Archive for the ‘April 16’ Category

Feast of Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey (April 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



African-American Episcopal Deacon

First African-American ordained in The Episcopal Church in the western United States, 1866

Husband of


African-American Episcopal Educator

The Episcopal Church added the Casseys to Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 2018.

That source lists Peter Williams Cassey as a priest.  This contradicts other sources, which insist that he was a perpetual deacon.  To confuse the point, some of my sources contradict themselves, claiming that Cassey never became a priest then referring to him as a priest.  I feel confident in writing of him as a deacon, for the website of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, St. Augustine, Florida, refers to Cassey as “Father” (a title usually reserved for a male priest) and as “deacon-in-charge.”  My critique of the profile of the Casseys in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is that it is misleading in referring to Peter Williams Cassey as a priest and that the wording in other places is inexact and confusing.

Peter Williams Cassey, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 13, 1831, came from a family of abolitionists.  His grandfather was the Reverend Peter Williams, Jr., an abolitionist, the first African-American Episcopal priest in New York, and the first Rector (1826-1840) of St. Philip’s Church, Harlem, New York, New York.  Our saint’s parents were Joseph and Amy Cassey, prominent and wealthy members of their community, as well as abolitionists.  They gave their son opportunities for a fine, classical education.  He accepted those opportunities and made the most of them; he became fluent in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

Cassey spent 1853-1881 in California.  After he arrived in San Francisco, he chose to work as a barber.  Our saint was also active in civil life; he helped to organize an association to protect African Americans and other people of color in that racist society.  He moved to San Jose in the late 1850s.  There he helped to free slaves and taught African-American children, excluded from public schools.

Peter Williams Cassey was half of a team; the other half was Annie Besant (Cassey), his wife.  She also came from a prominent African-American family.  The couple had a daughter, Amy (baptized on April 12, 1863).  They adopted another daughter, Emma Louise (baptized on November 26, 1864).  The couple became charter members of Trinity Episcopal Church, San Jose, in 1862.  Trinity Church had an African-American mission, St. Philip’s Church, with St. Philip’s Academy attached to it.  St. Philip’s Academy operated for a decade, from the early 1860s to the early 1870s.  It educated children of color (African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American), excluded from public schools.  The Casseys lived on the grounds and kept the Academy running.

William Ingram Kip, the first Episcopal Bishop of California, ordained Peter to the diaconate on August 13, 1866.  This was the first ordination of an African American in The Episcopal Church in the western United States.

While Annie kept St. Phiip’s Academy, San Jose, running, into the early 1870s, Bishop Kip assigned Peter to found and lead Christ Mission, for people of color, in San Francisco, at the beginning of the decade.  Peter divided his time between San Francisco and San Jose until 1875.  Financial difficulties and a relatively transient congregation forced St. Philip’s Academy to close in the early 1870s.  Annie died on November 5, 1875.  Afterward, Peter, Amy (14), Emma, and Henrietta Lockwood (Annie’s grandmother) moved to Alumeda.

Christ Mission, San Francisco, was the forerunner of the present Christ Episcopal Church Sei Ko Kai (Japanese-American) and the present St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church (African-American).

Cassey left California in 1881.  Although he never became a priest, he held the title of rector in four churches and two dioceses.  Our saint was the Rector of St. Cyprian’s Church, New Bern,  North Carolina, from 1881 to 1884.  He was also the first African-American rector in the state.  Then he served in the Diocese of Florida.  Cassey was the Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Fernandina (1884-1897); St. Philip’s Church, Jacksonville (1897-1900); and St. Cyprian’s Church, St. Augustine (1900-1917).

Cassey, aged 85 years, died on April 16, 1917.  Edwin Gardner Weed, the Bishop of Florida, eulogized him:

…no other clergyman in the diocese came close to the theological maturity and scholarship that Peter Williams Cassey exhibited in his ministry and teachings.  We should be proud of these great souls that helped lay the foundations of this diocese.

Think, O reader, about how many lives Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey improved.  Then think about how many lives those people improved, and how many lives those people improved, et cetera.  The Casseys’ legacy continues.

