Archive for the ‘Doctors of the Church’ Category

Feast of St. John of the Cross (December 14)   2 comments

Above:  St. John of the Cross

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS (JUNE 24, 1542-DECEMBER 14, 1591)

Spanish Roman Catholic Mystic and Carmelite Friar

Born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez

Also known as John of Saint Matthias

St. John of the Cross was a mystic, a Carmelite friar, a controversial reformer. and, for eight months, a prisoner of some of his fellow friars.

Juan de Yepes y Álvarez, born in Fontineros, Spain, on June 24, 1542, grew up in a poor family.  His father, Gonzago (d. 1545), was an accountant for wealthy relatives.  Our saint’s mother, Catalina, came from an impoverished family.  One of our saint’s brothers, Luis, died of malnutrition related to poverty.  Another brother, Francisco, survived, though.  Our saint attended a school for poor children in Medina (now Medina-Sidonia) then studied at a Jesuit school (1559-1563).

St. John was a friar for most of his life.  He became a Carmelite friar, John of Saint Matthias, in 1563.  The following year, he made his first profession and began theological studies at the University of Salamanca.  Our saint joined the ranks of priests in 1567.

Monastic rigor appealed to St. John.  He pondered joining the Carthusians, a strict order.  St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) dissuaded him, though.  He became enamored of her reforms among Carmelite nuns.  With her support he introduced similar reforms into the lives of Carmelite friars.  St. John founded his first monastery in 1568, at Duruelo, and became St. John of the Cross.  These strict reforms caused controversy within the Carmelite friar order in 1575-1578.  Ecclesiastical and imperial protection of St. John expired in 1577, so our saint spent December 2, 1577-August 15, 1578 as a prisoner at the Carmelite monastery in Toledo.  After St. John escaped, he spent months recovering from the negative health effects of the poor conditions.  While in captivity, he wrote The Spiritual Canticle.

The Church recognized a new Carmelite order–a discaled one–in 1580.  St. John spent the rest of this life founding monasteries and building up the order.  Nevertheless, controversy followed him into the Discaled Carmelite order of friars.  He died in 1591, after losing his job as prior at Segovia.

St. John was a mystical poet.  His works included the Dark Night of the Soul, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, and Living Flame of Love.

The Church recognized St. John.  Pope Clement X beatified him in 1675.  Pope Benedict XIII canonized our saint in 1726.  Pope Pius XI declared St. John a Doctor of the Church in 1926.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Judge eternal, throned in splendor, you gave Juan de la Cruz

strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul:

Shed your light on all who love you, in unity with Jesus our Savior;

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

Song of Solomon 3:1-4

Psalm 121

Colossians 4:2-6

John 16:12-15, 25-28

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 117

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Feast of St. Teresa of Avila (October 15)   8 comments

Above:  St. Teresa of Avila, by Peter Paul Rubens

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF AVILA (MARCH 28, 1515-OCTOBER 4, 1582)

Spanish Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Reformer

Born Teresa de Cepeda

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Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you.  All things are passing, God never changes.  Patient endurance attains all things….God alone suffices.

–St. Teresa of Avila, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 448

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St. Teresa of Avila had many reasons to become dismayed, had she decided to permit them to dismay and disturb her.

Teresa de Cepeda, born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, came from a wealthy, well-educated family.  Her father was a merchant.  Her mother died when our saint was 14 years old.  St. Teresa became a Carmelite novice at the age of 21 years.  Her father objected, but she persisted.

Carmelite spiritual practice in that convent was quite lax; it was more like a boarding house than a nunnery.  Our saint, in her early twenties, was an invalid for several years.  During that time she read deeply in spiritual classics and became enamored of mental prayer, which she described as

friendly conversation with Him who we know loves us.

However, St. Teresa, having recovered her health, spent the next fifteen years neglecting her spiritual life.

