Archive for the ‘December 4’ Category

Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra (December 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Nicholas of Myra

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA (MARCH 15, 270-DECEMBER 6, 343)

Bishop of Myra

We know little about St. Nicholas of Myra.  Legends abound, but confirmed information is scarce.  We know the following, though:

  1. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, on the coast of what is now Turkey.
  2. He suffered incarceration and torture after Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305) launched an empire-wide persecution of Christianity in 303.

St. Nicholas may have attended the First Council of Nicaea (325), from which the first draft of the Nicene Creed emerged.  According to one story, he slapped Arius, founder of the Arian heresy.  (I do not know if the story is true, but I suppose that it is plausible.)

St. Nicholas apparently earned his reputation as a generous person, hence many stories of financial assistance to those in need.  His generosity to impoverished children eventually contributed to stories of Santa Claus.

The Roman Emperor Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565) revered the late Bishop of Myra as a saint.  The Church has followed that practice, wisely.

May kindness and love define our characters, communities, social institutions, societies, and governments.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea:

Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children,

the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt and grief;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 19:17, 20-23

Psalm 145:8-13

1 John 4:7-14

Mark 10:13-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 105

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Feast of Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber (December 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Stille Nacht

Scanned from The Pilgrim Hymnal (1912) by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Notice that the translation is not the one we usually sing these days.

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JOSEPHUS FRANCISCUS MOHR (DECEMBER 11, 1792-DECEMBER 4, 1848)

Austrian Roman Catholic Priest

collaborated with

FRANZ XAVER GRUBER (NOVEMBER 25, 1787-JUNE 7, 1863)

Austrian Roman Catholic Teacher, Musician, and Composer

Father Mohr and Herr Gruber come to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Stille Nacht, their famous Christmas carol, which they debuted at Midnight Mass at St. Nikolaus Church, Oberndorff, Austria, on December 24, 1818.  Accounts tell us that Mohr sang tenor and Gruber played guitar and sang bass, and that Gruber had composed the tune for Mohr’s text.

Franz Gruber, born into poverty, resisted his family’s intentions when he became a musician.  He, born at Unterweizberg, near Hochburg, Austria, on November 25, 1787, was a son of Josef and Maria Gruber.  Josef was a linen weaver.  Young Franz secretly studied violin and organ.  He openly worked as a weaver until he was 18 years old.  His parents, like many other well-meaning relatives of a host of people over time, encouraged their son to enter a lucrative profession.  Our saint understood his vocation, though.  He became a teacher at Arnsdorff, working there from 1807 to 1829.  In 1808 he married his first wife, Maria Elisabeth Fischinger Engelsberger (d. 1825), a widow.  They had two children, who died young.  In 1816 Gruber started to work as the organist at St. Nikolaus Church, Oberndorff.

Joseph Mohr was, according to conventional social standards, illegitimate–a bastard.  (Actually, no human being is illegitimate and the proper standard of being a bastard is having bad character.  Mohr was no bastard.)  Mohr, born in Salzburg, Austria, on December 11, 1792, was the son of Anna Schoiber and mercenary Franz Mohr.  Franz was away from home much of the time.  Father Johann Nepomuk Hiernle, on staff at Salzburg Cathedral, became young Joseph’s father-figure.  Father Hiernle guided the youth’s education and musical training.  Mohr studied violin and sang in the choir.  He sang in the choir at Salzburg Cathedral then in the choir at the University Church and the choir at the Monastery Church of St. Peter.  Our saint studied at the monastery of Knemsmünster in 1808-1810, resumed studies in Salzburg in 1810-1811, then attended seminary.  He graduated and became a priest in 1815.  He served in various parishes through 1828, before transferring to Hintersee (1828-1837) and Wagrein (1837-1848).

In 1817-1819 Mohr was the assistant priest at St. Nikolaus Church Oberndorff.  He and Gruber collaborated on Stille Nacht, of course, and on at least one other composition, a setting of the Te Deum.  The traditional story that Mohr wrote Stille Nacht on short notice may not be true; he probably had composed the text some time prior, and merely pulled it out of a drawer.

