Author Archive

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty   Leave a comment

ChatGTP and Other Ills of Education

ChatGTP is a major topic in the news.  This AI writes documents, including essays and articles.  I, as a former classroom instructor who assigned written assignments, am alarmed.  My alarm increases as I read that the creators of ChatGTP are only now developing a watermark for such documents, and that a third party wrote the code for the ChatGTP detector.  Why did the creators of ChatGTP not think about the potential of academic dishonesty sooner?

I understand why some colleges, universities, and school systems have banned ChatGTP on their computers while I realize that this measure is of limited effect.  They cannot ban ChatGTP from students’ computers.

Regardless of what some people–including certain students–have said and thought about me, I am not naïve.  I understand that many students lack compunction regarding academic dishonesty.  I recall, for example, one student who asked if I would share the test bank with the class before the test.  (I said no, of course.)  I remember one college student telling me that he did not think that plagiarism exists.  (It does, of course.)  I understand that students who cheat on assignments cheat themselves, too.  But they want the easy way out.

One factor that makes ChatGTP appealing to many students is that they do not know how to write well.  For example, students may graduate from high school without mastered composition, grammar, and usage.  So, when they matriculate at a college or university and receive writing assignments, they are ill-prepared or unprepared.  Composing and revising even a five-page-long essay or report may seem like writing an epic novel to such pupils.  I know whereof I write; I have experience teaching such students.  I recall their comments about having to “write a lot.”  By “a lot,” they meant twenty-eight to thirty-six pages, spread across four assignments, during a semester.  I also remember the professionally worded paragraph this attitude inspired me to include in my syllabi.  I thought of this as the “cut-the-crap clause” on good days.  And the quality of the students’ writing, with few exceptions, deteriorated alarmingly over the course of more than a decade.  Along the way, I issued duly harsh penalties for plagiarism–earning a zero on the assignment and a failing grade in the course.

Finally, I gave up on writing assignments and gave Scantron tests instead.  Even then, most students I taught were ill-prepared.  I taught at the University of North Georgia, not the Middle School of North Georgia or the High School of North Georgia.  I refused to dumb down the courses and to share my test banks with pupils before tests.

Without denying that ChatGTP has legitimate and honest applications, I decry the potential for facilitating academic dishonesty.  Conducting one’s research, drafting a text, and revising that text require one to think critically about the material and to hone one’s writing skills.  Thinking skills and writing skills are low priorities in schools which focus on standardized testing.  Thinking skills and writing skills are crucial in a free society, too.  ChatGTP does more harm than good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2023 COMMON ERA

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Is a Consistent Standard Too Much to Expect or Maintain?   Leave a comment

ON AVOIDING A DOUBLE STANDARD

Unlike many other people, I feel no compulsion to express every or every other thought that I have–certainly not in writing.  Also, my historical methodological bias inclines me to sit back, read, and observe before writing or speaking much.  Nevertheless, I do feel free to comment in developing events in the news from time to time.

The handling of classified documents has been in the news recently.  Donald Trump’s case is in a league by itself, given that the federal argument asked for the return of the documents, he refused, and the federal government finally acted to reclaim them.  This is an easy case to evaluate.  However, the cases of Joe Biden and Mike Pence, who have been consistently cooperating with federal authorities, are alike.

For the sake of truth in advertising, I lay my partisan cards on the table.  I cast my first vote in a presidential election in 1992.  I have voted in every subsequent presidential election.  I have always voted for Democrats.  My partisan bias does not mean, however, that I give Biden a pass in this case and condemn Pence mercilessly.  And I do not mistake a partisan affiliation for a cult of personality.

Rather, I sit back, read, and watch.  I also vow to apply one standard to both Biden and Pence in this matter.  I refuse to assume any negative intention in the absence of evidence for it.  I assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that these are cases of the accidental misfiling of papers.  This does not mean that such misfiling is unimportant.  I also guess that such misfiling may be more common than many people may think.

