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Feast of St. Walter of Pontoise (March 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Walter of Pontoise

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT WALTER OF PONTOISE (CIRCA 1030-APRIL 8, 1099)

French Roman Catholic Abbot and Ecclesiastical Reformer

Alternative feast days = February 17, April 8, and May 4

Recognition of the will of God does not necessarily translate into immediate acceptance of it.  This is a spiritual struggle many people know well.

St. Walter of Pontoise knew it well.

Our saint, born in Andainville, Picardy, France, circa 1030, really wanted to be a simple Benedictine monk.  He, after having been a professor of philosophy and rhetoric, had fled success-related temptations by becoming a Benedictine monk at Rebais-en-Brie.  He did not aspire to leadership.

Nevertheless, St. Walter became the first Abbot of Pontoise, via appointment by King Philip I (reigned 1060-1108).  From time to time our saint fled the abbey and his responsibilities.  Once he fled to Cluny.  Every time St. Walter fled, he had to return.  Pope Gregory VII (in office 1073-1085) refused our saint’s resignation and sent him back to Pontoise.  St. Walter never ran away gain.

He did suffer, however.  St. Walter opposed corruption (mainly simony), lax monastic discipline, and the morally dissolute lives of many Benedictine monks.  Our saint’s activism made powerful enemies, some of whom had him arrested, beaten, and incarcerated.  Yet St. Walter, released, continued his ecclesiastical reform efforts.

In 1094 St. Walter founded a convent at Bertaucourt-les-Dames.

St. Walter died of natural causes on Good Friday, April 8, 1099, at Pontoise Abbey.  He was about 69 years old.

St. Walter became the last Western saint canonized by someone other than the Bishop of Rome.  Hugh, Archbishop of Rouen, canonized our saint in 1153.

St. Walter is the patron saint of Pontoise, vintners, prisoners of war, and prisoners.  Some invoke him against job-related stress, not surprisingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI-TIM-OI, FIRST FEMALE PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF GEORGE A. BUTTRICK, ANGLO-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS SON, DAVID G. BUTTRICK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEN UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE POUSSEPIN, FOUNDRESS OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE, 1874

THE FEAST OF SAINT SURANUS OF SORA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR, 580

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O God, by whose grace your servant Saint Walter of Pontoise,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

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

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

Amos 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Posted January 24, 2020 by neatnik2009 in March 23, Saints of 1000-1099

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Feast of Umphrey Lee (March 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Central Campus Quadrangle, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, about a Century Ago

Image in the Public Domain

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UMPHREY LEE, SR. (MARCH 23, 1893-JUNE 23, 1958)

U.S. Methodist Minister and President of Southern Methodist University

Umphrey Lee, Sr., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he was one of the Consulting Editors at the end of his life.

Lee, a Methodist minister’s son, became a Methodist minister.  Our saint, born in Oakland City, Indiana, on March 23, 1893, was a son of Esther Davis (Lee) (1862-1949) and the Reverend Josephus Lee (1851-1926), a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The family moved to Texas in 1909.  Young Umphrey studied at Daniel Baker College, Brownwood, Tennessee (1910-1912), then at Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, from which he graduated with his B.A. degree in 1914.  Theological studies at the new Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, founded in 1911, followed.  He graduated with his Master of Divinity degree in 1916.  Then our saint joined the ranks of the clergy.

Lee spent most of his life as an academic, a husband, and a father, with some time as a parish minister.  In December 2017 he married Mary Margaret Williams (1892-1961).  The couple had a son, Umphrey Lee, Jr., who became an English professor.  Our saint established the Wesley Bible Chair at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1919.  After a brief stint as a pastor in Ennis, Texas (1922-1923), Lee served as the senior minister of Highland Park Methodist Church, Dallas (founded in 1916, on the campus of Southern Methodist University), from 1923 to 1936.  He presided over the construction of a magnificent Gothic edifice for the congregation.  Our saint also taught homiletics at Southern Methodist University and earned his Ph.D. (1931) from Columbia University.  The title of his dissertation was “The Historical Backgrounds of Early Methodist Enthusiasm.”  In 1936-1938 Lee served as the Dean of the School of Religion, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.  Then he returned to Southern Methodist University (SMU), to remain for the rest of his life.