I also approve of The Episcopal Church formally recognizing both Casseys.  I think of what Father Joseph Warrilow, the subject of Father Joe:  The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004) told Tony Hendra:  the Roman Catholic Church should canonize more married couples.  The Episcopal Church does not canonize people, in the sense of formally attaching “St.” to front of their names.  It does, however, add them to one calendar or another, or perhaps to both.  (I admit that my denomination having two calendars of saints–Lesser Feasts and Fasts and A Great Cloud of Witnesses–confuses me.  I recall when we had just one, Lesser Feasts and Fasts.)  I find that, when I write posts for this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, plans for a post frequently expand by following relationships.  Why not?










God of justice and mercy, who sent your Son to preach, to teach, and to give hope to those in need:

We remember before you this day your servants Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey,

who, in the face of slavery and discrimination,

sought to give the blessings of education and a spiritual haven for those pushed to the margins.

May we strive in our own lives to be fearless in the face of injustice

and to work for blessings that will touch those whom the world does not count of value;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives forever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 22:1-12

Psalm 112

Matthew 5:13-16

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 236


Feast of Blessed Mikel Suma (April 16)   1 comment

Above:  Blessed Mikel Suma 

Image in the Public Domain



Albanian Roman Catholic Priest, Friar, and Martyr, 1950

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

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

Pope Francis declared Suma Venerable then beatified him in 2016.









Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Mikel Suma

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

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


Feast of Isabella Gilmore (April 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Isabella Gilmore

Image in the Public Domain



Anglican Deaconess

The Church of England commemorates the life of Isabella Gilmore on April 16.

Gilmore was one of the leaders of the movement to revive the ancient order of deaconesses in The Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.  She, made a deaconess in 1887, stood in the spiritual lineage of Elizabeth Ferard (1825-1883), the first deaconess in The Church of England.

Isabella Morris, born in London on July 14, 1842, was a daughter of William Morris (a financier) and Emma Morris.  Our saint’s famous brother was William Morris (the artist, author, architect, and political activist), who lived from 1834 to 1896.  [Aside:  The English custom of naming a son after his father without using suffixes, such as “Jr.” and “III,” can be very confusing.  I like to know of whom I am thinking, writing, and speaking–grandfather, father, or son.]  William Sr. died when his daughter was just five years old.  The family relocated to Walthamstow, where Isabella studied under a governess then at schools in Brighton and Clifton.  The family moved again–to Leyton Hall, Essex–in 1856.

Our saint had a family life.  In 1860 she married naval officer Arthur Hamilton Gilmore.  She as the wife of a sailor, moved often.  After her husband died in 1882, our saint moved in with her family.  She also trained to become and became a nurse, a profession unfit for a woman of her social class, according to social conventions.  In 1884 Gilmore began to care for the children of her recently deceased brother, Randall.

Gilmore put her experience in taking care of others to good use as a deaconess.  In 1886 Anthony Thorold, the Bishop of Rochester, recruited the reluctant Gilmore to pioneer deaconess work in the diocese.  The following year she became a deaconess.  Our saint, active in the order until she retired in 1906, trained had deaconesses for other dioceses.  Her influence was widespread.

Gilmore died, aged 80 years, on April 16, 1923.





Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Isabella Gilmore,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Feast of St. Bernadette of Lourdes (April 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Bernadette

Image in the Public Domain




Also known as Marie-Bernarde Soubirous and Sister Marie-Bernard

French feast day = February 18

Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, informally known as Bernadette, was an illiterate peasant girl of Lourdes, France, when her reality changed.  Our saint, born on January 7, 1844, was the eldest daughter of Louise Soubirous and Francois Soubirous, a miller.  Her health was fragile; asthma prevented her from attending school more often than she did.  From February 11 to July 16, 1858, at the Massabielle Rock, St. Bernadette, just 14 years old, experienced 18 visions and received messages from a woman who identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.  This changed not only our saint’s life, but the lives of countless people.  St. Bernadette, initially unaware of the meaning of that term, learned from a priest that this was St. Mary.

