Archive for February 2020

Feast of Blessed Mikel Suma (April 16)   1 comment

Above:  Blessed Mikel Suma 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MIKEL SUMA (MARCH 23, 1897-APRIL 16, 1950)

Albanian Roman Catholic Priest, Friar, and Martyr, 1950

Blessed Mikel Suma is one of the more recent additions to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.

Suma was an Albanian priest and Franciscan friar.  He, born in Shkodrë on March 23, 1897, studied theology and philosophy in Shkodrë then in Vienna, Grac, and Lankowitz, Austria; as well as in Genoa, Italy.  Our saint joined the ranks of priests in Genoa on July 24, 1921.  He went on to teach at the seminary in Shkodrë.  The Communist government of Albania nationalized religion after World War II.  Anyone who resisted became an enemy of the state.  Suma resisted.  Authorities arrested him on May 24, 1948.  The verdict was never in doubt.  Suma died of cancer in prison in Shkodrë on April 16, 1950.  He was 53 years old.

Pope Francis declared Suma Venerable then beatified him in 2016.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN CASSIAN AND JOHN CLIMACUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS AND SPIRITUAL WRITERS

THE FEAST OF MARIAN ANDERSON, AFRICAN-AMERICAN SINGER AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF MARY LYON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST FEMINIST AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF PATRICK HAMILTON, FIRST SCOTTISH PROTESTANT MARTYR, 1528

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL SIMON SCHMUCKER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Mikel Suma

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ

before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of Lucy Craft Laney (April 15)   1 comment

Above:  Kindergarten, Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta, Georgia, 1899

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-132449 (b&w film copy neg.)

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LUCY CRAFT LANEY (APRIL 13, 1854-OCTOBER 24, 1933)

African-American Presbyterian Educator and Civil Rights Activist

Lucy Craft Laney comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Our saint was a daughter of former slaves.  David Laney, a carpenter, was a Presbyterian minister.  In 1838, slaves who had been members of First Presbyterian Church, Macon, Georgia, became part of the African chapel, the origin of Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church.  Laney was a “leader,” functioning as a minister, of this congregation.  His ordination in 1866 made his ministerial status official.  He, having purchased his freedom in the 1830s, married Louisa, whose freedom he also purchased.  The couple had ten children.  Number seven was Lucy Craft Laney, born in Macon on April 13, 1854.

Presbyterian denominational history can be very confusing, even for those initiated into the mysteries of mergers and schisms.  I, having studied these matters closely, write authoritatively about them.  In the case of Lucy Craft Laney, I conclude that she belonged to the following denominations, in order:

  1. the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Old School), until December 1861; then
  2. the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (December 1861-December 1865), which changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in the United States in December 1865.

Our saint’s family taught her the value of education.  She learned to read and write by the age of four years.  When she was twelve years old, Laney translated difficult passages of Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars from Latin.  Her formal education came courtesy of the American Missionary Association, which founded schools for African Americans in the former Confederacy.  She attended Lewis High School, Macon, from 1865 to 1869.  After graduating, she matriculated at Atlanta University.  Ironically, she could not formally study the classics there because of her gender; Laney objected.  Our saint, who graduated in 1873, had her credentials as a teacher.

Laney spent a decade teaching in other people’s schools.  She taught in Macon, Savannah, Milledgeville, and Augusta.  Then, in 1883, she founded what became Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta.  The first “campus” was the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church, Augusta.  This African-American congregation, formed in October 1882, had separated from First Presbyterian Church, Augusta.

Laney served as principal from 1883 to 1933.  The school became Haines Normal and Industrial Institute because one Francine Haines donated $10,000 ($282,862.94, adjusted for inflation, as of the day I am typing this sentence) in 1886.  The State of Georgia chartered the school that year.  The Haines Institute, which moved to its new campus on Gwinnett Street (now Laney-Walker Boulevard) grew to 34 teachers and 900 students by 1912.  The school offered sewing classes, the first African-American kindergarten in Augusta, the first African-American nursing school in Augusta, orchestral concerts and other cultural events, and a college preparatory program.  Laney taught Latin.  Many graduates matriculated at respected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Novelist Frank Yerby (1916-1991), a native of Augusta, was an alumnus of the Haines Institute; he attended the school toward the end of Laney’s life.  Another famous person connected to the Haines Institute was Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), who taught there for a year then moved on to make her mark elsewhere.

