Archive for the ‘August 9’ Category

Feast of Florence Spearing Randolph (August 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Florence Spearing Randolph

Image in the Public Domain



First Female Ordained Minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Florence Spearing Randolph 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).

We mere mortals frequently mistake societal norms and mores for divine standards.  How we define proper gender roles provides many examples of this pattern.  Hence the subordination of women, dressed up as the law of God, becomes and remains socially acceptable.  Many women internalize these unjust societal patterns and ascribe them to God.  Many of them eventually change their minds and fulfill their sacred vocations, fortunately.

Florence Spearing, born in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 9, 1866, came from a free African-American family.  She was a daughter of Anna Smith Spearing and cabinet maker John Spearing.  Our saint, educated at Avery Normal Institute, Charleston, trained as a dress maker.  She moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, and lived with her sister Lena, there.  Making dresses in Jersey City was substantially more lucrative in Jersey City than in Charleston.

Florence married Hugh Randolph of Richmond, Virginia, in 1884.  He was a cook on Pullman trains.  The couple had one child, Leah Viola, born in 1887.  Hugh died in 1913.

Our saint, raised a Methodist, joined the church at the age of 13 years.  She remained a life-long member.  In Jersey City, she joined the local African Methodist Episcopal Zion (A.M.E. Zion) church.  Randolph taught Sunday School and became a youth leader.  She also studied the Bible under the tutelage of A.M.E. Zion minister, George E. Biddle, a scholar of Greek and Hebrew, as well as a Yale graduate.  Biddle encouraged Randolph to violate a specific gender norm; he told her she should preach.

Our saint, initially reluctant, eventually agreed; she became an exhorter.  Randolph, starting in 1888, exhorted in both White and African-American congregations.  Yet, for a while, she remained reluctant for anyone to call her a “preaching woman.”  Our saint continued to oppose the ordination of women, for a time.  Yet, as time passed, Randolph accepted her vocation.  She asked God for a sign.  Our saint prayed that, if she were supposed to preach full-time, that her dress-making business would fail within a year, and that her exhorting would succeed.  She received that sign.

Randolph had accepted her vocation.  Many within the A.M.E. Zion Church had not, however.  After much debate in denominational officialdom, our saint received her license to preach in 1897, became an ordained deacon in 1900, and received ordination as an elder in 1903.  She also served as a delegate to the Third Methodist Ecumenical Conference, London, in 1901.

Randolph excelled as a pastor.  From 1903 to 1922, she rehabilitated a series of small, problematic congregations in New Jersey and New York.  After she had done her work in one church, she moved on to another one.  A “nice young man” always succeeded her.  During this time, our saint also found the time for social reform.  She, having joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) in 1892, lectured for them.  Randolph, organized the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1915.  She served as its president for 12 years.  Our saint also sat on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Suffrage Association, starting in 1917.  Furthermore, Randolph served as the President of the Missionary Society of New Jersey.  And she was the chaplain of the Northeastern Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1918 and 1919.

Our saint, a supporter of foreign missions, traveled in Liberia and Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1922-1924.  This work was consistent with her collection of and distribution of supplies for missionaries.

Randolph’s final pastorate was Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, organized in 1923.  When she arrived at the congregation in Summit, New Jersey, in 1925, the church was small; it had 35 members.  The appointment, initially meant to be temporary, terminated with her retirement, in 1946.  Our saint built up the congregation and presided over the construction of its edifice in 1937.  During this pastorage, she made history by becoming the first African-American woman to matriculate at Drew University, in 1926.

Our saint, aged 85 years, died in Jersey City, on December 28, 1951.   Many of her sermons, now published, have survived; relatives salvaged them.

Drew University’s Theological School grants the Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph Prize.

I wonder how much human potential well-meaning, even devout, people have squandered and suppressed in others or in themselves because of allegiance to misplaced societal norms.  I also wonder how much better society would be without that squandering and suppression of human potential.  And I thank God for those who have challenged and continue to challenge such destructive societal norms, for the common good.





