Archive for September 2018

Feast of Marie-Joseph Aubert (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert

Image in the Public Domain

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MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT (JUNE 19, 1835-OCTOBER 1, 1926)

Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion

Also known as Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert and Meri

Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  There is also a cause for her canonization in the Roman Catholic Church.  The irony of that is wonderful, given how often Aubert was at odds with the hierarchy of her Church, especially in New Zealand.

(Marie Henriette) Suzanne Aubert, born in Saint-Symphorien-de-Lay, Loire, near Lyons, France, on June 19, 1835, was devout from an early age.  Her father was Louis Aubert, a bailiff.  Our saint’s mother was Henriette Catherine Clarice Périer.  Suzanne, disabled for a long time due to a childhood accident, recovered.  The experience contributed to her decision to spend her life helping the disabled, the deformed, and the seriously ill.  So did contact with Marists in Lyons.  St. Jean Baptiste Vianney (1746-1859) mentored Suzanne spiritually from her teens into her early twenties.  She became a nurse and served during the Crimean War.  Our saint also studied piano under the tutelage of Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  In September 1860 the 25-year-old saint, resisting family opposition to her intention to become a nun, joined the missionary expedition of Bishop François Pompallier to New Zealand.

Our saint spent most of the rest of her life in New Zealand.

She taught Maori girls in Auckland from 1860 to 1869.  During this period Suzanne Aubert became Sister Marie-Joseph of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, in June 1861.  The French-Irish order divided in 1862; the French nuns formed the Congregation of the Holy Family.  Bishop Pompallier left New Zealand in 1868 and resigned in March 1869.  His financial troubles caused the school to close and the Congregation of the Holy Family to disband.  Bishop T. W. Cooke, the next bishop to whom Aubert answered, ordered her to return to France.  Our saint disobeyed, replying,

I have come here for the Maoris, I shall die in their midst.  I will do what I like.

Aubert moved to Napier in February 1871; there she served in a lay capacity in the Marist Order’s Hawke’s Bay Mission, at the invitation of Father Euloge Reignier.  At that time our saint was a sister of the Third Order Regular of Mary.  At the Hawke’s Bay Mission she worked as a nurse, a catechist, and a teacher.  She, fluent in Maori, prepared and published a Maori-language catechism and prayer-book in 1879 and a Maori grammar in 1885.  She, known to the Maori as “Meri,” studied Maori herbal remedies and used them to supplement Western medicines.  Our saint also proved vital to the revival of the Marist mission in the Diocese of Wellington.  The mission, devastated by war during the 1860s, was short on priests.  Aubert’s persistence in lobbying Archbishop Francis Redwood and the leaders of the Marist Order led to the presence of more priests, including Father Christophe Soulas.

Aubert, Soulas, and three Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth arrived at the Jerusalem Mission on the Wanganui River on July 8, 1883.  Personality and philosophical differences became evident quickly, leading to the departure of the Sisters of Saint Joseph the following year.  Soulas and Aubert, allies, eventually received permission to found a new diocesan order, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (1892).  Aubert served as the first Superior of the order.  The members of the order initially focused on education and health care for Maori.  The nuns operated schools, dispensed medicine, and cared for disabled people and the chronically ill.  Aubert raised funds for the order by marketing herbal remedies.

At the Jerusalem Mission, starting in 1891, Aubert’s work also involved taking in abandoned and neglected children.  In the space of a decade she accepted responsibility for 70 children.  In the context of politics in New Zealand, European-style founding institutions were controversial.  Aubert, partially dependent on yet distrustful of civil authorities, refused to open the books for government inspectors.  Also, the geographically isolated mission was not the best place for the foundling institution.

Thus, it came to pass that, in January 1899, Aubert and three sisters did arrive in Wellington.  While the Jerusalem Mission continued our saint opened a new front in her work–helping urban poor people–invalids, the hungry, the unemployed, the incurably ill, et cetera.  The soup kitchen was controversial because, according to the colonial Department of Labour, it allegedly discouraged people from seeking employment.  Aubert’s rebuttal was that she was meeting a need.  The affordable daycare was popular with mothers.  Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington, opened in 1907, accepted the unwanted, handicapped, and seriously ill children, as well as chronically and terminally ill women.

Aubert founded St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in Auckland in 1910.  This institution attracted the ire of the government and of certain Protestants alike.  Why was the order so secretive, protecting the privacy of children?  Yet Aubert and her defenders replied that the policy was necessary, to reduce the likelihood of infanticide.