Laney was active in the struggle for civil rights.  She, a friend of luminaries such as W. E. B. DuBois (1868-1963), Langston Hughes (1902-1967), and Madam C. J. Walker/Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919), was active in the National Association of Colored Women and the Interracial Commission.  She also helped to organize the Augusta Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) in 1918.  Furthermore, Laney helped to integrate the work of the Augusta branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.).

Laney died in Augusta on October 24, 1933.  “Miss Lucy” was 79 years old.

Haines Normal and Industrial Institute closed in 1949.  Laney High School replaced it.  Sadly, not one of the buildings of the Haines Institute has survived the ravages of time and political decisions.

Gwinnett Street, which borders the campus of Christ Presbyterian Church and the site of the former Haines Institute, has become Laney-Walker Boulevard.  Dr. Charles T. Walker was one of the founders of Atlanta University.

In 1974, Governor Jimmy Carter unveiled the first three portraits of African Americans in the state capitol.  The three honorees were Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915); Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968), and Lucy Craft Laney.

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and Conference Center, Augusta, opened in 1991.

Fortunately, the indirect and intergenerational influence of Lucy Craft Laney has continued to grow.

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Everlasting God, you teach us that your ways frequently conflict with many of our societal norms.

We thank you for the life and legacy of your servant, Lucy Craft Laney.

May we, inspired by her example, resist social injustice and

testify with our lives to the image of God present in all people.

May we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform our societies,

changing our societal norms so that they will more closely resemble your ways,

for your glory and the benefit of all people.

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

Proverbs 2:1-5

Psalm 25:1-10

Galatians 3:23-29

Matthew 5:13-16

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF FRED ROGERS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HOST OF MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BADGER, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER; FIRST MISSIONARY TO THE WESTERN RESERVE

THE FEAST OF PEDRO ARRUPE, ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND MARGINALIZED, AND SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

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Feast of St. Hunna of Alsace (April 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hunna of Alsace

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE (DIED IN 679)

“The Holy Washerwoman”

St. Hunna of Alsace, from nobility, had nobility of character.

Our saint led a holy life.  She, a daughter of a Duke of Alsace, married Huno of Hummaweyer, a nobleman.  The couple had one son, named Deodatus, after the saint who baptized him.  (St. Deodatus of Nevers was the Bishop of Nevers from 655 to 664.  After he resigned his see, St. Deodatus became a hermit and devoted his life to prayer.)  Deodatus, son of Huno and St. Hunna, became a monk.  (Sources indicate that this Deodatus also became a canonized saint.  I wonder, however, if traditions about the two Deodatuses have become confused.  I can find no information about when the feast day of Deodatus, the son, may be.)  St. Hunna gave land to monasteries and financed the construction of churches.  She also became deeply involved in helping the poor.  She even volunteered to wash their laundry.

St. Hunna died in Hunawir, Alsace, in 679.

Pope Leo X canonized her in 1520.

Otherwise mundane tasks can become acts of prayer when one performs them in the proper spiritual frame of mind.  Helping the less fortunate with practical matters, including laundry, qualifies.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON AND FOUNDER OF LITTLE GIDDING; GEORGE HERBERT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND METAPHYSICAL POET; AND ALL SAINTLY PARISH PRIESTS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE LINE AND ROGER FILCOCK, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1601

THE FEAST OF SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PENITENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS DE LEON, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT RAPHAEL OF BROOKLYN, SYRIAN-AMERICAN RUSSIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP OF BROOKLYN

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Sts. Zenaida, Philonella, and Hermione (April 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Rod of Asclepius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS ZENAIDA AND PHILONELLA OF TARSUS (DIED CIRCA 100)

SAINT HERMIONE OF EPHESUS (DIED CIRCA 117)

Unmercenary Physicians

Sts. Zenaida, Philonella, and Hermione come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church–Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, specifically.  All three women are also saints in the Eastern Orthodox churches.  Sts. Zenaida and Philonella of Tarsus, sisters, share the feast day of October 11 in that tradition.  The feast day of St. Hermione on the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox calendars is September 4.

Sts. Zenaida and Philonella of Tarsus were sisters of St. Jason of Tarsus, Bishop of Tarsus, and host of Sts. Paul the Apostle and Silas in Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-9.  After St. Jason became a Christian and a priest, he baptized his sisters.  Sts. Zenaida and Philonella came from a wealthy Jewish family.  The sisters, well-educated in philosophy and medicine, confronted the patriarchy that prevented them from practicing medicine via conventional channels.  They founded what sociologists call parallel institutions–in their case, a chapel, two cells, and a clinic on the outskirts of Thessaly.  The sister physicians provided free medical care and refused to accept payment from anyone.  St. Zenaida specialized in pediatrics and psychological disorders, especially depression.  She had several male disciples, who founded a monastery nearby.