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

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as your servant Florence Spearing Randolph].

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

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

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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


Feast of Mary Sumner (August 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mary Sumner

Image in the Public Domain



Foundress of the Mothers’ Union


All this day, O Lord, let me touch as many lives as possible for thee; and every life I touch, do thou by my spirit quicken, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I breathe, or the life I live.

–Mary Sumner


August 9 is the feast day of Mary Sumner in The Church of England.

Mary Sumner focused on the application of Christian faith in mothers to their family life.  She lived in circumstances quite different from those of many readers of this post; in her Victorian society respectable women were not supposed to engage in public speaking.  In some ways Sumner was of her times; in others she was ahead of them.

Mary Elizabeth Heywood, born in Swinton, England, on December 31, 1828, came from a cultured and wealthy family.  Her well-read father was a banker.  Her mother came from a family that owned land in two counties.  Mary, educated at home in Hope End, Herefordshire, mastered three foreign languages and sang well.  While studying music in Rome, our saint met George Sumner (1824-1909), son of Charles Sumner, the (Anglican) Bishop of Winchester.  George, recently ordained, married Mary in 1848.  They remained married for 61 years.

Sumner spent the 30 years of her marriage raising her three children–two daughters and a son.  She also managed her home and supported her husband’s ministry.  Our saint had initially felt inadequate as a mother.  When her elder daughter gave birth to Sumner’s first grandchild, our saint founded the Mothers’ Union.

The Mothers’ Union, founded at the rectory at Old Alresford, Hampshire, in 1876, was initially a parochial organization.  I brought together mothers from across social class lines, rooted them in prayer, and shared practical advice for meeting the physical and emotional needs of children.  The speaker at the first meeting, held at the rectory, was the Rector–George Sumner.

The Mothers’ Union began to grow and spread in 1885.  That year, despite social norms forbidding women from addressing public meetings, Sumner spoke to the 1000 women gathered for the Portsmouth Church Congress.  She called for national transformation via Christian women devoted to prayer and holy living.  Then the Bishop of Winchester made the Mothers’ Union a diocesan organization.  It was an international organization by 1896, when Sumner became the president.  She remained active in the Mothers’ Union until death in Winchester on August 9, 1921.  She was 92 years old.  Meanwhile, George Sumner (d. 1909) served as the Bishop of Guildford from 1888 to 1909.

Parenting is a great responsibility, one I hear, best exercised in community, not social isolation.  (I have no desire to become a parent, for I dislike children.)  Comparative studies of parenting styles around the world affirm the truth of the African proverb that it takes a village to raise one child.  May that village be a faithful and loving one.







Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Mary Sumner,

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

Raise up in our own day 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)


Feast of St. Herman of Alaska (August 9)   2 comments

Above:  Kodiak Island, Alaska, 1968

Scanned from Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)



Russian Orthodox Monk and Missionary to the Aleut

“Herman” was our saint’s monastic name.  His birth name–even his family name–has become lost to historical records.

Our saint, born into a merchant family of Serpukhov, Russia, in 1755, was a devout boy.  In 1771, at the age of 16 years, he entered monastic life at the Monastery of St. Sergius, near St. Petersburg, and became Herman.  After five years he transferred to the Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga, Finland.  There, in 1793, St. Herman volunteered to join a missionary journey to Alaska.  The eight missionaries arrived at Kodiak Island on December 25, 1793 (Julian Calendar)/January 5, 1794 (Gregorian Calendar).

The mission was initially to Russian fur traders, not indigenous people.  The founding of Holy Resurrection Church, Kodiak, in 1794, was a pivotal event.  The following year the first martyrdom of a Russian Orthodox missionary in Alaska occurred when Juvenal, a priest-monk, died at Lake Iliamma.  In 1799 Archimandrite Joasaf, head of the Alaska mission, became the Bishop of Kodiak.  Not only were some fur traders mistreating Aleut people, but, in 1800, Russian officialdom forbade missionaries from having any contact with the Natives.  The missionaries, allies of the Aleuts in complaints of mistreatment, were allegedly stirring up resistance to the Russian government there.  Missionaries’ attempts to be faithful led to their house arrest in 1801 and the cessation of services for a year.  They complained to the Holy Synod.  The mission resumed in 1804.