[Aside:  Contrary to common, theologically illiterate misunderstanding, the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth are different.  The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of St. Mary without original sin, so she would be a fit vessel to become the Mother of God.  I recall hearing certain Protestant ministers as well as lay people confusing the Immaculate Conception for the Virgin Birth.  One should, when in doubt theologically, consult a catechism for definitions of terms.  Also, although the status of the Immaculate Conception, as a dogma, dates to 1854, the idea, as a doctrine, dates to the Patristic Era.]

St. Bernadette, always honest and never self-seeking, had to overcome opposition from her family, local priests, and civil authorities.  Some considered our saint to be too stupid to have had such an experience.  In being consistent in her story, was St. Bernadette being obstinate?  Certain authorities thought so.  The discovery of a healing spring brought blessings to many people and much displeasure to others.  All of these realities made St. Bernadette a center of attention.  This was difficult for her.

The Church, however, eventually sided with the visionary.  In 1862 the diocese declared that the faithful were justified in affirming the reality of the visions.  Fourteen years later Our Lady’s command that a church edifice exist on the location came to fruition with the consecration of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.  In 1901 Church officials consecrated the larger Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Furthermore, Pope Pius XI beatified our saint in 1925 and canonized her eight years later.

St. Bernadette escaped the attention she was getting at Lourdes by going to the convent of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers.  At first she was merely a student at the boarding school, where she finally learned to read and write.  Then, in 1866, our saint became a novice in the order.  As Sister Marie-Bernard St. Bernadette earned her reputation for kindness, holiness, and joyfulness.  Much of the time, however, she was in agony due to tuberculosis of the bone.  She accepted what Our Lady told her:  she would suffer in this world.

St. Bernadette died on April 16, 1879.  She was 35 years old.

Above:  Lourdes, 1890-1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-05297

Lourdes has long been a destination for pilgrims seeking healing.  Documented medical recoveries have occurred, but most healings have been of a spiritual variety.  The terminally ill have left still dying, but at peace with that reality.

Would God work through an illiterate peasant girl to help many people during and after the lifetime?  Why not?  Would the Mother of God appear to a seemingly insignificant person at a garbage dump?  Why not?


Usually I adapt a collect and list readings specified from a liturgical volume.  This time, however, I feature an original collect and list passages of scripture I have selected.

Gracious God, the source of life, healing, and wholeness,

you choose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

Thank you for the scandal of grace evident in many lives,

especially that of your servant Saint Bernadette Soubirous,

and for the continuing legacy of her fidelity to you.

May we, by your grace, also be instruments of your agape in the world.

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

1 Samuel 3:1-4:1

Psalm 131

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 19:13-15





Feast of Calvin Weiss Laufer (April 16)   2 comments

Handbook to the Hymnal (1935) August 28, 2013

Above:  Part of the Title Page of a Germane Volume from my Library



U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymnodist

Using The Hymnal (1933) has proven to be quite a boon to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  This source has yielded many wonderful discoveries already.  And I have eight months’ worth of saints yet to go!

Among those discoveries (from my perspective) is the Reverend Calvin Weiss Laufer (1874-1938), a native of Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania.  He attended Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (B.A., 1897; M.A., 1900) then Union Theological Seminary.  Our saint, ordained in 1900s, served at two churches:

  • Steinway Reformed Church, Long Island City, New York (1901-1905), and
  • First Presbyterian Church, West Hoboken, New Jersey (1905-1915).

Then Laufer worked for arms of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. for the rest of his life.  From 1915 to 1924 he labored for the Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work.  Then, from 1925 until his death, he worked for the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, focusing on musical publications.  Our saint, in his official capacity, was partially responsible for the following books:

  • The Church School Hymnal for Youth (1927);
  • Junior Church School Hymnal (1928);
  • Songs for Men (1928);
  • Primary Music and Worship (1930); and
  • Hymn Lore (1932);
  • The Hymnal (1933);
  • Handbook to the Hymnal (1935); and
  • When  the Little Child Wants to Sing (1935).