Gruber continued to teach, work as a musician, and marry.  In 1829 he began to teach at Berndorff.  Gruber, the headmaster, starting in 1833, also worked as a musician at Hallein, near Salzburg.  He sang, played the organ, and conducted the choir.  Maria Breitfuss, his second wife, died in 1841.  Four of their ten children lived to adulthood.  In 1842 he married Katherine Wimmer.

Gruber died on June 7, 1863.  He was 75 years old.

Mohr served as the village priest in Wagrein from 1837 to 1848.  In 1838 he founded the village school and created a scholarship program that allowed impoverished children to attend.  Our saint also turned his attention to the effective care of the elderly of the village; he helped both the young and the old.

Mohr died in Wagrein on December 4, 1848.  He was 55 years old.

Morh and Gruber contributed much to the world via their famous Christmas carol.  That was only a portion of their positive work, however.

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Loving God of the Incarnation, we thank you for your servants Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber,

who improved their corners of the world in practical ways and who left an enduring legacy with Stille Nacht.

May the examples of their holy lives inspire us to add beauty to the world and to care for those who need assistance,

to the glory of God and for the common good.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leviticus 19:9-10

Psalm 84

1 Corinthians 13

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Feast of St. Alexander Hotovitzky (December 4)   2 comments

Above:  Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, Russia, Prior to Its Demolition in 1931

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALEXANDER HOTOVITZKY (FEBRUARY 11, 1872-AUGUST 19, 1937)

Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1937

Orthodox Church in America feast day = December 4

Russian Orthodox Church feast day = August 7

St. Alexander Hotovitzky served God, followed Jesus, and received the crown of martyrdom.  He, born in Kremenetz, Russian Empire (now Ukraine), on February 11, 1872, was a son of archpriest Alexander Hotovitzky, Rector of the Volhynia Theological Seminary.  Our saint studied at that institution then at St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, earning his M.A. degree in 1895.

Then Hotovitzky’s time as a missionary in the United States began.  After time in Alaska, our saint became reader at the new St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, New York, New York.  He married Maria Scherbuhina, became a deacon, then finally joined the ranks of priests at February 25, 1896.  Bishop Nicholas ordained him at the diocesan cathedral in San Francisco, California.  As pastor of the St. Nicolas Orthodox Church, New York City, our saint ministered to immigrants and started congregations in various towns and cities, from Yonkers, New York, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He also helped to build the new St. Nicholas Cathedral (dedicated in 1902) in New York City.

Hotovitzky returned to the Russian Empire in 1914.  He served first in mainly Lutheran Helsinki, Finland, in 1914-1917.  In August 1917 our saint became assistant pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow.  He worked closely with St. Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925), who had been the Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska (1898-1905) then the Archbishop of the Aleutians and North America (1905-1907), prior to returning to Russia. St. Tikhon became the Patriarch of Moscow in late 1917.  Hotovitzky played an active role in administering the Diocese of Moscow.

Hotovitzky kept the faith under Bolshevik rule.  He helped to found the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, to maintain the church.  He also became a prisoner twice (in 1920 and 1921) for conducting religious education in 1922, when the state, on the pretense of helping the poor, confiscated icons and sacred vessels.  The cathedral and the Russian Orthodox Church, in fact, had been doing much to help the poor and continued to do so.  As the state executed many Russian Orthodox clergymen, our saint faced charges in 1922; he allegedly sought to regain church lands and property the state had confiscated, and had supposedly tried to overthrow the government.  Hotovitzky, sentenced to a decade of incarceration on December 13, 1922, served a term that ended in October 1923.

The persecution continued.  Hotovitzky, arrested on September 24, 1924, spent three years in exile in the Turuhan region.  After returning from exile, Hotovitzky assisted the future Patriarch Sergius I.  During the 1930s our saint served at the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, Moscow, until his final arrest, in 1937.

