Archive for the ‘December 6’ Category

Holiday Busyness   2 comments

Above:  A Domestic Scene, December 8, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


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)


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.









Published originally at BLOGA THEOLOGICA


Feast of Philip and Daniel Berrigan (December 6   2 comments


Above:  Icon of Philip Berrigan

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

brother of


Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist


When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them are winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

–Doris Plenn, 1950s


Thus He will judge among the nations

And arbitrate for the many peoples,

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks:

Nation shall not take up

Sword against nation;

They shall never again know war.

–Isaiah 2:4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

–Matthew 5:9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)


Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal.  But the word of God is not fettered.

–2 Timothy 2:8-9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)


Blessed are you, when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

–Matthew 5:11-12, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)


Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

–Luke 6:26, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)


The Bible is replete with stories of prophets who spoke truth to power.  One reads in that sacred anthology that some of these prophets suffered imprisonment and/or death.  Those accounts are ancient and, due to the passage of so much time, generally non-controversial, at least in the circles in which I move.  More contemporary figures, such as the Berrigan brothers, remain controversial, however.  Although I do not agree with them entirely, I admire them and deplore the harsh treatment of them by authorities.  I also respect the faith that compelled them to take up their crosses, follow Christ, and suffer for the sake of righteousness.

The Berrigan brothers’ lives, being as intertwined as they were, require writing of them in one post.  Their lives stand as testimonies for peace and social justice.  For their evil disobedience they spent years in federal prisons–eleven years for Philip and more than seven years for Daniel.  Sometimes they engaged in civil disobedience together.  They also found themselves on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list.


The Berrigans were a devout Roman Catholic family living in the vicinity of Duluth, Minnesota, in the early 1920s.  Freida Fromhart Berrigan and Thomas Berrigan raised six children–five sons and one daughter.  Thomas, a trade unionist, was a railroad engineer who raised his family on a farm.  Daniel debuted at Virginia, Minnesota, on May 9, 1921.  Philip entered the world at Two Harbors, Minnesota, on October 5, 1923.  The family moved to New York in 1926 after Thomas lost his job.  At Syracuse he, who hailed from the left wing of Roman Catholicism, founded the Electrical Workers Union and a Roman Catholic interracial council.

Daniel was a longtime Jesuit, for he joined the order immediately after graduating from high school in 1939.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson, Hyde Park, in 1946.  From 1946 to 1949 Daniel taught at St. Peter’s Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey.  He received his M.A. degree from Woodstock College, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952, the same year he became a priest.  From 1954 to 1957 Daniel taught theology at LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York.  In 1957 he won the Lamont Prize for Time Without Number, a volume of poetry.  From 1966 to 1970 Daniel served as the Assistant Director of University United Religious Work, an umbrella organization of campus chaplaincies at Cornell University.  He also served as the pastor of the Newman Club there.  Daniel also had professional roles at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York; Loyola University of the South, New Orleans, Louisiana; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; and Fordham University, New York, New York.

Philip entered the Society of St. Joseph (the Josephite Fathers) instead.  After graduating from high school at Syracuse he cleaned trains for the New York Central Railroad, played semi-professional baseball, and studied for a semester at St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Ontario.  Then the U.S. Army drafted him in 1943.  Philip’s proximity to institutional racism in the U.S. Army (especially during basic training in Georgia) and what he learned about the lives of sharecroppers disturbed him.  Combat also affected Philip deeply; he had his fill of violence and killing.  After the war Philip attended and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts.  In 1950 he joined the Josephite Fathers, an order dedicated to working with African Americans.  Philip also graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary, Washington, D.C., becoming a priest in 1955.  He graduated from Loyola University of the South with a degree in secondary education in 1957 and from Xavier University with a Master’s degree three years later.  Then Philip became a teacher.

