Archive for September 2017

Feast of the Martyrs of Memphis, Tennessee, 1878 (September 9)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Martyrs of Memphis

Icon Writer = Brother Tobias Stanislaus, Brotherhood of Saint Gregory, Yonkers, New York

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SISTER CONSTANCE (1846-SEPTEMBER 9, 1878)

Caroline Louise Darling

Episcopal Nun

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SISTER THECLA (1838-SEPTEMBER 12, 1878)

Mary Thecla MacMahon

Episcopal Nun

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SISTER RUTH (1846-SEPTEMBER 17, 1878)

Helen George Darling

Episcopal Nun

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SISTER FRANCES (1843-OCTOBER 5, 1878)

Frances Pease

Episcopal Nun

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CHARLES CARROLL PARSONS (1838-SEPTEMBER 6, 1878)

Episcopal Priest

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LOUIS SANDFORD SCHUYLER (1851-SEPTEMBER 17, 1878)

Episcopal Priest

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THEY GAVE THEIR LIVES HELPING OTHERS DURING AN OUTBREAK OF YELLOW FEVER.

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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

–John 15:13, Authorised Version

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GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN.

–Inscription on the monument to the Martyrs of Memphis in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

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The residents of Memphis, Tennessee, were not strangers to yellow fever in the late 1860s and the 1870s.  Three times in ten years epidemics of the disease afflicted the city.

Charles Todd Quintard, elected the Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee in October 1865, sought the help of the new Sisters (later Community) of Saint Mary, founded in 1865, to participate in the process of rebuilding his diocese.  Monasticism, reviving within The Episcopal Church at the time, was controversial; many Evangelical-minded Episcopalians, with their learned hostility to Roman Catholicism, objected not only to the existence of Episcopal nuns but to the fact that they were full habits.  Bishop Quintard obviously did not share this bias.

Mother Harriet Starr Cannon, who had founded the order in 1865 and who served as the Superior, agreed to Quintard’s request.  She sent Sisters Constance, Amelia, Thecla, and Hughetta (then a novice) to Memphis in 1873.  They arrived in late 1873, in time for an outbreak of yellow fever in which about 2000 people in October and November.  The sisters ministered to the suffering.  The nuns were finally able to open the school for girls at St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1874.  Sister Constance, the Superior at Memphis, served as the headmistress of the school, at which Sister Thecla taught English and Latin.

The yellow fever epidemic of August-October 1878 was worse than that of 1873.  About 25,000 people–more than half of the population–left Memphis, leaving about 20,000 inhabitants.  These were those who chose to remain (to help the others) and those who could not leave.  Nearly nine out of ten of those who remained contracted yellow fever.  About one-fourth–5,150–of the 20,000–died.  The average number of deaths was about 200 a day.  The city buried 1,500 of these victims in a mass grave.

Although many people fled for safety, others volunteered to come to Memphis, to join those who had chosen to remain.  Those who risked their lives to help others included doctors, nurses, priests, ministers, nuns, and prostitutes.  Thirty Episcopal priests and some nuns chose to come to the city at that time.  Four Sisters of Saint Mary died between September 9 and October 5.  Among these nuns was Sister Ruth, who died at the age of 32 years.  She had left New York state to help victims in Memphis.  Sister Hughetta (died in 1926), who had been in Memphis since 1873, remained.  She was relatively fortunate, for she only contracted dysentery.  W. T. Dickinson Dalzell, a physician and an Episcopal priest, of Shreveport, Louisiana, went to Memphis, to help.  He had contracted yellow fever some years before, so he knew that he would survive the outbreak.  His medical skills were essential.

Charles Carroll Parsons (1838-September 6, 1878), the Rector of St. Lazarus-Grace Episcopal Church, Memphis, also died.  He, a member of the West Point Class of 1861, had served with distinction in the U.S. Army, been an artillery commander, and risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the Civil War.  After that conflict he had become a professor at his alma mater.  Then he had studied for the priesthood, the ranks of which he joined on March 5, 1871.  Immediately prior to arriving in Memphis (to become the Rector of Grace Church, not yet united with St. Lazarus Church), in 1875, Parsons had been the Rector of Holy Innocents’ Church, Hoboken, New Jersey.  Our saint’s widow was Margaret Louisa Britton Parsons (1844-1927).  A personal connection with Charles Carroll Parsons contributed to bringing Louis Sandford Schuyler (1851-September 17, 1878), Assistant Rector of Holy Innocents’ Church, Hoboken, to Memphis, to help the suffering.  Schuyler wanted to minister to those who suffered even though he knew he was almost certainly making a one-way trip.