To apply one standard to Biden and another standard to Pence in this matter is to show one’s colors as a partisan hack.  I have no difficulty applying a consistent standard in this case.  Yet acting accordingly is more than one can reasonably expect from many people–including some members of Congress and the punditocracy–unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2023 COMMON ERA

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Personality Types and Religious Affiliations   Leave a comment

In my first Episcopal parish, in the early 1990s, a woman–a convert to The Episcopal Church, and an extrovert–recalled her impression from years prior, when she had left her previous denomination.  She said of her Episcopal congregation from that previous time that she had never seen so many introverts in one place.

This statement has the ring of truth.  Many Episcopalians are self-described refugees from denominations with overzealous extroversion.  In terms of personality typing, the main characteristic of Evangelicalism is extroversion.  For me, an introvert, this is off-putting and alienating.  I prefer the quieter side of Christianity.  Holy hermits (both male and female) are some of my favorite saints.

I wonder what a study of clergy, their personality types, and their denominational affiliations would reveal.  I suspect that such a study would reveal that more clergy in the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox/Episcopal corner of Christianity are introverted that in most Protestant denominations.  The existence of monasticism and of great openness to mysticism in those denominations is consistent with the acceptance of introversion.  I also guess that most Evangelical ministers are extroverts.

My priest is an introvert.  Whenever he makes comments about the social and spiritual aspects of introversion, I always resemble his remarks.  I have yet to compare notes with him, but, via my life, I understand the truth of what he says about the social and spiritual dimensions of introversion.  Our inward focus is an asset.  Yet, if we are not careful, our minds can be so busy that we are not inwardly quiet, although we are not saying anything.  I can easily go for long stretches of time without saying anything, but my mind is usually working.  I recall that, in 1995 or 1996, I finally quieted my mind for up to half an hour.  I remember this as being a wonderful experience.  I also recall that someone opened the door and ruined everything.

My society values extroversion and looks scornfully upon introversion.  So does much of the Evangelical tradition, with its disdain for monasticism and mysticism.  All that is unfortunate, for we introverts have much to offer the Church and society, too.  For example, we understand the importance of being quiet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2023 COMMON ERA

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Diversity, Tolerance, and Acceptance   Leave a comment

I have read that one difference between conservatives and liberals is the values they prioritize when values come into conflict with each other.  Conservatives choose law and order over diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.  Liberals establish the opposite priority.  This does not mean that all liberals oppose law and order or that all conservatives oppose diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.  However, I suppose that adherents of the far right–xenophobic, homophobic, openly racist, and frequently antisemitic–oppose diversity, tolerance, and acceptance, by definition.

I am a liberal.  I am an orderly person who manifests a meticulous nature and great attention to details.  My domicile is a masterpiece of organization.  I also understand that freedom cannot exist in anarchy, so order is essential for liberty.  However, certain types of order are antithetical to freedom, civil liberties, and civil rights.  The question is not whether to maintain order per se, but what kind of order to maintain.  I also approach this issue from the perspective of one who has spent his life being a square peg in a round hole, and being keenly aware of not fitting in.  I insist on trying to be my best possible self, not the person others want me to be or to become.  So, if someone has purple hair, this does not disturb me.  Besides, some people look good in purple hair.  And that person’s hair color is none of my business.

I, as one accustomed to not fitting in, have a bias for diversity, tolerance, and acceptance of most differences.  Why not?  Life would be boring if we were all alike.  Variety is the spice of life, is it not?  My commitment to mutuality, a Biblical virtue, is consistent with this attitude.  We all need each other.  We are all responsible to and for each other.  The old-school conservative value of building community makes sense to me but conserving unjust exclusion and enforcing conformity offends my morality.  I regard “conform” and “conformity” as the obscenest words in the English language.  I know the consequences of refusing to conform.   And some purple-haired woman may have something essential to contribute to the community.  How dare anyone exclude her!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2023 COMMON ERA

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Christmas 2022-2023   Leave a comment

I began to celebrate Christmas for this ecclesiastical year today.

I am a stickler for the liturgical calendar.  I know that Advent began on November 27, 2022.  I also understand that Christmas will begin tomorrow–December 25–and run its course of twelve days on January 5.  So, I will put my Christmas decorations away on January 6, 2023, the Epiphany.

Christmas Eve seems early enough to start celebrating Christmas.

