Archive for July 2012

Feast of Sts. Philibert and Aichardus of Jumieges (September 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of Gaul in 628 Common Era

SAINT PHILIBERT OF JUMIEGES (CIRCA 608-CIRCA 685)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from August 20

preceded

SAINT AICHARDUS OF JUMIEGES (DIED 687)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from September 15

St. Philibert was the son of Philiband, Bishop of Aire.  The saint, educated in the court of Dagobert I (reigned 623-639), King of Austrasia from 623 and of all Franks from 629, entered the monastery at Rabais at age twenty.  In time he became abbot, but left that post because of a dispute with some monks.  Next the saint founded the monastery at Jumieges in 654; Clovis II (reigned 639-657), King of Neustria and Burgundy, donated the land.   The saint also founded St. Benedict’s Abbey, Quincay, then the monastery at Jumieges.  And, at one point, he, under the authority of Ansoald, Bishop of Poiters, led the monastery at Lucon.

Not all was well between St. Philibert and the royal court, however.  He condemned Ebroin (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/feast-of-sts-drausinus-ansericus-vindician-and-leodegarius-march-7/ and https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/feast-of-sts-remaclus-of-maastricht-theodard-of-maastricht-lambert-of-mastricht-hubert-of-maastricht-and-liege-floribert-of-liege-landrada-of-munsterbilsen-plechelm-of-guelderland-otger-of-utrecht-and/), the perfidious Mayor of the Palace and a man with whom there was a paucity of virtue.  This political situation led to an exile of the saint on Herio Island, off the Atlantic coast.  During his exile the saint founded the monastery at Noirmoutier.  At least something positive came out of the situation.

The life of St. Philibert intersected with that of St. Aichardus.  This saint, educated at the Poitiers monastery, rejected his presumed career path–the military, where his father had made a life–and became a monk instead.  For thirty-nine years St. Aichardus lived at St. Jouin Abbey, Ansion.  Then he led St. Benedict’s Abbey, Quincay, which St. Philibert had founded.  Next St. Aichardus succeeded St. Philibert as abbot of the monastery at Jumieges.  This was the last post St. Aichardus held.  He did it well, leading by example and inspiring his 900 monks to live their rule strictly.

Men such as these proved crucial to preserving Western civilization.  All of us should thank God that they lived and fulfilled their vocations; I do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, by whose grace your servants  Saints Philibert and Aichardus of Jumieges,

kindled with the flame of your love, became bright and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

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.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

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Feast of St. Patiens of Lyons (September 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of Gaul in the Roman Empire

SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS (DIED CIRCA 480)

Roman Catholic Archbishop

The 400s CE (labeled that after that fact) intrigue me.  In Western Europe the Western Roman Empire faded away, the title of Emperor entering the dustbin of history in 476.  The empire had gone away by then; its demise had been gradual.  St. Patiens witnessed the end of the Western Roman Empire; he outlived his country.

St. Patiens functioned as Archbishop of Lyons from circa 450.  He lived simply, led successful missionary efforts, resisted Arianism, and gave his income to help the poor.  He also had to cope with an invasion of Goths and to feed to thousands of people and supervise the rebuilding of many church buildings in the wake thereof.  And he oversaw the construction (as opposed to repair and rebuilding) of other church buildings.  St. Patiens won the approval of St. Sidonius Apollinaris (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/feast-of-st-sidonius-apollinaris-st-eucherius-of-lyon-and-his-descendants-april-1/), who wrote a laudatory poem about him.

St. Patiens was also a peacemaker.  The Bishop of Chalon-sur-Saone had died.  For some reason or set of reasons this event had created serious dissension in that diocese.  So St. Euphonius of Autun invited St. Patiens to participate in the reconciliation process.  Our saint accepted, of course.

(Aside:  I found almost no information about St. Euphonius of Autun.  I discovered variations on his name and at least two different years in which he might have died.  In simple terms, I know too little to write about him intelligently.)