Both brothers were active in the civil rights movement.  They participated in sit-ins, marches (such as at Selma, Alabama, in 1965), and bus boycotts.  Philip, in particular, identified with the urban poor.  For civil disobedience he went to prison for the first time in 1962-1963.  Philip ministered to other inmates while there.  Nevertheless, his activism earned him the disapproval of his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Berrigan brothers also protested the Vietnam War.  In 1964, at New York City, they founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship.  Later, at Baltimore, Philip founded the Baltimore Interfaith Peace Fellowship.  On October 27, 1967, he was one of the Baltimore Four, two Roman Catholics and two Protestants.  They poured their own blood on draft records.  Philip, out of jail on bail prior to sentencing for that act, recruited Daniel to join him and to become part of the Cantonsville Nine.  On May 17, 1968, at Cantonsville, Maryland, they doused draft records in homemade napalm and burned them.  All involved received prison sentences, delayed by an appeals period of sixteen months.  After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeals, Daniel and Philip went into hiding.  F.B.I. agents caught up with Philip after twelve days.  Daniel remained holed up in the Block Island, Rhode Island, house of William Stringfellow (1928-1985), an Episcopalian, social activist, and lay theologian, for four months.  The prison terms expired in 1972.

While in prison Philip secretly married Elizabeth McAlister, a nun and one of the Cantonsville Nine, in 1969.  He was also among those charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and to bomb steam tunnels.  The trial (1972) ended in an acquittal.  The marriage of Philip and Elizabeth became public in 1973.  Then Pope Paul VI excommunicated him.  The couple had three children.  Philip and Elizabeth continued their antiwar activism.  In 1973, at Baltimore, they founded Jonah House, to support war resisters.

In 1980 the Berrigan brothers founded the anti-nuclear war and weapons Plowshares Movement.  On September 9, 1980, the Plowshares Eight, who included both brothers, trespassed at the General Electric nuclear missile facility at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  There they damaged cones of Mark 12A missiles and poured blood on documents and files.  The Plowshares Eight, convicted the following year, appealed their sentences until 1990, when a judge reduced them to time served and 23 months of probation.

At his trial in 1981 Daniel said, in part:

Our act is all I have to say.  The only message I have to the world is this:  We are not allowed to kill innocent people.  We are not allowed to be complicit in murder.  We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money, secretly.

I have nothing else to say in the world.  At other times one could talk about family life and divorce and birth control and abortion and many other questions.  But this Mark 12A is here.  And it renders all other questions null and void.  Nothing, nothing can be settled until this is settled.  Or this will settle us, once and for all.

It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, “Stop killing.”  There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.  There are other projects I could be very useful at.  And I can’t do them.  I cannot.

Because everything is endangered.  Everything is up for grabs.  Ours is a kind of primitive situation, even though we would call ourselves sophisticated.  Our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view.  We are back where we started.  Thou shalt not kill:  we are not allowed to kill.  Everything today comes down to that–everything.

–Quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005), page 230

Philip’s final prison sentence resulted from his participation in the hammering of A-10 Warthog war planes at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Maryland, in December 1999.  He was in prison until December 2001.  He died a year later, on December 6, 2002, at Baltimore.  He was 79 years old.

In his later years Daniel continued in the good fight.  He opposed U.S. wars and military interventions in Central America, Iraq (both times), Kosovo, and Afghanistan.  He also tended to AIDS patients and spoke out against abortion and capital punishment and supported the Occupy Movement and equal rights for homosexuals.  Daniel died in New York City on April 30, 2016.  He was 94 years old.

The witness of the lives of the Berrigan brothers teaches us to love one another, especially when doing so is dangerous to oneself.








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.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Feast of Alice Freeman Palmer (December 6)   1 comment

Alice Freeman Palmer

Above:  Alice Freeman Palmer

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-51910



U.S. Educator and Hymn Writer

Alice Freeman Palmer was a pioneer in the education of women.

