Archive for December 2015

Feast of St. Benedict the African (April 4)   Leave a comment

St. Benedict the African

Above:  Icon of St. Benedict the African

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BENEDICT THE AFRICAN (1526-APRIL 4, 1589)

Franciscan Friar and Hermit

Also known as Saint Benedict the Moor and Saint Benedict the Black

St. Benedict the African embodied the virtue of humility.

The saint’s parents were Christianized African slaves in Sicily.  They had even received Italian names–Cristoforo Manasseri and Diana Manasseri.  Their masters deemed them to be loyal servants.  As a result their son entered the world at San Fratello in 1526 as a free person.

St. Benedict manifested virtues throughout his lifetime.  He, a member of the peasant class, was, like most members of his class, illiterate.  He worked as a shepherd during his youth, giving to the poor readily.  At age 21 St. Benedict joined an independent group of Franciscan hermits.  For about seven years he worked as a cook.  Then, at age 28, he became the leader of that group.  Pope Pius IV ended the existence of independent monastic groups in 1564, so St. Benedict joined the Order of Friars Minor at the Friary of St. Mary of Jesus, Palermo, Sicily.  He began as a cook, became the master of novices eventually, served a term as the superior, and ended his days as a cook again.  (St. Benedict enjoyed cooking.)  The respected monk was a sought-out counselor and a humble man.

St. Benedict died at Palermo on April 4, 1589.

Leadership is important in societies, organizations, and political systems.  Too often those who aspire to positions of leadership seek their own good, even if that is merely the maintenance of one’s ego.  I have watched this play out on small states–in rural congregations.  Some of the people who have exercised authority–with or without a title–have had dysfunctional egos.  Those with inadequate self-images have used authority to feel better about themselves, and those with out-of-control egos have used authority to confirm their self-images.  Other people and the congregations themselves have paid the high price for dysfunctional egos.

Among the theological terms I find bothersome in its traditional English translation is “fear of God,”  The word “fear,” in contemporary usage, conveys one concept, which differs from what that term is supposed to convey.  The proper meaning of “fear of God” is being awe-struck in the presence of God, therefore aware of one’s inadequacy compared to God.  That is a healthy spiritual state of being, one which fosters humility.

Leadership, especially in the Church–is properly about building up the faith community.  Status, as a means of boosting a sagging ego or demonstrating one’s perceived superiority, has no proper place.  In church we are supposed to glorify, God, not ourselves.

St. Benedict the African understood that lesson well and acted accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

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O God, by whose grace your servant St. Benedict the African,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light 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

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

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Feast of James Lloyd Breck (April 2)   3 comments

James Lloyd Breck

Above:  James Lloyd Breck

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES LLOYD BRECK (JUNE 27, 1818-APRIL 2, 1876)

“The Apostle of the Wilderness”

James Lloyd Breck did more to expand the Church in  34 years than did most church members do in more time than that.

Breck was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The fourth of six children of George Breck (1785-1869) and Catherine Douce Israel Breck (1789-1864) attended the Flushing Institute, which William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) had founded.  At that school the sixteen-year-old Breck resolved to become a missionary.  Our saint continued his studies at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., 1838), and the General Theological Seminary, New York (1838-1841).

Breck, a deacon when 1842 dawned, became a priest by the end of the year.  The newly-minted clergyman went west to Wisconsin, where he, with three former classmates from seminary, founded Nashotah House as a monastic community, missions headquarters, and seminary.

After a few years Breck left for a new mission field–Minnesota.  There he served as a military chaplain, founded congregations and schools, and started missionary work among the Ojibwa and the Chippewa, laying the foundations for the education of indigenous priests.  On August 11, 1855, Breck married Jane Maria Mills (1823-1862), a teacher among the Ojibwa.  They had two children–William Augustus Muhlenberg Breck (1856-1920), who became an Episcopal priest, and Charles Renwick Breck (born in 1858).  His congregation at Faribault, Minnesota, became the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, the first cathedral in The Episcopal Church.  At Faribault our saint founded Seabury Divinity Hall, now part of the Bexley-Seabury Federation.  In 1864 Breck married his second wife, Sarah E. Styles (1819-1877).