The yellow fever epidemic of August-October 1878 had devastating effects on Memphis.  Not only was about one-ninth of the population dead (within two months), but the city went bankrupt and lost its charter for fourteen years.  The worst effects were the lost lives.  What might the 5,150 dead have become had they survived?  How many more lives might they have improved?

Bishop Quintard dedicated the high altar of St. Mary’s Cathedral in honor of the four martyred nuns on Pentecost Sunday 1879.

One legacy of the martyred nuns was the increased support for the revival of monasticism in The Episcopal Church.  The Sisters/Community of Saint Mary expanded their work and new orders came into existence.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SCUDDER, U.S. UNITARIAN THEN EPISCOPALIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILSON CARLILE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH ARMY

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We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion,

for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions,

who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and dying,

and loved not their own lives, even unto death:

Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need,

following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ, who with you

and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Job 16:6-9

Psalm 25:15-21

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

John 12:24-28

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 571

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Feast of Harriet Starr Cannon (May 7)   1 comment

Above:  Harriet Starr Cannon

Image in the Public Domain

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HARRIET STARR CANNON (MAY 7, 1823-MARCH 29, 1896)

Foundress of the Community of Saint Mary

Harriet Starr Cannon founded the Community of Saint Mary (initially the Sisters of Saint Mary), the first stable religious community for women in The Episcopal Church, in 1865.  This new order was quite controversial in the denomination at the time.  Was it a Papist threat to the Protestant purity of The Episcopal Church?  That was what many critics alleged?

Cannon was not religious until the 1850s.  She and her older sister, Catherine Ann, were natives of Charleston, South Carolina.  There, on May 7, 1823, Harriet entered the world.  The girls’ parents died of yellow fever when Harriet was 17 months old.  An aunt with five children in her household already raised the sisters in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Harriet lost an eye in an accident, but had generally happy childhood.  Not surprisingly, our saint was close to her older sister, who married then moved to California in 1851.  The plan was for Harriet to join her there.  Nevertheless, in 1855, as Harriet was preparing to leave for the West Coast, Catherine Ann died, leaving Harriet feeling alone.

Harriet, thrown into a crisis, emerged and devoted the rest of her life to God.  In 1856, in New York City, she joined the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion (defunct in 1940), under the direction of William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayres.  Our saint worked as a nurse to the poor at St. Luke’s Hospital.  In 1863 conflict within the Sisterhood led to Cannon and three other sisters leaving the order.

That departure was the prelude to the birth of a new order, the Sisters (later Community) of Saint Mary.  Horatio Potter, the Bishop of New York, received Cannon, Jane Haight, Mary Heartt, Amelia Asten, and Sarah Bridge as the first five sisters of the new order on February 2, 1865.  Our saint served as the first superior of the order, which established institutions (hospitals, convents, schools, mission houses, and orphanages) from Peekstill, New York (the site of the motherhouse) to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Memphis, Tennessee.  The deaths of Sisters Constance, Thecla, Ruth, and Frances, four of the six Martyrs of Memphis, during an outbreak of yellow fever in Memphis while ministering to victims of the disease in August-October 1878 decreased hostility to the renewal of monasticism within The Episcopal Church.  The legacies of these Martyrs of Memphis included the expanded work of the Sisters/Community of Saint Mary and the founding of the Community of Saint John the Baptist (1881), the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity (1882), the Community of the Transfiguration (1898), and the Order of Saint Anne (1910).

When Cannon died, aged 72 years, on March 29, 1896, her order had grown to 104 sisters.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SCUDDER, U.S. UNITARIAN THEN EPISCOPALIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILSON CARLILE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH ARMY

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Gracious God, you called Mother Harriet and her companions

to revive the religious life in the Episcopal Church by founding

the religious community of Saint Mary, and to dedicate their lives to you:

Grant that, after their example, we may ever surrender ourselves to the revelation of your holy will;

through our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with

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

2 Esdras 2:15-24

Psalm 131

Hebrews 13:1-2, 5-8, 15-16

Mark 9:33-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 361

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Those Who Oppose Free Speech Are On the Wrong Side of History.   Leave a comment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

–The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Ratified in 1791)

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As I wrote in a recent post, freedoms–not even of speech–are absolute.  For example, I have no constitutionally protected right to commit slander or libel, much less to incite violence via my speech or any other form of expression.  Those exceptions leave much room for peaceful expression of protest, however.  Thank God for that!  I embrace the nonviolent expression of protest, whether by carrying a sign, kneeling, writing a letter to the editor, publishing a weblog post, or speaking in public, among other options.  My opinion of the content of that protest is irrelevant to my affirmation of the right to make it.  I therefore decry the condemnation of such protests.  After all, life together in a free society entails much mutual forbearance.

