Archive for the ‘December 5’ Category

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 Nelson Mandela (December 5)   2 comments

16052v

Above:  South African President F. W. de Klerk with Nelson Mandela, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1993

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-16052

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NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA (JULY 18, 1918-DECEMBER 5, 2013)

President of South Africa and Renewer of Society

I have added a host of “new” saints with feast day in December to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days recently, but I have reserved Nelson Mandela until the end of this round of saints for December.  (One of the advantages of maintaining my own calendar of saints is that I have complete editorial control of it.)  To save the best for last is a good policy.  The process of adding to the Ecumenical Calendar will go on hiatus after this post, and I want a major, contemporary saint to be the first holy person a person comes across when scrolling down the page until I begin to add “new” saints with feast days in January again.  (I have twelve monthly lists of names to consider.)

In the great majority of posts in this genre I provide more personal details than I do in this one.  This time, however, I choose to include links to sources for those details and to focus instead on some targeted reflections related to Mandela.

Nelson Mandela Foundation

Nobel Prize

BBC News

World Methodist Council

Apartheid was a brutal and unjust system in the Republic of South Africa.  The national government deprived the majority population of civil rights and liberties.  It also persecuted even nonviolent activists for social justice.  Racism was one reason for these policies.  Some people were simply callous bastards.  Other reasons for these policies were the desire to retain power and the fear that a politically empowered majority African population might take revenge on the minority White population.  Those fears of revenge were predictable.  Indeed, movements of national liberation have not always led to peace and reconciliation.  Nevertheless, injustice is wrong at all times and places, and fear is no excuse for not respecting the image of God in other people.

Nelson Mandela struggled for social justice.  For a time, as part of that effort, he approved of violence.  Perhaps that was the only option the South African government left him for a while.  I choose to refrain from judging Mandela for that tactic, for I am in no position to do otherwise.  Far be it for me, one who has never lived under such an oppressive system, to judge those who have and who have resisted!  I do not know what decisions I would have made in their circumstances.  I do know, however, that my liberal tendency to oppose oppressive regimes and to support oppressed people renders me amenable to those who struggle for the recognition of their human dignity, which those in authority deny.  Slave rebellions make sense to me, after all.  Will the slaveholders emancipate the slaves if the slaves ask nicely?  The historical record does not indicate that they are inclined to do so.

Mandela, a Christian (a Methodist, to be precise), became a peacemaker.  The man, who, as a high-profile political prisoner, negotiated the terms of his release with President F. W. de Klerk, served as President from 1994 to 1999.  Then, unlike, many national leaders in Africa, he retired from office willingly.  Post-Apartheid South Africa featured no reign of vengeance.  No, President Mandela sought to united the diverse, divided population.

When Mandela died in December 2013 tributes to him in the United States were bipartisan.  Many of those who praised him were former critics.  However, many people on the conservative end of the political spectrum remained critical of the great man.  These criticisms were relics of the Cold War.  During the Cold War the United States of America and the Republic of South Africa were allies against Communists.  (The Cold War made for some uncomfortable and unfortunate alliances.  Frequently the U.S.A. allied itself with brutal governments.)  The Cold War also became an obstacle to seeking social justice in South Africa.  President Ronald Reagan, a firm opponent of the Soviet Union, told Archbishop Desmond Tutu to his face in the 1980s that the majority population of South Africa would have to wait for its freedom.  With the government of the United States allied with the government of South Africa and labeling the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organization, many South African dissenters found allies which dismayed the U.S. government and confirmed it in its distrust of the ANC.   But what if the U.S.A. had allied itself with those seeking freedom in South Africa instead of those who seeking to deny it? What is the value of boasting of high ideals without living them?

Mandela was an agent of God, social justice, and national reconciliation.  The human race needs more people like him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 13:  THE TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOANNA, MARY, AND SALOME, WITNESSES TO THE RESURRECTION

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world

offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Peter Mortimer and Gottfried Theodor Erxleben (December 5)   Leave a comment

Moravian Logo

Above:  Logo of the Moravian Church

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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PETER MORTIMER (DECEMBER 5, 1750-JANUARY 8, 1828)

Anglo-German Moravian Educator, Musician, and Scholar

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GOTTFRIED THEODOR ERXLEBEN (JUNE 15, 1849-DECEMBER 21, 1931)

German Moravian Minister and Musicologist

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With this post I add to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days two saints on whom I found little information yet whose scholarship and faithfulness to God improved the lives of people during their lifetimes and continues as their legacies.