Laufer, a protege of Lewis Fitzgerald Benson, produced other volumes:

Our saint wrote hymns, some of which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  He wrote “We Thank Thee, Lord, Thy Paths of Service” (1919) for use in the Flatbush Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, New York, New York, in September 1919.  The pastor, Herbert H. Field, was a dear friend with whom Laufer dined weekly.  Laufer wrote the triumphant “Thee, Holy Father, We Adore” (1931) in the midst of grief.  Our saint wrote of those circumstances in the Handbook to The Hymnal (1935):

This triumphant and joyous hymn of faith was born out of a great domestic sorrow that left the author’s heart and home bereft of an inspiring companionship.  The experience of God’s grace, in its ministry of comfort and a sense of victory in this soul crisis, not only illumined the darkness that fell but revealed the majesty and greatness of God in unforgettable glory.

–Page 19

And Laufer wrote “O Thou Eternal Christ of God” (1933) after an especially memorable Palm Sunday service.

Robert Guy McCutchan, editor of Our Hymnody:  A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. Ed. (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937), wrote of our saint:

A writer of hymns, a devotional poet, and a musician of attainment, Doctor Laufer has made a notable contribution to the Church at large.

–Page 164

Yes, Dr. Laufer did.





Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Calvin Weiss Laufer)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26






Great Vigil of Easter, Year C   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia, April 7, 2012

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Embrace This Mystery





(Read at least two,)

(1) Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

(2) Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

(3) Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

(4) Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Canticle 8, page 85, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(5) Isaiah 55:1-11 and Canticle 9, page 86, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(6) Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19

(7) Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

(8) Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

(9) Zephaniah 3:12-20 and Psalm 98


The Collect:

Almighty God, who for our redemption gave your only- begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. or this O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; 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.


Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Luke 24:1-12


My custom regarding posts for the Easter Vigil is to list the manifold and myriad readings (most of which are optional) and to offer a brief reflection.  Consistent with that practice I invite you, O reader, to approach the question of divine power, which gave us the Resurrection, with awe, wonder, reverence, and praise.  The Resurrection of Jesus is a matter of theology; historical methods cannot analyze it properly.  I am a trained historian, so far be it from me to criticize methods which work well most of that time.  But I am also a Christian, and I recognize the existence of mysteries beyond the bounds of historical scrutiny.  Life is better with some mysteries than without them.  So I invite you, O reader, to embrace this mystery.




Posted November 11, 2012 by neatnik2009 in April 16, April 17, Revised Common Lectionary Year C

Tagged with

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for April   Leave a comment


Image Source = WiZZiK

1 (Frederick Denison Maurice, Anglican Priest and Theologian)

  • Giuseppe Girotti, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945
  • John Gray, Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Mythologist, Biblical Scholar, and Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages
  • Ludovico Pavoni, Roman Catholic Priest and Educator
  • Syragius of Autun and Anarcharius of Auxerre, Roman Catholic Bishops; and Valery of Leucone and Eustace of Luxeuit, Roman Catholic Abbots

2 (James Lloyd Breck, “The Apostle of the Wilderness”)

  • Carlo Carretto, Spiritual Writer
  • John Payne and Cuthbert Mayne, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1582 and 1577
  • Joseph Bernardin, Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago
  • Mykolai Charnetskyi, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Titular Bishop of Lebed, and Martyr, 1959
  • Sidonius Apollinaris, Eustace of Lyon, and His Descendants, Roman Catholic Bishops

3 (Luther D. Reed, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist)

  • Burgendofara and Sadalberga, Roman Catholic Abbesses, and Their Relatives
  • Marc Sangnier, Founder of the Sillon Movement
  • Mary of Egypt, Hermit and Penitent
  • Reginald Heber, Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, and Hymn Writer
  • Sidney Lovett, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Chaplain of Yale University

4 (Benedict the African, Franciscan Friar and Hermit)

  • Alfred C. Marble, Jr., Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi then Assisting Bishop of North Carolina
  • Ernest W. Shurtleff, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Gaetano Catanoso, Founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Veronica (Missionaries of the Holy Face)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. Civil Rights Leader, and Martyr, 1968 (also January 15)
  • Ndue Serreqi, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1954

5 (Emily Ayckbowm, Founder of the Community of the Sisters of the Church)