Our saint, born Alice Elvira Freeman, grew up a farm girl outside Windsor, New York.  She contradicted dominant gender-based expectations of the time by attending college–even breaking off an engagement to do so.  She attended the University of Michigan to 1872 to 1876, graduating with her B.A. degree.  For a year Freeman taught at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Then, from 1877 to 1879, she served as the principal of a high school at Saginaw, Michigan.  Our saint was the Chair of the Department of History, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, from 1879 to 1881, after which she became the Vice President and Acting President of the college.  She became the first female president of a nationally known college or university in the United States, serving as President without “Acting” in the title from 1885 to 1887.

Then our saint made two important decisions.  In 1887 she married Dr. George Herbert Palmer, a professor of philosophy at Harvard College, and resigned the presidency of Wellesley College.  (She served as the President again in 1889-1890.)  Our saint devoted herself to hobbies, started giving speeches advocating the education of women on par with men, and wrote poetry.  She also attempted the administration of Harvard College to admit women.  From 1892 to 1895 our saint served as non-resident Dean of Women at the then-young University of Chicago, spending just twelve weeks a year in Chicago.  She proved crucial to the success of the nascent university, but male chauvinism led to policy makers ignoring her suggestions, so she resigned.

The educational pioneer, who had helped to found the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (now the American Association of University Women) in 1881  and received an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1892, served on the Massachusetts Board of Education for years.  Our saint, who contributed to her society, abandoned her earlier hope that, after a brief period of adjustment, men would accept women as equals.

Palmer’s publications included the following:

  1. Wellesley Lyrics:  Poems Written by Students and Graduates of Wellesley College (1896);
  2. Why Go to College? An Address (1897); and
  3. A Marriage Cycle (published posthumously, 1915)

One of Palmer’s poems became a commonly published hymn, “How Sweet and Silent is the Place” (1901).

Our saint and her husband were taking a sabbatical in Paris, France, in 1901, when she required liver surgery.  She died peacefully shortly thereafter.


Almighty God, we thank you for your servant Alice Freeman Palmer,

who helped to pave the way for equal educational opportunities for women

and who opposed sexism.

May her work continue in our time,

as the struggle to recognize the image of God in females

remains unfinished business in places near and far.

We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

your beloved Son.  Amen.

Judges 4:1-11, 23-24

Psalm 119:33-40

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 10:38-42





Feast of Henry Ustick Onderdonk (December 6)   3 comments

Flag of Pennsylvania

Above:  The Flag of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Image in the Public Domain



Episcopal Bishop, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

Causes of ecclesiastical controversies interest me, especially long after the fact.  In England, when the Reverend Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the “Father of English Hymnody,” played his crucial role in the transition from psalmody to hymnody in much of the English-speaking Christian world, he created a controversy which outlived him on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  During the 1800s and into the 1900s the Oxford Movement divided parishes and dioceses in the Anglican Communion.  In 1868, for example, the addition of the singing of creeds and the prayers at Christ Episcopal Church, Macon, Georgia, prompted protests from Low Churchmen, who considered the changes “Papist.”  In 1869 the rector of the parish resigned from Christ Church to serve the breakaway parish (still inside the Diocese of Georgia at the time) of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Macon, where his changes were popular. That controversy came more than thirty years after Christ Church’s organ, the first in the city, had upset many people.

Christ Church and St. Paul’s Church, Macon, have been parishes of the Diocese of Atlanta since 1907, when the Diocese of Georgia divided for reasons of geography and the excessive workload on the Bishop of Georgia, then based out of Atlanta.

Our saint for today spent many years at the eye of the storm of High Churchmanship versus Low Churchmanship.  Henry Ustick Onderdonk, born at New York New York, on March 16, 1789, studied medicine at Columbia College, Manhattan (B.A., 1895; M.A., 1808), and at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland (M.D., 1810).  He did not remain in the medical field for long, for theology beckoned.  Onderdonk, ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1815 and a priest the following year, served as a missionary at Canandaigua, New York, before becoming the Rector of St. Anne’s Church, New York, New York, in 1820.  Seven years later he became the Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania amid much controversy.  The High Church-Low Church controversy divided the Diocese of Pennsylvania, so nobody could have won election without acrimony.  Low Churchmen failed to block Onderdonk’s election, and no Low Church clergymen, including bishops, participated in his consecration service.  Onderdonk became the Bishop of Pennsylvania in 1836.  He served until 1844, when he resigned and the House of Bishops suspended him indefinitely.  The de jure cause of the suspension was Onderdonk’s alcoholism, which had started after a doctor prescribed spirits as treatment for a chronic digestive disorder.  The Bishop of Pennsylvania had reformed his life prior to his resignation and suspension, but partisan pressures led to his suspension.