Breck’s final mission field was California, where he and a group of missionaries arrived in 1867.  Our saint settled in Benicia, founded five parishes, and established two schools.  He died at Benicia on April 2, 1876, after an illness about a week in duration.

Archive.org offers two biographies of Breck:

  1. The Life of James Lloyd Breck, D.D., Chiefly from Letters Written by Himself (1883), compiled by his older brother, Charles Breck, D.D. (1816-1891); and
  2. An Apostle of the Wilderness:  James Lloyd Breck, D.D., His Missions and His Schools (1903), by Theodore I. Holcombe.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

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Teach your Church, O Lord, we pray, to value and support

pioneering and courageous missionaries, whom you call,

as you called your servant James Lloyd Breck,

to preach, and teach, and plant your Church on new frontiers;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Joshua 24:14-18

Psalm 145:1-7

1 Corinthians 3:4-11

Mark 4:26-32

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 303

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Feast of Frederick Denison Maurice (April 1)   3 comments

Frederick Denison Maurice

Above: Portrait (1854) of Frederick Denison Maurice, by Jane Mary Hayward

Image in the Public Domain

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FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE (AUGUST 29, 1805-APRIL 1, 1872)

Anglican Priest and Theologian

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INTRODUCTION

In 1843 Karl Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses.”  Indeed, one of the uses of religion by the powerful has been as just that, so that, for example, the peasants might not rebel again this year.  In the same year that Marx wrote his famous comment about religion Frederick Denison Maurice wrote,

We have been dosing our people with religion when what they want is not this but the living God.

–Quoted in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 300

Although Marx opposed theism, Maurice favored it.

(John) Frederick Denison Maurice, son of a Unitarian minister, became a great Anglican divine.    Our saint, a native of Normaston, Suffolk, England, debuted on August 29, 1805.  His mother left the Unitarianism for the Calvinistic Baptists when he was ten years old.  That religious change disrupted the family’s harmonious home life.  Our saint, still a Unitarian as a young man, lived with an Evangelical (Low Church) Anglican family in London while preparing the study civil law at Trinity College, Cambridge University.  He graduated in 1827 but could not received his degree because he was a dissenter.  Maurice moved to London, where he edited the London Literary Chronicle until 1830.  Next he edited the Athenaeum briefly.  Then our saint, a newly-minted member of The Church of England, entered Exeter College, Oxford, to study for the priesthood.

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SIMULTANEOUSLY REVOLUTIONARY AND CONSERVATIVE

(“Conserve” is the root word of “conservative.”)

Maurice, a priest from 1834, was simultaneously revolutionary and conservative during an age when the spectre of the French Revolution (1789-1799) haunted the fears of many in Britain.  He served as the Curate of Bubbenhall, Warwickshire, then as the Chaplain of Guy’s Hospital.  In Subscription No Bondage, or the Practical Advantages Afforded by the Thirty-Nine Articles as Guides in All the Branches of Academic Education (1835) our saint defended the Articles as requirements in universities, an opinion he did not change.  From 1840 to 1853 he was Professor of English History and Literature (doubling as the Chair of Divinity from 1846 to 1853) at King’s College.  During this time Maurice began his service as the Chaplain at Lincoln’s Inn, for students.  Theological Essays (First Edition, 1853; Second Edition, 1854; Third Edition, 1871) prompted allegations of heresy and forced his resignation from King’s College yet not from the Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn.

Our saint’s theology of sin and the Atonement alarmed many people to his right.  Maurice noted that human sin was the actual beginning point for much of Christian theology.  He considered this an error.  The proper beginning of Christian theology, Maurice argued, was Christ, specifically his restoration of people to their true lives as bearers of the image of God.  God, our saint wrote, had created and redeemed all people in Christ, only in whom all people can find their proper identity.  Maurice defined sin as the refusal to acknowledge Christ as central, leading to the effort to establish false independence from God.  Thus Christ, in the thought of our saint, was the transformer and converter of societies.

