Archive for March 2020

Feast of Theodore I (May 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Pope Theodore I

Image in the Public Domain

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THEODORE I (DIED MAY 14, 649)

Bishop of Rome

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies.  It is an extension of my Great Man and Woman understanding of history, as well as a long-running course in ecclesiastical history.  Many of the saints I have listed here come with “Venerable,” “Blessed,” or “Saint” formally preceding their names.  Others, however, do not, regardless of whether an official calendar (usually Anglican or Lutheran) lists them.  Many saints I have listed on my Ecumenical Calendar are people I insist belong on formal calendars, although they are absent from any such calendar.

Consider Pope Theodore I, for example, O reader.

The heresy of Monothelitism (that Christ had only one will–divine) was a major controversy in the Byzantine Empire.  Church and state were one in the Byzantine Empire; no line separated theological dispute from imperial policy.  Emperor Heraclius (reigned 610-641) issued the Ecthesis in 638.  This document affirmed Monothelitism.  Pope Severinus (May 28, 640-August 2, 640) and his immediate successor, John IV (December 24, 640-October 12, 642), opposed the heresy and the Ecthesis.  Shortly prior to his death in 641, Heraclius disavowed Monothelitism.  Yet the Ecthesis remained in effect as the reign of Constans II (641-668) began.

Above:  600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

The Byzantine Empire was unstable.  The recent war with the Persians had resulted in a pyrrhic victory; the Byzantine Empire was almost bankrupt.  Two emperors reigned Between the death of Heraclius and the accession of Constans II.  Heraclius had designated his two sons, Constantine III and Heraklonas, as his successors.  Constantine III was dying of tuberculosis when he began his reign, which lasted for three months.  Heraklonas was fifteen years old and under the political domination of his mother, Martina.  After six months, General Valentine and a mob deposed Heraklonas and Martina.  Valentine installed Constans II, the eleven-year-old son of Constantine III, as the next emperor.  Valentine married his daughter to the the young emperor and ruled as the regent for two years.  Then a mob lynched the regent.  Constans II began to rule at the tender age of thirteen years.  Meanwhile, Arab conquests and internal rebellions continued.

Above:  750 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

Theodore I was the next Bishop of Rome.  He, born in Jerusalem, was a Greek, a son of a bishop, and a refugee from Arab invasions.  Theodore I was also an associate of St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (died circa 638), the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and an opponent of monothelitism.  St. Maximus the Confessor (circa 580-662), another opponent of Monothelitism, was another one of Theodore I’s associates.  Theodore I became the Pope on November 24, 642.

Almost immediately upon assuming office, Theodore I addressed the Monothelite heresy.  He wrote Constans II and Paul II, the Patriarch of Constantinople (reigned 641-643), to inquire why the Ecthesis remained in effect.  The new pope also refused to recognize Paul II as the legitimate Patriarch of Constantinople until after a synod at which the Holy See had a representative deposed the previous Patriarch, Pyrrhus I (reigned 638-641).  Furthermore, Theodore I demanded that Paul II repudiate Monothelitism and remove all publicly-posted copies of the Ecthesis.

Theodore I recognized Pyrrhus I as the rightful Patriarch of Constantinople in 645.  Pyrrhus I had renounced Monothelitism after a public debate with St. Maximus the Confessor that year.  The Pope also excommunicated Paul II, who had affirmed Monothelitism and the Ecthesis.  Then Pyrrhus I made peace with Constans II and Paul II by reaffirming Monothelitism.

Constans II understood that the Ecthesis of his grandfather had become a threat to imperial stability.  Therefore, he issued the Typos, a gag order regarding Monothelitism, in 648.  Theodore I on May 14, 649, before he could formulate a response.

One may assume safely, however, that Theodore I would have refused to obey the Typos.

