Archive for June 24, 2017

Feast of Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius (April 14)   Leave a comment

Icon of Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANTHONY OF VILNIUS (BORN NEZHILO)

Brother of

SAINT JOHN OF VILNIUS (BORN KUMETS)

Relative of

SAINT EUSTATHIUS (BORN KRUGLETS)

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MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347

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This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from the Russian Orthodox Church.

These three saints, young men, were courtiers of Algirdas (reigned 1345-1377), Grand Duke of Lithuania.  They had converted to Christianity and received new names at baptism.  They were safe until 1346, when Grand Duchess Maria Yaroslavna, the Christian wife of Algirdas, died.  Algirdas had converted (at least officially) to Christianity years prior, but he reverted to paganism as a widower.  The Grand Duke outlawed evangelism.  Nevertheless, Sts. Anthony and John preached in public.  The prisoners then refused to eat meat on a holy fast day.  The Grand Duke, therefore, had St. Anthony hanged on April 14, 1347, and St. John strangled and hanged ten years later.  Their relative, St. Eustathius, later also refused to eat meat on a holy fast day, so he be joined his relatives in martyrdom on December 13, 1347.

Jogaila (reigned 1377-1381, 1382-1392), the son and immediate successor of Algirdas, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1386 and united Lithuania and Poland.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saints Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius

triumphed over suffering and were faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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Feast of Blessed Rolando Rivi (April 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Rolando Rivi

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ROLANDO RIVI (JANUARY 7, 1931-APRIL 13, 1945)

Roman Catholic Seminarian and Martyr

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I study to be a priest, and these vestments are the sign that I belong to Jesus.

–Blessed Rolando Rivi

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Rolando Rivi came from a devout farming family of San Valentino di Castallarano, Reggio Emilia, Italy.  He, born on January 7, 1931, discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  At the age of 11 he entered seminary with the intention of becoming a priest.  Our saint, as did the other seminarians, wore a cassock.

The Italian Fascist Party, which had come to power via elections a few years after World War I on a platform of making Italy great again, fell from power in 1943.  At the end of that revolution the new government established an armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943.  Shortly thereafter Nazi forces occupied northern Italy and made former dictator Benito Mussolini their puppet ruler in the region.  Across northern Italy bands of partisans of various political stripes organized to support the Allied war effort.

The Roman Catholic Church found itself in a difficult position.  Since it had collaborated with the Fascist government, certain partisans (notably the Socialists and the Communists in the area of San Valentino) targeted priests for assassination.  On the other hand, Nazi forces occupied Rivi’s seminary in June 1944, thereby effectively closing that institution.  (Nazis were also fascists, by the way.)  The church was stuck between fascists and anti-fascists.

In that difficult context our saint continued his studies at home and insisted on wearing a cassock.  His parents, concerned for his safety, suggested that he wear other garb, but he refused.  That refusal led to Rivi’s martyrdom.  On April 10, 1945, after serving Mass at the parish (whose priest had moved on for safety’s sake, after an attack by partisans), Rivi headed for woods, where he meant to study.  He never returned home.  Partisans kidnapped and tortured him.  On April 13 they forced our saint to kneel at the edge of his grave.  As he prayed, partisans shot him in the head and the heart.  He was 14 years old.

This murder was politically sensitive for a long time.  The murderers were, after all, enemies of the Nazis and the Italian Fascists, as well as allies of the Allies.  On the other hand, they also killed a young man for no reason other than his faith.

Pope Francis declared Rivi a Venerable on March 27, 2013, and a Blessed on October 5 later that year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Rolando Rivi

triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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Feast of Henri Perrin (April 13)   Leave a comment

HENRI PERRIN (APRIL 13, 1914-OCTOBER 25, 1954)

French Roman Catholic Worker Priest

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Father Henri Perrin identified with the poor and members of the industrial working class.  He, born at Comimont, France (in the Vosges Mountains), on April 13, 1914, became a Jesuit priest before World War II.  In 1943 he became a pioneer in the worker-priest movement when he volunteered to accompany French workers going to Germany, which occupied the country at the time.  He maintained his cover as an industrial worker and functioned covertly as a chaplain for less than a year before authorities discovered who and what he really was.  A brief period of incarceration ensued, as did his repatriation in 1945.

Perrin understood that the Roman Catholic Church–in France, in particular–had identified with the wealthy and powerful so long that it had alienated itself from the poor and the industrial workers.  So it was that, in Paris, in 1947, the former Jesuit and other priests, with the support of some bishops, applied for industrial jobs and became outwardly indistinguishable from industrial workers.  This entailed joining Communist-dominated labor unions, a fact that brought the Vatican’s disapproval upon the worker priests.  In 1949 the Church condemned all Roman Catholics who became or collaborated with Communists.  Four years later the Church banned the worker-priest movement.

Perrin had a difficult decision to make, as did all worker priests.  Most of them obeyed Rome.  Perrin, however, remained disobedient, even though he knew he might have to resign from the priesthood.  Before he had to make that decision, however, Perrin died in a motorcycle accident on October 25, 1954.  He was 40 years old.