Related to this theological position was the assertion that members of all social classes were “in it together,” to use words far less eloquent than Maurice’s.  Thus the proper solution to social problems, especially those related to class (in the rigid British class system and in the context of the economic chasm separating the haves from the have nots) was for people to become aware of their fraternity for each other across class lines and to act accordingly.  Our saint, with Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), a founder of British Christian Socialism, was therefore to the right of other Christian Socialists, for he disagreed on the topic of tactics.

Christian Socialism is the assertion of God’s order.  Every attempt to bring it forth I honour and desire to assist.  Every attempt to hide it under a great machinery, call it Organization of Labour, Central Board, or what you like, I must protest against as hindering the gradual development of what I regard as a divine purpose, as an attempt to create a new constitution of society, when what we want is that the old constitution should exhibit its true function and energies.

–Quoted in John C. Cort, Christian Socialism:  An Informal History (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 1988), page 147

The revolution Maurice sought was first spiritual then economic and political, not the other way around.  Aubrey de Vere, a critic from our saint’s left, complained,

Listening to Maurice is like eating pea soup with a fork.

–Quoted in Cort, Christian Socialism (1988), page 142

Maurice sought reconciliation and unity yet found himself persona non grata in many ecclesiastical quarters.  On his left he faced allegations of heresy and sympathized with the oppressed and the downtrodden.  Our saint also encouraged his students to consider and act on the social implications of the Gospel, something which entailed changing society.  His theology of eternal life, grounded in the definition (knowing God via Christ) of that term in the Gospel of John, caused some to accuse him of heresy.  Maurice’s masterpiece, The Kingdom of Christ (First Edition, 1838; Second Edition, 1842–Volumes I and II), denounced religious partisanship and laid the foundations of Anglican ecumenism.  Although our saint affirmed Apostolic Succession and the episcopal office, he, unlike many Tractarians, refused to classify those who had abandoned those traditions as being outside the fold.   God was the only proper judge of that matter, Maurice insisted.

On the right Maurice, a Broad (as opposed to Low or High) Churchman, opposed Higher Criticism of the Bible and certain economic and political structures which many of his fellow Christian Socialists favored.  He also insisted on six signs of the Church:

  1. Baptism, which he called “the sacrament of constant union,”
  2. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed,
  3. The Book of Common Prayer,
  4. The Holy Eucharist,
  5. Holy Orders, and
  6. The Bible.

These were essential, our saint insisted.  Of the liturgy he wrote:

I do not think we are to praise the liturgy but use it.  When we do not want it for our life, we may begin to talk of it as a beautiful composition.

–Quoted in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 300

Maurice practiced what he preached.  The Church, he said, must educate and stimulate the public conscience.  He fulfilled his role in that effort.  Our saint helped to found Queen’s College, London (1848), for women and served as its first Principal.  Six years later he helped to found the Working Men’s College, London, and served as its first Principal.  He also founded cooperatives for workers.

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OTHER DETAILS

Maurice’s career during his final years played out in London and Cambridge.  From 1860 to 1869 he was the Incumbent of St. Peter’s, Vere Street, London.  In 1866 he became Professor of Casuistry and Moral Theology at Cambridge.  And, from 1870 to 1872, our saint served as the Incumbent of St. Edward’s, Cambridge.

The definition of casuistry, according to Funk and Wagnalls New Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language–Britannica World Language Edition (1956), is:

The science or doctrine of resolving doubtful cases of conscience or questions of right or wrong according to the injunctions or sacred books or of individual authority or social conventions, rather than on grounds of moral reason.

Maurice married twice.  His first wife, Anna Barton, died in 1845, leaving him to raise to young boys.  Our saint’s second wife was Georgiana Hare.

Maurice wrote and published much.  I found links to many of his works at archive.org during the research phase of the development of this post.  Others also wrote and published about him, both positive and negative.  I also found such works at archive.org.  I have decided, however, to forgo creating a catalog of those in this post and to refer you, O reader, to that website.