The sisters died circa 100.

St. Hermione of Ephesus founded the first Christian hospital.  She was a daughter of St. Philip the Deacon, mentioned in Acts 6:1-7 and 8:26-40.  St. Hermione, who studied medicine in Caesarea, visited Ephesus to meet St. John the Evangelist.  She arrived after he had died, however.  She remained in the area, though.  St. Hermione and her sister Eukhidia opened a clinic that became a hospital.

St. Hermione died circa 117.

The collect for this feast provides a suitable conclusion.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

ASH WEDNESDAY

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO VALDIVIESO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LEON, AND MARTYR, 1495

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EMILY MALBONE MORGAN, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF THE COMPANIONS OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF JAKOB HUTTER, FOUNDER OF THE HUTTERITES, AND ANABAPTIST MARTYR, 1536; AND HIS WIFE, KATHARINE HUTTER, ANABAPTIST MARTYR, 1538

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULA OF SAINT JOSEPH OF CALASANZ, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF MARY

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Merciful God, whose most dear Son came to

heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the gospel to the poor;

Teach us by the example of your servants, Zenaida, Philonella, and Hermione

to give freely even as we have received freely;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 38:1-14

Psalm 147

Mark 1:29-34

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 230

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Feast of Sts. Martin I and Maximus the Confessor (April 13)   2 comments

Above:  Agony in the Garden, by El Greco

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARTIN I (DIED SEPTEMBER 16, 655)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 655

Alternative feast days = April 14 and November 12

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SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR (CIRCA 580-AUGUST 13, 662)

Monk, Abbot, and Martyr, 662

His feast transferred from January 21 and August 13

Christian doctrines developed over centuries, through much debate and a series of synods and ecumenical councils.  Some of the Church Fathers, such as St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, were orthodox, by the standards of their time, but have become heretics post mortem and ex post facto.

The separation of church and state would have spared the lives of St. Martin I and St. Maximus the Confessor.

The heresy du jour was monothelitism, which taught that Jesus had only one will–divine.  Emperor Constans II (reigned 641-668), seeking to preserve the Roman (Byzantine) Empire against rising Arab/Islamic threats, did not content himself with sending military personnel to fight invaders.  In 648, he issued a decree banning the discussion of monothelitism.  Theology was political.

Think about monothelitism this way, O reader:  Consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Did he act as if he had only a divine will?

St. Martin I, a native of Todi, Tuscany, had been a deacon and a papal legate in Constantinople.  After Pope Theodore I (in office November 24, 642-May 14, 649) died, our saint won election to succeed him.

The newly-minted pope never received imperial approval.  Constans II always treated him an errant deacon.  St. Martin I immediately convened the Lateran synod of 649, in defiance of the imperial gag order, to condemn monothelitism as a heresy.  Then St. Martin I excommunicated Bishop Paul of Thessalonica for rejecting the decision of the Lateran synod.  The pope also sent a copy of the Lateran synod’s decision to Constans II and invited him to denounce monothelism.

St. Maximus the Confessor attended the Lateran synod of 649.  He, born circa 580, had been a public servant before entering monastic life at Phillippicus, across from Constantinople, in Asia Minor.  He had risen to the rank of abbot.  The Persian conquest of Anatolia had forced St. Maximus to flee to Carthage, where he studied under St. Sophronius (died circa 638), later the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  St. Maximus traveled widely.  He also wrote and spoke at length about theology and spirituality.  Monothelitism became one of his targets.

Constans II chose to order the arrest of St. Martin I, not to denounce monothelitism.  Olympius, the new exarch, carried orders to apprehend the pope then to send him to Constantinople.  The exarch became St. Martin I’s ally instead.  The pope and Olympius rebelled against the emperor; they felt pushed into committing insurrection.

The freedom of Sts. Martin I and Maximus the Confessor ended in the summer of 653.  Imperial forces arrested them in Rome on June 17.  Both men spent the rest of their lives as prisoners.

St. Martin I, accused of treason, received a death sentence in December 653.  Patriarch Paul II of Constantinople, near death, persuaded Constans II to reduce the sentence to exile.  St. Martin I’s health had been failing prior to his arrest.  It had deteriorated further in prison.  The combination of starvation and the cold weather in Crimea caused his death on September 16, 655.