  • Mariano de la Mata Aparicio, Roman Catholic Missionary and Educator in Brazil
  • Pauline Sperry, Mathematician, Philanthropist, and Activist; and her brother, Willard Learoyd Sperry, Congregationalist Minister, Ethicist, Theologian, and Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Ruth Youngdahl Nelson, U.S. Lutheran Renewer of Society
  • William Derham, Anglican Priest and Scientist

6 (Marcellinus of Carthage, Roman Catholic Martyr, 413)

  • Benjamin Hall Kennedy, Greek and Latin Scholar, Bible Translator, and Anglican Priest
  • Daniel G. C. Wu, Chinese-American Episcopal Priest and Missionary
  • Emil Brunner, Swiss Reformed Theologian
  • Milner Ball, Presbyterian Minister, Law Professor, Witness for Civil Rights, Humanitarian
  • Nokter Balbulus, Roman Catholic Monk

7 (Tikhon of Moscow, Russian Orthodox Patriach)

  • André Trocmé, Magda Trocmé, and Daniel Trocmé, Righteous Gentiles
  • George the Younger, Greek Orthodox Bishop of Mitylene
  • Jay Thomas Stocking, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Montford Scott, Edmund Gennings, Henry Walpole, and Their Fellow Martyrs, 1591 and 1595
  • Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury

8 (Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Patriarch of American Lutheranism; his great-grandson, William Augustus Muhlenberg, Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgical Pioneer; and his colleague, Anne Ayres, Founder of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion)

  • Dionysius of Corinth, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Godfrey Diekmann, U.S. Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, Ecumenist, Theologian, and Liturgical Scholar
  • Hugh of Rouen, Roman Catholic Bishop, Abbot, and Monk
  • Julie Billiart, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame
  • Timothy Lull, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Scholar, Theologian, and Ecumenist

9 (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran Martyr, 1945

  • Johann Cruger, German Lutheran Organist, Composer, and Hymnal Editor
  • John Samuel Bewley Monsell, Anglican Priest and Poet; and Richard Mant, Anglican Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore
  • Lydia Emilie Gruchy, First Female Minister in the United Church of Canada
  • Mikael Agricola, Finnish Lutheran Liturgist, Bishop of Turku, and “Father of Finnish Literary Language”
  • William Law, Anglican Priest, Mystic, and Spiritual Writer

10 (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Roman Catholic Priest, Scientist, and Theologian)

  • Bademus, Persian Martyr, 376
  • Bonifacy Zukowski, Polish Roman Catholic Friar and Martyr, 1942
  • Fulbert of Chartres, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Henry Van Dyke, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Liturgist
  • Howard Thurman, Protestant Theologian

11 (Heinrich Theobald Schenck, German Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer)

  • Charles Stedman Newhall, U.S. Naturalist, Hymn Writer, and Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister
  • George Augustus Selwyn, Anglican Bishop of New Zealand, Primate of New Zealand, and Bishop of Lichfield; Missionary
  • George Zabelka, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Military Chaplain, and Advocate for Christian Nonviolence
  • Henry Hallam Tweedy, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer
  • Symforian Ducki, Polish Roman Catholic Friar and Martyr, 1942

12 (Henry Sloane Coffin, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Translator; and his nephew, William Sloane Coffin, Jr., U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Social Activist)

  • Carl F. Price, U.S. Methodist Hymnologist and Composer
  • David Uribe-Velasco, Mexican Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1927
  • Julius I, Bishop of Rome
  • Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, Chilean Roman Catholic Nun
  • Zeno of Verona, Bishop

13 (Joseph Barber Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham)

  • Henri Perrin, French Roman Catholic Worker Priest
  • John Gloucester, First African-American Presbyterian Minister
  • Lucy Craft Laney, African-American Presbyterian Educator and Civil Rights Activist
  • Martin I, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 655; and Maximus the Confessor, Eastern Orthodox Monk, Abbot, and Martyr, 662
  • Rolando Rivi, Roman Catholic Seminarian and Martyr, 1945

14 (Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, Episcopal Suffragan Bishops for Colored Work)

  • Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius, Martyrs in Lithuania, 1347
  • George Frederick Handel, Composer
  • Lucien Botovasoa, Malagasy Roman Catholic Martyr, 1947
  • Wandregisilus of Normandy, Roman Catholic Abbot; and Lambert of Lyons, Roman Catholic Abbot and Bishop
  • Zenaida of Tarsus and her sister, Philonella of Tarsus; and Hermione of Ephesus; Unmercenary Physicians

15 (Olga of Kiev, Regent of Kievan Russia; Adalbert of Magdeburg, Roman Catholic Bishop; Adalbert of Prague, Roman Catholic Bishop and Martyr, 997; and Benedict and Gaudentius of Pomerania, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 997)

  • Damien and Marianne of Molokai, Workers Among Lepers
  • Flavia Domitilla, Roman Christian Noblewoman; and Maro, Eutyches, and Victorinus of Rome, Priests and Martyrs, Circa 99
  • Hunna of Alsace, the “Holy Washerwoman”

16 (Bernadette of Lourdes, Roman Catholic Visionary)

  • Calvin Weiss Laufer, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymnodist
  • Isabella Gilmore, Anglican Deaconess
  • Mikel Suma, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest, Friar, and Martyr, 1950
  • Peter Williams Cassey, African-American Episcopal Deacon; and his wife, Annie Besant Cassey, African-American Episcopal Educator

17 (Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church)

  • Emily Cooper, Episcopal Deaconess
  • Lucy Larcom, U.S. Academic, Journalist, Poet, Editor, and Hymn Writer
  • Max Josef Metzger, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1944
  • Wilbur Kenneth Howard, Moderator of The United Church of Canada

18 (Roger Williams, Founder of Rhode Island; and Anne Hutchinson, Rebellious Puritan)

  • Cornelia Connelly, Founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus
  • Maria Anna Blondin, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne
  • Mary C. Collins, U.S. Congregationalist Missionary and Minister
  • Murin of Fahan, Laserian of Leighlin, Goban of Picardie, Foillan of Fosses, and Ultan of Peronne, Abbots; Fursey of Peronne and Blitharius of Seganne, Monks
  • Roman Archutowski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1943

19 (Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012)

  • Emma of Lesum, Benefactor
  • Olavus Petri, Swedish Lutheran Theologian, Historian, Liturgist, Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and “Father of Swedish Literature;” and his brother, Laurentius Petri, Swedish Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala, Bible Translator, and “Father of Swedish Hymnody”
  • Samuel Sebastian Wesley, Anglican Organist and Composer

20 (Johannes Bugenhagen, German Lutheran Theologian, Minister, Liturgist, and “Pastor of the Reformation”)

  • Amator of Auxerre and Germanus of Auxerre, Roman Catholic Bishops; Mamertinus of Auxerre, Roman Catholic Abbot; and Marcian of Auxerre, Roman Catholic Monk
  • Chiara Bosatta, Co-Founder of the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence
  • Christian X, King of Denmark and Iceland; and his brother, Haakon VII, King of Norway
  • Marion MacDonald Kelleran, Episcopal Seminary Professor and Lay Leader
  • Robert Seymour Bridges, Anglican Hymn Writer and Hymn Translator

21 (Roman Adame Rosales, Mexican Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1927)

  • Conrad of Parzham, Capuchin Friar
  • David Brainerd, American Congregationalist then Presbyterian Missionary and Minister
  • George B. Caird, English Congregationalist then United Reformed Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Georgia Harkness, U.S. Methodist Minister, Theologian, Ethicist, and Hymn Writer
  • Simeon Barsabae, Bishop; and His Companions, Martyrs, 341

22 (Gene Britton, Episcopal Priest)

  • Donald S. Armentrout, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Scholar
  • Hadewijch of Brabert, Roman Catholic Mystic
  • Kathe Kollwitz, German Lutheran Artist and Pacifist
  • Ndoc Suma, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1958
  • Vitalis of Gaza, Monk, Hermit, and Martyr, Circa 625

23 (Toyohiko Kagawa, Renewer of Society and Prophetic Witness in Japan)