Maurice died at Cambridge on April 1, 1872, which was Easter Sunday, as he prepared to receive the Holy Eucharist.

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CONCLUSION

If I had established complete agreement with someone as a standard for sainthood, this Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days would never have come into existence.  Although I disagree with Maurice regarding much, I also agree with him regarding much more.  My bottom line is that Maurice was worthy of inclusion on calendars of saints.  I have therefore followed the lead of The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, and The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

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Almighty God, you restored our human nature to heavenly glory

through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ:

Keep alive in your Church, we pray, a passion for justice and truth;

that, like your servant Frederick Denison Maurice,

we may work and pray for the triumph of the kingdom of your Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Genesis 33:1-10

Psalm 72:11-17

Ephesians 3:14-19

John 18:33-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 301

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Feast of John Wright Buckham (March 30)   1 comment

John Wright Buckham

Above:  John Wright Buckham

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN WRIGHT BUCKHAM (NOVEMBER 5, 1864-MARCH 30, 1945)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

Hymns of John Wright Buckham appear in few hymnals these days.  That is unfortunate, for he poured theological substance and poetic skill into them.  Consider, O reader, “Hills of God, Break Forth in Singing” (1898), a Christmas hymn:

Hills of God, break forth in singing;

Winds, breathe balm on every shore;

Stars, your glittering gems far flinging,

Lead to Jesus evermore;

Whisper, pines, where tempests sweep;

Palms, by angels stirred from sleep,

Jesus comes, in love bend low.

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Vanish, warfare, from the nations;

Cease, all cries of pain and grief;

Hush, drear sighs and lamentations;

Jesus comes to bring relief.

Sing, O silent tongue of dumb;

Leap, O lame man, as the hart;

Joy to poor, to bruised, to bond!

Jesus comes to bear your part.

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Chant high praises, young man, maiden;

Age, your songs are not all sung;

Children, with glad hearts love-laden,

Sing the Child who makes all young:

Haste, O Messengers of peace,

Swift through all the wide world run,

Gladness speak, love, hope, release;

Joy! for Christ the Lord is come.

–Quoted in The Pilgrim Hymnal (1904)

O God, Above the Drifting Years” (1916), which Buckham wrote for the fiftieth anniversary of the Pacific Theological Seminary/Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California, is available at my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Buckham was a scholar from an academic family.  The native of Burlington, Vermont, debuted on November 5, 1864.  His father was Matthew Henry Buckham, President of the University of Vermont from 1871 to 1910.  Our saint graduated from the University of Vermont (A.B., 1885) and from Andover Theological Seminary (1888).  The self-described practitioner of “Progressive Orthodoxy” accepted biblical criticism and sought to balance idealism and pragmatism in social ethics.  He strove not to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Our saint, the middle of five children of Matthew Henry Buckham and Elizabeth Buckham, married Helen E. Willard (1866-1950) on January 1, 1889.  The household record of the Buckhams in the U.S. Census of 1900 indicated three children (aged 0-10 years old) and a servant.

Buckham, ordained a Congregationalist minister in 1888, served just two congregations–Second Church, Conway, New Hampshire (1888-1890), and Crombie Street Church, Salem, Massachusetts (1890-1903).  From 1903 to 1937 Buckham, who received an honorary degree from the University of Vermont in 1904, was Professor of Christian Theology at Pacific Theological Seminary, renamed the Pacific School of Religion from 1916.  He studied the philosophy of religion and wrote about it prolifically in many books and articles.  In 1914 he applied his depth of knowledge to the Nathaniel W. Taylor Lectures at Yale University.

