Archive for October 2017

Feast of St. Ivo of Kermartin (May 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Triptych of St. Ivo of Kermartin

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN (OCTOBER 17, 1253-MAY 19, 1303)

Roman Catholic Attorney, Priest, and Advocate for the Poor

Also known as Saint Ives, Yves, and Yvo of Kermartin

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Saint Ivo was a Breton and a lawyer,

But not dishonest–

An astonishing thing in people’s eyes.

–A description of St. Ivo from the 1300s

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St. Ivo of Kermartin was an honest, decent, and devout man.  He, born in Kermartin (near Treguier, Brittany) on October 17, 1253, came from nobility.  He, educated in civil law, canon law, theology, and philosophy, studied law in Paris and Orleans.  St. Ivo practiced law in both civil and ecclesiastical courts, doing much of his work pro bono, for many of his clients were poor.  He was also a Franciscan tertiary and an ascetic, as well as a priest from 1284.  Our saint, who ministered to prisoners awaiting trial, was an incorruptible diocesan judge who broke with common practice by refusing to accept bribes.  In 1287 St. Ivo resigned his legal position to focus on his priestly duties at Tredez and Lovannec, Brittany.

St. Ivo earned his reputation for being kind to the poor.  Aside from doing what I have described in the previous paragraph, he also financed the construction of a hospital, ministered to the sick in it, and donated harvests from his land to feed the impoverished.  He was also allegedly a miracle worker, for he supposedly fed hundreds of people with one loaf of bread.

St. Ivo died of natural causes on May 19, 1303 (the Eve of the Feast of the Ascension of Christ), after delivering a sermon at Lovannec.  He was 49 years old.  Pope Clement VI canonized him in 1347.

St. Ivo is the patron saint of orphans, notaries, attorneys, judges, canon lawyers, bailiffs, Brittany, and abandoned people.

…”Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

–Matthew 25:40, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

St. Ivo of Kermartin internalized that lesson and acted on it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH O’FLAHERTY, “SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF THE VATICAN”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL SHINJI SASAKI, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF TOKYO; AND PHILIP LENDEL TSEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF HONAN

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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 trouble,

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), page 60

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Posted October 30, 2017 by neatnik2009 in May, Saints of the 1200s, Saints of the 1300s

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Feast of St. Celestine V (May 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Celestine V

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CELESTINE V (1215-MAY 19, 1296)

Bishop of Rome

Also known as St. Peter Celestine

Pietro di Murrone preferred that the conclave had never elected him Pope.  He, Supreme Pontiff for five months and eight days, was eager to leave the office and the unholy politics associated with it behind.

Pietro di Murrone was a monk by nature.  He, the eleventh child of southern Italian peasants, entered the world in 1215.  Our saint joined the Order of St. Benedict when he was 17 years old.  Pietro, later ordained a priest at Rome, eventually became a hermit at Mount Majella, taking St. John the Baptist as his model.  The hermit attracted followers, however.  The result was the Celestines, a suborder of the Benedictines with 600 monks and 36 monasteries in May 1296.

After Pope Nicholas IV died on April 4, 1292, the Papacy remained vacant for 27 months while the College of Cardinals deadlocked.  Meanwhile, international politics came to bear on the Cardinals.  King Charles II (by title the King of Sicily but really the King of Naples; reigned 1285-1309) sought to regain control of Sicily for his southern Italian kingdom.  (He was ultimately unsuccessful.)  The College of Cardinals elected Pietro, who had no idea he was even a candidate and had no desire for the position, Pope on July 5, 1294.  They hoped that he would be the “angel Pope” who would solve many problems.

The 79-year-old monk was not a magical “angel Pope,” however; there was no such person.  He accepted election only reluctantly.  St. Celestine V, consecrated on August 29, 1294, became the unhappy puppet of Charles II, who was no holy man.  Our saint, residing in Naples, not Rome, did show some initiative as Pope.  He, for example, favored the Celestines and allowed the radical Franciscan Spirituals to live as hermits under the Rule of St. Francis.  St. Celestine V wanted to resign then to return to Mount Majella, to live as a monk again.  He concluded that being the Pope was dangerous both to his soul and to the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint resigned on December 13, 1294, but he did not return to Mount Majella.