  • Maria Gabriella Sagheddu, Italian Roman Catholic Nun
  • Martin Rinckart, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Teresa Maria of the Cross, Founder of the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa of Florence
  • Walter Russell Bowie, Episcopal Priest, Seminary Professor, and Hymn Writer

24 (Genocide Remembrance)

  • Egbert of Lindisfarne, Roman Catholic Monk; and Adalbert of Egmont, Roman Catholic Missionary
  • Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Capuchin Friar and Martyr, 1622
  • Frank von Christierson, Finnish-American Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Jakob Böhme, German Lutheran Mystic
  • Johann Walter, “First Cantor of the Lutheran Church”
  • Mellitus, Bishop of London, and Archbishop of Canterbury


26 (William Cowper, Anglican Hymn Writer)

  • Adelard of Corbie, Frankish Roman Catholic Monk and Abbot; and his protégé, Paschasius Radbertus, Frankish Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Theologian
  • Robert Hunt, First Anglican Chaplain at Jamestown, Virginia
  • Ruth Byllesby, Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia
  • Stanislaw Kubista, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1940; and Wladyslaw Goral, Polish Roman Catholic Bishop and Martyr, 1945
  • William Stringfellow, Episcopal Attorney, Theologian, and Social Activist

27 (George Washington Doane, Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey; and his son, William Croswell Doane, Episcopal Bishop of Albany; Hymn Writers)

  • Antony and Theodosius of Kiev, Founders of Russian Orthodox Monasticism; Barlaam of Kiev, Russian Orthodox Abbot; and Stephen of Kiev, Russian Orthodox Abbot and Bishop
  • Christina Rossetti, Poet and Religious Writer
  • Remaclus of Maastricht, Theodore of Maastricht, Lambert of Maastricht, Hubert of Maastricht and Liege, and Floribert of Liege, Roman Catholic Bishops; Landrada of Munsterbilsen, Roman Catholic Abbess; and Otger of Utrecht, Plechelm of Guelderland, and Wiro, Roman Catholic Missionaries
  • Zita of Tuscany, Worker of Charity

28 (Jaroslav Vajda, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer)

  • Jozef Cebula, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941
  • Louis de Montfort, Founder of the Company of Mary (the Montfort Missionaries) and Co-Founder of the Daughters of Wisdom; and Marie-Louise Trichet, Co-Founder of the Daughters of Wisdom
  • Pamphilius of Sulmona, Roman Catholic Bishop and Almsgiver
  • Peter Chanel, Protomartyr of Oceania, 1841

29 (Catherine of Siena, Roman Catholic Mystic and Religious)

  • Bosa of York, John of Beverley, Wilfrid the Younger, and Acca of Hexham, Roman Catholic Bishops
  • Hanna Helena Chrzanowska, Polish Roman Catholic Nurse
  • James Edward Walsh, Roman Catholic Missionary Bishop and Political Prisoner in China
  • Simon B. Parker, United Methodist Biblical Scholar
  • Timothy Rees, Welsh Anglican Hymn Writer and Bishop of Llandaff

30 (James Montgomery, Anglican and Moravian Hymn Writer)

  • Diet Eman; her fiancé, Hein Sietsma, Martyr, 1945; and his brother, Hendrik “Henk” Sietsma; Righteous Among the Nations
  • Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo, Founder of the Little House of Divine Providence
  • James Russell Woodford, Anglican Bishop of Ely, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer
  • John Ross MacDuff and George Matheson, Scottish Presbyterian Ministers and Authors
  • Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, Poet, Author, Editor, and Prophetic Witness



  • The Confession of Saint Martha of Bethany (the Sunday immediately prior to Palm Sunday; March 8-April 11)


Lowercase boldface on a date with two or more commemorations indicates a primary feast.

Second Sunday of Easter, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Exterior Statue of St. Thomas the Apostle from St. Thomas Catholic Church, Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois

Defending “Doubting Thomas”

APRIL 16, 2023


Acts 2:14a, 23-32 (New Revised Standard Version):

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them…”You that are Israelites, listen to what I say:  Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know–this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by hands of those outside the law.  But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.  For David says concerning him,

‘I saw the Lord always before me,

for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;

therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;

moreover my flesh will live in hope.

