Archive for March 2019

Feast of St. Hugh of Lincoln (November 17)   1 comment

Above:  St. Hugh of Lincoln

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT HUGH OF LINCOLN (1135-NOVEMBER 16, 1200)

Roman Catholic Bishop and Abbot

++++++++++++++++++

If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift up his head against them.

–King Richard I

++++++++++++++++++

St. Hugh of Lincoln, a reluctant abbot then a reluctant bishop, served God, confronted his king, and left a fine legacy.

St. Hugh was noble in two senses of that word.  His father was William, Lord of Avalon.  Our saint, born in Avalon Castle, Burgundy, France, in 1135, was eight years old when his mother, Anna, died.  St. Hugh, educated at a monastery in Villard-Benoit, France, became a monk at the age of 15 years and a deacon four years later.  Our saint, a Carthusian since 1160, became a priest five years later, having already been the Prior of Saint-Maxim since 1159.

St. Hugh reluctantly became the abbot of the new monastery (the first Carthusian abbey in England) at Witham, Somerset, in 1175.  King Henry II (reigned 1154-1189), penitent over the murder of St. Thomas Becket (December 29, 1170), had ordered the construction of that monastery.  St. Hugh, renowned for his piety, actively cared for the poor and attracted many recruits to the Carthusian order.

St. Hugh was an even more reluctant Bishop of Lincoln (1186-1200).  He was no less faithful, though.  After an earthquake destroyed the cathedral, St. Hugh presided over the reconstruction of the structure.  He also helped to transform the cathedral school into one of the greatest institutions of learning in England.  St. Hugh fearlessly confronted King Richard I (reigned 1189-1199), criticizing him for mistreating subjects.  Our saint also refused to raise funds for foreign wars.  Furthermore, St. Hugh criticized the monarch for leaving certain sees vacant, for the sake of collecting income.  Our saint also risked his life to resist the persecution of Jews (1190-1191); he confronted mobs and forced the release of captives.

St. Hugh died in London on November 16, 1200.  His health had been failing since the previous year, after a diplomatic mission for King John (reigned 1199-1216) to France.

The Church recognized St. Hugh in 1220, when Pope Honorius III made him the first canonized Carthusian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, ORTHODOX MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy God, our greatest treasure, you blessed Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln,

with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of your Word to rich and poor alike;

Grant that all who minister in your Name may serve with diligence, discipline, and humility,

fearing nothing but the loss of you and drawing all to you through Jesus Christ our Savior;

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

Micah 4:1-4

Psalm 61

Titus 2:7-8, 11-14

Luke 12:35-44

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 685

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Feast of St. Margaret of Scotland (November 16)   2 comments

Above:  St. Margaret of Scotland

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND (CIRCA 1045-NOVEMBER 16, 1093)

Roman Catholic Queen, Humanitarian, and Ecclesiastical Reformer

Also known as Saint Margaret of Wessex

Alternative feast day = June 16

Former feast day = June 10

St. Margaret of Scotland, who began live as a political exile, became a prominent and historically important figure–a humanitarian, a queen, an ecclesiastical reformer, and the mother of several Kings of Alba/the Scots, as well as a great-grandmother of King Henry II of the Plantaganet Dynasty.

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

St. Margaret was a member of the royal house of Wessex–Anglo-Saxon rulers.  Her grandfather was King Ethelred the Unready (reigned 978-1016), who was actually poorly advised, not unready.  Ethelred’s successor was Edmund II Ironside (reigned April 23-November 30, 1016), who preceded the reign (1016-1035) of King Canute of Denmark in England.  St. Margaret’s father was Edward the Exile (1016-1057).  Her mother was Agatha (before 1030-1057).  Our saint, born in Hungary circa 1045, was a great-niece of King St. Stephen I of Hungary I (reigned 1000-1038).  She spent her earliest years in the court of King Andrew I of Hungary (reigned 1046-1060).  The family returned to England in 1057, during the reign (1042-1066) of Edward the Confessor.  After the Norman Conquest (1066), the family found refuge in the Kingdom of Alba (now Scotland) in 1068.

St. Margaret was Queen of Alba from 1070 to 1093.  King Malcolm III Canmore (reigned 1058-1093) was a widower with children.  He was also illiterate, impious, and uncouth.  St. Margaret was devout and persuasive, however.  She and Malcolm had eight children, including several kings (one of them St. David I), St. Edith/Matilda (the mother of Holy Roman Empress then English Queen Matilda, the mother of King Henry II of England and France), and Blessed Edmund of Scotland (circa 1071-1100, a monk from 1097).  St. Margaret convinced her husband to found schools, orphanages, and hospitals.  She used her influence to have Iona Abbey rebuilt and to cause the founding of Dumferline Abbey.  Our saint urged her husband to improve the quality of life for the people of Alba.  She was less successful in her efforts to reduce interclan warfare, though.