St. Patiens also commissioned a priest, Constantius, to write a biography of St. Gemanus of Auxerre (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/feast-of-sts-amator-of-auxerre-germanus-of-auxerre-mamertinus-of-auxerre-and-marcian-of-auxerre-april-20/).  This work became famous and preserved facts of that saint’s life.

It seems that the main work of St. Patiens was to rebuilt the part of Christ’s Church of which he was shepherd.  And he did it well.  Faithfulness has not guaranteed success, of course.  St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/feast-of-sts-gregory-thaumaturgus-and-alexander-of-comana-the-charcoal-burner-august-11/) began his episcopate with seventeen Christians, labored faithfully for decades, and died with seventeen Christians.  But tangible results must have bolstered the spirits of St. Patiens.

May we–you, O reader, and I–labor faithfully in the tasks God has appointed for us.  And, whether or not we see tangible results, may we not grow weary.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a  great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Saint Patiens of Lyons,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with him attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724

Feast of St. Paphnutius the Great (September 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Trinitarian Symbol

SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT (DIED CIRCA 350)

Also known as Saint Paphnutius the Confessor and Saint Paphnutius of Thebes

Roman Catholic Bishop of Upper Thebaid

Diocletian‘s Tetrarchy was still in effect in 306, when Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) became Augustus of the West.  From 310 to 313 his eastern counterpart was Mamiminus II Daia.  Reports of Constantine’s Christianity were greatly exaggerated, but Maximinus Daia was an unapologetic pagan and a severe persecutor of Christianity.  He, for example, required everyone in the eastern part of the Roman Empire to attend public sacrifices and to eat flesh of the sacrificial beasts.  And if one refused….Eusebius, in his great Ecclesiastical History, wrote of some of the faithful who became martyrs.  And others did not die yet suffered severely.  St. Paphnutius, for example was an Egyptian monk (under St. Anthony/Antony) who had become Bishop of Upper Thebaid.  His sentence was blinding in the right eye followed by hard labor in a mine.

In 313 Constantine I, as senior Augustus, pulled rank and ordered Maximinus II Daia to cease the persecution of Christians.  The junior Augustus obeyed reluctantly.  He knew what Constantine I did:  the future lay with the Church.  And although Constantine I was an opportunist who hitched the wagon of the Roman Empire to that star, Maximinus II Daia tried to resist the future.  That same year the junior Augustus died.  And his successor, Licinius, granted religious freedom to Christians in the East.

St. Paphnutius, released from the mine, became an ardent opponent of Arianism.  He also attended the Council of Nicaea (325), persuading the majority of his fellow bishops to permit married men to receive Holy Orders as priests and bishops although he opposed any post-ordination weddings.

Aside:  Follow this link (http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/a-preachers-kids-defense-of-clerical-continence/) to read my thoughts on sexual continence among the clergy.

I read accounts of saints such as St. Paphnutius and wonder how much I would be willing to suffer for Christ.  I am not nearly as courageous, I suspect.  Yet I have been fortunate, for nobody has put me to the test.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Saint Paphnutius the Great,

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

Feast of St. Nemesian of Sigum and His Companions (September 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of Numidia in 200 Common Era

SAINT NEMESIAN OF SIGUM (DIED 257)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Numidia

and His Companions:

Saint Davitus of Sigum

Saint Felix of Sigum (I)

Saint Felix of Sigum (II)

Saint Jader of Sigum

Saint Litteus of Sigum

Saint Lucius of Sigum

Saint Polyanus of Sigum

Saint Victor of Sigum

A crime is whatever a power defines it as being.  So it happened that these saints–bishops–were criminals because they were Christians.  Their sentence was hard labor at the marble quarry at Sigum, in northern Africa.  They died there.  Some died of mistreatment of various sorts while authorities executed others.  All were martyrs.