The next Bishop of Rome was St. Martin I (died in 655), whom Constans II martyred for refusing to be quiet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX, MARTYR, 1945

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

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Theodore I of Rome.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Unita Blackwell (May 13)   Leave a comment

Above:   Mayersville, Mississippi

Image Source = Google Earth

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UNITA ZELMA BROWN BLACKWELL (MARCH 18, 1933-MAY 13, 2019)

African-American Civil Rights Activist, Rural Community Development Specialist, and Mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi

Born U. Z. Brown

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Politics is not just about voting one day every four years.  Politics is the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the road we walk on.

–Unita Blackwell

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Unita Blackwell‘s Christian faith compelled her to resist systems of oppression and leave communities better than she found them.  Her faith led her to seek intercultural understanding on the local, national, and international levels.

U. Z, Brown, born in Lula, Mississippi, on March 18, 1933, grew up in the Jim Crow U.S. South.  Laws kept African Americans “in their place,” or subordinate to white people.  Our saint, the daughter of sharecroppers Willie Brown and Virda Mae Brown, was originally just U. Z,–initials, no name that abbreviated to them.  The Browns believed on a plantation and in fear of the estate’s owner.  In 1936, Willie fled the plantation.  His family joined him in Memphis, Tennessee, shortly thereafter.  The couple separated in 1938.  Virda Mae and her mother moved to West Helena, Arkansas.

Jim Crow laws restricted the educational opportunities of African Americans in West Helena.  The agricultural economy took precedence over schooling.  Furthermore, African Americans could not attend high school; their public education terminated at the eighth grade.  U. Z. chose her new name, Unita Zelma, in the sixth grade.  She also completed the eighth grade.  Her formal education did not progress until the 1980s.

Our saint met and married Jeremiah Blackwell, a cook for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The site of the wedding was Clarksdale, Mississippi.  The couple had one child, Jeremiah, Jr., born on July 2, 1957.  The Blackwells moved to Mayersville, Mississippi, a small town and the seat of Issaquena County.  Mayersville remained our saint’s home for most of the remainder of her life.  She active in her Baptist church, taught Sunday School.

Blackwell became a civil rights activist in the summer of 1964.  That June, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) conducted a voter registration drive in Issaquena County.  Jeremiah and Unita tried to register to vote, but initially failed the the registration test, designed to cause people to fail.  Both of them lost their jobs for their trouble.  Unita eventually passed the registration test a few months later.  I have found no information about when Jeremiah successfully registered to vote.

That summer, with the aid and encouragement of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977), Blackwell embarked upon activism.  She became a project manager with SNCC, directing voter registration drives in the state.  That summer, she also attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Blackwell paid a stiff price for her activism; police arrested her more than 70 times.  Yet she remained undeterred.  Our saint helped to introduce Head Start for African-American children in Mississippi in 1965.  Our saint and her husband successfully sued the Issaquena County Board of Education in 1965.  The local elementary school principal had expelled more than 300 African-American children for a range of alleged offenses, including wearing SNCC pins.  The federal district court agreed with the Blackwells.  It also ordered the integration of Issaquena County public schools by fall 1965.  The federal court of appeals upheld the district court’s ruling.  The public schools did not integrate until 1970, though.  Freedom schools for African-American chilldren operated through the summer of 1970.

Blackwell became an expert in rural community development, in the context of rural poverty.  In the late 1960s and the 1970s, she worked with the National Council of Negro Women on the issue of low-income housing.  Our saint encouraged poor people across the United States to construct their own housing.  She served as the Mayor of Mayersville from 1977 to 2001.  In that capacity, in the poor, rural Mississippi Delta, Blackwell expanded the range of basic services the local government provided to citizens.  The quality of life for all residents, especially poor and the vulnerable, improved.  Mayor Blackwell’s formal education leapfrogged from the eighth grade to a graduate degree in 1983.  In 1982 and 1983, she studied for her Master of Regional Planning degree from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.

Blackwell’s efforts extended to the national level, too.  She was a member of the Democratic National Committee.  Our saint also attended the national Energy Summit at Camp David in 1979.  President Jimmy Carter invited her.  That year our saint also began to sit on the U.S. National Commission on the International Year of the Child.  Furthermore, Blackwell was a Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 1991-1992.  She also ran in the primary election for U.S. House of Representatives in 1993, the year after she won one of the MacArthur Fellowships, or “genius grants.”