St. Margaret encouraged greater piety at home and in the realm.  She was the spiritual director of her household and the royal court.  Our saint, dismayed with the custom of beginning Lent on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, insisted on starting the season on Ash Wednesday.  Furthermore, Eucharistic rites were to follow the Latin Rite, she said.  Sunday was to be a true sabbath, St. Margaret insisted.  She also encouraged frequent communion.

St. Margaret died at Edinburgh Castle on November 16, 1093, a few days after Malcolm and their son Edward died during civil conflict.

Pope Innocent IV canonized St. Margaret in 1251.

St. Margaret understood that temporal power is a great responsibility, never properly a tool for enriching oneself and feeding one’s ego.  She left Alba/Scotland better than she found it.

Wherever you are, O reader, may you leave it better than you found it.  And, to the extent you have any power or influence, may you use if for good, not selfish, purposes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, you called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom,

and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people:

Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works,

and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 112:1-9

2 John 1-9

Luke 4:16-22a

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 683

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Johannes Kepler (November 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Stamp Depicting Johannes Kepler

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JOHANNES KEPLER (DECEMBER 27, 1571-NOVEMBER 15, 1630)

German Lutheran Astronomer and Mathematician

My greatest desire is that I may perceive the God whom I find everywhere in the external world, in like manner also within and inside myself.

–Johannes Kepler

++++++++++++++++++

Geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God.

–Kepler

++++++++++++++++++

Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.

–Galileo Gailiei

++++++++++++++++++

Johannes Kepler comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.  His Episcopal feast day (since 2009), shared with Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), is May 23.  On my Ecumenical Calendar, however, Copernicus shares a feast day with Gailieo Galilei (1564-1642).

The following two assertions are true:

  1. Our societies shape us.  We are products of our times.
  2. We shape our societies.  We help to make our times.

Kepler was both a product of his times and a shaper of the future.  He was, in many ways, ahead of his time, especially as he matured.

Kepler became a founder of modern astronomy.  He, a subject of the Holy Roman Empire, began his journey into revolutionizing science began at Weil der Stadt, where, on December 27, 1571, Catherine (Guldenmann) Kepler, from a formerly noble family, gave birth to our saint.  The Kepler family’s fortunes had been declining for some time; the father worked as a soldier.  When Johannes was four years old, he nearly went blind due to smallpox.  The condition damaged his eyesight permanently.

Kepler, who once aspired to the Lutheran ministry, became a mathematician and a scientist instead.  After graduating from Maulbronn with his Bachelor’s degree in 1588, he matriculated at Tübingen, from which he graduated with a Master’s degree in 1591.  At Tübingen Kepler studied the Copernican theory (heliocentrism), then a controversial idea, especially in ecclesiastical circles.  Kepler accepted heliocentrism and helped to shape modern astronomy.

Doing this entailed contradicting contemporary Christian orthodoxy, according to which the other planets, as well as the Moon and Sun, revolved around the Earth.  To accept the heliocentric model was allegedly to minimize sin, given the assumption that, the closer one moved toward the center (supposedly the Earth), the farther one moved away from God and the angels.  To place the Earth in orbit of the Sun was allegedly to place sinful humans amid God and the angels.

Kepler, professor of mathematics at Graz, starting in 1594, made his contribution.  Aside from mathematics, he also taught rhetoric and Virgil.  Our saint, who lived when the distinction between astronomy and astrology did not exist, prepared astrological almanacs.  Kepler, in the realm of faith and hard science, sought order in the relationships of planetary orbits to each other.  He initially had difficulty divorcing himself from all the assumptions of the old, accepted Ptolemaic model, with its spheres, et cetera.  Our saint married Barbara von Mühlbeck (d. 1611), of Graz, in April 1597.  A purge of Protestant theologians from that city in September of that year forced the Keplers to move.  Barbara’s wealth and influence enabled the couple to return after just one month, though.  They did have to leave in 1600, however.

The Keplers moved to Prague, for our saint’s new position, in 1600.  Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) helped to facilitate this transition.  Kepler became the court mathematician to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (reigned 1576-1612).  Our saint, as an astrologer, created horoscopes for the Emperor and courtiers.  Kepler also studied and wrote about light reflection, supernovae, planetary orbits, and other topics in the realm of hard science.  Our saint, as the recipient of Tycho Brahe’s decades’ worth of astronomical observational notes, analyzed that data and in 1609, published his conclusion that planetary orbits were elliptical. Kepler contradicted the Ptolemaic model, according to which heavenly bodies moved in circular orbits.