St. Eugene I (in office August 10, 654-June 2, 657; feast day = June 2) was a conciliatory man who, for reasons I do not need to explain, did not want to alienate Constans II.  The new pope was ready to accept a vague statement that implied that Jesus had three wills, all for the purpose of conciliation.  On Pentecost 655, at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, outraged clergy and lay people prevented St. Eugene I from completing the Mass until he had promised to reject the compromise.  This angered Constans II, who threatened to treat St. Eugene I the same way he had treated St. Martin I.  However, border conflicts kept the emperor too busy to act on that threat before St. Eugene I died of natural causes.

The next pope, St. Vitalian (in office July 30, 657-January 27, 672), eventually found a diplomatic and political opening to insist that Jesus had only two wills and to get away with doing so.

St. Maximus spent 653-658 in prison and 658-662 in exile.  He insisted on his innocence on the charge of treason (insurrection) at his three trials (654, 658, and 662).  Our saint insisted that he played no part in the Islamic conquest of northern Africa.  He died in what is now Georgia in 662.  Constans II had ordered his tongue cut out and his right hand amputated so that the troublesome monk could no longer speak and write.

The situation improved in 668.  That year, after the murder of Constans II in Sicily, his son succeeded him as Constantine IV (reigned 668-685).  The new emperor permitted discussion of monothelitism.  The Third Council of Constantinople (681) declared monothelitism a heresy and proclaimed that Jesus had two wills.

National or imperial security does not justify treating people so badly over theological differences. One may rebut, however, that when St. Martin I came to trial, the formal charge was treason (insurrection), not any matter concerning doctrine.  I reply that Constans II had ordered the pope’s arrest before St. Martin I felt pushed into committing insurrection.  I insist that the emperor’s order to arrest the pope pushed St. Martin I into insurrection.  I accuse Constans II of having made the situation worse by issuing then trying to enforce the gag order.

Besides, insurrection against some potentates has been justifiable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER, SAINT NONNA, AND THEIR CHILDREN:  SAINTS GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER, CAESARIUS OF NAZIANZUS, AND GORGONIA OF NAZIANZUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FELIX VARELA, CUBAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND PATRIOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY TO THE SHOSHONE AND ARAPAHOE

THE FEAST OF KARL FRIEDRICH LOCHNER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THEODOR FLIEDNER, RENEWER OF THE FEMALE DIACONATE; AND ELIZABETH FEDDE, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN DEACONESS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Martin I of Rome and Saint Maximus the Confessor

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them 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/Ecclesiaticus 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 74

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Feast of John Gloucester (April 13)   1 comment

Above:  John Gloucester

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN GLOUCESTER, SR. (1776-MAY 2, 1822)

First African-American Presbyterian Minister

The Reverend John Gloucester comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Samuel Eli Cornish (1795-1858), whom he mentored.  Gloucester’s feast day is April 13, the anniversary of his ordination.

Gloucester, born a slave, became the first ordained African-American Presbyterian minister.  He, born Jack in 1776, was a native of eastern Tennessee.  Jack was devout from a young age; he preached to other slaves.  He married Rhoda, with whom he had four children:  John, Jr.; Jeremiah; Stephen; and Mary.  Presbyterian minister Gideon Blackbury (1772-1838) purchased our saint then freed him in 1806.  Jack became John Gloucester.  Blackburn taught theology to Gloucester, who, in 1806-1807, became the first African-American student at Greeneville College (now Tusculum University, Tusculum, Tennessee).  Our saint, licensed to preach in 1807, traveled with Blackburn to Philadelphia that year.  Gloucester founded the First Colored (African, since 1966) Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, in 1807.  The Presbytery of Philadelphia sent our saint to Charleston, South Carolina, then recalled him in 1809.  Gloucester’s ordination occurred at Baker’s Creek Presbyterian Church, Maryville, Tennessee, on April 13, 1810.

Gloucester purchased the freedom of his wife and four children in 1810.  He brought them to Philadelphia, where he served as the pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church.  The couple had a fourth son, James, born in the City of Brotherly Love.

Gloucester died of pneumonia on May 2, 1822.  He was about 46 years old.

All four sons became Presbyterian ministers.  Three of them founded congregations.

Jeremiah Gloucester founded the Second Colored (later African) Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, an offshoot of First Colored Presbyterian Church., in 1824.

Stephen Gloucester (1802-1850) became a pioneer of the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania.  The he withdrew from civil rights activism, after a white mob burned down the edifice of the Second Colored Presbyterian Church in 1842.  In 1844, he led a faction that withdrew from the Second Colored Presbyterian Church and formed the Central Colored Presbyterian Church.  This congregation changed its name to the Lombard Street Central Presbyterian Church.  It has become the Lombard Central Presbyterian Church.