The next Pope was Boniface VIII, elected on Christmas Eve 1294.  The former Benedetto Cardinal Caetani was, according to J. N. D. Kelly, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986),

singularly unsympathetic, combining exceptional ability with arrogance and cruelty, insatiable acquisitiveness for his family and insensitive contempt for his fellow-men; feared and hated, he could not keep a friend.

–Page 210

Boniface VIII did not permit St. Celestine V to enjoy liberation as a monk.  The new Supreme Pontiff ordered the arrest of his reluctant predecessor, who had to become a fugitive for a time.  St. Celestine V spent his final nine months incarcerated in the tower of Castle Fumone, east of Ferentino.  He died, aged 81 years, on May 19, 1296.

Boniface VIII had troubles of his own.  He, having threatened to excommunicate King Philip IV “the Fair” of France (reigned 1285-1314), found himself that monarch’s prisoner for two days in 1303.  Boniface VIII, having decided not to excommunicate Philip the Fair after that, died later in 1303.  Philip the Fair, seeking to twist the proverbial knife into the corpse of the legacy of Boniface VIII, petitioned the French Pope Clement V (in office 1305-1314), an Avignon Pope, to canonize St. Celestine V as a martyr.  Clement V canonized his reluctant predecessor, but as a confessor, in 1313.

The political nature of the canonization of St. Celestine V need not delegitimize it.  One can recognize Pietro di Murrone as a holy man who found himself transformed into a pawn and who took the proper course of action–to resign.  One can respect a man for finding the courage to quit when that was the right decision.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH O’FLAHERTY, “SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF THE VATICAN”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL SHINJI SASAKI, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF TOKYO; AND PHILIP LENDEL TSEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF HONAN

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Celestine V,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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Feast of Jacques Ellul (May 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Bordeaux Harbor, Bordeaux, France, 1890

Publisher and Copyright Holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-04951

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JACQUES ELLUL (JANUARY 6, 1912-MAY 19, 1994)

French Reformed Theologian and Sociologist

Jacques Ellul offered a nuanced critique of modern society.  The central theme of his theology was that

The world is in perpetual contadiction with the will of God.

Ellul also argued that God has never abandoned the world.

Ellul, who was French, was of a mixed ethnic background.  He, born at Bordeaux on January 6, 1912, was the son of Joseph and Martha Ellul.  Joseph, frequently unemployed, came from an Eastern Orthodox background, which he had abandoned in favor of Deism.  He, born in Malta, was an Austrian citizen and a British subject of Serbian and Italian ethnicity.  Martha, a French Protestant, was of French and Portuguese descent.  She taught art at a private school.  Religion was a subject of little discussion in the home.  Our saint did not become a Christian until his early twenties.

At his father’s behest Ellul studied law at the University of Bordeaux.  At the university our saint read Das Kapital.  Thus Karl Marx became an influence on his thought.  The Marxian (separate from Marxist) idea of Conflict Theory, or of historical change via clashing social forces, remained a part of Ellul’s philosophy for the rest of his life.

Ellul offered a social critique prior to World War II.  He and friend Bernard Charbonneau (1910-1996) developed a variation on the Personalism of Emmanuel Mournier (1905-1950).  They published their libertarian-anarchist critique in Mournier’s journal, L’Esprit.  Our saint sought to start a cultural revolution opposed to nationalism and political centralism.  He stood in opposition in particular to modern technological structures.

In 1937, the same year Ellul married his wife Yvette, he became a professor of law.  He taught at Montpelier then at Strasbourg.  The government of the French State, or Vichy France, removed our saint from his position at the University of Strasbourg on the grounds that his father was Maltese.  (The Vichy slogan was “Work, Family, Country.”  Ellul was allegedly a foreigner because of his father.)  During World War II our saint supported himself and his family via farming.  He, active in the Maquis, also helped Jews escape from the Nazis.  For this work he received posthumous recognition as one of the Yad Vashem, or the Righteous Among the Nations.

Partisan politics disagreed with Ellul, but social causes did not.  He, the Deputy Mayor of Bordeaux from October 31, 1944, to April 29, 1945, preferred to work for social transformation via the Reformed Church of France and various non-partisan organizations.  Causes that inspired him included ecology and the prevention of juvenile delinquency.  Ellul, a professor at the University of Bordeaux from 1944 until his retirement in 1980, influenced many people around the world via his more than 35 books in the fields of theology and sociology.