I wish you, O reader, a blessed and merry Christmas season.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 24, 2022 COMMON ERA

CHRISTMAS EVE–THE LAST DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

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Posted December 24, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Calvary Episcopal Church Americus Georgia

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Human Resources, Vacant Positions, and Worker Shortages   Leave a comment

News of worker shortages and persistently vacant positions has become old news.

I wonder how many persistently vacant positions are due to worker shortages, how many are due to an imbalance (geographical, skills-related, etc.) in the work force, and how many are due to pokey human resources personnel.  A story from my past illustrates the last point.  I will provide no names, other than my own, of course.

I had applied to work for an employer in another city.  Too much time passed without a response.  I learned that the human resources department had yet to run the criminal background check.  So, I walked to the local police station and asked the officer on duty to run such a check on me.  He did, almost instantaneously.  He also typed a letter on official stationery and declared my record clean.  I thanked him and sent a copy of that letter to the human resources department.

That employer eventually hired me.  I do not know if the human resources department finally ran a background check on me or if they took the police department’s word for it.  But I should never have had to do the job of the human resources department.

I mentioned this incident to a supervisor.  He sympathized with me and informed that he had repeatedly counseled the human resources department to work faster.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Posted November 23, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Anniversaries and Changes   4 comments

Above:  Bonny Thomas (January 17, 1965-October 14, 2019)

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My week of anniversaries has nearly ended.

  1. Tuesday, October 11, marked one year, since I moved from Athens, Georgia, to Americus, Georgia.
  2. Friday, October 14, marked three years since Bonny died.
  3. Tomorrow–Monday, October 17–will mark one year since my first Sunday at Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, not as visitor.  (I had been in and out of this parish as a visitor from St. Gregory the Great, Athens from late 2006 to late 2019.)

These are only three of the plethora of changes in my life since October 14, 2019.  I have, for example, become thinner, gained more white hairs, and become the human guardian of a sweet and wild longhaired black cat I have renamed Boudicea Felicia Taylor.  Also, I moved into my new apartment in February this year.

Above:  Boudicea, September 17, 2022

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

To notice some reactions upon hearing the feline’s name, one would think that “Boudicea” is an odd name for a cat and that many people have no idea who the original Boudicea was.  I am a history buff, though.  And the appellation suits the former “Ladybug,” however.  Such a feline deserves a warrior’s name.

“Ladybug” (already so named when my mother rescued her from the animal shelter in 2019) had been in and out of that shelter a few times during the first eight months of her life.  The cat was too wild for her humans up to that point.  I inherited Ladybug when my mother moved to Magnolia Manor, Americus, early this year.  Given that the Manor forbids pets, the illustrious wild feline moved to my new apartment.  The two of us have adapted to each other and come to know each other better.  Boudicea’s primary attachment has become the pair bond to me.

I do think about Boudicea’s psychology.  I suppose that, when I go away overnight (as on a short trip, perhaps for business), she may think that I have abandoned her.  Even my mother coming over to visit the cat and take care of cat sitting tasks may not prevent that feline fear.  Boudicea is an intelligent creature to whom I have responsibilities.

During the last twelve months, I have become active in Calvary Episcopal Church.  I have become a lector.  I have started the lectionary class that meets before the worship service.  I have also become the parish librarian, organized the library, and started to accept donations to the library.

My life today differs considerably from what it used to be four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, and one year ago.  I wonder what my life will be like one year from now, presuming, for the sake of discussion, that I will still be alive then.  Nobody knows when one will die.  I enjoy life and hope to continue for as long as possible.  But I know from the deaths of relatives and friends that we will all die one day–probably without warning.

Until then, I am here, trying to be the post possible version of myself in God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Feast of St. Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet (April 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Trichet and Montfort

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT LOUIS-MARIE GRIGNION DE MONTFORT (JANUARY 31, 1673-APRIL 28, 1716)

Founder of the Company of Mary (the Montfort Missionaries)

Founder of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel 

Co-Founder of the Daughters of Wisdom

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BLESSED MARIE-LOUISE TRICHET (MAY 7, 1684-APRIL 28, 1759)

Co-Founder of the Daughters of Wisdom

Also known as Marie-Louise of Jesus and the First Daughter of Wisdom

Alternative feast day = May 7

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The Hail Mary is dew falling from heaven to make the soul fruitful.  It is a pure kiss of love we give to Mary.