St. Teresa, having renewed her spiritual life in 1555, had St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572) as a spiritual director.  In 1562, with the support of her bishop and the Pope, opened St. Joseph’s Abbey, the first of her new, rigorous convents.  More followed, starting in 1567; she founded 17 convents in all.  A friend, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), whom she met in 1567, founded rigorous Carmelite monasteries.

St. Teresa had to contend with opposition from ecclesiastical officialdom–bishops and the Spanish Inquisition–as well as from within her order.  Inquisitors were suspicious of her reported visions; mysticism alarmed the theological enforcers.  More opposition came from within our saint’s Discaled Carmelite order.  For a number of years St. Teresa was in internal exile, forbidden to found new convents.  That internal exile ended, though.

For years St. Teresa traveled through Spain on official business.  During one such journey, from Avila to Burges, she suffered her fatal cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.  She, aged 67 years, died at the Alba de Tormes Convent on October 4, 1582.

St. Teresa’s writings have continued to enrich seekers of God.  The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, the Life, Spiritual Relations, Exclamations of the Soul to God, and Conceptions on the Love of God have joined the ranks of spiritual classics.

The Church has honored St. Teresa.  Pope Gregory XV canonized her in 1622.  Pope Paul VI declared our saint the first female Doctor of the Church in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST DAY OF ADVENT:  THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE FREEMAN PALMER, U.S. EDUCATOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection:

Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching,

and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness;

through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 4:12-16

Psalm 42:1-7

Romans 8:22-27

Matthew 5:13-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 639

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This is post #1650 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (October 1)   4 comments

Above:  St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX (JANUARY 2, 1873-SEPTEMBER 30, 1897)

Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

Also known as Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, and the Little Flower of the Child Jesus

Alternative feast day = September 20

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, born Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin at Alençon, Normandy, France, on January 2, 1873, came from a devout family.  Her parents were saints–literally.  Louis Martin (1823-1894), a watchmaker, and his wife, Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin (1831-1877), had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  The Roman Catholic Church declared them Venerables in 1994, beatified them in 2008, canonized them in 2015, and set July 12, their wedding day, as their feast day.

St. Thérèse led a brief and pious life.  Her mother, known informally as Zelie, died when St. Thérèse was just four years old.  The widower father raised his five daughters.  St. Thérèse, the youngest of the children, was the baby of the family; her father and sisters were very attentive to her, to the point of spoiling her.

St. Thérèse had a conversion experience at the age of 14 years and became Carmelite novice at the age of 15 years.  On Christmas Eve 1886 the 14-year-old saint, who had played a nun as a girl, had a vision of the infant Jesus.  Her vocation, she realized, was to pray for priests.  Our saint, seeking to give her whole life to God, gained the necessary special permission to enter the Carmelite convent (the same one where two of her sisters were nuns) in Lisieux.  She became Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

In the convent St. Thérèse obeyed the order’s rule to the letter, felt intimacy with God, and suffered failing health and spiritual difficulties with outward good cheer.  Our saint was, by nature and conditioning, neurotic.  St. Thérèse’s determination to be love and

to make Love loved

compelled her as she offered to God her devotion and suffering in the hope that God would credit them to souls in greater name than she.  The author of The Story of a Soul understood herself to be a

little flower of Jesus

who glorified God in her metaphysical garden.

St. Thérèse, aged 24 years, died of tuberculosis at the convent on September 30, 1897.  She had, for a time, felt abandoned by God as she struggled with despairs.  She had lost all certainty.  At the end, however, faith remained.  Her last words were,

Oh, I love Him!…My God,…I love you.

The Church recognized St. Thérèse.  Pope Benedict XV declared her a Venerable in 1921.  Pope Pius XI beatified her in 1923 and canonized her in 1925.  Pope John Paul II declared St. Thérèse a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

At the end of her life St. Thérèse had faith, not certainty.