A few years later St. Herman moved to Spruce Island, near Kodiak Island.  He lived in a cave until the Russian American Company built a cell for him.  There St. Herman spent the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, the Kodiak mission lasted until 1820, nine years after the Holy Synod closed the Diocese of Kodiak and transferred missionary work on Kodiak Island to the Bishop of Irkutsk.

On Spruce Island St. Herman ministered to the Aleuts.  From 1820 to 1831 he did this despite official Russian persecution.  Our saint established a school, converted people, fed animals by hand, counseled locals, and baked cookies and biscuits for children.  St. Herman demonstrated his love for the people, who reciprocated.

St. Herman died on December 13 (Julian Calendar)/December 25 (Gregorian Calendar), 1837.  His reputation grew posthumously, leading to his canonization by the Orthodox Church in America on August 9, 1970.  The Episcopal Church added his feast to its calendar of saints in 2009.







Holy God, we bless your Name for Herman, joyful North Star of Christ’s Church,

who came from Russia to bring the Good News of Christ’s love to your native people in Alaska,

to defend them from oppressors and to proclaim the Gospel of peace;

and we pray that we may follow his example in proclaiming the Gospel:

through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, throughout all ages.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 1:1-10

Psalm 148:7-14

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Luke 9:46-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 517


Feast of John Dryden (August 9)   1 comment

John Dryden (Sir Godfrey Kneller)

Above:  A Painting of John Dryden by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Image in the Public Domain


JOHN DRYDEN (AUGUST 9, 1631-MAY 18, 1700)

English Puritan then Anglican then Roman Catholic Poet, Playwright, and Translator

Many of the people I have added to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days have been fairly consistent throughout their lives, at least in terms of denominational affiliations.  A certain Moravian bishop, for example, grew up in the Moravian Church and spent his life in that communion.  John Dryden (1631-1700), however, changed greatly.

He began as a Puritan, born into a Puritan family at Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, England, on August 9, 1631.  Dryden, who earned his B.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1654, had supported the Commonwealth.  In 1658, for example, he published Heroic Stanzas on the Death of Oliver Cromwell.  Then he became a Royalist and an Anglican, supporting the Restoration of the monarchy.  His Astraea Redux and A Pagegyric on the Coronation testified to his support for the restored order.  In 1663 he married Lady Elizabeth Howard.  The marriage was unhappy, due largely to his infidelity.  In 1668 Dryden became the Poet Laureate.

How a person ends up is more important for the purposes of the Ecumenical Calendar than are the beginning and end of his or her life.  Thus I turn to the Roman Catholic phase of our saint’s life.  Dryden converted to Catholicism in 1685 and began to translate Latin hymns.  Among these was Veni Creator Spiritus, a classic Pentecost text.  Dryden’s 1693 rendering, in seven stanzas, read in part:

Plenteous of grace, descend from high,

Rich in Thy sevenfold energy.

Thou Strength of His almighty hand

Whose power does heaven and earth command;

Proceeding Spirit, our Defense,

Who dost Thy gift of tongues dispense

And crown’st Thy gift with eloquence.

–Quoted in W. G. Polack, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, Second and Revised Edition (St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1942), page 176

The Glorious Revolution (1688) ended the reign of the Catholic monarch James II/VII and put Dryden in a difficult situation.  He lost his position and the accompanying financial security because he refused to swear loyalty to King William III and Queen Mary II.  This new reality forced him to write and translate much to earn a living.  He died on May 18, 1700.  His tomb is inside Westminster Abbey.