–St. Louis de Montfort

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Your real superior is Mary; I am but her servant.

–Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet

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St. Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.  Both saints share the same feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar because they died on April 28.  Furthermore, properly telling the biography of one saint is impossible without telling of the life of the other one.

MONTFORT (I)

 

St. Louis de Montfort became an advocate of Marian devotion.  He also had a strong devotion to angels, especially guardian angels.

Montfort, born in Montfort-sur-Meu, France, on January 31, 1673, was one of eighteen children of Jeanne Robert Grignion and notary Jean-Baptiste Grignion.  Our saint grew up on the family farm near Montfort-sur-Meu.  When twelve years old, he matriculated at the Jesuit College of Saint Thomas Becket, Rennes; an uncle was a parish priest there.  Montfort remained at the College of Saint Thomas Becket to study theology.  These were formative years for our saint, who developed his interest in missions and his devotion to St. Mary of Nazareth.

Theological studies continued at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice, Paris, starting in 1693.  The scholarship proved inadequate, so Montfort lived among the poor of Paris in boarding houses.  His health also failed.  Somehow, our saint survived the bloodletting in the hospital in 1695.  Montfort, then appointed the seminary librarian, studied spiritual classics, especially of a Marian nature.

Montfort, ordained to the priesthood in June 1700, became a parish priest.  His first assignment was in Nantes.  Our saint, frustrated that he could not become a missionary to New France, felt stymied in fulfilling his vocation.  He became a Dominican tertiary in November 1700.  The following year, our saint began to serve as the chaplain of the hospital in Poitiers.  There he met Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet.

TRICHET (I)

Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet came from a pious Roman Catholic family.  She, born on May 7, 1684, was the fourth of eight children of Françoise Lecoeq and court magistrate Julen Trichet, of Poitiers, France.  One brother, Alexis, became a priest.  He, ordained in 1710, died the following year while ministering to plague victims in a prison camp.  One sister became a nun.  Another sister, Jeanne, paralyzed when thirteen years old, received healing during a pilgrimage to Notre Dame des Ardilliers, Samur, France, three years later.  Blessed Marie-Louise, educated by the Sisters of Sainte Jeanne de Lestonac, devoted her life to caring for the poor and the ill.

MONTFORT AND TRICHET (I)

Blessed Marie-Louise, seventeen years old, encountered Father Louis de Montfort at the Poitiers General Hospital in 1701.  He was the new chaplain; she was a volunteer.  Technicalities required Blessed Marie-Louise to enter the hospital as an inmate.  The pious, displeased mothe told her:

You will become as mad as that priest.

Blessed Marie-Louise did become as “mad as that priest.” effective February 2, 1703.  She moved into General Hospital, officially as an inmate.  Actually, she served as a nurse for a decade and helped Montfort administer the hospital.  Blessed Marie-Louise also expanded the hospital’s mission to include feeding beggars.

TRICHET (II)

Blessed Marie-Louise and Catherine Brunet departed Poitiers in 1715.  Brunet had joined Blessed Marie-Louise in hospital administration at Deux-Sèvres the previous year.  The women, accepting the invitation of the Bishop of La Rochelle, opened a free school for children of the poor in that city in 1715.

MONTFORT (II)

Despite all his good deeds to date, Montfort perceived that he was not fulfilling his vocation.  He wanted to serve as a missionary.  The priest consulted Pope Clement XI (r. 1700-1721), who assured him that he could fulfill that vocation in France.  The Supreme Pontiff also gave Montfort a new title:  Apostolic Missionary.  So, Montfort’s time as chaplain of the General Hospital, Poitiers, ended a few years after it had begun.  He became a traveling missioner.  Montfort also wrote books about Marian devotion.  He encouraged consecration to Jesus via Mary.  He also founded the Company of Mary (the Montfort Missionaries).

MONTFORT AND TRICHET (II)

On August 22, 1715, at La Rochelle, Montfort and Blessed Marie-Louise founded the Daughters of Wisdom.  Blessed Marie-Louise became Marie-Louise of Jesus.  The new order focused on teaching children and caring for the poor.