Faith, when it is what it should be, is never about objective, historical-scientific certainty, in the style of Enlightenment Modernism.  Much knowledge of that variety exists and is valid; intellectually honest people should embrace it.  Enlightenment Modernism does have limits, though.  At that point faith takes over; a different form of certainty is present.

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, LORD SHAFTESBURY, BRITISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF COMPASSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST, DEACON AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MYSTIC

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Gracious Father, who called your servant Thérèse to a life of fervent prayer,

give to us the spirit of prayer and zeal for the ministry of the Gospel,

that the love of Christ may be known throughout the world;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Judith 8:1-8

Psalm 119:1-8

Luke 21:1-4

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg and Saint Hildegard of Bingen (September 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hildegard of Bingen

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JUTTA OF DISIBODENBERG (CIRCA 1084-DECEMBER 22, 1136)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from December 22

mentor of

SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (1098-SEPTEMBER 17, 1179)

Roman Catholic Abbess, Mystic, Theologian, Poet, Playwright, and Composer

One of my goals in renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, as I keep repeating, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Therefore, I merge the feasts of St. Hildegard of Bingen (September 17) and her mentor, Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg (December 22).

Blessed Jutta, born circa 1084 in Spanheim, was a German noblewoman.  Her brother was Meganhard, the Count of Spanheim.  She became a hermitess on November 1, 1106.  Blessed Jutta lived near the Abbey of Saint Disibod, Disibodenberg.  She taught children and became the center of a female community before beginning to serve as the first abbess of the new convent at Disibodenberg in 1116.  One member of that community then convent was St. Hildegard, born in Böckelheim, near Spanheim, in 1098, and also of German nobility.  She, raised and educated at Disibodenberg, succeeded Blessed Jutta as abbess in 1136.  St. Hildegard held that post until 1147.  That year she and eighteen nuns founded a new, independent convent near Bingen.  She served as the abbess there for the rest of her life.

St. Hildegard was a mystic; she had been one since childhood.  From 1141 to 1150 she published accounts of 26 of her visions in Scivas (Know the Ways).  Our saint’s visions were consistent with theological orthodoxy, according to the Archbishop of Mainz, a group of theologians, and Pope Eugenius III.  After 1150 St. Hildegard continued to report and write about her visions.

St. Hildegard was a remarkable person, especially by the standards of her time and place.  In 1152-1162 she made preaching tours in the Rhineland.  She corresponded with monarchs and popes, wrote at least one drama, composed religious texts and music, and wrote treatises on science and medicine.  She was, by the standards of her time and place, unusually scientifically astute.  St. Hildegard, as a theologian, belonged to the school of Creation Spirituality.  The Church has recognized her as a Doctor of the Church, a title it bestows on few saints.  The only other women so honored were St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897).

Despite St. Hildegard’s respected status in the Church during her lifetime, she ran afoul of ecclesiastical authorities toward the end of her life.  She permitted the burial of an excommunicated man in the convent’s cemetery.  Then our saint disobeyed an order to disinter the corpse; the deceased had reconciled with God before he died, she said in her defense.  St. Hildegard’s defiance led to the Archbishop of Mainz placing the convent under an interdict, a penalty she protested.  Eventually the archbishop lifted the interdict.

St. Hildegard died a few months later, on September 17, 1179.

Pope John XXII beatified St. Hildegard in 1326.  She was informally “St. Hildegard” for centuries until Pope Benedict XVI made it official in 2012.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS III, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, MATHEMATICIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAGNUS AND AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF AVIGNON

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HAMMOND, ENGLISH MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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God of all times and seasons:

Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, a student of Jutta,

may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation,

and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:1-2, 6-7, 9-12, 27-28

Psalm 104:25-34

Colossians 3:14-17

John 3:16-21

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 589

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Feast of St. Peter Chrysologus (July 30)   2 comments

Above:  The Roman Empire in 450 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS (406-DECEMBER 2, 450)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Ravenna and Defender of Orthodoxy

Alternative feast day = July 31

Former feast day = December 4

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Anyone who wishes to dance with the devil cannot rejoice with Christ.