Aubert also had enemies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in New Zealand.  Certainly diplomacy was not her defining characteristic.  Neither was obedience.  (Nor should they have been.)  Aubert had, for example, ignored Archbishop Redwood’s order that she help only Roman Catholics.  As she told donors, her work was

salvation of souls, not the sanctification of Catholics.

Furthermore, Henry Cleary, the Bishop of Auckland, thought that our saint should have restricted her work to efforts to help women.  He arranged for the closing of St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in 1916.

Aubert spent 1913-1919 in Europe.  She went there to seek papal approval for her order, but stayed until after the end of World War I.  Our saint, who worked as a nurse during the Great War, obtained the desired papal approval and became the Superior General of her order in April 1917.

Aubert spent her final years in her adopted country.  She, aged 91 years, died at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington.  Mourners at her funeral included many politicians and leaders of a variety of denominations.  It was the largest funeral for a woman in New Zealand.

Aubert loved her neighbors as she loved herself.  The Golden Rule, seemingly simple and inoffensive, has proven to be neither simple nor inoffensive.  That has been unfortunate, reflecting the immorality and amorality of those who have found it offensive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

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

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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

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God of love, we remember with thanksgiving Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert,

whose devotion to the needs of others transcended race or religion;

touch us deeply with your love,

enlarge the boundaries of our compassion,

and keep us in the way of Jesus, for your name’s sake.  Amen.

or 

Jesus of Jerusalem, in your compassion, Marie-Joseph visited and fed

the taurekareka, the unwanted, the desperate and the criminal;

give to your whole church, we pray, your caring, pioneering spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 107:1-22

James 2:14-18

Mark 6:34-44

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Feast of St. Romanus the Melodist (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Romanus the Melodist

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST (CIRCA 490-CIRCA 556)

Deacon and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint Romanos the Melodist and Saint Roman the Melodist

Alternative feast day = October 14

St. Romanus the Melodist comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.  Many details of his life are lost to us in 2018, but enough are available.

St. Romanus, author of hymns, entered the world in Emesa, now in Syria, circa 490.  His parents were Jewish.  Whether they were also Christian has become lost in the ravages of time.  Our saint, baptized at an early age, grew up in the church; he loved God and the church.  St. Romanus, as a youth, lit lamps and prepared the censer at this parish.  Eventually our saint moved to Beirut, where he, ordained a deacon, served in the Church of the Resurrection.  Later the deacon relocated to Constantinople, the imperial capital, where he spent the rest of his life.

St. Romanus was a humble man and an ascetic with a devotion to the Mother of Our Lord and Savior.  He was, for many years, self-conscious about his singing voice and his public reading ability, both of which he considered substandard.  One Christmas Eve, however, after a vision of St. Mary of Nazareth, St. Romanus had a much improved singing voice and public reading ability.  He also began to write kontakia, or hymns for saints’ days and major feasts.  Our saint composed in excess of 1000 kontakia, about 80 of which have survived to 2018.

St. Romanus died in Constantinople circa 556.

The loss of 920 or so kontakia of St. Romanus has been a terrible one.  Those kontakia still extant have remained in use, however.

St. Romanus sought to honor God with his life.  He succeeded.

May we succeed in that goal also, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

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

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Saint Romanus the Melodist 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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Devotion for Thanksgiving Day (U.S.A.)   1 comment

Above:  Thanksgiving Day–The Dance, by Winslow Homer

Image in the Public Domain

Gratitude

NOVEMBER 28, 2018

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Since antiquity and in cultures from many parts of the Earth harvest festivals have been occasions of thanksgiving.  In the United States of America, where the first national observance of Thanksgiving occurred in 1863, the November date has related to the harvest feast in Plymouth in 1621.  Prior to 1863 some U.S. states had an annual thanksgiving holiday, and there was a movement for the national holiday.  Liturgically the occasion has remained tied to harvest festivals, although the meaning of the holiday has been broader since 1863.  The Episcopal Church has observed its first Book of Common Prayer in 1789.  Nationwide Thanksgiving Day has become part of U.S. civil religion and an element of commercialism, which might actually be the primary sect of civil religion in the United States.  The Almighty Dollar attracts many devotees.

Too easily and often this holiday deteriorates into an occasion to gather with relatives while trying (often in vain) to avoid shouting matches about politics and/or religion, or to watch television, or to be in some other awkward situation.  The holiday means little to me; I find it inherently awkward.  This state of affairs is the result of my youth, when my family and I, without relatives nearby, witnessed many of our neighbors hold family reunions on the holiday.  Thanksgiving Day, therefore, reminds me of my lifelong relative isolation.