Ellul, whose influences included Karl Marx, John Calvin, and Karl Barth, argued that Christians should be, from the perspective of the state and other social institutions, trouble-makers.  The systems, he insisted, are inherently violent, for, even if they do not commit violence, they depend upon it.  His proposed alternative was the “violence of love,” or the application of one’s energies to social change on behalf of the impoverished, especially the forgotten poor.  Regarding technology, Ellul criticized the deification of it.  He was no luddite, however.  No, his attitude toward technology was ambivalent.

Ellul, not a Biblical literalist, recognized that the sacred anthology contains inaccuracies and contradictions.  He dealt with them not by ignoring them, rationalizing them away, or rejecting the Bible, but by focusing on the messages in the Bible and its books as wholes.  The Church had canonized certain books, not isolated passages, he observed.  The best way to read the Bible, Ellul wrote, was to focus on the forest, not to become lost amid the trees.

Ellul died, aged 82 years, at Pessac (near Bordeaux) on May 19, 1994.

Ellul provides much food for thought for me.  I am not a Biblical literalist either, so his advice on reading and interpreting the scriptures resonates with me.  I also agree with Conflict Theory, an approach useful in history, my discipline.  Furthermore, I identify with Ellul’s ambivalent approach toward technology, with its benefits and its dangers.  I am a blogger, so I cannot be a luddite, but the Internet is not unambiguously good.  I appreciate our saint’s recognition of the violence inherent in social, economic, and political systems, whereby all of us become the beneficiaries of that violence, even if we do not commit it.  I also approve of his call to nonviolent social action in response.  Furthermore, the union of church and state perverts the church, transforming into an arm of the state.  Ellul’s cautious attitude toward the state therefore makes much sense to me.

People die yet ideas survive.  Ellul’s philosophy continues to influence people to nonviolent social action, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH O’FLAHERTY, “SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF THE VATICAN”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL SHINJI SASAKI, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF TOKYO; AND PHILIP LENDEL TSEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF HONAN

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Jacques Ellul,

and we pray that by his teachings we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth

we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of Mary McLeod Bethune (May 18)   1 comment

Above:  Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-12536

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MARY JANE MCLEOD BETHUNE (JULY 10, 1875-MAY 18, 1955)

African-American Educator and Social Activist

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I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.  They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.

–Mary McLeod Bethune

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Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune left the world better than she found it.

Mary Jane McLeod was the fifteenth of seventeen children in her family.  She, born near Mayesville, South Carolina, on July 10, 1875, was a child of former slaves.  As such our saint learned the value of freedom at an early age.  Her grandmother Sophia, also a former slave, reinforced those lessons.  Young Mary Jane had a great appetite for knowledge in a place and at a time in which many unapologetically racist whites openly questioned the necessity and value of literacy and education for African Americans.

Mission schools of the former “Northern” (actually national) Presbyterian Church in the United States of America shaped our saint.  From the ages of 12 to 18 years she studied at Scotia Seminary for girls, Concord, North Carolina.  The racially integrated faculty impressed McLeod, who took to mathematics, science, Latin, and English with great eagerness.  After graduating from Scotia Seminary she studied at the Mission Training School of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, from which she also graduated.  Then our saint applied to serve as a missionary to Africa, but the Presbyterian Board of Missions rejected her request, citing her youth.

McLeod’s vocation was actually to help African Americans.  She became a teacher at the Haines Institute, Augusta, Georgia.  In 1898 she married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune.  The couple moved to Savannah, Georgia, where they remained for a few years.  Our saint taught at mission schools–the Kendall Institute, Sumter, South Carolina; and the Palatka Mission School, Palatka, Florida–for a year.  Then, in 1904, she founded the Daytona Literary and Training School for Girls with five students and $1.50 ($41.70 in 2016 currency).  Bethune raised funds from the community and from corporate donors, however.  Donors included James Gamble (of Proctor and Gamble) and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  Before 1919 the school had become the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute.  In 1919 it changed its name to the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute.  In 1923-1925 the school merged with the Cookman Institute, Jacksonville, Florida.  The Cookman Institute, founded in 1872 and affiliated with the old “Northern” (actually national) Methodist Episcopal Church, trained African-American teachers and ministers.  The merged institution was Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institution, which changed its name to Bethune-Cookman College in 1931.  Our saint served as the President until 1942 and again in 1946-1947.  She also transferred her membership from the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bethune was a civil rights pioneer.  She resisted the Ku Klux Klan and voted despite threats of violence.  Our saint also advocated for anti-lynching laws and for the termination of poll taxes.  She, who knew the stings of racial segregation well, acted to change her society.  This advocacy brought her to the attention of President Herbert Hoover, who invited her to attend a general session of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1930.