Hotovitzky has been an official saint since December 4, 1994.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr, Saint Alexander Hotovitzky,

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant to us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

Sirach (Eccelesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2020), 714

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Holiday Busyness   2 comments

Above:  A Domestic Scene, December 8, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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On my bed when I think of you,

I muse on you in the watches of the night,

for you have always been my help;

in the shadow of your wings I rejoice;

my heart clings to you,

your right hand supports me.

–Psalm 63:6-8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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In my U.S. culture, the time from Thanksgiving (late November) to New Year’s Day is quite busy.  Holidays populate the calendar.  Some of these holidays are, for lack of a better word, ecumenical.  Others are religiously and/or culturally specific, though.  Christmas, originally the Christ Mass, has become an occasion, for many, to worship the Almighty Dollar at the high altar of commercialism.  This is how many Evangelicals of the Victorian Era wanted matters to be.

On the relatively innocuous side, this is the time of the year to populate one’s calendar with holiday social events, such as parties, school plays, and seasonal concerts.  Parents often like to attend their children’s events, appropriately.  Holiday concerts by choral and/or instrumental ensembles can also be quite pleasant.

Yet, amid all this busyness (sometimes distinct from business), are we neglecting the innate human need for peace and quiet?  I like classical Advent and Christmas music, especially at this time of the year (all the way through January 5, the twelfth day of Christmas), but I have to turn it off eventually.  Silence also appeals to me.  Furthermore, being busy accomplishing a worthy goal is rewarding, but so is simply being.

The real question is one of balance.  Given the absence of an actual distinction between the spiritual and the physical, everything is spiritual.  If we are too busy for God, silence, and proper inactivity, we are too busy.  If we are too busy to listen to God, we are too busy.  If we are too busy or too idle, we are not our best selves.

May we, by grace, strike and maintain the proper balance.  May we, especially at peak periods of activity, such as the end of the year, not overextend ourselves, especially in time commitments.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MCDONALD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

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Published originally at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Feast of Sts. John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma (December 4)   1 comment

st-john-of-damascus

Above:  St. John of Damascus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS (675 or 676-December 4, 749 or 754 or 780)

Theologian and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint John Damascene

Also known as Saint John Chrysorrhoas (or “Gold-Streaming”)

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SAINT COSMAS OF MAIUMA (DIED 760 OR 773 OR 794)

Theologian and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint Cosmas the Melodist

His feast transferred from October 14 (Julian Calendar) and October 27 (Gregorian Calendar)

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The Feast of St. John of Damascus is December 4 in the Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, among other denominations.  In Holy Mother Church his feast has fallen on December 4 since 1969; prior to that it was March 27.  (The Book of Catholic Worship, from 1966, confirms this date, which I found on several websites.  I prefer to confirm information via primary sources as much as possible.)  The transfer of the Feast of St. Cosmas of Maiuma from October to December is due to the overlap of his life and that of St. John, who were brothers in all but genetics and partners in various literary and theological projects.

Sergius Mansur, the biological father of St. John of Damascus and the adoptive father of St. Cosmas of Maiuma, held a prominent post in the Caliphate.  (Aside:  Sources have proven contradictory regarding his position.  The two main versions are tax collector and chief representative to the Christians.)  Sergius, a Christian, raised our two saints in the faith.  He also liberated one Cosmas the Monk from slavery and had the monk instruct young John and Cosmas in theology and philosophy.  St. John succeeded his father in government and exercised authority for years.

St. John’s destiny lay elsewhere, however.  Circa 716 he resigned his post, sold his possessions, sold his possessions, and donated the proceeds to the poor.  Then he and St. Cosmas became monks at the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified, near Jerusalem, in 726.  That year Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (reigned 717-741) decreed Iconoclasm.  Our two saints wrote treatises condemning that heresy.  They also worked together on defenses of Christianity against Manichaeism.  St. John’s The Feast of Knowledge, containing “On the Orthodox Faith,” has proven especially influential.  Perhaps their longest-lasting legacies have been hymn texts and tunes for chants.  Due primarily to John Mason Neale (1818-1866) and John Brownlie (1859-1925) some of these texts have entered into English-language hymnody.  Neale translated the texts in various editions of Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862).  Brownlie’s volumes of translations included Hymns of the Greek Church (1900) and Hymns of the Early Church (1896).  Although one of our saints received credit for a particular poem, chant, or treatise, both of them worked so closely that one may assume reasonably that both were partially responsible, until the death of St. John.