Lee was an integral part of Southern Methodist University.  He, as the President (1939-1954), guided SMU through part of the Great Depression and through World War II and the postwar increase in enrollment.  Our saint, as the head of a major research university, affirmed the value of a liberal arts education and refused to let SMU issue “production line” degrees.  He had a heart attack in 1953.  This prompted his resignation the following year.  The trustees kept Lee around by creating a new title, Chancellor, for him to fill.  Our saint, scheduled to retire in July 1958, died in University Park, Texas, on June 23, 1958.  He was 65 years old.

Lee’s published works included:

  1. Jesus the Pioneer; and Other Sermons (1925);
  2. The Lord’s Horseman:  John Wesley the Man (1928);
  3. The Life of Christ:  A Brief Outline for Students (1929);
  4. The Bible and Business (1930);
  5. The Historical Backgrounds of Early Methodist Enthusiasm (1931);
  6. John Wesley and Modern Religion (1936);
  7. The Preacher and the Modern Mind (1938);
  8. Partial credit in The Liberal Arts College Today (1940);
  9. The Historic Church and Modern Pacifism (1943);
  10. One of the lectures in Christian Bases of World Order:  The Merrick Lectures for 1943 (1943);
  11. Address (1946);
  12. Render Unto the People (1946);
  13. A portion of An Informed Church and Other Messages from the Methodist Hour (1947);
  14. A Short History of Methodism (1956), with William Warren Sweet;
  15. Our Father and Us (1958);
  16. For the Rising Generation:  A Sketch of the Methodist Heritage in Higher Education (1958);
  17. Our Fathers and Us:  The Heritage of the Methodists (1958); and
  18. Numerous articles and book reviews.

Umphrey Lee, Sr., combined faith and intellect, in continuity with the best of Christian tradition.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD GRUBB, ENGLISH QUAKER, AUTHOR, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Umphrey Lee, Sr., and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of John S. Stamm (March 21)   1 comment

Above:  Bishop John S. Stamm, 1939

Image Source = Raymond M. Veh, Thumbnail Sketches of Evangelical Bishops (1939)

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JOHN SAMUEL STAMM (MARCH 23, 1878-MARCH 5, 1956)

Bishop of the The Evangelical Church then the Evangelical United Brethren Church 

Bishop John S. Stamm comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of Galatians for Volume X (1953).

Stamm belonged to an Arminian tradition.  The Church of the United Brethren in Christ (1800-1946) and the Evangelical Association (1816-1922) began as German-speaking counterparts to the English-speaking Methodist movement.  The ironically-named United Evangelical Church (1891-1922) reunited with the Evangelical Association, from which it had broken away, to create The Evangelical Church (1922-1946).  The Church of the United Brethren in Christ merged with The Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968).  This denomination merged with the reunited Methodist Church (1939-1968) to create The United Methodist Church.

John Samuel Stamm was a son of Swiss immigrants.  His parents were Hans (George) Stamm (1854-1918) and Anna Maria (Mary) Stamm (1854-1950).  Our saint, born in Alida, Kansas, on March 23, 1878, grew up in the Evangelical Association.  The first two decades of his life were not conducive to education; he had completed five grades before his twentieth birthday.  Stamm, who had a conversion experience at age 18, matriculated at North Central College, Napierville, Illinois, in 1898.  The college, like many similar institutions at the time, had a preparatory academy attached to it.  Our saint started at the academy before moving on to the postsecondary program.  In 1909, at the age of 31 years, he completed his undergraduate degree.  The following year, he graduated from Evangelical Theological Seminary, attached to North Central College.  Then he earned his M.A. degree from The University of Chicago.

Stamm, a minister, spent most of his career above the congregational level.  He served in churches in Missouri (Bloomington and Glasgow) and Illinois (Manhattan, Downers Grove, and Oak Park) before becoming a professor at Evangelical Theological Seminary (1918-1926).  Then he became a bishop in 1926.  Stamm worked first out of Kansas City, Missouri (1926-1934), then Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1934f).  Along the way, he fell in love with Priscilla Marie Wahl (d. 1955).  He wed her in Manhattan, Illinois, on March 9, 1912.

Stamm was active on the Conference level of his denomination.  He was, at different times, the President of the Sunday School Board, the Chairman on the Commission on Policy and Program, and the Missionary Secretary of the Young People’s Alliance.