–St. Peter Chrysologus

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St. Peter Chrysologus, or the “Golden-Worded,” was a renowned preacher and an opponent of the Arian and Monophysite heresies.  He, born in Imola, Italy, in 406, was a protégé of Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, who baptized, educated, and ordained him.  St. Peter became the Bishop of Ravenna in 433.  (Ravenna was the capital of the Roman Empire at the time.)  Immediately he won the favor and patronage of the Empress Aelia Galla Placidia (c. 390-450), half-sister of Emperor Honorius (reigned 395-423), wife of the Emperor Constantius III (reigned 421), and the mother of the Emperor Valentinian III (reigned 425-455), and the Regent from 425 to 437.  The Empress Regent financed the construction of several beautiful churches in Ravenna.  St. Peter, known for his piety, defended the doctrine of the Incarnation against Arians and Monophysites.  He died on December 2, 450.

Many of the homilies bearing our saint’s name came from other people.

Pope Benedict XIII declared St. Peter a Doctor of the Church in 1729.  Thus our saint joined the elite club among Roman Catholic saints, receiving recognition as a great theologian defined by sanctity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Saint Peter Chrysologus,

and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge

of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus,

our Savior and Lord, who lies and reigns with you and

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

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

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of St. Bonaventure (July 15)   4 comments

Above:  St. Bonaventure

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BONAVENTURE (1217-JULY 15, 1274)

Second Founder of the Order of Friars Minor

Born Giovanni di Fidanza

St. Bonaventure was one of the most influential Medieval Roman Catholic theologians.

The traditional birth year given for St. Bonaventure has been 1221.  However, Dr. Ewert Cousins, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, as well as translator and editor of the St. Bonaventure volume (1978) for the Paulist Press’s Classics of Western Spirituality series, cited scholars who insisted on 1217 instead.

Giovanni di Fidanza, a native of Bagnoregio (near Viterbo), Italy, was a son of Giovanni di Fidanza (Sr.), a wealthy physician, and Maria di Ritello.  Circa 1234 the 17-year old saint matriculated at the University of Paris, where he studied under the great Franciscan scholar Alexander of Hales.  Our saint joined the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) in 1243 and became Bonaventure.  His theological teachers until their deaths in 1245 were Alexander of Hales and John of La Rochelle.  Afterward St. Bonaventure’s theological teachers were Eudes Rigaud and William of Middleton.

St. Bonaventure embodied intellectual rigor, Roman Catholic piety, and Franciscan simplicity.  He, a Bachelor of Scripture in 1248 and a Master of Theology in 1253/1254, lectured on the Bible in 1248-1250 and led the Franciscan school in Paris from 1253/1254 to 1257.  Then our saint became the Minister General of the Order of Franciscans Minor, after Pope Alexander IV had ordered John of Parma, suspected of heterodoxy, to resign.  As the Minister General for 17 years St. Bonaventure became the “Second Founder” of the order, balancing foundational principles with the necessity of adaptation to changing circumstances.  Our saint never wanted to be a bishop, so he rejected offers until 1273, when Pope Gregory X ordered him to become the Cardinal Archbishop of Albano.  St. Bonaventure, a famously humble man, kept a papal representative bearing news of the appointment waiting; the Minister General was washing dishes.

St. Bonaventure also liked to think and write profoundly.  He wrote prolifically.  Works included biographies of St. Francis of Assisi, theological treatises. lectures, and Biblical commentaries.  Titles included The Soul’s Journey into God and The Tree of Life.  (Jesus was the Tree of Life.)  Elevation into the episcopate and the College of Cardinals greatly reduced the time St. Bonaventure had to write.

St. Bonaventure died on July 15, 1274, while attending the Second Council of Lyons, which dealt with the unification of the Eastern and Western Churches.  Prelates from across the Christian world mourned him.