Dryden, who found his spiritual home in Roman Catholicism, wrote plays, poems, odes, and satires.  He also translated Latin hymns as well as works of Virgil, Juvenal, Plutarch, Boccaccio, et cetera. has made some germane books available.  These include:

  1. Memoirs of John Dryden, by Sir Walter Scott (1823; Volumes I and II);
  2. The Poetry of John Dryden, by Mark Van Doren (1920); and
  3. The Works of John Dryden (1808; Volumes I, IIIII, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, and XVIII).

How might words of John Dryden enrich your life, O reader?








Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation

in the work of your servant John Dryden.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.  

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8

2 Chronicles 20:20-21 or Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 4:8-9

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (1996), page 61


Saints’ Days and Holy Days for August   Leave a comment


Image Source = Santosh Namby Chandran


2 (Georg Weissel, German Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer)

  • Anna Bernadine Dorothy Hoppe, U.S. Lutheran Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Carroll O’Connor, U.S. Roman Catholic Actor and Screen Writer
  • Christian Gottfried Gebhard, German Moravian Composer and Music Educator
  • Frederick William Foster, English Moravian Bishop, Liturgist, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Peter Julian Eymard, Founder of the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Priests’ Eucharistic League; and Organizer of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament


4 (John Brownlie, Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Translator of Hymns)

  • Frédéric Janssoone, French Roman Catholic Priest and Friar
  • Lambert Beauduin, Belgian Roman Catholic Priest and Pioneer of Liturgical Renewal
  • Sarah Platt Doremus, Founder of the Women’s Union Missionary Society

5 (Alfred Tennyson, English Poet)

  • Adam of Saint Victor, Roman Catholic Monk and Hymn Writer
  • Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald, and Lucas Cranach the Elder, Renaissance Artists
  • Francisco Zanfredini and Michelina of Pesaro, Co-Founders of the Confraternity of the Annunciation
  • George Frederick Root, Poet and Composer


7 (Colbert S. Cartwright, U.S. Disciples of Christ Minister, Liturgist, and Witness for Civil Rights)

  • Guglielmo Massaia, Italian Cardinal, Missionary, and Capuchin Friar
  • John Scrimger, Canadian Presbyterian Minister, Ecumenist, and Liturgist
  • Maxim Sandovich, Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1914
  • Victricius of Rouen, Roman Conscientious Objector and Roman Catholic Bishop

8 (Mary MacKillop, Founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart)

  • Altman, Roman Catholic Bishop of Passau
  • Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, Co-Founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Saint Joseph
  • Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers
  • Raymond E. Brown, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar

9 (Edith Stein, Roman Catholic Nun and Philosopher)

  • Florence Spearing Randolph, First Female Ordained Minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
  • Herman of Alaska, Russian Orthodox Monk and Missionary to the Aleut
  • John Dryden, English Puritan then Anglican then Roman Catholic Poet, Playwright, and Translator
  • Mary Sumner, Founder of the Mothers’ Union

10 (William Walsham How, Anglican Bishop of Wakefield and Hymn Writer; and his sister, Frances Jane Douglas(s), Hymn Writer)

  • Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Founder of the Madonna House Apostolate
  • Cyriaca, Roman Catholic Martyr at Rome, 249; and Sixtus II, His Companions, and Laurence of Rome, Roman Catholic Martyrs at Rome, 258
  • Edward Grzymala and Franciszek Drzewiecki, Polish Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1942
  • John Athelstan Laurie Riley, Anglican Ecumenist, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator

11 (Gregory Thaumaturgus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Neocaesarea; and Alexander of Comana “the Charcoal Burner,” Roman Catholic Martyr, 252, and Bishop of Comana, Pontus)

  • Equitius of Valeria, Benedictine Abbot and Founder of Monasteries
  • Matthias Loy, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Educator, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator; and Conrad Hermann Louis Schuette, German-American Lutheran Minister, Educator, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Maurice Tornay, Swiss Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary to Tibet, and Martyr, 1949
  • Stephen Rowsham, English Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1587

