Feast of Virgil Michel (June 26)   1 comment

Above:  St. John’s Abbey Church, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota

Image Source = Library of Congress

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VIRGIL MICHEL (JUNE 26, 1890-NOVEMBER 26, 1938)

U.S. Roman Catholic Monk, Academic, and Pioneer of Liturgical Renewal

Also known as George Michel

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Liturgy is essentially the Christian faith prayed; it is dogma set to prayer.

–Virgil Michel

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Virgil Michel comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days courtesy of Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997).

George Michel, born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 26, 1890, was a man ahead of his time.  In that respect he was like many other pioneers.  Fred and Mary Michel presided over a devout Roman Catholic family that emphasized the value of education.  Our saint, as a young man, mastered five languages.  In 1903 Michel matriculated at St. John’s Preparatory School, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Six years later he became a Benedictine novice, as Virgil Michel.

Michel, ordained to the priesthood in 1916, was an academic.  He taught at St. John’s Preparatory School then became a professor of English and philosophy at St. John’s University.  Later in life our saint was Dean there.  Michel maintained a rigorous schedule as he suffered from overwork and worsening eyesight.

Michel, who earned his Ph.D. in English from The Catholic University of America, valued liturgical renewal.  It had been on his mind before he traveled in Europe, where he witnessed it, in 1924-1925.  He sought to recapture the Mass as an expression of faith; the Mass should never be a spectator sport event, he insisted.  This effort required liturgical reform and the backing away from clericalism–the recognition of the people as the Body of Christ.  Michael presaged Vatican II (1962-1965).

For Michel the link between liturgical renewal and social justice was plain:

The entire life of the true Christian must be a reflection and a further expression of his life at the altar of God.   If he is predominantly a passive Christian there, can we expect him to be an active Christian in the world?

–Virgil Michel

His spirituality of lived values and social reform–of the sanctification of the world rather than the flight from it–influenced Dorothy Day (1897-1980).

Michel, aged 48 years, died at Collegeville on November 26, 1938.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCUS AURELIUS CLEMENS PRUDENTIUS, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MATEO CORREA-MAGALLANES AND MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT VEDAST (VAAST), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ARRAS AND CAMBRAI

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BOYCE AND JOHN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN COMPOSERS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Virgil Michel,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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One response to “Feast of Virgil Michel (June 26)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Lambert Beauduin (August 4) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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