James Gloucester moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he founded the Siloam Presbyterian Church in 1849.

The legacy of John Gloucester, Sr., has continued via many people, some of whom he mentored.

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O God, you raised up John Gloucester, Sr., the first ordained African-American Presbyterian minister.

Thank you for his legacy of faithful service to you in the face of systematic and ubiquitous racism.

May we, inspired by his example, resist societal, individual, and institutional bigotry

and proclaim the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ to those you send to us and to those to whom you send us;

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

Ruth 1:9-18

Psalm 24

Galatians 3:23-29

Matthew 28:16-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Feast of St. Julius I (April 12)   3 comments

Above:  St. Julius I

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JULIUS I (DIED APRIL 12, 352)

Bishop of Rome

Christian doctrines developed over centuries, through much debate and a series of synods and ecumenical councils.  Some of the Church Fathers, such as St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, were orthodox, by the standards of their time, but have become heretics post mortem and ex post facto.

Emperor Constantine I “the Great” declared Christianity legal, not official.  (Many sources get this wrong, for they pay insufficient attention to documented facts.)  His decision involved the Roman imperial government in the development of the Christian faith and the Church for centuries.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 296-373), one of the greatest Christian theologians, served as the Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, from 328 to 373, with interruptions.  He was in exile in 336-337, 339-346, 356-361, 362-363, and 365-366.  St. Athanasius, the “Father of Orthodoxy,” argued forcefully against Arianism, the heresy that Christ was a created being.  This was not merely a theological debate; it was an issue into which emperors intervened.

Marcellus of Ancyra (died 374/376) was the Bishop of Ancyra.  He went into exile in 336.  The following year, after the death of Constantine I, imperial officials permitted the bishop to return to Ancyra.

St. Julius I became the Bishop of Rome on February 6, 337.  His election filled a vacancy that had lasted for four months; Pope St. Mark had held office from January 18 to October 7, 336, then died.  St. Julius I was a Roman.  Almost no early information about him, not even the year of his death, has survived in historical records.

Marcellus of Ancyra and St. Athanasius of Alexandria returned to exile in 339.  The two of them, in Rome, found St. Julius I to be an ally.

The allegation against Marcellus of Ancyra was heresy–being a Sabellian, to be precise.  Sabellianism was a variety of Modalistic Monarchianism, an attempt to maintain monotheism by arguing for a simplified Trinity.  Allegedly, God the Son and God the Spirit were temporary modes, or projections, of God the Father.  One practical consequence was arguing that God the Father became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth then died on a cross.

In Rome, at a synod in 340, Pope Julius I declared Marcellus of Ancyra and St. Athanasius of Alexandria orthodox.  Officially, Marcellus had not written i favor of Sabellianism.  No, he had written in a speculative manner, officially.  Furthermore, he had affirmed a Catholic baptismal creed in the presence of St. Julius I.

The synod of 340 did not resolve the manner, though.  In 342 or 343 Emperors Constantius II (reigned 337-361) and Constans I (reiged 337-350) called the Council of Sardica.  This council affirmed St. Athanasius as the rightful Patriarch of Alexandria, confirmed his orthodoxy, confirmed the orthodoxy of Marcellus of Ancyra, condemned Arianism, and established that a deposed bishop had the right to appeal to the pope.  East-West tensions marred the council; most members came from the West.

St. Athanasius returned to his see again in 346.

St. Julius I died on April 12, 352.  His immediate successor was Liberius (in office May 17, 352-September 24, 366), whose best intentions failed in the face of the force Constantine II brought to bear against him and St. Athanasius and in favor of Arianism.

Marcellus returned to his see in 348.  He, deposed again in 353, became officially heterodox, according the synods in 353 and 355, as well as according to St. Athanasius.

By 354 St. Julius I was a recognized saint in the Roman Catholic Church.  Formally becoming a saint was a relatively fast process in the days of pre-congregation canonization.

Arianism has remained alive and well, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, AND IRENAEUS OF LYONS, BISHOPS OF MARTYRS, 107/115, 155/156, CIRCA 202

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL WOLCOTT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WIINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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Glorious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church.

Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.

Where it is corrupt, purify it;

where it is in error, direct it;

where it is in anything amiss, reform it.

Where it is right, strengthen it;

where it is in want, provide for it;

where it is divided, reunite it;

for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior,

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:1-6

Psalm 12:1-7

Acts 22:30-23:10

Matthew 21:12-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 735

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