Among Buckham’s many articles, I found the following at archive.org:

  1. The Return of the Truth in Mysticism” (1908);
  2. Monism, Pluralism, and Personalism” (1908);
  3. The Organization of Truth” (1909);
  4. Dualism or Duality” (1913);
  5. What is Fundamental?  An Irenicon” (1915);
  6. The Contribution of Professor Royce to Christian Thought” (1915);
  7. Good-Will Versus Non-Resistance” (1916);
  8. The Contribution of Professor Howison to Christian Thought” (1916);
  9. The Principles of Pacifism” (1916);
  10. The Heroisms of Peace” (1916);
  11. Luther’s Place in Modern Theology” (1917);
  12. The Pilgrim Tercenternary and the Theological Progress” (1918);
  13. The New England Theologians” (1920);
  14. American Theists” (1921);
  15. Mysticism and Personality” (1921); and
  16. Baron von Hugel:  Theologian and Philosopher” (1922).

Buckham also delivered an address included in Religious Progress on the Pacific Slope:  Addresses and Papers at the Celebration of the Semi-Centennial of the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California (1917).

Our saint’s published books included the following volumes:

  1. Whence Cometh Help:  An Aid to Home and Individual Devotions (1902);
  2. The Salem Pilgrim:  His Book (1903);
  3. Christ and the Eternal Order (1906);
  4. Personality and the Christian Ideal:  A Discussion of Personality in the Light of Christianity (1908);
  5. John Knox McLean:  A Biography (1914);
  6. Mysticism and Modern Life (1915);
  7. Progressive Religious Thought in America:  A Survey of the Enlarging Pilgrim Faith (1919);
  8. Religion as Experience (1922);
  9. The Humanity of God:  An Interpretation of the Divine Fatherhood (1928); and
  10. Personality and Psychology (1936).

Buckham retired in 1937.  He died at Alameda, California, on March 30, 1945.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BENSON POLLOCK, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FOTHERGILL CHORLEY, ENGLISH NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, AND LITERARY AND MUSIC CRITIC

THE FEAST OF RALPH WARDLAW, SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John Wright Buckham and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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This is post #1400 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Katharine Lee Bates (March 28)   1 comment

grave_of_katharine_lee_bates

Above:  The Headstone of Katharine Lee Bates

Image Source = Midnightdreary

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KATHARINE LEE BATES (AUGUST 12, 1859-MARCH 28, 1929)

U.S. Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer

The most famous text by Katharine Lee Bates is “America the Beautiful” (1893), which she wrote one evening at Colorado Springs, Colorado, after having reached the top of Pike’s Peak with a group of teachers.  One might, however, overlook the condemnation of the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in the second stanza:

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern, impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law.

–Quoted in The Hymnal (1941), Evangelical and Reformed Church

There was much more to Bates than her “fugitive verse,” as she referred to it.  Our saint came from a Congregationalist family.  Her grandfather, the Reverend Joshua Bates, was the President of Middlebury College.  Her father, William Bates, was the Congregationalist minister at her native Falmouth, Massachusetts.  Young Katharine was a near-sighted bookworm.  That formative reality led to a life of reading, writing, and publishing.

Bates had help achieving as much as she did.  Arthur, her brother, put her through her undergraduate program at Wellesley College, at great sacrifice.  After our saint graduated with her B.A. in 1880, she taught at Natick High School (1880-1881) and worked on her M.A. (Wellesley College, 1881).  Next she taught at Dana Hall, a preparatory school for Wellesley College.  Bates taught at her alma mater from 1885 to 1925, first as an instructor then, from 1891, as a professor.  She became the chair of the English Department after completing studies at Oxford University.

Our saint wrote much prose and verse for children and adults.  Her published works included the following:

  1. The College Beautiful and Other Poems (1887);
  2. Rose and Thorn (1888);
  3. Ballad Book (1890);
  4. Hermit Island (1891);
  5. English Religious Drama (1893);
  6. History of American Literature (1898);
  7. Spanish Highways and Bylaws (1900);
  8. English History Told By English Poets:  A Reader for School Use (1902);
  9. From Gretna Green to Land’s End:  A Literary Journal in England (1907);
  10. The School of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Re-Told for Children (1909);
  11. Romantic Legends of Spain (1909), with her mother, Cornelia F. Bates;
  12. America the Beautiful and Other Poems (1911);
  13. In Sunny Spain (1913);
  14. Fairy Gold (1916);
  15. The Retinue (1918);
  16. Sigurd (1919);
  17. Once Upon a Time:  A Book of Old-Time Fairy Tales (1921);
  18. Yellow Clover:  A Book of Remembrance (1922);
  19. The Pilgrim Ship (1926); and
  20. America the Dream (1930).