Stamm was active on the denominational level, beyond his duties as a bishop.  He was the President of the Evangelical School of Theology, Reading, Pennsylvania (1934-1941).  As of 1939, our saint also led the denominational Board of Publication, the Superannuation Fund, the Church Extension board, the Christian Social Action committee, and the Commission on Church Federation and Union.  Stamm was, therefore, deeply involved in the 1946 merger that formed the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Stamm, the author of Evangelism and Christian Experience, was also an ecumenist.  He served as the President of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (1945-1949), the Federal Council of Churches (1948-1950).  Furthermore, Stamm helped to found the World Council of Churches (1948) and sat on its Central Committee (1948-1954).  If that were not enough, he also helped to create the Revised Standard Version (1946, 1952) of the Bible.

Stamm received more degrees later in life.  These were:

  1. Doctor of Divinity (1927), Evangelical Theological Seminary;
  2. Doctor of Laws (1936), Albright College;
  3. Doctor of Humane Letters (1949), North Central College; and
  4. Doctor of Sacred Theology (1951), Dickinson College.

In 1950, at the age of 72 years, Stamm retired from episcopal ministry.  He remained active in other capacities for years.  Our saint died on Kansas City, Missouri, on March 5, 1956, at the age of 77 years.  The cause of death was pneumonia, after a pelvic fracture.

Bishop John S. Stamm got a late start to his ministry, but he did much once he got underway.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant John Samuel Stamm,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by grace grow into the full stature of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  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 the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). 38

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Feast of Ellen Gates Starr (March 20)   1 comment

Above:  Ellen Gates Starr, Between 1915 and 1917

Image Creator = Bain News Service

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ELLEN GATES STARR (MARCH 19, 1859-FEBRUARY 10, 1940)

U.S. Episcopalian then Roman Catholic Activist and Social Reformer

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I became a Socialist because I was a Christian.  The Christian religion teaches that all men are to be regarded as brothers, that no one should wish to profit by the loss or disadvantage of others; as all winners must do under a competitive system; that none should enjoy “two coats” while others are coatless; that, in effect, “none should have cake til all have bread.”  “Civilized” life is in grotesque contrast to all this.  All the individual, acting individualistically, is helpless to modify it very much….”Society” or “the state” must see to it that strangers are entertained; that the hungry are fed and the destitute provided for.  Does it?

–Ellen Gates Starr, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 470

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Ellen Gates Starr was more than a social reformer, although she was that.  She was a social revolutionary.  Perhaps her Unitarian upbringing contributed to her social conscience.  American Unitarianism did have a reputation for being on the vanguard of social justice efforts.  Throughout her life, whether Starr was in her Unitarian, Episcopalian, or Roman Catholic phase, social justice was an integral part of her faith.  Our saint, born in Laona, Illinois, on March 19, 1859, was a daughter of Allen Starr and Susan Gates Child (Starr).  Ellen was a classmate of Jane Addams (1860-1935) at Rockford Female Seminary in 1877-1878.  Their collaboration began.

Starr, who joined The Episcopal Church in 1883, worked with Addams to help the poor, especially immigrants.  The two women toured Europe, studying efforts to help the poor, in 1888.  Upon returning to Chicago, they founded Hull House in 1889.  The model for Hull House was Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London.  Hull House began by offering educational opportunities, as well as concerts and other cultural enrichment programs.

Starr objected to the ills of industrialization and worked for a better society.  She worked to improve the working conditions in factories.  She advocated to end child labor.  Starr organized labor strikes and went to jail for doing so at least once.  She embraced Christian Socialism.  Our saint also developed an interest in the arts and crafts movement, going as far as to found the Chicago Society of Arts and Crafts in 1897.

Starr had a long-term interest in Roman Catholicism.  Her faith wedded doctrines, prayer, and sacraments to social activism.  In 1894 our saint joined the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, founded by Emily Malbone Morgan (1862-1937) in 1884.  Starr finally converted to Roman Catholicism in 1920.  Starr, in failing health during her final years, moved to a convent of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Suffern, New York, in 1931.  The sisters took care of our saint for the rest of her life.  She, aged 80 years, died on February 10, 1940.

My Western culture (especially the conservative portion of it) overemphasizes individualism.  Biblical ethics contain both individual and collective elements; moral responsibility is both individual and collective.  Many instances of “you” and “your” in the Bible are plural.  This is more obvious in languages with different words for singular and plural second-person pronouns.

