Council of Ephesus the Council of Chalcedon (451) declared that Jesus Christ had two natures–human and divine–which shared with each other.  (I know, I have simplified a profound theological doctrine again.)  This Definition of Chalcedon became part of the standard of Christological orthodoxy in Christianity.  Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Protestants accept it.  Yet the Nestorians and Monophysites do not.

After the Council of Chalcedon there arose Monophysitism, a heresy which holds that Jesus Christ had just one nature–a divine one.  Eutyches (circa 375-circa 454), early spokesman for Monophysitism, explained that Christ’s divine nature had absorbed his human one.

The Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire was a place where Christological disputes led to political discord and had the potential to lead to insurrections.  If a bishop’s Christology differed from that of the emperor, there might be trouble for that bishop.  The religious-political realities of the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire make me grateful for the separation of church and state.

In 482 Emperor Zeno (reigned 474-491), as part of an effort to bring peace to his realm, issued the Henotican (Decree of Union) on his authority.  The document condemned Nestorius and Eutyches, affirmed the Incarnation, avoided saying how many natures Jesus had, and condemned any heresy

whether advanced at Chalcedon or any synod whatever.

The eastern bishops signed, but the Monophysites were not satisfied.  And, in 484, the Pope excommunicated Zeno.  The next emperor, Anastasius I (reigned 491-518), also supported the Henotican.  Only in 518, with the accession of Justin I (reigned 518-527), of whose religious policies Rome agreed, did the rift between and Constantinople and Rome end.

Now for the saints….

St. Flavian II of Antioch (died 512) had been a Syrian monk who represented the Patriarch of Antioch at the imperial court at Constantinople.  Then he had become the Patriarch of that see in 498.  As Patriarch St. Flavian II objected to the Henotican.  Thus Anastasius I arranged for Flavian II’s deposition and exile in 512.  The saint died at Petra, Arabia, that year.

St. Elias of Jerusalem (died 518) was a monastery-educated Arab.  Timothy the Cat, the (Monophysite) Patriarch of Alexandria, had exiled him from that see.  So the saint moved to Palestine, where he became a priest.  In 494 he became Patriarch of Jerusalem.  He also opposed the Henotican, hence his exile in 513.  The saint died at Aila, on the Red Sea, in 518.

I hear certain analogies used much too casually.  Some people (including many pundits and politicans) have what comedian Lewis Black calls “Nazi Tourette’s Syndrome.”  My own Congressman (for whom I have never voted, I am glad to admit) has Nazi-Hitler-Stalin Tourett’e’s Syndrome.  I have written him and told him so.  The problem with comparing anyone to the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, or Joseph Stalin–or, ironically, both at once, for Hitler was an anti-Communist–is that this trivializes the crimes of the Nazis, Hitler, and Stalin.  There is an old joke about food:

It tastes like chicken.

Then chicken must taste like everything.  Likewise, to use the Nazi, Hitler, or Stalin analogies causally reduces monsters to punchlines.

Likewise, one should use the label “religious persecution” carefully.  When a potentate exiles bishops over doctrinal differences, that is religious persecution.  When a person in authority orders the deaths and/or imprisonments of people based on religious differences, that is religious persecution.  When a government outlaws a religion, that is religious persecution. In my nation, the United States, during World War I (1917-1918 for us), the federal government imprisoned Amish and Mennonite conscientious objectors.  That was religious persecution.  It was also a betrayal of founding principles.  James Madison, one of the Founding Fathers, went further than many of his generation (and those after it).  Madison, the author of the First Amendment, argued for a strict separation of church and state.  The state should know nothing of the church, he said.  This was for the protection of the church from the state.  I agree with his standard, one never observed in this nation, so far as I can tell.  But I do live in a land with freedom of worship.  No government is closing down churches, and neither is there a state church.  I see no federal persecution of religion in 2012. I recognize policy disagreements between the federal government and some denominations, but that is not persecution.  In society we all have to pay for things we find objectionable.  If this were not so, we might not pay for much of anything.  In the early 1980s, staffers at the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren, a historically pacifistic denomination, pooled money from their Reagan tax cuts, bought thirty pieces of silver, and mailed them to the White House with a note protesting cuts in domestic programs to help the poor.  They received only a patronizing note in return.  But they did not  face persecution at any point, even though they did have to pay for wars to which they objected.

Here ends the lesson.

Incarnated God, whose glory we see in Jesus of Nazareth,

fully human and fully divine,

we thank you for the holy examples of your servants

Saint Flavian II of Antioch and Saint Elias of Jerusalem.

And we mourn them and all others who have suffered

(and who continue to suffer today)

because of religious intolerance.

May all who claim you as Savior, Lord, and God

follow you in spirit and in truth.

And, if persecution comes, may they cling to you tenaciously.

Furthermore, may those who persecute cease to do so,

and may persecution not arise where it does not exist.

In the Name of Jesus Christ,

who suffered, died, and rose again, the first-fruits from the dead.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Jeremiah 20:7-18

Psalm 26

Revelation 5:1-14

Matthew 5:1-16 or John 1:1-5

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DELPHINUS OF BORDEAUX, AMANDUS OF BORDEAUX, SEVERINUS OF BORDEAUX, VENERIUS OF MILAN, AND CHROMATIUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF ANSON DODGE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF BERNARD MIZEKI, ANGLICAN CATECHIST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF VERNARD ELLER, CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN THEOLOGIAN

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