Kepler, who remarried (to Susanna Reutlinger) in 1613, served loyally under Emperor Matthias (reigned 1612-1619), who appointed him the mathematician to the states of upper Austria in 1612.  The following year, Kepler and Matthias argued unsuccessfully for the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar, in lieu of the old Julian Calendar.  Science did not yet yield to Protestant anti-Roman Catholicism.

Kepler, who taught mathematics in Silesia from 1628 until his death at Regensberg on November 15, 1630, got much right and other theories wrong.  He practiced astrology, a pseudo-science.  Our saint also thought that comets did not return.  For that matter, Gaileo Gailiei, Kepler’s contemporary, did not accept the gravitational pull of the Moon on tides on the Earth.  Great men were not always correct.

We see farther than they did because we stand on their shoulders.

Kepler was not only a giant of science; he was also a devout Christian.  He was, in both regards, in the same league as Copernicus, Galilei, and Michael Faraday (1791-1867).

The conflict between religion and faith on one side and science on the other is unnecessary.  Truth is truth.  Bad theology is bad theology.  Good theology is good theology.  We can arrive at much truth via observation, experimentation, data analysis, documentation, et cetera–in other words, the Scientific Method and Enlightenment Modernism.  Other truth, however, resides in a different purview.  One can have access to truth via more than one channel.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

As the heavens declare your glory, O God, and the firmament shows your handiwork,

we bless your Name for the gifts of knowledge and insight you bestowed upon Johannes Kepler,

and we pray that you would continue to advance our understanding of your cosmos,

for our good and for your glory;  through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation,

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

Genesis 1:14-19

Psalm 8

1 Corinthians 2:6-12

Matthew 2:1-11a

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 383

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Ignacio Ellacuria and His Companions (November 16)   5 comments

Above:  The Flag of El Salvador

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FATHER IGNACIO ELLACURÍA (NOVEMBER 9, 1930-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER IGANCIO MARTÍN-BARÓ (NOVEMBER 7, 1942-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER JUAN RAMON MORENO PARDO (AUGUST 29, 1933-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER AMANDO LÓPEZ QUINTANA (1936-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER SEGUNDO MONTES MOZO (MAY 13, 1933-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER JOAQUIN LÓPEZ Y LÓPEZ (AUGUST 16, 1918-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

JULIA ELBA RAMOS (DIED NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

CELINA MARICET RAMOS (1973-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR, NOVEMBER 16, 1989

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is my country and these are my people….The people need to have the church stay with them in these terrible times–the rich as well as the poor.  The rich need to hear from us, just as do the poor.  God’s grace does not leave, so neither can we.

–Father Segundo Montes Mozo, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 500

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

These saints come to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1989).  Perhaps Holy Mother Church will formally recognize these martyrs eventually, but I do so today.

In this post I choose to focus on making a few comments and to leave the biographies to a source that provides ample information.  Follow this link for that invaluable information, O reader.

During the El Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992), the U.S.-supported government of El Salvador, as a policy, murdered 75,000 civilians.  The list of martyrs of El Salvador is, of course, lengthy, including Father Rutilio Grande Garcia (1928-1977) and Archbishop Óscar Romero (1917-1980), who died before the civil war, and these eight martyrs, from late in that conflict.  The U.S. government supported that violent government in the context of the Cold War, for the El Salvadoran regime was fighting communist rebels.  However, far-right wing elements within the El Salvadoran military defined “communist” to mean anyone to their left who criticized them.

Six Jesuit priests, living on the campus of the (Jesuit) José Simeon Cañas Central American University, San Salvador, El Salvador, had made themselves thorns in the side of the government, with its policy of murdering civilians.  The priests’ faith required that they speak out against such violence.  In the early hours of November 16, 1989, military personnel murdered the six priests, their housekeeper (Elba Ramos), and her 16-year-old daughter (Celina Ramos).  Ironically, the Ramoses had sought safety from bombings and from violence in the streets; they had hoped to find security with the priests.

These murders backfired on the El Salvadoran government, which initially blamed communist rebels.  International disgust and pressure, including from the U.S. government, led to the negotiated end of the civil war in 1992.

These priests lived their faith.  They lived the incarnation during a civil war.  Their faith led them to martyrdom.  They could have said (and probably did) with Archbishop Helder Camara (1909-1999),

When I feed the poor, they call me saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.