St. Cosmas left the monastery in 743 and became the Bishop of Maiuma, a port city in Gaza.  He held that post for the rest of his long life and outlived St. John.  According to tradition, St. Cosmas lived to the age of 100 years, give or take a few years.

The three main greatest hits of St. John of Damascus in Episcopal Church hymnody are Easter texts:

  1. Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain;”
  2. Thou Hallowed Chosen Morn of Praise;” and
  3. The Day of Resurrection.”

These are present in The English Hymnal (1906).  So is a fourth text, “What Sweet of Life Endureth,” a funeral hymn.

These two saints left fine legacies, for the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CAMPBELL SHAIRP, SCOTTISH POET AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JUSTUS FALCKNER, LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILANDER CHASE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS OF VILLANOVA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF VALENCIA

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Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power

by your servants Saints John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma;

that we, with them, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man,

and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection,

attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

Psalm 29

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

John 5:24-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 101

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Feast of St. Bernard of Parma (December 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Vatican Flag

SAINT BERNARD OF PARMA (DIED 1133)

Roman Catholic Abbot, Cardinal, and Bishop

One should not speak casually and therefore inaccurately of government interference with the church.  Facts matter, or at least they should.  The life of St. Bernard of Parma (died 1133) did run afoul of politics in the 1100s and cause two periods of exile.  Those events did constitute unmistakable state interference with the church.

St. Bernard was born to the Uberti family, Florentine nobility.  He became Abbot of San Salvio monastery then general-superior of the Vallombrosans.  Pope Urban II (reigned 1088-1099) elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1097.  Then the saint became Bishop of Parma in 1106.  As bishop he supported the reforms of the late Pope Gregory VII (reigned 1073-1085) and opposed antipope Sylvester IV (reigned 1105-1111).  Partisans of Sylvester IV exiled the saint for this reason.

St. Bernard, back in Parma, resumed his duties.  Years later, in 1127, he went into a second exile.  This time the cause was politics surrounding the German royal succession.  Rome and St. Bernard favored Lothair II (reigned 1125-1127 and 1135-1137).  But there was another claimant, Conrad III (reigned 1127-1135 and 1138-1152).  Fortunately, the saint’s exile ended.  He died at Parma in 1133.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH CARDINAL BERNARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church, including Saint Bernard of Parma.

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

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

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

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

Psalm 84

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

John 21:15-17 0r Matthew 24:42-47

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of St. Osmund of Salisbury (December 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY (DIED 1099)

Roman Catholic Bishop

St. Osmund (died 1099) served as chancellor to his half-uncle, King William I “the Conqueror” (reigned 1066-1087).  He, an able chancellor, helped to compile the Domesday Book.

Then, in 1078, William I appointed St. Osmund to be the Bishop of Salisbury.  The saint completed the cathedral, where he assembled a huge library.  (I like saints who adored books.)  He also wrote a biography of St. Aldhelm and prepared liturgical books which regulated the rites of the Irish, Welsh, and English churches for over a century and a half.  As Bishop of Salisbury, the saint supported King William II (reigned 1087-1100) in the controversy with the Pope over St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury.  The monarch wanted St. Anselm out; the pontiff had a different opinion.  Later, St. Osmund apologized to the Archbishop.

William of Malmesbury (circa 1090-1143), English monk and church historian, wrote that St. Osmund was

so eminent for chastity that common fame would itself blush to speak otherwise than speak truthfully concerning his virtue.  Stern as he was to penitents, he was no more severe to them than he was to himself.  Free from ambition, he neither imprudently wasted his own substance nor sought the wealth of others.

St. Osmund died on December 4, 1099.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH CARDINAL BERNARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Saint Osmund of Salisbury,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60