Peter Mortimer (1750-1828), born in England, spent most of his life in German states.  When he was a boy his family sent him to the Moravian school at Niesky.  Our saint remained in Germany for the remainder of his days.  He served various congregations as a teacher, an organist, and a secretary.  Mortimer also devoted time to researching and writing in the fields of music and church history.  His magnum opus was Der Choral-Gesang, zur zeit der Reformation (1821), in which he argued that Protestant choral melodies come from Greek modes.  Mortimer died at Herrnhut, Saxony, on January 8, 1828.

Gottfried Theodor Erxleben (1849-1931) was a minister and musicologist.  The German parson served at congregations in Silesia and Russia.  He also directed the teacher training program at the school at Niesky.  His magnun opus was Die Kleine Choralkunde, which he prepared during his retirement.  The 153-page manuscript contained notes on texts and tunes, with citation of the opening measures of said tunes.

These saints’ interest in music was consistent with the high premium the Moravian Church, at its best, places on good music in church.  It was also consistent with the Moravian ethic of recognizing the sacred in the seemingly secular.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILL CAMPBELL, AGENT OF RECONCILIATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of

[Peter Mortimer, Gottfried Theodor Erxleben, and all others]

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of St. Nicetius of Trier and St. Aredius of Limoges (December 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 561

SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER (513-CIRCA 566)

Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Bishop

converted

SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES (CIRCA 510-591)

Also known as Saint Yrieux of Limoges

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from August 25

St. Nicetius of Trier (513-circa 566), born at Auvergne, Gaul, was a very important figure in the Gallic church.  He was probably related to St. Sidonius Apollinaris, Bishop of Auvergne and another major figure.  St. Nicetius, a monk then abbot at Limoges, became Bishop of Trier.  King Theodoric I of Metz (reigned 511-534) chose him over St. Gall, hardly a minor figure himself.

As Bishop of Trier St. Nicetius did much good work.  Among other things, he

  • rebuilt the cathedral and city fortifications of Trier,
  • restored discipline among his priests, and
  • founded a school for the training priests.

He was also pious, fasting often.  The bishop denounced Lothair I (reigned 511-561), King of Soissons from 511 and King of all Franks from 558, going so far as to excommunicate the monarch who had family members killed for personal gain.  Lothair exiled the bishop in 560, but the next ruler in that region of Gaul, Sigibert I of Austrasia (reigned 561-575) recalled St. Nicetius.  The bishop also criticized Byzantine Emperor Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565) for being a semi-monophysite.

St. Magnericus succeeded St. Nicetius as Bishop of Trier.

St. Gregory of Tours wrote a biography of St. Nicetius of Trier. His source was St. Aredius of Limoges (circa 510-591), who had converted to Christianity under St. Nicetius.  St. Aredius, a former Chancellor to King Theudebert I of Metz (reigned 534-548), had been born into a wealthy family with connections to the late Western Roman Empire.  Raised at Vigoges monastery from boyhood, St. Aredius arrived at Metz at age fourteen.  After he let Metz St. Aredius traveled to Trier, where he met St. Nicetius.  The rest was history.  And St. Aredius served as abbot at Limoges and founded Altanum monastery.

One man’s sanctity influenced that of another.  And his example helped many others along the road to holiness.

Each of us is a link in a chain.  May this be a chain of holiness.  And may we be the strongest links possible, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

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O God, by whose grace your servants Saint Nicetius of Trier and Saint Aredius of Limoges,

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

Grant that we may also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light,

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

Acts 2:42-47a

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

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

Feast of St. Cyran (December 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 655

SAINT CYRAN (DIED CIRCA 655)

Also known as Saint Sigiramnus

Roman Catholic Abbot

St. Cyran, a Frankish nobleman, had been a cupbearer to Lothair II (reigned 584-629), King of Neustria from 584 and King of all Franks from 613.  But the saint broke his engagement to be married and followed his vocation, the monastic life, which he pursued at St. Martin’s Abbey, Tours.  St. Cyran’s father, Modegisile, served as Bishop of Tours from 625 to 638.  After the bishop died, St. Cyran inherited a large sum of money, which he gave to the poor.  He was so generous that the had to endure a period of incarceration due to suspicion of insanity.  In 640, free again, the saint joined Bishop Falvius from Ireland on a pilgrimage to Rome.  Upon his return, St. Cyran founded and served as abbot of two monasteries, those at Meobecca and Longoretum.