Nevertheless, I cannot argue with the existence of occasions to focus on gratitude to God.  The Bible teaches us in both Testaments that we depend entirely on God, depend on each other, are responsible to and for each other, and have no right to exploit each other.  The key word is mutuality, not individualism.  I embrace the focus on this ethos.

A spiritual practice I find helpful is to thank God throughout each day, from the time I awake to the time I go to bed.  Doing so helps one recognize how fortunate one is.  The electrical service is reliable.  The breeze is pleasant.  The sunset is beautiful.  Reading is a great pleasure.  The list is so long that one can never reach the end of it, but reaching the end of that list is not the goal anyway.  No, the goal is to be thankful and to live thankfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS

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Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season,

and for the labors of those who harvest them.

Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty,

for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need,

to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

Deuteronomy 8:1-3, 6-10 (17-20)

Psalm 65 or Psalm 65:9-14

James 1:17-18, 21-27

Matthew 6:25-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 701

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Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day.

By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness,

give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Year A

Deuteronomy 8:7-18

Psalm 65

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Luke 17:11-19

Year B

Joel 2:21-27

Psalm 126

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Matthew 6:25-33

Year C

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Psalm 100

Philippians 4:4-9

John 6:25-35

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Philippians 4:6-20 or 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Luke 17:11-19

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/gratitude-part-ii/

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Posted September 14, 2018 by neatnik2009 in November 28

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Devotion for the Feast of All Souls/Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (November 2)   1 comment

Above:  All Souls’ Day, by Jakub Schikaneder

Image in the Public Domain

Praying for the Dead

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The Feast of All Souls originated at the great monastery of Cluny in 998.  The commemoration spread and became an occasion to pray for those in Purgatory.  During the Reformation Era Protestants and Anglicans dropped the feast on theological grounds.  In the late twentieth century, however, the feast–usually renamed the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed–began appearing on Anglican calendars.  The difference between All Saints’ Day and All Faithful Departed, in this context, had become one of emphasis–distinguished saints on November 1 and forgotten saints on November 2.

The idea of Purgatory (a Medieval Roman Catholic doctrine with ancient roots) is that of, as I heard a Catholic catechist, “God’s mud room.”  The doctrine holds that all those in Purgatory will go to Heaven, just not yet, for they require purification.  I am sufficiently Protestant to reject the doctrine of Purgatory, for I believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus constitutes “God’s mud room.”  Purgatory is also alien to Eastern Orthodoxy, which also encourages prayers for the dead.

I pray for the dead, too.  After all, who knows what takes place between God and the departed?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS

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Merciful Father, hear our prayers and console us.

As we renew our faith in your Son, whom you raised from the dead,

strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters will share in his resurrection,

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

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-9, 13-14 or Psalm 103:8, 10, 13-18

Romans 6:3-9 or 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Matthew 25:31-46 or John 11:17-27

The Vatican II Sunday Missal (1974), 1041-1048

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O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers:

Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son;

that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 130 or Psalm 116:6-9

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 or 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

John 5:24-27

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 665

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/praying-for-the-dead/

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Posted September 14, 2018 by neatnik2009 in November 2

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Devotion for the Feast of All Saints (November 1)   1 comment

Above:  All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

The Communion of Saints

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The Episcopal Church has seven Principal Feasts:  Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Day of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany.

The Feast of All Saints, with the date of November 1, seems to have originated in Ireland in the 700s, then spread to England, then to Europe proper.  November 1 became the date of the feast throughout Western Europe in 835.  There had been a competing date (May 13) in Rome starting in 609 or 610.  Anglican tradition retained the date of November 1, starting with The Book of Common Prayer (1549).  Many North American Lutherans first observed All Saints’ Day with the Common Service Book (1917).  The feast was already present in The Lutheran Hymnary (Norwegian-American, 1913).  The Lutheran Hymnal (Missouri Synod, et al, 1941) also included the feast.  O the less formal front, prayers for All Saints’ Day were present in the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), the U.S. Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945), and their successors.

The Feast of All Saints reminds us that we, as Christians, belong to a large family stretching back to the time of Christ.  If one follows the Lutheran custom of commemorating certain key figures from the Hebrew Bible, the family faith lineage predates the conception of Jesus of Nazareth.

At Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, where I was a member from 1993 to 1996, I participated in a lectionary discussion group during the Sunday School hour.  Icons decorated the walls of the room in which we met.  The teacher of the class called the saints depicted “the family.”