I affirm freedom, for I rejoice that those who disagree with me strongly have the right to make points that offend me.   They have that right for the same reason I have the right to make my points peaceably.  Enumerate me, O reader, among the partisans on the side of freedom of expression.  If I do not want to hear that free speech, I usually have that option; I can be somewhere else more often than not.  I do not, however, scream and shout.  Sometimes audiences are captive, due to policies such as mandatory attendance, however.  Whether one’s attendance is mandatory or voluntary, some form of non-disruptive protest is fine with me, regardless of the point of view thereof.

Those who oppose free speech are on the wrong side of history and of the First Amendment.

Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (in office 1957-1963) exemplified the toleration of diverse perspectives.  He knew what he believed and made vigorous defenses of those positions.  He debated points of various policies with political adversaries, whom he acknowledged as being loyal Canadians.  Diefenbaker also gave his country its own version of the Bill of Rights–albeit by an act of Parliament.  That measure stood until 1982, when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not subject to repeal by Parliament, superseded it during the administration of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (in office 1968-1979, 1979-1984).

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  • (d) freedom of association.

–Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)

The right to express oneself peaceably is sacred.  More people should affirm it unconditionally.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Reconstructed Floor Plan of the Late Parsonage of the Vidette United Methodist Church, Vidette, Georgia   Leave a comment

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have been continuing my stroll down memory lane in Burke County, Georgia, where my family and I lived from June 1980 to June 1982.  I have worked from a combination of photographs and memories.  Photographs have stirred up memories.  For example, an old Google Street View image has reminded me of how small the car port (immediately outside the back door) was and shown a chimney on the back of the house) that I did not recall.  A scale on the image I scanned in my previous Vidette post has helped me to measure the house.

The placement of rooms is correct.  Precise dimensions and approximate placements of doors and windows are generally less certain, however.  I recall a door connecting the bathroom to the master bedroom, but not where in the bathroom it was.  I am not certain of the dimensions of the front room and my bedroom either, or whether only right angles defined them.  I also seem to remember a door between the kitchen and the dining room, but not precisely where.

Either way, looking at this floor plan stirs up more memories.  I have clear memories of certain moments in some of those rooms, for example.  The number of these is increasing.

From my temporal perspective, as fallible as it is, I recognize the truth of the old statement that the child is the father of the man.  I also understand that the range of piety within United Methodism, especially its Southern rural variants, does not fit me.  I know for sure that life in very small towns does not agree with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 COMMON ERA

Feast of Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno (May 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno

Image Source = CatholicSaints.Info

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BLESSED ANNA ROSA GATTORNO CUSTO (OCTOBER 14, 1831-MAY 6, 1900)

Cofounder of the Institute of the Daughters of Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Immaculate

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My love, what can I do to make the whole world love you?  Make use once again of this wretched instrument to renew the faith and conversion of sinners.

–Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno

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Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno, not a stranger to suffering, identified with the suffering of others as she sought to help them.  Our saint, born in Genoa on October 14, 1831, was originally Rose Maria Benedetta Gattorno.  She grew up in a devout and financially comfortable family.  On November 5, 1852, Rose Maria married a cousin, Gerolamo Custo.  The couple, which eventually had three children, settled in Marseilles.  They did not remain there long, for dire financial straits forced their return to Genoa.  All of her husband’s attempts to improve their cash flow problems failed.  Furthermore, their first child, Carlotta, became a deaf-mute after an illness.  Then, in 1858, both Gerolamo and the youngest child died, in that order.

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), 1858, our saint, a widow for one day short of nine months, made her vows of chastity and obedience, thereby beginning the next phase of her life.  In 1861 she made her vow of poverty as a Franciscan tertiary.  The following year Gattorno received the stigmata, which she felt most intensely every Friday.  Her spiritual renewal had actually predated 1858, for she had begun to receive the Holy Eucharist daily.  That was rare in those times.  Our saint had devoted her life fully to God while not neglecting her duties to her children.