St, Cyran, who followed Jesus, was known for his concern for and generosity to the poor and the imprisoned.  I think of this fact and recall words from Matthew 25:

When you did it to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to  me.

St. Cyran’s life was one lived well.  May your life, O reader, also be one lived well.  What is God calling you to do?  May you do that.  And may others help you fulfill that vocation, not stand in the way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Cyran,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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

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

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

Posted November 16, 2012 by neatnik2009 in December 5, Saints of 600-699

Tagged with ,

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for December   Leave a comment

Poinsettia

Image Source = Andre Karwath

1 (Charles de Foucauld, Roman Catholic Hermit and Martyr)

  • Albert Barnes, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Abolitionist, and Alleged Heretic
  • Brioc, Roman Catholic Abbot; and Tudwal, Roman Catholic Abbot and Bishop
  • Douglas LeTell Rights, U.S. Moravian Minister, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Timothy Mickey, Jr., U.S. Moravian Bishop and Liturgist

2 (Maura Clarke and Her Companions, U.S. Roman Catholic Martyrs in El Salvador, December 2, 1980)

  • Channing Moore Williams, Episcopal Missionary Bishop in China and Japan
  • Gerald Thomas Noel, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer; brother of Baptist Wriothesley Noel, Anglican Priest, English Baptist Evangelist, and Hymn Writer; and his niece, Caroline Maria Noel, Anglican Hymn Writer
  • Hormisdas, Bishop of Rome; and his son, Silverius, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 537
  • Rafal Chylinski, Polish Franciscan Roman Catholic Priest

3 (Maruthas, Roman Catholic Bishop of Maypherkat and Missionary to Persia)

  • Amilie Juliane, Countess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Francis Xavier, Roman Catholic Missionary to the Far East
  • Sophie Koulomzin, Russian-American Christian Educator

4 (John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma, Theologians and Hymnodists)

  • Alexander Hotovitzky, Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1937
  • Bernard of Parma, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Joseph Mohr, Austrian Roman Catholic Priest; and Franz Gruber, Austrian Roman Catholic Teacher, Musician, and Composer
  • Osmund of Salisbury, Roman Catholic Bishop

5 (Clement of Alexandria, Father of Christian Scholarship)

  • Cyran, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, and Renewer of Society
  • Nicetius of Trier, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Bishop; and Aredius of Limoges, Roman Catholic Monk
  • Peter Mortimer, Anglo-German Moravian Educator, Musician, and Scholar; and Gottfried Theodor Erxleben, German Moravian Minister and Musicologist

6 (Nicholas of Myra, Bishop)

  • Abraham of Kratia, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, Bishop, and Hermit
  • Alice Freeman Palmer, U.S. Educator and Hymn Writer
  • Henry Ustick Onderdonk, Episcopal Bishop, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer
  • Philip and Daniel Berrigan, Roman Catholic Priests and Social Activists

7 (Maria Josepha Rossello, Cofounder of the Daughters of Our Lady of Pity)

  • Anne Ross Cousin, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • Emma Francis, Lutheran Deaconess in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Harlem
  • Georg Friedrich Hellstrom, Dutch-German Moravian Musician, Composer, and Educator
  • William Gustave Polack, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer and Translator

8 (Walter Ciszek, Roman Catholic Missionary Priest and Political Prisoner)

  • Amatus of Luxeuil and Romaric of Luxeuil, Roman Catholic Monks and Abbots
  • Erik Christian Hoff, Norwegian Lutheran Composer and Organist
  • John Greenleaf Whittier, U.S. Quaker Abolitionist, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Marin Shkurti, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1969

9 (Liborius Wagner, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1631)

  • Olivier Messiaen, Claire Delbos, and Yvonne Loriod, French Roman Catholic Musicians and Composers
  • Peter Fourier, “The Good Priest of Mattaincourt;” and Alix Le Clerc, Foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of Saint Augustine

10 (Karl Barth, Swiss Reformed Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar; father of Markus Barth, Swiss Lutheran Minister and Biblical Scholar)

  • Howell Elvet Lewis, Welsh Congregationalist Clergyman and Poet
  • John Roberts, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Paul Eber, German Lutheran Theologian and Hymn Writer
  • Robert Murray, Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

11 (Luke of Prague and John Augusta, Moravian Bishops and Hymn Writers)

  • Kazimierz Tomas Sykulski, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Hans Peter Boerresen, and Paul Olaf Bodding, Lutheran Missionaries in India
  • Martyrs of El Mozote, El Salvador, December 11-12, 1981
  • Severin Ott, Roman Catholic Monk