Blackwell also worked on the international front.  She, interested in U.S.-Chinese cultural exchanges, made sixteen trips to the People’s Republic of China, starting in 1973.  Furthermore, she served as the President of the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association (founded in 1974) for six years.  And, in 1995, our saint was a delegate to the Non-Government Organizations Forum, related to the International Conference on Women, in Beijing.

Sadly, dementia afflicted Blackwell during her final years.  It set in by 2007/2008.  Our saint, 86 years old, died in a nursing home in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on May 13, 2019.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES AND ENLIGHTENER OF NORTH AMERICA

THE FEAST OF CORDELIA COX, U.S. LUTHERAN SOCIAL WORKER, EDUCATOR, AND RESETTLER OF REFUGEES

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WRIGHT BUCKHAM, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIA ALVAREZ MENDOZA, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Unita Blackwell, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Saint Glyceria of Heraclea (May 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thrace in the Roman Empire

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GLYCERIA OF HERACLEA (156-CIRCA 177)

Martyr, Circa 177

Also known as Saint Glyceria of Trajanopolis

St. Glyceria is a saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.  Given the antiquity of her hagiography, one may reasonable expect that hagiographers can and do consult a list of Roman Emperors, in her case, and correctly identify the emperor during whose reign she died.  Various accounts place her death from 171 to 177, but always in the 170s.  Nevertheless, some of these accounts identify the emperor at the time of St. Glyceria’s martyrdom as Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161).  No, the emperor was Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161-180).

Offering to the gods on behalf of the Roman Empire was a patriotic and civic duty of Gentiles.  (The empire exempted the Jews.)  The rationale for the offering was that the gods would continue to bless and prosper the Roman Empire as long as its subjects honored the gods–a divine quid pro quo.  The growth of Christianity, therefore, constituted a perceived threat to the empire.

National and imperial security have long provided excuses for a host of sins.  To quote Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the British linguist and “Great Moralist,”

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

St. Glyceria (literally, “Sweetness”) came from a prominent family.  Her father, Macarius, was a governor, in modern political terms.  The family moved to Trajanopolis, Thrace, when our saint was quite young.  Her parents died when she was a minor.  The orphan met Christians and eventually converted.  St. Glyceria was a secret disciple until she had to risk her life to avoid betraying her faith.  St. Glyceria was at Heraclea (near Propontius, the modern-day Sea of Marmara) when she disobeyed the imperial order to sacrifice to the gods on behalf of the Roman Empire.  She died of torture.  Then wild animals consumed her corpse.

The last vestiges of the Roman Empire collapsed in 1453.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

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 BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Saint Glyceria of Heraclea

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with her the crown of life;

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

one God, for ever, and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

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

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Feast of Paul Mazakute (May 12)   1 comment

Above:  Paul Mazakute, Circa 1870

Photographer = Stanley J. Morrow

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ds-09322

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PAUL MAZAKUTE (JUNE 1842-MAY 12, 1873)

First Sioux Episcopal Priest

As our saint wrote near the end of his life, he was the only member of his family to become a Christian.  He, born in Minnesota in June 1842, was a son of Maypiyakakapan (his father) and Wakakoyakewin (his mother).  Our saint, converted to Christianity in 1862, accepted baptism and became an Episcopalian and a catechist that year.  Furthermore, Mayakute remained with his people at Fort Snelling (in Minnesota) in 1862 then stayed with them in what is now South Dakota.

Mazakute married Margaret (Maggie) Panna Hoffman.  By Mazakute’s account, the couple had five children:

  1. Mark Hepanna (1864-1884/1885),
  2. Simon (1866-1884),
  3. Rebecca (b. 1868),
  4. Joshua (1871-1892), and
  5. David (b. 1873).