Gattorno sought to devote her life to pious works, such as visiting the sick and the poor.  In 1864 she became the president of the Pious Union of the New Ursulines, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, as part of that purpose.  Yet our saint was reluctant to do more; she also had maternal responsibilities.  Pope Pius IX convinced our saint to trust God and to found the Institute of the Daughters of Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Immaculate, in 1866.  The members of the order could help with the children, the Pope said.  So, at Picenza, in 1866, Gattorno founded the new order.  She and 12 sisters made their religious professions in 1870.  They went on to operate schools for boys, schools for girls, nursery schools, and homes for former prostitutes, and to send sisters into homes as visiting nurses, among other ministries.

Gattorno, aged 68 years, died at Rome on May 6, 1900.  By that time the order had spread out across the world and come to encompass 368 houses and 3,500 sisters.

Pope John Paul II declared Gattorno a Venerable in 1988 then a Blessed in 2000.

Pope Piux IX gave sage advice to our saint in 1866.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 20:  THE SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF ANNA E. B. ALEXANDER, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno,

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

Grant that we may also 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 and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  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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Protected Speech   1 comment

Or, Away with Jingoism

Nonviolent expression–especially protest–is a form of speech the Constitution of the United States protects.  I rejoice for that fact.  Yes, freedom of speech is finite; it does not apply to slander, libel, and any (private) attempt to incite violence, for example.  (On the other hand, during World War I, when the federal government was inciting violence as a policy, some pacifists and socialists went to prison for attempting to cite nonviolence.  That was an abuse of federal power.)  I grasp the reasonable limits–mainly public health and safety–on freedoms.  I may not drive legally on the wrong side of the road, for example.  Professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem do not transgress any constitutional lines, however.  Those who choose to engage in that form of protest are within their rights to do so and should face no penalties, regardless of what the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury think.  Besides, the republic is strong enough to survive some athletes kneeling during the national anthem.  Furthermore, one should cease and desist from making nationalism an idol.

I stand, as a matter of high principle, on the proposition that life in a free society requires a plethora of mutual forbearance from all of us.  To recognize the freedom of those with whom we agree to protest, speak, or write is easy, but how eager are we to extend that license to those whose opinions offend us?  As I tell my students, the test of whether one affirms freedom is whether one extends it to those with whom one disagrees.  This test catches many people on both the left and the right; I stand in the middle and remain intellectually honest.  I note that many people (regardless of their policy positions on a host of issues) who identify themselves as champions of freedom seem quite eager to deny the freedom of peaceful expression to those with whom they disagree, or at least to advocate penalties for that peaceful free speech.  This is rank hypocrisy.  Anyone who does so is therefore, by definition, a hypocrite.  I refuse to make any statement to the contrary.

Here I stand.  I can do no other.  I will do no other.  Besides, dissent is frequently among the highest forms of patriotism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

Vidette United Methodist Church Parsonage, January 29, 2015   1 comment

Above:  A Scan of a Printout of a Satellite Image, Courtesy of Google Earth

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Key:  

1 = Front porch

2 = Front steps

3 = Front room

4 = Sister’s bedroom

5 = Dining room

6 = Kitchen

7 = Den

8 = Car port

9 = Master bedroom

10 = My bedroom

11= Bathroom

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My past–especially the two years (June 1980-June 1982) I spent in Vidette, Georgia, continue to fascinate me.

I have posted about the town, church, parsonage here, here, and here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  At ORIGINAL POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY BLOG I have posted germane posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  I have also found an image of the church building from Easter Sunday 1971 here.

Now I offer an analysis of the house based on the last satellite image of the house I can find, for the image dated October 30, 2016, shows where the house was.  The combination of photographic evidence from the family archives (in my possession) and my memories makes me confident that I am correct in my estimation of the internal arrangement of the now-demolished structure, which was well into its decline when my family and I lived there.  The scale on the image leads me to estimate that the house was about 1100 square feet, excluding the front porch and the car port.

All of this strolling down memory lane makes me grateful to live where I do–in Athens, Georgia, a city with many amenities.  I have my choice of grocery stores just a few miles away from my home, as opposed to having to take a trip 20 or so miles to Waynesboro, for example.

It is indeed good to know what one has while one has it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

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