12 (William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionist and Feminist; and Maria Stewart, Abolitionist, Feminist, and Educator)

  • Bartholomew Buonpedoni and Vivaldus, Ministers among Lepers
  • William Louis Poteat, President of Wake Forest College, and Biologist; his brother, Edwin McNeill Poteat, Sr., Southern and Northern Baptist Minister, Scholar, and President of Furman University; his son, Edwin McNeill Poteat, Jr., Southern Baptist Minister, Missionary, Musician, Hymn Writer, and Social Reformer;  his brother, Gordon McNeill Poteat, Southern and Northern Baptist and Congregationalist Minister and Missionary; and his cousin, Hubert McNeill Poteat, Southern Baptist Academic and Musician
  • Ludwik Bartosik, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941

13 (Samuel Johnson, “The Great Moralist”)

  • Christian Furchtegott Gellert, German Lutheran Minister, Educator, and Hymn Writer
  • Ella J. Baker, Witness for Civil Rights
  • Paul Speratus, German Lutheran Bishop, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer
  • Pierson Parker, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Episcopal Priest, and Biblical Scholar

14 (Radegunda, Thuringian Roman Catholic Princess, Deaconess, and Nun; and Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers)

  • Dorothy Ann Thrupp, English Hymn Writer
  • Fred D. Gealy, U.S. Methodist Minister, Missionary, Musician, and Biblical Scholar
  • John of the Cross, Roman Catholic Mystic and Carmelite Friar

15 (Thomas Benson Pollock, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Henry Fothergill Chorley, English Novelist, Playwright, and Literary and Music Critic
  • John Horden, Anglican Bishop of Moosenee
  • Ralph Wardlaw, Scottish Congregationalist Minister, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
  • Robert McDonald, Anglican Priest and Missionary

16 (Ralph Adams Cram and Richard Upjohn, Architects; and John LaFarge, Sr., Painter and Stained Glass Window Maker)

  • Filip Siphong Onphithakt, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Thailand, 1940
  • Maude Dominica Petre, Roman Catholic Modernist Theologian

17 (Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton, Founders of Save the Children)

  • Dorothy Sayers, Anglican Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Translator, Apologist, and Theologian
  • Frank Mason North, U.S. Methodist Minister, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer
  • Mary Cornelia Bishop Gates, U.S. Dutch Reformed Hymn Writer
  • Olympias of Constantinople, Widow and Deaconess

18 (Marc Boegner, French Reformed Minister and Ecumenist)

  • Alicia Domon and Her Companions, Martyrs in Argentina, 1977
  • Giulia Valle, Roman Catholic Nun

19 (Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous Gentile)

  • Francesco Antonio Bonporti, Italian Roman Catholic Priest and Composer
  • Kazimiera Wolowska, Polish Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1942
  • Robert Campbell, Scottish Episcopalian then Roman Catholic Social Advocate and Hymn Writer
  • William Howard Bishop, Founder of the Glenmary Home Missioners

20 (Dominic of Silos, Roman Catholic Abbot)

  • D. Elton Trueblood, U.S. Quaker Theologian
  • Michal Piasczynski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1940

21 (THOMAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR)

22 (Frederick and William Temple, Archbishops of Canterbury)

  • Chaeremon and Ischyrion, Roman Catholic Martyrs, Circa 250
  • Chico Mendes, “Gandhi of the Amazon”
  • Henry Budd, First Anglican Native Priest in North America; Missionary to the Cree Nation
  • Isaac Hecker, Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle

23 (John of Kanty, Roman Catholic Theologian)

  • Antonio Caldara, Roman Catholic Composer and Musician
  • Charbel, Roman Catholic Priest and Monk
  • James Prince Lee, Bishop of Manchester
  • William John Blew, English Priest and Hymn Writer

24 (CHRISTMAS EVE)

25 (CHRISTMAS DAY)

26 (SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • STEPHEN, DEACON AND MARTYR

27 (THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • JOHN THE EVANGELIST, APOSTLE

28 (FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • HOLY INNOCENTS, MARTYRS

29 (FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • John Burnett Morris, Sr., Episcopal Priest and Witness for Civil Rights
  • Philipp Heinrich Molther, German Moravian Minister, Bishop, Composer, and Hymn Translator
  • Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1170
  • Thomas Cotterill, English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist

30 (SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Allen Eastman Cross, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • John Main, Anglo-Canadian Roman Catholic Priest and Monk
  • Frances Joseph-Gaudet, African-American Educator, Prison Reformer, and Social Worker
  • William Adams Brown, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Social Reformer

31 (SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Giuseppina Nicoli, Italian Roman Catholic Nun and Minister to the Poor
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Rossiter Worthington Raymond, U.S. Novelist, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Mining Engineer
  • Zoticus of Constantinople, Priest and Martyr, Circa 351

 

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

Feast of St. Clement of Alexandria (December 5)   12 comments

Clement of Alexandria

SAINT CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (CIRCA 150-CIRCA 210/215)

“The Pioneer of Christian Scholarship”

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Over ten years ago, in southern Georgia, U.S.A., I heard a member of my father’s church disparage intellectuals.

Smart people don’t have the kind of faith common people do,

he said in a manner which indicated that he placed insufficient value on the intellect.  (So I have to dumb down to have proper faith?  No, I don’t!)  I did not reply for for diplomatic reasons.  Yet I refuse to check my brain at the church door.  Neither did Clement of Alexandria check his brain at the church door.  I like him.

Clement of Alexandria, a.k.a. Titus Flavius Clemens Alexandrius, converted to Christianity from paganism.  (Paganism is a very broad term.)  He studied at the Catechetical School at Alexandria, serving as its director from circa 190 to circa 202, when he retired to Palestine.  Origen, his pupil, succeeded him.  Clement has been a hot potato for a long time.  Once upon a time he was a saint in the Roman Catholic Church; his feast day was December 4.  Yet Pope Sixtus V, of whom J. N. D. Kelly, writing in The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986), accused of repressiveness, decanonized Clement in 1586.  Nevertheless, The Episcopal Church celebrates him on December 5.  And The Hymnal 1982 (published in 1985, by the way) contains two of his hymns.  Hymns #163 and #478 affirm the sacrificial death of Jesus.

Why was Clement so controversial?  Why is he still that way?  There are reasons.

Clement, the Ante-Nicene Church Father most acquainted with Greek philosophy and literature, welcomed insights from them.  Philosophy was, he wrote, the necessary preparation for the Christian gospel.  Said gospel is sufficient and pagan doctrines are insufficient, he maintained, but even pagan Greek philosophy (especially Platonism) contains truth.  So, Clement continued, we ought to accept truth regardless of its source.

Clement sought to affirm orthodoxy; he was certainly no Gnostic.  For Clement, knowledge was the goal of Christian perfection.  This knowledge was manifest in Jesus, the Logos of God.  So, he wrote, this knowledge is in the world; it is not a secret.

Perhaps Clement’s unabashed, even elitist intellectualism explains his lack of popularity.  This knowledge, which is the goal of Christian perfection, is superior to the run-of-the-mill faith which common people have,  he argued.  Furthermore, he insisted, many people are incapable of walking in the better path.  Such a perspective is inconsistent with spiritual populism.

We all bring our baggage to the theological table; let us be honest about that.  I bring a distrust of anti-intellectualism, which I have witnessed.  Egalitarianism, despite its virtues, can devolve into a dumbed-down lowest common denominator.  We would not want to injure anybody’s self-esteem, would we?  I bring a dislike for that mentality also.  So I am an unapologetic intellectual, like Clement.  He might have been impolitic, but he was right about a great deal.  And yes, many people are incapable of certain levels of intellectual attainment.  He was also correct about that that.

History tells me that subsequent theological developments in Western Christianity included, for a time, reflexive rejection of pagan, pre-Christian philosophy and other learning.  The Byzantines retained such knowledge and the Muslims embraced it, but one reason the Dark Ages were so dark in Western Europe was the rejection of so much of the Greco-Roman heritage.

We are all prone to errors.  Yes, Clement was wrong about certain points.  But he was correct more often than not, which is a good way to be.  Perhaps Clement’s greatest legacy is his broad-minded approach to knowledge and truth.  All truth is of God, regardless of through whom God communicates it.  May we, like Clement of Alexandria, listen to and read attentively to that truth wherever we find it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARIA STEWART, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB, FOUNDER OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLYMPIAS, ORTHODOX DEACONESS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God of unsearchable wisdom,

you gave your servant Clement

grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, the source of all truth:

Grant to your church the same grace to discern your Word wherever truth is found;

through Jesus Christ our unfailing light,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Samuel 12:20-24

Psalm 34:9-14

Colossians 1:11-20

John 6:57-63

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