Bates, who retired in 1925, received honorary degrees from Middlebury College (1914), Oberlin College (1916), and Wellesley College (1925).

Our saint, two of whose hymns I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog, did not belong to a church as an adult.  Perhaps the fact that her life partner (from 1890 to 1915, when by death they did part) was Katharine Coman.  Bates was unconventional for her time; she was merely the person God created her to be.  She spent her life on the fringe, which she enjoyed.  (I respect that.)  Certainly the fact that she left the Church did not indicate that she left God behind.

Bates died at Wellesley, Massachusetts, on March 28, 1929.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Katharine Lee Bates and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (March 18)   Leave a comment

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Above:  St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (CIRCA 315-MARCH 18, 386)

Bishop, Theologian, and Liturgist

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a foundational figure in Christianity.

Many of the details of St. Cyril’s life are sketchy.  Sources even vary regarding the year and location of his birth.  They agree, however, that his birth occurred somewhere in Palestine–perhaps in Jerusalem–in the temporal vicinity of 313-315.  Sources also agree that our saint became a priest in 345 and the Bishop of Jerusalem in 349 or 350.

St. Cyril, a staunch opponent of Arianism, experienced hardships because of his orthodoxy.  The proposition that Christ was a created being was one he refused to affirm.  Our saint’s orthodoxy brought him into conflict with some of his superiors and with two Eastern Roman emperors, leading to three exiles from his diocese:  in 357, 360, and 367-379.  The last period of exile occurred by the order of Emperor Valens (reigned 364-378), an Arian.  The imperial politics of Christology depended on the whims of emperors.  Constantius II (reigned 337-361) was an Arian.  He removed some prominent critics of Arianism from their episcopal sees and replaced them with Arians.  Constantius II also used two regional councils of bishops in 359 to make a moderate form of Arianism official.  Officially, Christ was “like the Father.”  Valens continued the policy of exiling prominent critics of Arianism and added the execution of some of them to his tactics.  Salminus Hermias Sozomen (circa 400-447/448), a historian and a Christian, regarded the death of Valens in battle against Visigoths in 378 to be divine retribution.  The accession of Theodosius I “the Great” (reigned 379-395) made the return of St. Cyril to his diocese possible.   The Second Council of Constantinople (381), which St. Cyril attended, recognized him as a “Confessor of the Faith” even though he had critics to his right.  Our saint never affirmed every detail of Trinitarian theology which emerged from the Council of Nicaea (325).  Nevertheless, he was sufficiently orthodox.

Surviving works by St. Cyril provide helpful glimpses into the liturgical life of the Church in and around Jerusalem in the fourth century C.E., or, as he knew it, the latter eleventh and early twelfth centuries A.U.C.  (The B.C./B.C.E.-A.D./C.E. dating system did not exist yet.)  These works prove especially useful in understanding Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.  For example, one reads of the washing of the hands of the celebrant, the use of the Lord’s Prayer at the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer, and the receiving of the host in one’s palm, with the left hand supporting the right hand.  Such information fascinates those of us who care deeply about liturgy and the development thereof.  One also learns that St. Cyril defended the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

Our saint influenced the development of rites for Palm Sunday and the other days of Holy Week.  He pioneered such rituals at Jerusalem, a center of pilgrimage.  Many pilgrims took those rituals back to their homes.  Thus similar observances took root elsewhere in Christianity.