At the same time his brother, Benjamin Tredwell Onderdonk (1791-1861), the Bishop of New York from 1830 to 1861, was in trouble also.  The Bishop of New York, a High Churchman like his brother, was on trial in 1844 and 1845 due to charges of improper touching of women.  He denied the allegations.  (I do not know if the charges were accurate, so I make no judgment in that matter.  Determining actual guilt or innocence in 2015 in this case might be impossible.)  The majority of the House of Bishops decided that the Bishop of New York was guilty, so it suspended him indefinitely in 1845 and never lifted the suspension.  He retained the title “Bishop of New York” until his death, but Provisional Bishops served there until 1861.  Regardless of whether the Bishop of New York was actually guilty, strong objections to his High Churchmanship influenced the House of Bishops and increased the level of interest in his case.

Henry Ustick Onderdonk was a capable hymn writer and a liturgist.  He helped to prepare the Hymns Suited to the Feasts and Fasts of the Church and Other Occasions (1826), or the Prayer Book Collection, informally, due to the fact that the Church ordered it bound with The Book of Common Prayer (1789).  The Prayer Book Collection, to which Onderdonk contributed nine hymns, marked the transition from psalmody to hymnody in The Episcopal Church.  He also worked on Plain Music for the Book of Common Prayer (1854).  The Hymnal of 1874 superceded that volume and the Prayer Book Collection (1826).  Most of our saint’s hymns fell out of Episcopal Church hymnody after the Hymnal of 1892.  The Hymnal 1916 (1918), The Hymnal 1940 (1943), and The Hymnal 1982 (1985), retained just one of his texts.

One can, however, read his hymns at  I have added some of his texts to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog also.

The former Bishop of Pennsylvania, whose suspension the House of Bishops lifted in 1856, died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 6, 1858. offers some of our saint’s publications:

  1. An Inaugural Dissertation on the Stone of the Bladder (1810);
  2. The New-York Medical Magazine, Volume I (1814, with Valentine Mott, M.D.);
  3. A Sermon [on Isa. lxii. 12] Preached at the Opening of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States in St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, October 17, 1832 (1832);
  4. The Rule of Faith:  A Charge to the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:  Delivered in Philadelphia, May 22, 1833, at the Opening of the Convention (1833);
  5. Episcopacy Tested by Scripture (1834; 1860 reprint);
  6. Episcopacy Examined and Re-Examined, Comprising the Tract “Episcopacy Tested by Scripture,” and the Controversy Concerning that Publication (1835); and
  7. An Essay on Regeneration (1835).

Our saint had to struggle with addiction, which is a medical condition, not a sin.  (Much of what one does in the maintenance of an addiction is sinful, however.)  Brain scans, which were not available in the 1800s, prove that the brains of addicts and non-addicts differ chemically.  May people cease to classify diseases as sins, and therefore stop imposing more burdens on those who need grace and help, not guilt and recrimination.








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

thank you for those (especially Henry Ustick Onderdonk)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

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

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26






Feast of St. Abraham of Kratia (December 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Landscape with a Hermit or a Saint in Prayer, by Bartolomeo Coriolano

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-18737 (digital file from original print) LC-USZ62-48741 (b&w film copy neg.)



Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, Bishop, and Hermit

As long as people have existed there have have been individuals who have needed to be quiet and alone with God.  These deep introverts have craved the contemplative life.  One ought never to consider them useless, for to do so is to buy into the fallacy that idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, an idea related to a hyper-Protestant work ethic.  We humans need to be quiet.  We need to contemplate.  And we need to be idle in God sometimes.

Consider, O reader, the case of St. Abraham of Kratia (474-circa 558).  He wanted mainly to be solitary and to lead a contemplative life.  So he became a monk as a young man.  The native of Emesa (now Hims), Syria, had to flee to Constantinople because of raids on his monastic community during the period of migrations within the Roman Empire during the fourth and fifth centuries CE.  At the capital city the saint became the procurator of a monastery.  Then he, aged twenty-six years, became abbot of the monastery at Kratia, Bithynia.  After ten years he needed solitude badly, so he ran away to Palestine.  But his bishop forced him to return to Kratia.  Then the saint became Bishop of Kratia, a post he held for thirteen years. Finally, in 525, he returned to Palestine, solitude, and the contemplative life for good.  It was, after all, his vocation.






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 Abraham of Kratia,

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 6, Saints of 400-499, Saints of 500-599

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Second Sunday of Advent, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  The Roman Colosseum in Early Morning

It is neither dark nor light; the light will come.

Image Source = Diliff

We Wait…

DECEMBER 6, 2020


Isaiah 40:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Comfort, O comfort my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

that she has served her term,

that her penalty is paid,

that she has received from the LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,

make straight in desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says,

Cry out!

And I said,

What shall I cry?

All people are grass,

their consistency is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;

surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades;

but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Get up to a high mountain,

O Zion, herald of great tidings;

lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,

lift it up, do not fear;

say to the cities of Judah,

Here is your God!

See, the LORD God comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms,

and carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead the mother sheep.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  You have been gracious to your land, O LORD,

you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.

2  You have forgiven the iniquity of your people

and blotted out all their sins.

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.

9  Truly, his salvation is very near to those 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.

2 Peter 3:8-15a (New Revised Standard Version):

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?  But, in accordance with his promise, we waiting for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Mark 1:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare the way;

the voice of one crying out in the wilderness;

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed,

The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Second Sunday of Advent, Year A:

First Sunday of Advent, Year B:

Isaiah 40:


Waiting is hard.  I do not refer to pacing and foot-tapping while wondering what is taking somebody so long, although that is difficult.  No, I mean purposeful, patient waiting.  The conquered and exiled Jews living within the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had to wait for the Persian army of Cyrus the Great.  These being Advent readings, however, most waiting is for the coming of the Messiah.  In the meantime, people near Jerusalem listened to an eccentric ascetic.  And, a few decades later, members of a nascent faith called Christianity awaited the return of Jesus, with advice to live at peace with God and each other.  Time, the author of 2 Peter writes, works differently for God than for us, so we ought not to become impatient.

Listen to a really good and chanted version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  The haunting  sense of longing will be evident there, as will confidence that Emmanuel will come, and God will indeed be with us in a different way than is true now.  Until then, we need to hang on.

This requires stillness.   But we cannot be still while rushing and flitting about from shopping trip to shopping trip and Christmas party (office, neighborhood, church group, etc.) to Christmas party.  December is a hectic time for many people.  Yet this is the time that the Church, in its wisdom, has set aside as Advent, a time of faithful preparation for Christmas.

I write these words in early June 2011, a very hot time in northern Georgia, U.S.A.  Slowing down long enough to type the readings and to ponder them, and hopefully to grasp the spirit of them, is a valuable exercise.  During this time I have played a variety of YouTube videos of Advent carols in the background, to get into the proper frame of mind.  Focusing on these readings has been a great blessing for me this day, and I hope that they are for you, too.

Dominus tecum.





Saints’ Days and Holy Days for December   Leave a comment


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)

  • George Job Elvey, Anglican Composer and Organist
  • John Howard Bertram Masterman, Anglican Scholar, Hymn Writer, Priest, and Bishop of Plymouth
  • 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


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










  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.