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,

or let your Holy One experience corruption.

You have made known to me the ways of life;

you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.  Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,

‘He was not abandoned to Hades,

nor did his flesh see corruption.’

This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.”

Psalm 16 (New Revised Standard Version):

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,

in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the LORD always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;

my body also rests secure.

For you do not give me up to Sheol,

or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.

In your presence there is fullness of joy;

in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith– being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire– may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 20:19-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


My father served as pastor of Cooks Union United Methodist Church, about eight miles outside Colquitt, Georgia, in Miller County, from June 1985 to June 1986.  One Sunday morning during that year, a laywoman whose name I forget delivered a children’s sermon about St. Thomas.  She held a small book about the Apostles.  You, O reader, might have seen this book or even own a copy.  It features color paintings of each of the main Apostles with a brief profile on the facing page.  The book is thin, with a two-tone hard cover.  The church member explained that Thomas had doubted the resurrection of Jesus and that he had later taken the Gospel to India, where he died for the Christian faith.  So, she said, Thomas was not all bad.

But Thomas not all bad, anyway.  The presumption behind her concluding statement was that the Apostle’s doubt constituted a great stain on his character.  This was a great misunderstanding.

Let us back up for a few moments, though.

St. Thomas was a twin, hence the Greek designation Didymus, which means “twin.”  The canonical Gospels contain few details about him, and he did not write the Gnostic, non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.  (I have read the Gospel of Thomas in three translations, and think that its non-canonical status is proper.)  St. Thomas traveled through Persia all the way to India, where he introduced Christianity to the subcontinent by the 50s C.E.  The modern-day Mar Thoma Church is the heir of this efforts.  In India the Apostle met his martyrdom by spearing at Madras; Mylapore is his burial site.  Today one can visit his tomb at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Thomas at Mylapore.

St. Thomas was a healthy skeptic.  The resurrection was hardly a frequent event, so doubting it was natural.  The Apostle was not the only follower of Jesus at the time to harbor doubts.  The canonical Gospels indicate that St. Peter was initially skeptical, too.  Yet I hear about Doubting Thomases, not Doubting Peters.  Anyway, St. Thomas, the healthy skeptic, believed the evidence when he saw it, and dedicated the rest of his life to telling people about Jesus.

I am sufficiently a product of the Enlightenment to accept the premise that doubt is a legitimate path to knowledge.  I ask questions when I harbor doubts, and I seek answers when I ask questions.  Thus I increase the probability of finding answers when I experience and embrace doubt.  Thomas admitted his doubt, received his answer, accepted it, and lived accordingly.

So, let us treat the label “Doubting Thomas” as a great compliment.

Finally, a personal note:  St. Thomas is my favorite Biblical figure.  He was an honest doubter and seeker, a good skeptic.  So am I.  If I were a Biblical character, I would be St. Thomas the Apostle.


Great Vigil of Easter, Year A   Leave a comment

“This is the night….”

Image Source = John Stephen Dwyer





(Read at least two,)

(1) Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

(2) Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

(3) Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

(4) Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Canticle 8, page 85, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(5) Isaiah 55:1-11 and Canticle 9, page 86, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(6) Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19

(7) Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

(8) Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

(9) Zephaniah 3:12-20 and Psalm 98


The Collect:

Almighty God, who for our redemption gave your only- begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. or this O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; 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.


Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Matthew 28:1-10


Ritualism, despite what some say, is important.  Rituals mark milestones in any civilization or culture.  And rites are crucial to religion.  So, with the Easter Vigil, we mark the resurrection of Jesus in a lovely (and long) ritual much grander and more meaningful than any Protestant Easter Sunrise Service.

During Lent we have not said the “A” word (Alleluia).  We have put away most candles and entered into a penitential mood.  This has become increasingly somber the closer we have come to Good Friday, the darkest day of them all.  Now, after the beginning the Vigil in the darkness, we have a liturgical opportunity to welcome the light again and to resume saying “Alleluia.”  And the candles are back!

Easter, a 50-day season has begun with a series of readings from the Bible about salvation history.


Posted June 19, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 15, April 16

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