The Church survives yet the Roman Empire does not.  Need I say more?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Nemesian of Sigum,

Saint Davitus of Sigum

Saint Felix of Sigum (I),

Saint Felix of Sigum (II),

Saint Jader of Sigum,

Saint Litteus of Sigum,

Saint Lucius of Sigum,

Saint Polyanus of Sigum, and

Saint Victor of Sigum

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 St. Salvius of Albi (September 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of Gaul in 561

SAINT SALVIUS OF ALBI (DIED 584)

Roman Catholic Bishop

St. Salvius, a native of Albi, Gaul, became a lawyer then a magistrate before entering monastic life and living as a hermit.  He spent the last ten years of his life as Bishop of Albi.  As bishop the saint lived simply and aided the poor of the area.  He also ransomed prisoners of Mammolus, a patrician, at the city.  Yet the saint’s major claim to fame and holiness pertains to Chilperic I (reigned 561-584), King of Soissons.

Now I invite you, O reader, to follow the bouncing balls with me.

Gaul under Merovingian rule was Francia, seldom a unified realm.  When a king of all Franks died, his sons inherited parts of the kingdom.  They usually fought among themselves thereafter, bringing warfare to Francia.  Chilperic I was one of our sons of Clotaire/Lothair I (reigned 511-561), King of Soissons from 511 and King of all Franks from 558.  Chilperic I divorced one wife so he could marry Galeswintha, his sister-in-law.  Then he had her strangled and married his mistress, Frenegund.  Chilperic’s forces also fought those of his brother Sigibert I (reigned 561-575), King of Austrasia.  Frenegund had Sigibert assassinated, thus saving Chilperic from defeat and the loss of his realm.

Chilperic I was not a nice man.  And I have only begun to describe his perfidy.

Chilperic I also interfered with the church, trying to control it.  He committed simony when he sold bishoprics.  The king also fined young priests for not serving in the army.  And he annulled the wills of men who left large sums of money to the church.  The monarch also forbade the teaching of the doctrine of the Trinity as St. Gregory of Tours (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/feast-of-sts-gregory-of-langres-terticus-of-langres-gallus-of-clermont-gregory-of-tours-avitus-i-of-clermont-magnericus-and-gaugericus-january-4/) understood it.  St. Gregory, a historian on Francia, likened Chilperic I to Herod the Great and Nero.  That might have been an overreach, but harsh criticism of the monarch was justified.  The king, a pretentious man who wrote bad poetry and added four letters to the Latin alphabet, raised taxes steeply–for his own financial gain, not to benefit the kingdom.  And he did cause many people to die.

Both Sts. Gregory and Salvius opposed the offending policies and activities of Chilperic I, who increased his territory as brothers died.  Yet Chilperic began to change his mind and to back down after two of his sons died.  Maybe Sts. Gregory and Salvius proved to be persuasive.  And/or perhaps the aging monarch feared damnation.  Anyhow, he fell victim to an assassin in 584.  Next Frenegund ruled for a time as regent for their newborn son, Clotaire/Lothair II (reigned 584-629), King of Neustria from 584 and of all Franks from 613.  The price he paid for uniting Francia was to make concessions to nobles, setting the stage for the decline of Merovingian dynastic power and the rise of what became the Carolingian Dynasty.

Geeking out over French history is my right, my privilege, and a harmless activity, but now I return to the main purpose of this post–explaining the sanctity of St. Salvius.

St. Salvius, by opposing Chilperic I, placed himself at great risk, for people who proved inconvenient to the monarch ran the risk of turning up dead.  Yet the saint stood his ground while committing a host of good deeds for the benefit of people who could never repay him.  He, in fact, finished his days tending to plague victims.  His life overflowed with sanctity until the end.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant Saint Servius of Albi,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness

of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 718

Feast of St. Fiacre (September 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 628

SAINT FIACRE (DIED CIRCA 670)

Roman Catholic Hermit

St. Fiacre, orginally a hermit at Kilfiachra, Ireland, moved to Breuil, Francia, where St. Burdendofaro/Faro, Bishop of Meaux (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/feast-of-st-burgendofara-st-sadalberga-and-their-relatives-april-3/), gave him land.  There St. Fiacre lived in a hut and build a chapel dedicated to St. Mary, Mother of God (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-st-mary-of-nazareth-mother-of-god-august-15/).  He also build a guesthouse for travelers.  The busy saint also maintained a garden, the products of which he shared with the poor, the hungry, and the sick.  On the other hand, he refused to allow women to enter his chapel.  Legends offer possible explanations for this fact, but I think of Mount Athos, Greece, a monastic island where women are forbidden.  Perhaps St. Fiacre preferred to avoid temptation and thought of women as distractions from his holy vocation.