Starr understood the collective aspects of Biblical ethics.  She grasped both collective and individual responsibility.  Our saint was correct; how much one person can do is minor compared to what we can do together.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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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 Ellen Gates Starr] to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Blessed Maria Barbara Maix (March 17)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of Brazil (1822-1870)

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA BARBARA MAIX (JUNE 27, 1818-MARCH 17, 1873)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Also known as Maria Barbara of the Most Holy Trinity

Blessed Maria Barbara Maix is one of the more recent additions to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.

Maix was Austrian by birth.  She, born in Vienna on June 27, 1818, was a daughter of Joseph Maix and Rosalia Mauritz (Maix).  Our saint was physically frail, suffering from asthma.  She, as a youth, worked as a maid at the Schönbrunn Palace.  She, orphaned at the age of 15 years, went to work as a seamstress.  Several years later, in 1836, our saint and her sister Maria opened a home for poor people in Vienna.  Blessed Maria Barbara established a Marian order for women, the origin of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in 1843.  She had an appointment to meet with Pope Gregory XVI, to ask for papal approval of the order, in 1846, but he died one day prior to the appointment.

1848-1849 was a revolutionary time in much of Europe, including Austria.  In late 1848 the Austrian government expelled Maix and the other 21 members of her order.  Maix decided at the last minute to depart for Brazil, not the United States, from Hamburg.  The women arrived in Rio de Janeiro on November 8, 1848.  The Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary formally came into existence on May 8, 1849.

Our saint and the other members of her order fulfilled their vocation.  They worked with street children, operated a school for orphaned girls, fought slavery (legal in Brazil until 1888), and tended to soldiers during the Paraguayan War/War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870).

Pope Benedict XVI declared our saint a Venerable in 2008 then beatified him in 2010.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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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 Barbara Maix,

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,

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 9:57-62

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

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Feast of St. Jan Sarkander (March 17)   1 comment

Above:  St. Jan Sarkander

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JAN SARKANDER (DECEMBER 20, 1576-MARCH 17, 1620)

Silesian Roman Catholic Priest and “Martyr of the Confessional,” 1620

Protestant-Roman Catholic tensions have cooled since the lifetime of St. Jan Sarkander, but petty personal politics have remained constant.  Unfortunately, so has judicial murder.

St. Jan Sarkander, born in Skotschan, Silesia (now Skocjow, Poland), on December 20, 1576, was a son of Georg Mathias Sarkander and Helene Kornize (Sarkander).  Georg died when our saint was young.  Jan’s marriage ended with the death of his wife.  The couple had no children.  Then Sarkander turned to the Church.

Sarkander became a priest.  He studied under Jesuits in Prague, earning his master of philosophy degree in 1603.  Then he studied theology in Austria.  This led to his ordination to the priesthood in 1607, at Grozin.  Sarkander, curate at Boskowitz from 1613 to 1616, became a parish priest in Olmütz, Moravia (now Olomouc, Czech Republic).  Moravia was a strongly Protestant area.  Bitowsky von Bystritz, a wealthy landowner and a Protestant, opposed our saint.  Sarkander had a prominent supporter and parishioner, though; Baron von Labkowitz favored him.

Sarkander became a victim of Bystritz.  The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was, in part, a war of religion (Protestant versus Roman Catholic).  Our saint, briefly forced into exile during Protestant occupation of the area, returned to tend to his flock.  In 1620, when Roman Catholic forces approached the area, Sarkander prevented combat by taking a monstrance to the would-be battlefield.  Bystritz accused the priest of treason.  Bystritz was really seeking information to use against Labkowitz.  Sarkander never violated the seal of the confessional, despite tortures.  He died (by burning alive) at Olmütz on March 17, 1620.  He was 43 years old.

The Roman Catholic Church recognized Sarkander formally.  Pope Pius IX declared our saint a Venerable in 1859 then beatified him the following year.  Pope John Paul II canonized Sarkander in 1995.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives for the message of your love.

Inspire us with the memory of those martyrs for the Gospel

[like your servant Saint Jan Sarkander] whose faithfulness led them in the way of the cross,

and give us the courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

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

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Feast of Thomas Wyatt Turner (March 16)   1 comment

Above:  Thomas Wyatt Turner, 1901

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS WYATT TURNER (MARCH 16, 1877-APRIL 21, 1978)

U.S. Roman Catholic Scientist, Educator, and Civil Rights Activist

Founder of Federated Colored Catholics

Thomas Wyatt Turner 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).