Eleanor Roosevelt was an especially important ally and friend of Bethune.  Through the First Lady our saint gained access to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom she lobbied on behalf of her people.  Bethune held government positions during the Roosevelt Administration.  She was the Director of Negro Administration from 1936 to 1944.  Our saint also served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of War and the Assistant Director of the Woman’s Army Corps.  In that capacity she organized the first woman’s officer candidate school.  Our saint also attended the founding conference of the United Nations.

As if Bethune were not busy enough, she did much more.  In 1935 she founded the National Council of Negro Women, an organization she led until 1939.  Our saint, also active in the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), served as the President of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History from 1936 to 1951.

Bethune, aged 79 years, rested from her labors on May 18, 1955.

Bethune-Cookman College became Bethune-Cookman University in 2007.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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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 trouble,

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), page 60

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Feast of Blessed Stanislaw Kubski (May 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Dachau Concentration Camp

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED STANISLAW KUBSKI (AUGUST 13, 1876-MAY 18, 1942)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Alternative feast day = June 12 (as one of the 108 Martyrs of World War II)

Blessed Stanislaw Kubski, born in partitioned and occupied Poland–at Ksiaz, Wielkopolskie, to be precise–on August 13, 1876, became a Polish nationalist, a political dissident, a Roman Catholic priest, and a martyr.  Our saint, a son of farmers Michael and Franciszek Kubski, attended seminary at Poznan-Hriezno.  He, ordained a priest on November 25, 1900, served as a parish priest at various places.  His political activities attracted the attention of certain officials of the German Empire.  In 1906, for example, Kubski supported a strike by school children who sought the right to learn in the Polish language.  Five years later German police fined our saint for organizing an educational reading without informing them.  Kubski was also active in city councils and various industrial groups.

Kubski was, by all accounts, a dedicated priest.  He remained one until he died.  Our saint, canon (1923-1925) then dean (from 1925) at Griezno, was also active in the Archdiocese of Gniezno above the parish level.  On September 8, 1939, after the Third Reich and the Soviet Union partitioned Poland, German authorities arrested Kubski for the crime of being a Roman Catholic priest.  They sent him first to Buchenwald, where he worked in a quarry.  In December 1939 Nazis transferred Kubski to Dachau.  There he remained until 1942.  That May 18, our saint being, according to the camp administration, unfit for work, he died in a gas chamber.  He was 65 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared Kubski a Venerable then a Blessed in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of Blessed Stanislaw Kubski,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage

to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of Maltbie Davenport Babcock (May 18)   1 comment

Above:  Maltbie Davenport Babcock

Image in the Public Domain

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MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK (AUGUST 3, 1858-MAY 18, 1901)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Writer

Maltbie Davenport Babcock was the kind of person people have in mind when they say the good die young.

Babcock, a native of Syracuse, New York, was talented.  He, born on August 3, 1858, came from a socially prominent family.  From an early age he was a fine student, athlete, and musician with a magnetic personality.  Our saint was a natural leader.  At Syracuse University, where Babcock matriculated in 1875, he was a skilled organist, pianist, and vocalist.

Babcock became a minister.  After graduating from Auburn Theological Seminary in 1882, our saint began to serve as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Lockport, New York.  There he liked to walk in the nature, to, in his words, to see his Father’s world.  This was consistent with the Reformed idea of the Book of Nature.  At Lockport Babcock composed a poem, “My Father’s World,” which his widow, Katherine Eliot Tallman Babcock (1857-1943), whom he had married in 1882, had published in 1901, after his untimely death.

This is my Father’s world.

On the day of its wondrous birth

The stars of light in phalanx bright

Sang out in Heavenly mirth.

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This is my Father’s world.

E’en yet to my listening ears

All nature sings, and around me rings

The music of the spheres.

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This is my Father’s world.

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,

His hand the wonders wrought.

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This is my Father’s world.

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

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This is my Father’s world.

He shines in all that’s fair.

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,

He speaks to me everywhere.

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This is my Father’s world.

From His eternal throne,

He watch doth keep when I’m asleep,

And I am not alone.

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This is my Father’s world.

Dreaming, I see His face.

I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise

Cry, “The Lord is in this place.”

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This is my Father’s world.