The Roman Catholic Church has honored St. Bonaventure.  Pope Sixtus IV canonized him in 1482.  Pope Sixtus V declared our saint a Doctor of the Church in 1588.

The legacy of St. Bonaventure has continued to enrich the Church and the world.  One vehicle has been the Order of Friars Minor.  Furthermore, his writings have continued to be available, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, you gave to hour servant Saint Bonaventure

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of Sts. James of Nisibis and Ephrem of Edessa (June 10)   3 comments

Above:  Edessa and Nisibis, Fourth and Fifth Centuries C.E.

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (Philadelphia, PA:  The Publishers Agency, Inc., 1957), H-7

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SAINT JAMES OF NISIBIS (DIED CIRCA 338)

Bishop of Nisibis and “Moses of Mesopotamia”

Also known as Saint Jacob of Nisibis

His feast transferred from July 15

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SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA (306/307-373)

Deacon, Hymn Writer, Exegete, and “Harp of the Holy Spirit”

Also known as St. Ephrem the Syrian and St. Ephraem Syrus

Episcopal feast day = June 10

Roman Catholic and Church of England feast day = June 9

Scottish Episcopal feast day = June 8

Maronite feast day = June 18

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No one has seen or shall see the things which you have seen.  The Lord himself has become the altar, priest, and brad, and the chalice of salvation.  He alone suffices for all, yet none suffices for him.  He is Altar and Lamb, victim and sacrifice, priest as well as food.

–St. Ephrem of Edessa, on the Passion of Jesus

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Much of the available information about these two saints is of uncertain veracity.  Some of it is even mutually exclusive.  With that caveat I proceed with due caution, aware of the limitations of my sources.

St. James (Jacob) of Nisibis (now Nusaybin, Turkey), was the first Bishop of Nisibis, from 309 until his death, circa 338.  He, renowned for his sanctity, learning, and ability, defended orthodoxy against the Arian heresy.  St. James/Jacob also participated in the First Council of Nicaea (325), to which he might have taken St. Ephrem of Edessa, whom he might have baptized but certainly ordained to the diaconate.

Ephrem of Edessa

Above:  St. Ephrem of Edessa

Image in the Public Domain

St. Ephrem of Edessa was a native of Nisibis.  Traditionally accounts of his life have indicated that his family was pagan and that St. James/Jacob baptized him at the age of 18 years.  More recent scholarship has suggested, however, that St. Ephrem’s family was Christian, however.  Certainly St. James/Jacob, the bishop, was a mentor.  Furthermore, the bishop ordained St. Ephrem a deacon.

In 363 Nisibis came under Persian jurisdiction; persecution of Christians and an exodus of Christians ensued.  St. Ephrem settled at Edessa.  There he founded a theological school, wrote prolifically, and lived in a cave above the city, ate simple foods, and drank only water.  St. Ephrem, who frequently preached in Edessa, composed hymns, 72 of which have survived.  Our saint, who had a devotion to Mary and wrote solely in Syriac, wrote hymns for feasts of the Church, against heresies, and about the Last Judgment, among other topics.  St. Ephrem was an influential figure in the development of Syriac and Greek hymnography and a pioneer in the use of hymns in public worship.  Furthermore, our saint wrote sermons and Biblical commentaries, some of which have survived.

St. Ephrem died of exhaustion in 373, after helping the poor and ill of Edessa during a famine (372-373).  He organized an ambulance service and distributed money and food to the poor, to his detriment.

The Roman Catholic Church declared St. Ephrem a Doctor of the Church in 1920.  It was a wise decision.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND SAINT OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT ST. GALLEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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Pour out on us, O Lord, that same Spirit by which your bishop James proclaimed your divinity

and your deacon Ephrem rejoiced to proclaim in sacred song the mysteries of faith;

and so gladden our hearts that we, like them, may be devoted to you alone;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 98:5-10

Ephesians 3:8-12

John 16:12-15

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 419

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