These Jesuit priests and the Ramoses stood in line with Hebrew prophets, Jesus, two millennia of martyrs, Father Grande, Archbishop Romero, Archbishop Camara, and radical Australian Baptist minister Athol Hill (1937-1992).  All of the above stood with God on the side of justice.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Loving God, why do the just and innocent suffer?

We read and hear ancient theological answers to that question.

Regardless of the truth of any of those answers, they fail to satisfy.

Hasten the age of your justice, we pray, so that

the meek will inherit the earth,

we will beat our swords into plowshares and learn war no more,

artificial scarcity will cease, and

nobody else will have to suffer or die for the love of one’s neighbors.

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.  Amen.

Joel 3:9-16

Psalm 70

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE NICOBAR ISLANDS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is post #1700 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/proper-for-christian-martyrs/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/proper-for-christian-martyrs/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thoughts and Questions About the Temptations of Jesus   4 comments

Above:  The Temptations of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

Lent 2019

Texts:  Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13

Reading the Bible for spiritual formation is an ancient Benedictine practice.  My primary purpose in writing this short piece is to ask, how do the accounts (mainly the Lukan and Matthean ones) of the temptations of Jesus challenge us, both as individuals and a parish, to follow Jesus better than we do.

The Temptation to Turn Stones into Bread

Bread was especially precious in ancient Palestine, with relatively little arable land.

We are blessed to be able to purchase our bread inexpensively at stores.  Bread is abundant in our context, so we probably take it for granted more often than not.  We can, however, think of some tangible needs related to scarcity.

One challenge is not to permit tangible needs to overtake intangible necessities.  We all depend entirely on God and dwell within a web of mutual responsibility and dependence.  According to the late Henri Nouwen, this temptation is the temptation to be relevant.  Relevance is not necessarily bad; in fact, it is frequently positive.  However, maintaining the proper balance of tangible and intangible needs is essential.  Furthermore, Christ’s refusal to cave into the temptation to use his power to make bread—to cease to depend on God—ought to remind us never to imagine that we do not depend entirely on God.

Questions

  1. Do we permit tangible needs to distract us from intangible necessities?  If so, how?
  2. Do we manifest the vain idea that we do not depend entirely on God?  If so, how?

The Temptation to Jump from the Pinnacle of the Temple

Many scholars of the New Testament have proposed what the pinnacle of the Temple was.

That matter aside, this temptation is, according to Nouwen, the temptation to be spectacular.  It is also the temptation to attempt to manipulate God by trying to force God to intervene in a miraculous way.  That effort, like turning stones into bread, would indicate a lack of faith.

We humans frequently like the spectacular, do we not?  We tell ourselves and others that, if only God would do something spectacular, we will believe.  We are like those who, in the Gospels, only wanted Jesus to do something for them, and not to learn from him.

Questions

  1. Does our attraction to the spectacular distract us from the still, small voice of God?  If so, how?
  2. Does our attraction to the spectacular reveal our lack of faith?  If so, how?
  3. Does our attraction to the spectacular unmask our selfishness?  If so, how?

The Temptation to Worship Satan in Exchange for Earthly Authority

Many Palestinian Jews at the time of Christ thought of Satan as the power behind the Roman Empire and of the Roman pantheon as a collection of demons.  Jesus affirmed God the Father as the only source of his identity.

This temptation is about idolatry, power, and morally untenable compromises.

Many well-intentioned people—ministers, politicians, and appointed office holders, for example—have, in the name of doing good, become corrupt and sacrificed their suitability to do good.  They have sacrificed their moral integrity on the altar of amoral realism.

Some compromises are necessary, of course.  As Reinhold Niebuhr reminded us, we cannot help but commit some evil while trying to do good, for human depravity has corrupted social systems and institutions.

Questions

  1. Have we established our identity apart from God?  If so, how?
  2. How have we, with good intentions, committed or condoned evil?
  3. Have we made morally untenable compromises?  If so, how?

The Good News

The good news is both collective and individual.

I discover the principle, then:  that when I want to do right, only wrong is within my reach.  In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive in my outward actions a different law, fighting against the law that my mind approves, and making me a prisoner under the law of sin which controls my conduct.  Wretched creature that I am, who is there to rescue me from this state of death?  Who but God?  Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!  To sum up then:  left to myself I serve God’s law with my mind, but with my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin.

–Romans 7:21-25, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Jesus has modeled the way to resist temptation—to trust God and to understand scripture.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH LAGRANGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT AGRIPINNUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT GERMANUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT DROCTOVEUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OGLIVIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACARIUS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/thoughts-and-questions-about-the-temptations-of-jesus/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++