“The family” surrounds us.  It is so numerous that it is “a great cloud of witnesses,” to quote Hebrews 12:1.  May we who follow Jesus do so consistently, by grace, and eventually join that great cloud.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord:

Give us grace to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living,

that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Year A:

Revelation 7:9-17

1 John 3:1-3

Psalm 34:1-10, 22

Matthew 5:1-12

Year B:

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 21:1-6a

John 11:32-44

Year B:

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Psalm 149

Ephesians 1:11-23

Luke 6:20-31

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2006), 663; also Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Revelation 7:(2-8), 9-17

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/the-communion-of-saints-part-ii/

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Devotion for the Feast of the Reformation (October 31)   4 comments

Above:  Wittenberg in 1540

Image in the Public Domain

Schism and Reconciliation

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The Feast of the Reformation, celebrated first in the Brunswick church order (1528), composed by Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), died out in the 1500s.  Initially the dates of the commemoration varied according to various church orders, and not all Lutherans observed the festival.  Original dates included November 10 (the eve of Martin Luther‘s birthday), February 18 (the anniversary of Luther’s death), and the Sunday after June 25, the date of the delivery of the Augsburg Confession.  In 1667, after the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Elector of Saxony John George II ordered the revival of the commemoration, with the date of October 31.  Over time the commemoration spread, and commemorations frequently occurred on the Sunday closest to that date.

The feast used to function primarily as an occasion to express gratitude that one was not Roman Catholic.  However, since 1980, the 450th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement) and the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau have favored observing the feast as a time of reconciliation and of acknowledging the necessity of the Reformation while not celebrating the schism.

This perspective is consistent with the position of Professor Phillip Cary in his Great Courses series of The History of Christian Theology (2008), in which he argues that Protestantism and Roman Catholicism need each other.

I, as an Episcopalian, stand within the Middle Way–Anglicanism.  I am convinced, in fact, that I am on this planet for, among other reasons, to be an Episcopalian; the affiliation fits me naturally.  I even hang an Episcopal Church flag in my home.  I, as an Episcopalian, am neither quite Protestant nor Roman Catholic; I borrow with reckless abandon from both sides–especially from Lutheranism in recent years.  I affirm Single Predestination (Anglican and Lutheran theology), Transubstantiation, a 73-book canon of scripture, and the Assumption of Mary (Roman Catholic theology), and reject both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin Birth of Jesus.  My ever-shifting variety of Anglicanism is sui generis.

The scandal of schism, extant prior to 1517, but exasperated by the Protestant and English Reformations, grieves me.  Most of the differences among denominations similar to each other are minor, so overcoming denominational inertia with mutual forbearance would increase the rate of ecclesiastical unity.  Meanwhile, I, from my perch in The Episcopal Church, ponder whether organic union with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is feasible and wise.  It is a question worth exploring.  At least we are natural ecumenical partners.  We already have joint congregations, after all.  If there will be organic union, it will require mutual giving and taking on many issues, but we agree on most matters already.

Time will tell.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people.

Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial,

defend them against all enemies of the gospel,

and bestow on the church your saving peace,

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

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

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 46

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 58

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Revelation 14:6-7

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36 or Matthew 11:12-19

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/schism-and-reconciliation/

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Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003 (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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INTRODUCTION

The Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  This feast overlaps with two other commemorations from various provinces of the Anglican Communion–that of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20) and that of the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood (April 24).

1864-1871

The first Anglican martyrs in Melanesia were Frederick Lorenzo Fisher Young (usually known as Fisher Young) and Edwin Nobbs, who died in 1864.  Young and Nobbs were descendants of H.M.S. Bounty mutineers; Young was a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian (1792-1842).  Young, born on January 27, 1846, was a native of Pitcairn Island.  Nobbs was a son of an Anglican priest stationed on Norfolk Island, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  In 1864 Young, Nobbs, and Bishop John Coleridge Patteson were on Santa Cruz Island when natives shot them with arrows.  Young and Nobbs contracted tetanus and lockjaw.  Young died on August 24, after having forgiven his assailants.

I have already written about the martyrdoms of Joseph Atkin, Stephen Taroniara, and Bishop Patteson in 1871.

1904-1926

Others came to wear the crown of martyrdom, also.