MONTFORT (III)

Montfort, aged forty-three years, had been a priest for about sixteen years when he died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvres, France, on April 28, 1716.  The priest had worn himself out.  His final sermon had been about the tenderness of Christ and the Incarnate Wisdom of God the Father.

Holy Mother Church has formally recognized Montfort.  Pope Pius IX declared him a Venerable in 1869.  Pope Leo XIII made our saint one of the beati.  Pope Pius XII canonized Montfort in 1947.

TRICHET (III)

Blessed Marie-Louise expanded and managed the work of the Daughters of Wisdom after Montfort’s death.  The order cared for orphans, as well as for the elderly and the handicapped.  The order also operated schools, and many members worked in hospitals.

Blessed Marie-Louise died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvres, on April 28, 1759–forty-three years to the day after her mentor’s death.  She, aged sixty-six years, never recovered from a fall from a horse.  Her tomb was next to that of Montfort.

Holy Mother Church has formally recognized Trichet.  Pope John Paul II declared her Venerable (1990) then Blessed (1993).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 1, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, LORD SHAFTESBURY, BRITISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF CHUCK MATTHEI, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE EQUITY TRUST, INC.

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF COMPASSION

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, UNITED METHODIST MINISTER AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST, DEACON AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MYSTIC

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 724

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Two Spaces   Leave a comment

AND OTHER ISSUES RELATED TO CHANGES IN STYLE MANUALS AND FORMATTING

Back in the Jurassic Age (the early 1990s), when I took a typing course (using typewriters) at my high school, I learned to skip two spaces after a period.  The muscle memory of this in my fingers has remained.  Until I changed a setting in my copy of Microsoft Word, every instance of two spaces between sentences showed as an error.

When did the second space become incorrect?

Standards for when to hyphenate compound adjectives have also changed within my memory.

Nevertheless, I remain adamant, for example, that “_____ American” is a noun and that “_____-American” is an adjective, regardless of what the Seventeenth Edition of The Chicago Manual of Style claims.

I own a copy of each edition of the Turabian style manual, starting with the Third Edition and going through the Ninth Edition.  Ghosts of previous editions haunt my mind, as in the case of the citation idem (“the same”), omitted a few editions ago.  I still use idem, though.

I also recall when twelve-pitch font (Times New Roman, usually), was normative.  Yet now a blank Microsoft Word document’s default setting is eleven-pitch Calibri font.  I use various fonts, with twelve-pitch as the standard for the body of the text.

Call me a rebel if you like, O reader.  I will accept the label as a compliment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Posted September 30, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Language

Feast of Blessed Ndoc Suma (April 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Ndoc Suma

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED NDOC SUMA (JULY 31, 1887-APRIL 22, 1958)

Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1958

Blessed Ndoc Suma comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Suma, born in Nënphat, Lezhë, Albania, on July 31, 1887, was a subject of the Ottoman Empire until Albanian independence (1912).  he studied theology at Skrodrë, Albania, then at the Jesuit Collegium Canisianum, Innsbruck, Austria, Austria-Hungary.  Our saint returned to Albania, whwere he joined the ranks of priests in the Archdiocese of Skrodrë-Pult on September 21, 1911.

During the subsequent political changes and stages of his homeland, Suma served as a parish priest in seven towns.  After the fascist occupation ended in 1944, the communist government came to power.  That government cracked down on religion.  Albanian authorities arrested Suma while he was saying Mass in Laçu on December 8, 1946.  The charge was being a spy.

The verdict was guilty, of course.  Our saint, sentenced to thirty years in prison, as well as hard labor, was near death when freed on November 25, 1957.  He, aged seventy years, died in the village of Pistull on April 22, 1958.

Holy Mother Church has formally recognized Suma.  Pope Francis declared him a Venerable in 2016 then a beatus later that year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HONORIUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF MARY RAMABAI, PROPHETIC WITNESS AND EVANGELIST IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD CHALLONER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, RELIGIOUS WRITER, TRANSLATOR, CONTROVERSIALIST, PRIEST, AND TITULAR BISHOP OF DOBERUS

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Ndoc 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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