Turner, an African-American, became a fine and a pioneering scientist, a great educator, and a civil rights activist.  Our saint, born in Hughesville, Maryland, on March 16, 1877, was a son of sharecroppers and former slaves, Eli Turner and Linnie Gross (Turner).  The family was Roman Catholic.  At an early age our saint encountered racism in the Church.  Given that local Roman Catholic parochial schools did not admit African Americans, Turner attended an Episcopal school, St. Mary’s Parochial and Industrial School, from which he graduated in 1894.

Turner earned degrees through his doctorate, and began to teach.  He graduated from Howard University (A.B., 1901) then spent a brief stint as a graduate student at the Catholic University of America in 1901.  In 1901 and 1902 our saint taught science and mathematics at the Tuskegee Institute.  Then, from 1902 to 1910, Turner taught biology at Colored High and Training School, Baltimore, Maryland.  Meanwhile, he earned his A.M. degree from Howard University (1905).  Our saint taught high school in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1910 and 1911.  Then he taught biology again at Colored High and Training School, Baltimore, in 1911 and 1912.  From 1913 to 1924 Turner was Professor of Applied Biology and Nature Study at Teachers’ College, Howard University.  During his sabbatical (1920-1921) he completed work on his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, Plant Pathology, and Pomology from Cornell University (1921).  He was the first African American to earn and receive a doctorate from Cornell University, and in botany from any institution in the the United States.  The title of his dissertation was “Studies of the Mechanism of the Physiological Effects of Certain Mineral Salts in Altering the Ratio of Top Growth to Root Growth in Seed Plants.”  At the time the Catholic University of America refused to admit African Americans to doctoral programs.  Otherwise, he would have worked on his Ph.D. there.

Turner was active in scientific and academic life.  He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture off-and-on, on the side.  Our saint served as the Acting Dean of Teachers’ College, Howard University.  From 1924 to 1945 Turner was Professor and Head of the Unit of Natural Sciences at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia.  He also founded the Virginia Conference of Science Teachers in 1931 and served as its first president.  Furthermore, our saint studied science education in historically African-American colleges and universities in 1943.  Turner, in retirement, was a visiting professor at Texas State University for Negroes, Houston, Texas, in 1949 and 1950.  He was active in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society for Horticultural Science for many years.

Turner married twice.  In 1907 he wed Laura Miller (d. 1934).  His second wife, whom he married in 1936, was Louise Wright.  Our saint had no children.

Turner confronted racism in the Church and in society.  In 1909 he he became a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).  He founded the Committee Against the Extension of Race Prejudice in the Church in 1917.  This organization was a forerunner of Federated Colored Catholics in 1925.  Our saint served as its president until his ouster by the board in 1932.  He had objected to the organization’s transformation into the National Catholic Federation for the Promotion of Better Race Relations.  The renamed organization divided, resulting in the formation of the second Federated Colored Catholics.  Turned resigned as its president in 1934.  This organization existed until 1958.

Turner reported various examples and patterns of racism in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America.  They included:

  1. Having to sit at the back of a church building during Mass;
  2. Priests’ hesitation to recommend African-American men to bishops for consideration for holy orders;
  3. Bishops’ hesitation to send African-American men to seminary;
  4. Racism in parochial schools and Catholic colleges and universities;
  5. The insistence that African Americans use side entrances of church buildings;
  6. Priests hearing the confessions of white parishioners first; and
  7. Priests administering communion to white parishioners first.

Turner ran unsuccessfully for the city council of Hampton, Virginia, in 1948.

The Catholic University of America awarded an honorary doctorate to Turner in 1976, when he was 99 years old.

Turner, aged 101 years, died in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 1978.

To condemn those who, out of racism, erected and/or maintained barriers in the way of Turner and other African Americans is easy and correct.  To stop there is insufficient, however.  We, individually and collectively, in our minds and in our institutions, may not be as morally superior as we may imagine ourselves to be.  We, individually, also harbor discriminatory prejudices and function as cogs in institutions that segregate and exclude unjustly.  We, individually and collectively, have a moral obligation to confront these examples and patterns of injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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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 Thomas Wyatt Turner] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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