St. Fiacre is the patron of, among others, gardeners, taxi drivers in Paris, and those who suffer from venereal diseases.  The gardening patronage makes immediate sense, and the reason for the patronage of sufferers from venereal diseases pertains to sexual continence.  But Paris taxi drivers?  Hotel Saint-Fiacre, Paris, kept a fleet of carriages for its customers’ convenience in the sixteenth century.

I disagree with St. Fiacre with regard to women.  Both my parish priest and my denominational Presiding Bishop are female.  As a tee-shirt says of we Episcopalians, we both baptize and ordain women.  To recognize a person as a saint does not indicate that one agrees with him or her on every point.  For that matter, I disagree with everybody on at least one point, but this fact does not preclude me from standing on common ground with as many others as possible.

The old political mantra,

Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps

is a lie.  It also constitutes heresy when it enters theology.  That mantra ignores reality, which is that one’s own initiative and self-discipline are crucial yet insufficient.  The rest of the equation is access to opportunity.  And we depend on God for everything and on each other for a great deal.  So total dependence on God and interdependence on each other is our actual state.  St. Burgendofaro/Faro, an agent of God, gave St. Fiacre access to opportunity.  St. Fiacre, with God’s help, made the most of it for divine glory and human benefit.  But what might have happened had St. Burdendofaro/Faro not given St. Fiacre a little land?

So I ask you, O reader, to ponder a few questions:

  • Whom is God calling you to help?
  • From whom do you receive help?
  • From whom have you received help?
  • And what obligations does this help place upon you?

Grace is free, not cheap.  The example of St. Fiacre’s life indicates that he understood this spiritual reality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUGENIUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS SOLANO, “THE APOSTLE OF AMERICA”

THE FEAST OF ORANGE SCOTT, U.S. ABOLITIONIST AND FOUNDER OF THE WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, by whose grace your servant Saint Fiacre,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became a burning and a shining flame in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

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.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), Page 723

Posted July 13, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Saints of the 600s, September

Tagged with , ,

Feast of Thaddeus Stevens (August 12)   6 comments

Above:  The Honorable Thaddeus Stevens, 1860-1868

Image Source = Library of Congress

THADDEUS STEVENS (APRIL 14, 1792-AUGUST 11/12, 1868)

U.S. Abolitionist, Congressman, and Witness for Civil Rights

“The Great Commoner”

One of the advantages of keeping a calendar of saints on a blog is recognizing people–whether or not from a denomination’s authorized calendar.  Today I choose to recognize a saint who, to the best of my knowledge, does not occupy space on any church body’s calendar.  That fact constitutes an oversight on their part.  Many people–especially defensive Southerners with emotional attachments to the Confederacy–have heaped abuse on the reputation of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania.  Representations of him from the bad films The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Tennessee Johnson (1942) are laughably inaccurate.  Of course, the Klansmen were the heroes in The Birth of a Nation, a movie which should make a person cringe if it does not bore one into unconsciousness first.

I begin at the end.  Thaddeus Stevens lies buried in a cemetery at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a town where he had lived for many years.  His epitaph follows:

I repose in this quiet and secluded spot

Not from any natural preference for solitude

But, finding no other cemeteries limited as to Race by Charter Rules,

I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death

The Principles which I advocated through a long life

EQUALITY OF MAN BEFORE HIS CREATOR.