12 (Thaddeus Stevens, U.S. Abolitionist, Congressman, and Witness for Civil Rights)

  • Charles Inglis, Anglican Bishop of Nova Scotia
  • Jane Frances de Chantal, Co-Founder of the Congregation of the Visitation
  • Józef Stepniak and Józef Straszewski, Polish Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1942
  • Karl Leisner, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945

13 (Jeremy Taylor, Anglican Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore)

  • Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, U.S. Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • Irene of Hungary, Hungarian Princess and Byzantine Empress
  • Octavia Hill, English Social Reformer

14 (William Croft, Anglican Organist and Composer)

  • G. Bromley Oxnam, U.S. Methodist Bishop
  • John Bajus, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator
  • John Henry Hopkins, Jr., Episcopal Priest and Hymnodist; and his nephew, John Henry Hopkins, III, Episcopal Priest and Musician
  • Maximilian Kolbe, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941; and Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Episcopal Seminarian and Martyr, 1965
  • Sarah Flower Adams, English Unitarian Hymn Writer; and her sister, Eliza Flower, English Unitarian Composer


16 (John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson, Prime Ministers of Canada; and Tommy Douglas, Federal Leader of the New Democratic Party)

  • Alipius, Roman Catholic Bishop of Tagaste, and Friend of Saint Augustine of Hippo
  • John Courtney Murray, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian
  • John Jones of Talysarn, Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Minister and Hymn Tune Composer
  • Matthias Claudius, German Lutheran Writer

17 (Samuel Johnson, Congregationalist Minister, Anglican Priest, President of King’s College, “Father of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut,” and “Father of American Library Classification;” Timothy Cutler, Congregationalist Minister, Anglican Priest, and Rector of Yale College; Daniel Browne, Educator, Congregationalist Minister, and Anglican Priest; and James Wetmore, Congregationalist Minister and Anglican Priest)

  • Baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare, 1587
  • Eusebius of Rome, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 310
  • George Croly, Anglican Priest, Poet, Historian, Novelist, Dramatist, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • William James Early Bennett, Anglican Priest

18 (Artemisia Bowden, African-American Educator and Civil Rights Activist)

  • Erdmann Neumeister, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Francis John McConnell, U.S. Methodist Bishop and Social Reformer
  • Jonathan Friedrich Bahnmaier, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Petter Dass, Norwegian Lutheran Minister, Poet, and Hymn Writer

19 (Sixtus III, Bishop of Rome)

  • Blaise Pascal, French Roman Catholic Scientist, Mathematician, and Theologian
  • Geert Groote, Founder of the Brethren of the Common Life
  • Ignaz Franz, German Roman Catholic Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor
  • Magnus and Agricola of Avignon, Roman Catholic Bishops of Avignon
  • William Hammond, English Moravian Hymn Writer


21 (Bruno Zembol, Polish Roman Catholic Friar and Martyr, 1942)

  • Camerius, Cisellus, and Luxorius of Sardinia, Martyrs, 303
  • Martyrs of Edessa, Circa 304
  • Maximilian of Antioch, Martyr, Circa 353; and Bonosus and Maximianus the Soldier, Martyrs, 362
  • Victoire Rasoamanarivo, Malagasy Roman Catholic Laywoman

22 (Jack Layton, Canadian Activist and Federal Leader of the New Democratic Party)

  • John David Chambers, Anglican Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Hryhorii Khomyshyn, Symeon Lukach, and Ivan Slezyuk, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops and Martyrs, 1947, 1964, and 1973
  • John Kemble and John Wall, English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1679
  • Thomas Percy, Richard Kirkman, and William Lacey, English Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1572 and 1582

23 (Martin de Porres and Juan Macias, Humanitarians and Dominican Lay Brothers; Rose of Lima, Humanitarian and Dominican Sister; and Turibius of Mogrovejo, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lima)