The Bible has much to say regarding economic injustice.  Among the most documented Biblical motifs is that sacred anthology is the divine preference for the poor, people often exploited by wealthier individuals.  In the Hebrew Bible, for example, one needs to look no further than the prophets for this motif.  One can also find it in the public ministry of Jesus.

Perrin, I conclude, read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested the Bible, with its mandate for social justice, well.  I also conclude that any ecclesiastical institution that does not identify with the poor and the downtrodden has gone astray, assuming, of course, that it was ever on the right path.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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

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

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

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), age 60

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Feast of Joseph Barber Lightfoot (April 13)   3 comments

Above:  Joseph Barber Lightfoot

Image in the Public Domain

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JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT (APRIL 13, 1828-DECEMBER 21, 1889)

Anglican Bishop of Durham

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Joseph Barber Lightfoot, lifelong bachelor, was a great scholar.  Our saint, born at Liverpool, England, on April 13, 1828, manifested academic inquisitiveness at an early age.  He, one of the children of accountant John Jackson Lightfoot and Ann Lightfoot, studied at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, where the great James Prince Lee was the headmaster.  At King Edward’s School Lightfoot forged lifelong friendships with Brooke Foss Westcott, Edward White Benson (later the Archbishop of Canterbury), and Fenton John Anthony Hort. Lightfoot also revered the headmaster.  Our saint continued his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, starting in 1847.  There he continued to excel academically, studied privately under the tutelage of Westcott, and, in 1852, became a fellow.  James Prince Lee, in his new capacity as the Bishop of Manchester, ordained Lightfoot to the diaconate in 1864 and to the priesthood four years later.  In 1862 our saint became the Hulsean Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.  Nine years later he became the Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, having withdrawn from consideration for appointment to the Regius Professorship of Divinity (in favor of Westcott) in 1870.  Lightfoot, Westcott, and Benson worked on the translation of the New Testament of the Revised Version (1881), starting in 1870.  In the midst of that project our saint became the Lady Margaret Professor of Theology at Cambridge in 1875.

Over decades Lightfoot engaged in Biblical and Patristic scholarship that has stood the test of time.  He wrote commentaries on several New Testament books, mainly Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (all published during his lifetime) and Acts, John, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter (published only in recent years).  Lightfoot also delved into Patristics, in particular the epistles of Sts. Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp.  Our saint also helped to found the Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology, published from March 1854 to December 1859.

From 1879 to 1889 Lightfoot served as the Bishop of Durham.  He proved to be a capable administrator, building up the diocese (literally) and helping to create the new Diocese of Newcastle (in 1882).  As Bishop of Durham Lightfoot became involved in social reform.  He started the White Cross Movement in 1883.  The purpose of the movement, which spread quickly around the world, was to encourage strong morality without any double standards, namely those grounded in gender.  The movement called for treating all women with respect, reducing the frequency of coarse language, and maintaining personal purity.

Lightfoot died at Bournemouth on December 21, 1889.  Westcott succeeded him as Bishop of Durham.

The University of Durham has a Lightfoot Professorship of Divinity.  That is a fitting tribute to such a scholar.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Joseph Barber Lightfoot 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 Nehemiah Goreh (March 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Nehemiah Goreh

Image in the Public Domian

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NEHEMIAH NILAKANTHA GOREH (FEBRUARY 8, 1825-OCTOBER 29, 1895)

Indian Anglican Priest and Theologian

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The Feast of Nehemiah Goreh comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via the Church of North India.

Goreh, born near Jhansi, India, on February 8, 1825, came from a Brahmin family.  From an early age he manifested philosophical and theological tendencies, becoming a pandit.  As Nilakantha Goreh he opposed Christian efforts to convert Hindus.  Then he changed his mind.

On March 14, 1848, the 23-year-old Nilakantha Goreh sneaked off to his baptism, by which he became the Christian known as Nehemiah Goreh.  This rite marked not the culmination of his spiritual journey, but just one phase of it.  During the ensuing decades are saint reported a series of conversions, as he struggled with Christology and other doctrinal matters.  Immediately Goreh’s baptism resulted in social death, as family members rejected him and his in-laws took his wife away from him.  Eventually he got her back, she also became a Christian, and they had a daughter.  When the girl was about a year old, the mother died.  Goreh sent his daughter away to grow up in church circles in England.  She returned to England as an Anglican deaconess.

Goreh’s work was that of an evangelist, traveling widely and not setting down roots.  He made two extended visits to England (joining the Society of St. John the Evangelist at Oxford during one of them).  He also worked at various places in India, frequently with the Church Missionary Society.  Our saint, who came under the influence of the Oxford Movement, became an Anglican priest in the 1860s.  He also lived as an ascetic.  Goreh converted many people–especially Brahmins–to Christianity.

Goreh died on October 29, 1895, aged 70 years.  His legacy has never ceased to exist, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Everlasting God, whose servant Nehemiah Goreh

carried the good news of your Son to the dark places of the world:

grant that we who commemorate his service

may know the hope of the gospel in our hearts

and manifest its light in all our ways;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10 or Isaiah 61:1-3a  or Jonah 3:1-5

Psalms 67 or 96:1-6 or 96:7f

Acts 16:6-10 or Romans 15:17-21 or 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2

Matthew 9:35f or Matthew 28:16f or Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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