Our saint spent much time in the East in 1868 and 1869.  He, ordained a deacon in 1868, joined the ranks of priests in 1869.  Mazakute became the first Sioux ordained to the Anglican/Episcopal priesthood.  He was the second indigenous priest in The Episcopal Church; Enmegahbowh (1807/1813-1902), from the Ojibwa Nation, became the first indigenous priest in The Episcopal Church in 1867.  The first member of one of the First Nations ordained in the Anglican tradition was Sakachuwescum/Henry Budd (circa 1812-1875), a member of the Cree Nation in Canada, ordained to the priesthood in 1850.

Mazakute as a priest and a missionary, built three churches, baptized sixty-four people, and presided over four weddings in about four years.  He ministered at Yankton, White Swan, and Choteau Creek (all in what is now South Dakota) and at Santee, Nebraska.  Our saint damaged his health in doing so.  He, ill for the last year of and three months of his life, had weak lungs.  Mazakute, thirty years old, died at Santee on May 12, 1873.

Maggie remarried in 1876.  She married Benjamin Makoahomnikudan Whipple.  The couple had five children.  Maggie died in 1903.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES SOLOMON RUSSELL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND ADVOCATE FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING

THE FEAST OF KATHARINE LEE BATES, U.S. EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD CHEVENIX TRENCH, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN

THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Paul Mazakute,

whom your called to preach the Gospel to the Sioux.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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Feast of Barbara Andrews (May 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Edina Community Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image Source = Google Earth

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BARBARA LOUISE ANDREWS (MAY 11, 1935-MARCH 31, 1978)

First Female Minister in The American Lutheran Church

The Reverend Barbara Louise Andrews comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Witnesses, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987), the product of a merger, was one of the two main immediate forebears of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  The other main immediate predecessor of ELCA was the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987).  Both The American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America approved the ordination of women in 1970.  In November 1970, Elizabeth Platz became the first woman ordained in the Lutheran Church in America and in U.S. Lutheranism.  (Platz is still alive.)  Barbara Andrews became the first ordained woman in The American Lutheran Church and the second in U.S. Lutheranism on December 22, 1970.

Andrews, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 11, 1935, became a trailblazer in two fields.  She, born with cerebral palsy, spent her time in a wheelchair.  Our saint championed the rights of people with physical handicaps.  She, a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, served as a lay pastor to students at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, from 1962 to 1969.  She matriculated at Luther Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, in 1964.  Our saint was one of the three women on the ordination track at the seminary. She graduated with (M.Div.) in 1969.

Andrews, ordained in 1970, ministered faithfully.  She was assistant pastor at Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina, Minneapolis, Minnesota, until 1974.  Next she was a chaplain at Luther Haven Nursing Home, Detroit, Michigan (1974-1977).  Finally, in 1977-1978, our saint was the interim pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Detroit.

Andrews, aged 42 years, died while fighting a fire in her apartment in Detroit on March 31, 1978.

Andrews helped to make possible the ordained ministries of other women in U.S. Lutheranism.  For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected Elizabeth Eaton its Presiding Bishop in 2013 then reelected her to another six-year term in 2019.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HENRY BRENT, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINES, BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS NICHOLAS OWEN, THOMAS GARNET, MARK BARKWORTH, EDWARD OLDCORNE, AND RALPH ASHLEY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1601-1608

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HALL BAYNES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MADAGASCAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT RUPERT OF SALZBURG, APOSTLE OF BAVARIA AND AUSTRIA

THE FEAST OF STANLEY ROTHER, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN GUATEMALA, 1981

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Almighty God, we praise you for the men and women you have sent

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as Barbara Andrews].

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets whose voices will

give strength to your Church and proclaim the reality of your kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ or Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Blessed Vasile Aftenie (May 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Romania, 1948-1952

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED VASILE AFTENIE (JUNE 14, 1899-MAY 10, 1950)

Romanian Roman Catholic Bishop and Martyr, 1950

Blessed Vasile Aftenie served God and won the crown of martyrdom.

Aftenie was originally a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  He, born in Lodroman, Valea Lunga, Alba, Transylvania, on June 14, 1899, reached the age of legal adulthood during World War I.  Our saint, drafted into the army, served in Italy and Galicia.  The redrawing of the map of Europe after the war expanded the borders of Romania and broke up Austria-Hungary.