The Church remains in St. Cyril’s debt.  The Holy Week practices of my denomination, The Episcopal Church, owe much to our saint.  The rituals for Holy Week in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) are closer to the rites of St. Cyril than are those in The Book of Common Prayer (1928).  Once again, as in many other cases, the break with one tradition constitutes a return to an older tradition. And, when I receive the host, I do so with my right hand supporting my left hand and my left palm open.  I know of this consistency with ancient tradition because of St. Cyril.

Unfortunately, Arianism thrives.  It lives, for example, among the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

St. Cyril died in Jerusalem on March 18, 386.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Strengthen, O Lord, the bishops of your Church in their special calling

to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, so that they,

like you servant Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct your people

in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them,

may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 47:8-10

Psalm 122

Hebrews 13:14-21

Luke 24:44-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 275

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Feast of John Swertner and John Mueller (March 11)   2 comments

Moravian Logo

Above:  The Logo of the Moravian Church

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN SWERTNER (SEPTEMBER 12, 1756-MARCH 11, 1813)

Dutch-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymnal Editor

worked with

JOHN MUELLER (A.K.A. JOHN MILLER OR JOHN MULLER) (1756-1790)

German-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor

With this post I add to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days two Moravian ministers in the British Isles.

John Swertner, a native of Haarlem, The Netherlands, debuted on September 12, 1756.  The son of a Moravian minister studied at the Moravian school at Zeist then the seminary at Barby, answered a call to England, where he spent most of the rest of his life.  Swertner, son-in-law of the Calvinistic Methodist-turned-Moravian evangelist John Cennick (1718-1755) and husband of Elizabeth Cennick, worked in various capacities for the Moravian Church at Fulneck, Yorkshire, London, and Fairfield, in England, and Dublin in Ireland.  He, ordained in 1779, edited the British Moravian hymnals of 1789 and 1801.  His partner in editing A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the Protestant Church of the United Brethren (1789) was John Mueller (1756-1790), a.k.a. John Miller or John Muller.

Mueller/Muller/Miller, a native of Hennersdorf, in Germany, also ministered in England.  Information about him proved scarce during the research phase of the development of this post.  I was successful, however, in locating two complete hymn texts by him in the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923).  The first was a Christmas hymn from 1789:

Christ the Lord, the Lord most glorious,

Now is born; O shout aloud!

Man by Him is made victorious;

Praise your Saviour, hail your God!

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Praise the Lord, for on us shineth

Christ the Sun of righteousness;

He to us in love inclineth,

Cheers our souls with pardoning grace.

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Praise the Lord, Whose saving splendor

Shines into darkest night;

O what praises shall we render

For this never-ceasing light.

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Praise the Lord, God our Salvation,

Praise Him Who retrieved our loss;

Sing, with awe, and love’s sensation,

Hallelujah, God with us.

The other hymn also dated to 1789:

O, that we all could quite fulfill

Our Saviour’s testament and will;

To love each other we desire;

Come, sacred love, our hearts inspire.

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We join together heart and hand,

To walk towards the promised land;

For this appearance may with care

Each member day and night prepare.

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Till we the Lord, our Righteousness

Shall see in glory face to face,

The bond of peace may we maintain,

And one with Him, our Lord, remain.

Swertner’s contributions to hymnody proved influential.  The Collection of 1789, which he and Mueller/Muller/Miller edited, contained 887 hymns, down from 1055, the count in A Collection of Hymns of the Children of God in All Ages, From the Beginning Till Now; Designed Chiefly with the Brethren’s Church (1754), the preceding British Moravian hymnal.  Swertner and Mueller/Muller/Miller altered many older translations of German hymns and provided new translations of other German hymns.  The purpose of these changes was to avoid excessive emotionalism, enthusiasm, overly sentimental devotion, which had characterized previous Moravian hymnody.  A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the Protestant Church of the United Brethren–New and Revised Edition (1801), with its supplement of 1808, was also in use in North America.  (Swertner did not edit the supplement of 1808).

Swertner also wrote and translated hymns.  I have added two of his texts to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Swertner died at Bristol, England, on March 11, 1813.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially John Swertner and John Mueller)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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