I walk a desert lone.

In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze

God makes His glory known.

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This is my Father’s world.

Among the mountains drear,

‘Mid rending rocks and earthquake shocks,

The still, small voice I hear.

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This is my Father’s world.

From the shining courts above,

The Beloved One, His only Son,

Came–a pledge of deathless love.

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This is my Father’s world.

Now closer to Heaven bound,

For dear to God is the earth Christ trod,

No place but is holy ground.

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This is my Father’s world.

His love has filled my breast,

I am reconciled, I am His child,

My soul has found His rest.

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This is my Father’s world.

A wanderer I may roam,

Whate’er my lot, it matters not,

My heart is still at home.

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This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That tho’ the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

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This is my Father’s world.

The battle is not done.

Jesus who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and Heaven be one.

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This is my Father’s World.

Should my heart be ever sad?

The Lord is King–let the Heavens ring

God reigns–let the earth be glad.

–Quoted in Thoughts for Every-Day Living (1901), pages 180-182

This text became the source material for the hymn “This is My Father’s World,” set to music in 1915.

Our saint became a rising star among Presbyterian ministers.  From 1886 to 1900 Babcock was pastor of Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland.  There he became a popular speaker on university campuses.  Our saint also raised funds to help Russian Jewish refugees fleeing Czarist pogroms.  In 1900 Babcock succeeded the great Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), another hymn writer, as pastor of The Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City.  Babcock made a journey to the Holy Land the following year.  On that trip he died of natural causes at Naples, Italy, on May 18.  He was 42 years old.

I wonder what more Babcock would have done for God had he lived longer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Maltbie Davenport Babcock and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of St. John I (May 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. John I

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN I (DIED MAY 18, 526)

Bishop of Rome

St. John I had a difficult pontificate.  Our saint had been a deacon and a supporter of Antipope Lawrence (in opposition 498-499 and 501-506), but had transferred his loyalty to Pope St. Symmachus (in office 498-506) in 506.  St. John I was a senior, elderly, and infirm deacon on August 13, 523, when he became the placeholder pontiff.  The native of Populonia, Tuscany, had to contend with international politics and the Arian heresy during his brief pontificate.

In one corner, so to speak, was the Roman Emperor Justin I (reigned 518-527), based in Constantinople.  He, an opponent of Arianism, the heresy that the Second Person of the Trinity is a created being, was forcing Arians to recant.  Justin I had also seized Arian churches and excluded Arians from public offices.  The Roman Emperor also wanted to retake Italy, lost to the Roman Empire the previous century.

Above:  The Kingdom of the Ostrogoths and the Roman Empire in 526 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

In the other corner was Theodoric the Great (reigned 475-526), the King of the Ostrogoths, and therefore of Italy.  Theodoric, an Arian, forced St. John I to lead a delegation consisting of bishops and senators to Constantinople, to demand that Justin I reverse his anti-Arian policies.  The Pope did refuse, however, to request that the Emperor permit Arians required to convert to Chalcedonian Christianity to revert.  St. John I led the delegation out of fear of what Theodoric would do if he refused to go.  The Supreme Pontiff had good reasons to be afraid, for he recalled the fate of his friend Boethius (St. Severinus Boethius, lived circa 480-524; feast day – October 23), statesman and philosopher.  Theodoric had ordered the execution of Boethius for allegedly treasonous correspondence with Justin I.  The Papal delegation arrived at Constantinople with great fanfare on April 19, 526, shortly before Easter.  Justin agreed to Theodoric’s demands except the right of former Arians to revert.

Theodoric was a violent and suspicious man who thought that the Pope and the Roman Emperor had conspired against him.  St. John I, back at Ravenna, Italy, Theodoric’s capital city, learned firsthand of the monarch’s wrath.  The Ostrogothic king imprisoned the Pope, who died of thirst and starvation on May 18, 526.

The Pontiff’s burial at Rome occurred nine days later.

Above:  Lombard Italy and the Roman Empire, 600 C.E.

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

The Roman Emperor, under Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565), conquered Italy in 535-554.  Taking proved easier than keeping, however.  Within a few decades the Lombard invasion took its toll.  The empire controlled portions of Italy until 1071.

The Arian heresy has continued, unfortunately.

St. John I was a pious man who did the best he could in the interests of the common good, at great risk to himself.  He was, for all intents and purposes, a martyr.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Saint John I

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our

witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him 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

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

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