Our saint, briefly a law student in Bucharest, Romania, after World War I, turned toward theology instead.  He matriculated at the Pontifical Greek College of Saint Athanasius, Rome, Italy, in 1919.  Aftenie, ordained to the priesthood on January 1, 1926, spent much of his career at the seminary in Bucharest–teaching (1926-1934) then serving as the dean (1934-1937).  Our saint, Canon of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Blaj (1937-1939), served as the Rector of the Theological Academy (1939-1940).  On April 12, 1940, our saint became the Auxiliary Bishop of Faragas si Alba Iulia and the Titular Bishop of Ulpiana.  Starting on June 15, 1941, he served as the Apostolic administrator of the diocese.

In Spring 1945, during the final months of World War II in Europe, Communist forces began to consolidate their power in Romania.  With the end of the monarchy in December 1947, Romania became a Communist state in the political orbit of the Soviet Union.  The law of August 4, 1948, officially granted freedom of religion and defined coercive acts intended to curb religious practices as crimes.  However, that law also brought organized religion under state control, thereby rendering churches allowed to exist as agents of the Communist government.

Aftenie became a prisoner of the Communist government on October 28, 1948.  First incarcerated at the Dragoslavele work camp, our saint went into solitary confinement at Caldarusani monastery, near Bucharest.  A year of torture began on May 10, 1949.  Aftenie, mutilated, crippled, and broken mentally, died of a gunshot at Vacaresti on May 10, 1950.  He was 50 years old.

Pope Francis declared our saint a Venerable and beatified him in 2019.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET CLITHEROW, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1586

THE FEAST OF FLANNERY O’CONNOR, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES RENDEL HARRIS, ANGLO-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN QUAKER BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND ORIENTALIST; ROBERT LUCCOCK BENSLY, ENGLISH BIBLICAL TRANSLATOR AND ORIENTALIST; AGNES SMITH LEWIS AND MARGARET DUNLOP SMITH GIBSON, ENGLISH BIBLICAL SCHOLARS AND LINGUISTS; SAMUEL SAVAGE LEWIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND LIBRARIAN OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE; AND JAMES YOUNG, SCOTTISH UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITERARY TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MUNSTER

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Vasile Aftenie

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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Perilous Times   1 comment

Above:  Cain after Abel’s Murder

Image in the Public Domain

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A CALL FOR MUTUALITY IN SOCIETIES AND POLITICS

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“Am I my brother’s guardian?”

–Cain, to YHWH, in Genesis 4:9, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Principles matter.  One of these vital principles is the high value of human life.

Wishful thinking will imperil, not save, us from Coronavirus/COVID-19.  All of us–from average citizens to world leaders–must act for the common good.  Necessary and proper actions may be more than inconvenient; they may involve sacrifice.  Good choices are scarce at best and absent at worst these days.  Given bad options, individuals, families, communities, leaders, societies, et cetera, need to act according to the least bad options in a woefully imperfect world.  Perhaps, then, we will not make a bad situation worse, and may improve it, in time.

I lower the boom, rhetorically, on all irresponsible people.  These include politicians who contradict medical and public health experts who are following the data.  Governments must not, for example, ease restrictions prematurely.  To do so would make a bad situation worse.  These irresponsible people also include individuals who disregard social distancing rules and have “Coronavirus parties,” for example.  Other irresponsible people include college and university presidents and chancellors who permit students back on campus prematurely.

I understand the desire to return to life as it was.  That, however, is a form of wishful thinking.  Reality is harsh; we cannot return to life as it was.  Even after this pandemic has ended, we will not return to life as it was.  Whenever that time will arrive, may it find us–as individuals, families, communities, leaders, societies, et cetera–better than we were before the pandemic started.  May we think more about our responsibilities to and for each other, and how much we depend on each other and on God.  May we have a stronger sense that, when we keep any segment of the population “in its place,” we harm the whole.  May we be faster to eschew all bigotry, especially racism, xenophobia, and nativism, and to realize that we, as people, have more in common than not.  May we adjust our economies in ways that are necessary and proper to adapt to the new reality and to decrease poverty.  And may we, collectively, hold leaders and ourselves to a higher standard relative to the common good and replace those we ought to replace.