  1. Arthur Ako died in his garden in 1904.  In 1898 he and fifteen converts from Fiji founded a Christian village at Kwara’ae, Fiu.  Within two years, with the addition of non-Fijian Christians, the village’s population had increased to about 100.  Hostile neighbors harassed the villagers.  The village remained after Ako’s murder and became the center of the spread of the faith in the area.
  2. James Ivo, a teacher from Nggela, died (by shooting) at Ngorefou in 1906.
  3. James Sili, falsely accused of sorcery, was standing on the veranda of the mission-house when someone fatally shot him in 1910.
  4. Charles Christopher Godden, born in Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, in 1876, was a poet, as well as the first Australian missionary to die in Melanesia.  He, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1899 and the priesthood the following year, was briefly the Curate of St. Michael’s Church, Surry Hills.  He volunteered for missionary work.  On September 3, 1900, Godden left for Norfolk Island, headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  He arrived in Omba, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in April 1901.  There Godden supervised the construction of a church building and some schools.  On December 12, 1905, while on leave in Sydney, Australia, he married Eva Dearin (d. 1964).  They returned to Omba the following April.  On October 16, 1906, an angry, vengeful Melanesian man, released from an Australian prison after serving his sentence for attempted murder, killed Godden, who had never done anything to him, but was of European ancestry.  Our saint’s murderer was angry at people of European ancestry, due to his incarceration.  Eva gave birth to a daughter, Ruth, in July 1907.
  5. Ben Teilo, from Matema, was the first native Reef Islander ordained to the Anglican priesthood, in 1919.  He met his martyrdom via an axe attack in 1926.

2003

1998-2003 was a time of crisis in the Solomon Islands.  Two rival militias, the Isatubu Freedom Movement and the Malaitan Eagle Force, fought over competition between ethnic groups for land and jobs.  Government instability ensued, the economy suffered, and natural disasters made bad manners worse.  Military forces from Australia and New Zealand helped to stabilize the situation and end the crisis by the end of 2003, three years after the signing of the peace treaty.

Nathaniel Sado was a novice in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He, in charge of the piggery, liked the pigs very much and fed them sweet potatoes he had picked from his garden then cooked.  Sado and animals got along well; he was one of the few novices the donkey liked.  Our saint, a native of the volcanic island of Savo, enjoyed taking expatriates to the hot springs there.  Sado, who was naïve, had befriended Harold Keke, notorious leader of the Isatubu Freedom Movement, and a man responsible for the murder of two priests, one of them a Member of Parliament in 2002.  Sado thought he really knew Keke; he was terribly mistaken.  Sado, accused of being a government spy, sang hymns as guerrillas beat him death at Easter (April 20) 2003.

Six Melanesian Brothers went to ask for Sado’s corpse.  They paid with their lives on or about April 23, 2003.

  1. Robin Lindsay was the Assistant Head Brother.  He, a longterm member of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was, according to the Father Richard Carter, a chaplain to the Brotherhood, “the encourager,” and a man who had a gift for helping people build on their strengths.
  2. Francis Tofi worked for peace in the strife-torn Solomon Islands.  He organized an effort, in conjugation with police, to sink all the ammunition, explosives, and high-powered weapons they could find into the sea, beyond reach.  Tofi, an expert in peaceful conflict resolution and an advocate for disarmament, fearlessly spoke out against Keke.  Tofi had received an offer from the World Council of Churches to accept a place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva and to assist with a course on conflict resolution.  He, according to his own words, had no fear of dying for the sake of peace and in the service of God.
  3. Alfred Hilly, stationed for two years at a the Chester Resthouse in Honiara, was the epitome of hospitality, teaching an abandoned child to read, tending to visiting children, and reading blood slides at the local malaria clinic.
  4. Ini Partabatu was an actor and a courageous opponent of injustice.  He acted in dramas about development and health issues.  Partabatu also condemned brutal police tactics that disrespected the rights of the accused.
  5. Patteson Gatu, admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood in October 2002, was usually quick to smile.  His sense of humor, combined with his faith, made him an agent of grace.
  6. Tony Sirihi, having lost his father at an early age, found a family in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He grew into a bold Brother, a courageous man, and a good friend who participated in the process of disarmament.

In March 2005 Harold Keke and two former guerrillas received life sentences for the murder of Father Augustine Geve, M.P., in 2002.

CONCLUSION

These are sobering stories that remind one of the command of Jesus to take up one’s cross and follow him.  Some follow Christ all the way to their own Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Creator God, whose majesty is in the storms as well as in the calm,

we thank you for those of every race who gave their lives in Melanesia for the sake of Christ;

may we your church always proclaim your gospel, live your commandments,

and overcome the powers of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God, you call us, your missionaries, to carry our lives in our hands;

we praise you for many servants in Melanesia whose lives

were taken by those for whom they would gladly have given them.  Amen.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Psalm 97 or 149

Colossians 1:9-14

John 12:20-26

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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