  • Franciszek Dachtera, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1944
  • Theodore O. Wedel, Episcopal Priest and Biblical Scholar; and his wife, Cynthia Clark Wedel, U.S. Psychologist and Episcopal Ecumenist
  • Thomas Augustine Judge, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest; Founder of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, and the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate


25 (Michael Faraday, English Scientist)

  • Andrea Bordino, Italian Roman Catholic Lay Brother
  • María del Tránsito de Jesús Sacramentado, Founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Tertiary Missionaries of Argentina
  • Maria Troncatti, Italian Roman Catholic Nun
  • William John Copeland, Anglican Priest and Hymn Translator

26 (John Paul I, Bishop of Rome)

  • Frederick William Herzberger, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Translator
  • Levkadia Harasymiv, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Nun, and Martyr, 1952
  • Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini Beltrame Quattrocchi, Italian Roman Catholic Humanitarians
  • Teresa of Jesus, Jornet y Ibars, Catalan Roman Catholic Nun and Co-Founder of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly

27 (Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle, Episcopal Priests and Educators of the Deaf)

  • Amadeus of Clermont, French Roman Catholic Monk; and his son, Amadeus of Lausanne, French-Swiss Roman Catholic Abbot and Bishop
  • Dominic Barberi, Roman Catholic Apostle to England
  • Henriette Luise von Hayn, German Moravian Hymn Writer

28 (Ambrose of Milan, Roman Catholic Bishop; Monica of Hippo, Mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo; and Augustine of Hippo, Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo Regius)

  • Denis Wortman, U.S. Dutch Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer
  • George Thomas Coster, English Congregationalist Minister, Hymn Writer, and Humanitarian
  • Laura S. Coperhaver, U.S. Lutheran Hymn Writer and Missionary Leader
  • Moses the Black, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Martyr


30 (Jeanne Jugan, Founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor)

  • Carlton C. Buck, U.S. Disciples of Christ Minister, Musician, and Hymn Writer
  • Edmond L. Budry, Swiss Reformed Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Gerald Kennedy, U.S. Methodist Bishop and Hymn Writer
  • John Leary, U.S. Roman Catholic Social Activist and Advocate for the Poor and Marginalized
  • Karl Otto Eberhardt, German Moravian Organist, Music Educator, and Composer



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

Proper 14, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  A Scroll of the Book of Esther

“The Word is Near You….”

The Sunday Closest to August 10

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

AUGUST 9, 2020



Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, `Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” — that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob his chosen.

16 Then he called for a famine in the land

and destroyed the supply of bread.

17 He sent a man before them,

Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet in fetters;

his neck they put in an iron collar.

19 Until his prediction came to pass,

the word of the LORD tested him.

20 The king sent and released him;

the ruler of the peoples set him free.

21 He set him as a master over his household,

as a ruler over all his possessions,

22 To instruct his princes according to his will

and to teach his elders wisdom.

45b Hallelujah!


1 Kings 19:9-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

At Horeb, the mount of God, Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Psalm 85:8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.


Romans 10:5-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

“The word is near you,

on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”


Matthew 14:22-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


I have chosen to take my focus from Romans.  Thus I refer you, O reader, to the following links, for further details:

For Genesis–

For Matthew–


Consider these words, put into the mouth of Moses toward the end of the Israelite sojourn in the wilderness:

“For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say ‘Who will go over to the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.   If you obey commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, they you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.  But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish….”  (Deuteronomy 30:11-18a, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition)

Paul was obviously familiar with this passage, for he channeled it in this day’s excerpt from Romans.  God’s message is not remote, he says; it is near us.  Indeed, the Hebrew prophets proclaimed this word, and many Jewish scriptures, originally oral tradition, did as well.  So did Jesus, God incarnate.  How much more concrete could God get than that?  So, yes, the word is very near us.  If we do not perceive it, we need to pay closer attention.