We all belong to God and each other, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DISMAS, PENITENT BANDIT

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/perilous-times/

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Feast of Blessed Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez (May 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Venezuela, 1954-2006

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA DEL CARMEN RENDILES MARTINEZ (AUGUST 11, 1903-MAY 9, 1977)

Foundress of the Servants of Jesus of Caracas (the Servant Congregation of Jesus in Venezuela)

Also known as Mother Maria Carmen

Born Carmen Elena Rendiles Martinez

Blessed Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez devoted almost all of her life to God.  She, one of eight children of Ramiro Antonio Rendiles and Ana Antonia Martinez, debuted in Caracas, Venezuela, on August 11, 1903.  Our saint, from a respected and wealthy family, was devout from youth.  She was a catechist at the age of 15 years.  Blessed Maria also overcame a physical disability; she never had a left arm.  She used a prosthesis instead.

Blessed Maria Carmen spent nearly half of a century in religious life.  She joined the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament on February 25, 1927, when she was 23 years old.  Our saint spent years studying in Toulouse, France.  While there, she received her habit in 1927, made her first vows in 1929, and made her final vows in 1932.  After returning to Caracas in 1934, she became the novice mistress there.  Our saint, the Provincial Superior for Venezuela and Colombia, starting in 1945, founded convents and schools.  After she inherited the family estate, she founded a school for poor children there.

Politics led to the division of the order.  In 1961, by means of a new constitution, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament became the Servants of the Eucharist.  The change of constitution came as a surprise to the order’s South American members.  Internal communications were problematic for the order.  The South American province became a separate order in 1965, and Blessed Maria became the first Superior General of the Servants of Jesus of Caracas (the Congregation of Jesus in Venezuela).

Blessed Maria Carmen died in Caracas on May 9, 1977.  She was 73 years old.

Pope Francis declared our saint a Venerable in 2013 then beatified her five years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DISMAS, PENITENT BANDIT

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

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

inspired by the devotion of your servant Blessed Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez,

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

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

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

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

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

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Feast of Henri Dumont (May 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Interior of the Chapel, Versailles, Circa 1879

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-stereo-1s24269

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HENRI DUMONT (1610-MAY 8, 1684)

Roman Catholic Composer and Organist

Also known as Henri de Thier and Henri du Mont

Henri Dumont comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my Western classicism and unapologetic musical elitism.

Dumont was a native of the Southern Netherlands (now Belgium).  He debuted in Looz (now Bargloon) in 1610.  Our saint was a son of Henri de Thier (Sr.) and Elisabeth Orban (de Thier).  The family moved to Maastricht in 1613.  Henri and his brother, Lambert, sang in the choir of Notre Dame, Maastricht.

Henri was a church organist.  From 1630 to 1632 he held a position in Maastricht.  Nevertheless, our saint spent much time in Liége, studying under Léonard de Hodémont (1575-1639), a choirmaster, organist, and composer.  Henri resigned in 1632; Lambert succeeded him.  Our saint moved on to St. Paul’s Church, Paris, France.  He began to use the surname “Dumont” (alternatively, “du Mont”).

Dumont joined the ranks of royal servants.  He became a harpsichordist in the court of the Count of Anjou in 1652.  Eleven years later, our saint became the Master of the Chapel Royal, Versailles.  Ten years after that, he became the Master of the Queen’s Music.

On the personal side, Dumont married Mecthild Loyens in 1653.  Our saint lived long enough to become a widower.  He inherited her benifice, an abbey in Normandy.

Dumont resigned all his positions in 1683.  He died in Paris on May 8, 1684.

Dumont’s compositions were almost exclusively sacred works.  His sacred music included:

  1. Royal Mass;
  2. Magnificat;
  3. O, Mysterium;
  4. Sinfonia and Grant Motet; and
  5. various motets for the Chapel Royal.