Thaddeus Stevens was born in Vermont on April 14, 1792.  He was the second of four children of Sarah Morrill, a devout Baptist, and Joshua Stevens, a shoemaker  and a surveyor.  Joshua, a man with “rather dissipated habits,” abandoned his family, leaving Sarah to raise her children.  She was devoted to them, and Thaddeus remained devoted to her until she died in 1854.

Our saint had a difficult personality.  Inborn traits might have had something to do with that fact, but so did his disability:  a lifelong limp caused by a clubfoot.  This caused much taunting during his youth.  And some thought of the disability as a curse from God.  That accusation of being cursed by God might have influenced Stevens never to join a church, not that he was estranged from the Bible or hostile to organized religion.  In fact, he knew the Bible very well, having kept a copy by his bedside throughout his life.  And, in the early 1850s, in an attempt to convince his mother to leave Vermont and move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where there was no Baptist congregation nearby, Stevens offered to pay split the construction costs for a Baptist church with the Baptists.  Sarah died first, however.

Well-educated, Stevens moved to Pennsylvania in 1815 and opened a law office at Gettysburg the following year.  In 1821 he was complicit in returning a slave woman and her children to servitude.  This troubled his conscience greatly, so he became a strong, uncompromising abolitionist.  Stevens was, in fact, chiefly responsible for the equalization of pay for White and African-American soldiers and the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in 1864.  He also favored Radical Reconstruction, with its insistence on enforcing the civil rights of former slaves.  And he worked hard to remove President Andrew Johnson (in office 1865-1869), an unapologetic racist and foe of the former slaves, from office.  The saint’s methods constituted an overreach, but his heart and mind were in the right place.  (Johnson had said of the former slaves,

Damn them!

To call him a twit is to understate the case greatly.)

As a man Stevens encouraged people to virtue and tried to act kindly, despite his acerbic tendencies.  He discouraged his nephew from drinking.  And Stevens was a kind employer to the workers at his iron works.  Steeped in the Bible, Stevens, as a state legislator in 1842, opposed capital punishment, stating,

Society ought to know nothing of vengeance.

Eight years earlier, he had pushed through the legislature a law creating free public schools in the commonwealth.  A year later, in 1835, he had prevented that law’s repeal.  The major complaint against free public schools was that some people did not want to pay for schools they did not intend to use.  But, Stevens rebutted, people already paid for courts and jails they did not intend to use.

Stevens, as a political creature, supported equality of access to opportunities for social advancement and personal improvement.  This led him to favor a strong role for the government in society, hence his support for public schools and for public works projects, such as those of Henry Clay’s proposed American System.  Stevens was a natural Federalist then Anti-Mason then Whig then Republican.  As I have explained to students in U.S. history courses, the political labels “Democratic” and “Republican” have been constant since 1854 yet the substance of them has changed more than once.  The fact that a certain historical figure fit into a particular political party in the 1800s does not mean that he or she would find a home there or in its successor today.  My readings about Stevens and my knowledge of modern U.S. politics cause me to conclude that he would not have fit easily into the post-Goldwater and Reagan Republican Party.  Certainly the Southern Strategy (appealing to Southern segregationists, beginning in the 1960s) would have offended his morality.

Stevens died about midnight on August 11-12, 1868, after having been ill for a while.  At the tail end of his life he received  a Roman Catholic baptism.  How conscious he was of this baptism was uncertain then and remains at least as uncertain today.  Yet we can be certain of the fact that there was a Protestant funeral him to rival the Roman Catholic funeral.

Professor Hans L. Trefousse, author of Thaddeus Stevens:  Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian (Chapel Hill, NC:  University of North Carolina Press, 1997), the main source of my notes for this post, concluded:

His policies often sounded harsh, whether vindictive or not, but his legacy made possible racial progress in the twentieth century, finally showing that his life had not been a failure.  Ahead of his time, he worked for an interracial democracy.  It was a goal for which he assuredly deserves to be remembered.

–page 245

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, WASHINGTON GLADDEN, AND JACOB RIIS, ADVOCATES OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil

and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Thaddeus Stevens,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.  

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60