The reading from Deuteronomy describes following God as the path to life and the alternative as the route to death.  Life and death are both physical and spiritual in this context.  I typed only part of the germane passage; a portion I chose not to type concludes, “therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live….” (Deuteronomy 30:19)  But we know how the story unfolded, do we not?  Read the excerpt from 1 Kings; pious advocacy of monotheism by a portion of the population did not prevent the widespread practice of polytheism.  Thus hindsight, in the wake of the Babylonian Exile, informs the theology of final, edited version of much of the Hebrew Bible:  Spiritual infidelity led to the decline, division, and extinction of the Jewish kingdoms.

YHWH was a different kind of deity relative to the alleged members of pantheons.  As Professor Richard Elliott Friedman writes in his Commentary on the Torah:

In comparing Israel’s monotheism to pagan religion, we must appreciate that the difference between one and many is not the same sort of thing as the difference between two and three or between six and twenty.  It is not numerical.  It is a different concept of what a god is.  A God who is outside of nature, known through acts of history, a creator, unseeable, without a mate, who makes legal covenants with humans, who is one, is a revolution in religious conception. (Page 586)

The account from 1 Kings reinforces this point.  Adherents of other deities believed that they made themselves known in forces of nature, such as earthquakes, fire,  and mighty winds.  But YHWH did the opposite.  God does that often.  We find God in silence, not noise.  And we Christians worship God, who took on human form and became both fully human and fully divine.  (I have given up trying to explain this mystery and chosen to revel in it instead.)  God refuses to fit into our theological boxes.  If we cannot deal with this reality in a healthy way, then we need to read the great J. B. Phillips book, Your God is Too Small.

The word is near us.  It is present in the silence around us, as well as in any place we read or hear God speaking–certainly in the Bible, but not just there.  The word can also be present in other literature, as well as in nature.  The word is present anywhere the Holy Spirit speaks to us, including our minds.  So the word is around us and inside us.  Do we hear it?  Do we really hear it?


Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on January 31, 2011

Posted May 8, 2011 by neatnik2009 in August 9, Revised Common Lectionary Year A

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Feast of St. Edith Stein (August 9)   Leave a comment


Nun and Philosopher

The life of St. Edith Stein exemplifies the union of faith, philosophy, intellect, and prayer.

Stein, born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), raised an observant Jew, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922.  The impetus for this conversion came during her studies of philosophy at universities in Gottingen and Freiburg, when she read the writings of St. Theresa of Avila.  Stein considered Roman Catholicism an expansion of her Jewish beliefs.  Sensitive to her mother’s feelings, Stein continued to attend synagogue services with her for a while.

Stein was a keen intellect, but academic work at the university level was closed to her because she was a woman.  Nevertheless, while teaching German language and literature at a Dominican school for girls, she continued philosophical studies privately.  Stein flowered philosophically after 1933, when she became a Carmelite nun.  Her output during this period included texts on St. John of the Cross and on prayer.
Stein, being ethnically Jewish, was at great risk during in the 1930s and 1940s.  She had to leave Germany in 1937, so the Carmelites sent her to the Netherlands.  The saint was not safe there for long, either, for the Nazis deported her to Auschwitz two years later.  For the last three years of her life, Stein ministered to her fellow prisoners.  She and her sister, Rose, died in 1942.  Perhaps the best epitaph for St. Edith Stein come from her own words:

Sufferings endured with the Lord are his sufferings, and bear great fruit in the context of his great work of redemption.

Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1998.  The Roman Catholic Church has declared Edith Stein a martyr,  on the grounds that she died because the Dutch Roman Catholic bishops had condemned Nazism.  So Stein died upholding the moral position of the Church.  One might say that this is an unusual definition for martyrdom, but it works.  And what about St. Maximilian Kolbe (August 14), whom the Nazis murdered also?  He died because his faithfulness put into the path of danger.  He was no less a martyr than Pope Sixtus II or St. Laurence of Rome.  And neither was St. Edith Stein.







Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge, and to another the insight of wisdom, and to another the steadfastness of faith.  We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant St. Edith Stein, and we pray that by her teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 3:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52