Dumont’s music retains its power to inspire spiritually.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR, 1980-1992

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHRISTIAN MUSIC”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LEDDRA, BRITISH QUAKER MARTYR IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY, 1661

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Henri Dumont and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

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

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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This is post #1950 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of St. Alexis Toth (May 6)   1 comment

Above:  St. Alexis Toth

Image in the Public Domain

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ALEXIS GEORGEIVICH TOTH (MARCH 18, 1854-MAY 7, 1909)

Russian Orthodox Priest and Defender of Orthodoxy in America

“The Father of Orthodoxy in America”

Also known as Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre

His feast transferred from May 7

The feast day of St. Alexis Toth in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is May 7.  However, that date on this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Witnesses, is fully booked already.  He is also a saint in the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the U.S.A. (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), formed in 1938, in opposition to the Latinization of ethnic Roman Catholicism in the United States.

Toth, born into an Eastern Rite Roman Catholic family, ultimately became a Russian Orthodox priest and a missionary in the United States of America.  He debuted near Eperjes, Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Kobylnice, Slovakia), on March 18, 1854.  His Carpatho-Russian family was poor.  Ordained ministry also ran in the family.  Our saint was the nephew of a Uniate bishop and the son of George Toth, a Uniate priest.  St. Alexis’s mother was Cecilia Toth.  St. Alexis, educated well, mastered Carpatho-Russian, Hungarian, Russian, German, and Latin.  He also read Greek.  Our saint, husband of Rosalie Mihalich, became a Uniate priest on April 18, 1878.  Shortly thereafter, Rosalie and the couple’s sole child died.

St. Alexis served in Europe until late 1889.  He was secretary to the Bishop of Presov, diocesan administrator, director of an orphanage, and Professor of Church History and Canon Law at Presov Seminary.  Our saint, appointed to a Ruthenian Greek Catholic parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October 1889, arrived the following month.

St. Alexis clashed with John Ireland, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis (1888-1918).  Ireland was a proponent of the cultural assimilation of Roman Catholics (many of whom were immigrants or of immigrant stock) in the United States of America.  He was, therefore, hostile to ethnic parishes and non-Latin Rite clergymen.  Ireland refused to permit our saint to function as a priest in the diocese.  Ireland was not unique in his hostility of Eastern Rite Catholicism; other American bishops shared it.  St. Alexis convened a meeting of about ten Uniate priests in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in October 1890.  This gathering preceded the expansion of Russian Orthodoxy in the United States.  St. Alexis and 361 parishioners converted to Orthodoxy in Minneapolis on March 25, 1891.  Vladimir, Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska (1887-1891), received them.  More Unitate conversions to Orthodoxy in the United States followed.  The parish (now St. Mary’s Cathedral) in Minneapolis formally joined the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska in 1892.

Above:  St. Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image Source = Google Earth

St. Alexis endured many hardships.  These included hostility and financial difficulty.  The parish and the priest were poor; he worked in a bakery until the Russian Orthodox diocese began to pay his salary.  Despite financial hardship, St. Alexis helped those less fortunate than himself and donated to funds for seminary scholarships and the construction of church buildings.

Bishop Vladimir and his successors, including St. Tikhon (1898-1907) and Platon (1907-1914, 1922-1934), sent St. Alexis to preach to Slavic people in the United States.  Our saint founded parishes and facilitated the conversion of many Uniates to Orthodoxy.  He helped to build up what eventually became the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  St. Alexis, offered the episcopate in 1907, declined.  He encouraged the appointment of a younger and healthier man.

St. Alexis’s health made its terminal turn in late 1908.  He ultimately returned to Wilkes-Barre.  Our saint, bed-ridden for two months, died on May 7, 19089.  He was 55 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR AND ISAAC THE GREAT, PATRIARCHS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF MEISTER ECKHART, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN AND MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT METODEJ DOMINICK TRCKA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1959

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTORIAN OF HADRUMETUM, MARTYR AT CARTHAGE, 484

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER OF PONTOISE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND ECCLESIASTICAL REFORMER

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Alexis Toth,

whom you called to preach the Gospel in the United States of America.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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