Archive for the ‘January 15’ Category

Feast of Blessed Nikolaus Gross (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Nikolaus Gross

Image in the Public Domain



German Roman Catholic Opponent of Nazism, and Martyr, 1945

Blessed Nikolaus Gross comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Gross, born in Niederwenigern, German Empire, on September 30, 1898, gave his life in the cause of opposing institutionalized injustice.  Our saint’s father was a miner.  Gross was also a miner (1915-1920).  Then he left the mines yet remained active in union politics.  Our saint, a member of the Christian Mineworkers’ Trade Union (1917f) and Saint Anthony’s Miners’ Association (1918f), had been taking night classes before quitting mining.  His post-mining activities included:

  1. Serving as the secretary of the Christian Mineworkers’ Trade Union (1920-1921);
  2. Serving as the assistant editor of that union’s newspaper (1921-1922);
  3. Serving as a union secretarial worker in Waldenburg, Lower Silesia (1922), in Zwickau (1922-1924) then in Bottrop (1924-1926);
  4. Serving as the assistant editor of the newspaper of the Catholic Workers’ Movement (1927-1929); and
  5. Serving as the general editor of that publication (1929f).

In the meantime, the misnamed National Socialist Party, or the Nazi Party, was rising.  It was actually fascist, not socialist.  Gross, in his editorial capacity, opposed the Nazis.  The Nazi-controlled government banned his newspaper for three weeks in 1933, for another short period of time in early 1935, and permanently in November 1938.  After the permanent banning, the publication continued illegally.

The assassination plot against Adolf Hitler failed on July 20, 1944.  In the wake of that event, Nazi authorities arrested Gross, who had not been involved in the conspiracy.  Our saint, apprehended on August 12, 1944, went to trial on the charge of treason.  The verdict was guilty, of course.  The sentence, imposed on January 15, 1945, was death.  Eight days later, he died by hanging.  Our saint was 46 years old.  Nazi authorities had the corpse cremated and the cremains scattered at a sewage plant.

Survivors included our saint’s wife, Elisabeth Koch (1901-1971), whom he married on May 24, 1923, and six of the couple’s seven children.  Four or five of those children survived to witness Pope John Paul II declare their father a Venerable then a Blessed in 2001.









Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Nikolaus Gross

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714


Feast of John Marinus Versteeg (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logos of The Methodist Church (1939-1968) and The United Methodist Church (1968-)

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor



U.S. Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer

John Marinus Versteeg comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Hymnal (1941), of the old Evangelical and Reformed Church.

Versteeg was a native of The Netherlands.  He, born in Den Heller on September 9, 1888, was a son of Anna Petronella Ollman Versteeg and the Reverend Dir Oren Versteeg.  The family immigrated in 1900, and our saint became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1909.

Versteeg became a Methodist minister.  He served in three successive denominations, due to mergers:  the Methodist Episcopal Church (-1939), The Methodist Church (1939-1968), and The United Methodist Church (1968f).  Our saint, ordained a deacon in 1915, graduated from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey (Bachelor of Divinity, 1916).  Versteeg joined the ranks of elders in 1917.  He wrote The Modern Meaning of Church Membership (1919).

Versteeg was pastor of West Side Methodist Episcopal Church, Jersey City, New Jersey (1920-1921).  During this time, he married Edna Catherine Ames on June 18, 1921.  The couple had four children:  Sherwood, Elaine, Robert, and Virgil.

Our saint served as the pastor of Drew Methodist Episcopal (now United Methodists) Church, Port Jervis, New York (1922-1925).  During these years, Versteeg wrote and published three books:

  1. The Deeper Meaning of Stewardship (1923),
  2. Christ and the Problems of Youth (1924), and
  3. Christianity at Work (1925).

Versteeg was pastor of Roseville Methodist Episcopal  Church (now Roseville St. Paul’s United Methodist Church), Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania (1929-1931).  During this time, he wrote Perpetuating Pentecost (1930).  Our saint also received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania (1931).

Versteeg’s longest tenure was at Walnut Hills-Avondale Methodist Episcopal/Methodist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio (1932-1945).  Our saint was productive during these years.  He wrote three books:

  1. Save Money! (1939),
  2. Our Protestant Convictions (1941), and
  3. When Christ Controls:  Stewardship Messages (1943).

Stewardship was Versteeg’s favorite topic about which to write.  He also wrote a hymn, though.  In 1926, our saint wrote a hymn for Psalm Sunday.  This text was “Does Thy Soul Leap Up Within Thee?” (The Hymnal, 1941, #139).

While in Cincinnati, Versteeg did much more.

  1. He served as the president of the Greater Cincinnati Writers’ League (1942-1944).
  2. He was the president of the Council of Churches in Greater Cincinnati (1941-1944).
  3. He founded the Cincinnati School of Religion.
  4. He chaired the Social Service Commission of the Ohio Annual Conference (1943-1944).
  5. He sat on the regional War Labor Board (1943-1945).
  6. He was a lecturer in Biblical Literature at the University of Cincinnati (1943-1944).
  7. He took a seat on the denominational Executive Committee of the Commission on Church Union (1944-1956).
  8. He was a delegate to the General Conference (1940).

Furthermore, Versteeg received more academic honors.  Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1942.  Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, granted our saint the Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1945.

Versteeg served as the District Superintendent of the Lima District, based in Lima, Ohio, from 1945 to 1951.  During these years, he remained active in other denominational capacities.

  1. He was a delegate to the General Conferences of 1948.
  2. He chaired the denominational Commission on Social Action (1948f).

Also, Union College, Schenectady, New York, awarded our saint the Doctor of Letters degree in 1946.

Versteeg served as the pastor of First Methodist (now United Methodist) Church, Athens, Ohio (1951-1957).  By 1952, he doubled as a lecturer for the denominational Board of Ministerial Training.  He was also a delegate to the General Conference of 1952.

Versteeg was the Director of Libraries at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware,  Ohio (1957-1960).  Then he retired.

Versteeg served in other capacities, too.  He was a delegate to more than one World Methodist Conference.  He also belonged to the American Society of Church History.  This historical interest manifested itself in a book, Methodism:  Ohio Area (1812-1962) (1962).

Our saint, aged 88 years, died on January 14, 1977.






O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant John Marinus Versteeg,

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flesh:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ

and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719


Feast of Gustave Weisel (January 15)   2 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain



U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Ecumenist


Whether we like it or not, Protestants and Catholics are inevitably related to each other by the concept of opposition, and the opposition is stronger the nearer we approach the moment of split of one from the other.  Today we are all striving manfully to overcome the sense of opposition, but we are descendants of the past and history works in all of us.

–Father Gustave Weigel; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 452


Gustave Weigel, a Jesuit priest and a professor of theology, became a pioneer of ecumenism in the Roman Catholic Church.

Weigel, a native of the United States, taught in both the United States and Chile.  He, born in Buffalo, New York, on January 15, 1906, was the second of three children of Auguste Weigel and Louise Leontine Kiefer.  He attended Catholic schools in Buffalo.  After graduating from high school in 1922, our saint became a Jesuit novice at Poughkeepsie, New York.  In 1926 he transferred to Woodstock College, Woodstock, Maryland.  There he earned the A.B. and M.A. degrees in three years.  After teaching Latin and English at Loyola College, Baltimore, during the 1929-1930 academic year, Weigel returned to Woodstock College, to study for the priesthood.  He, ordained a priest on June 25, 1933, earned the Licentiate of Sacred Theology degree the following year.  Our saint continued his education in Rome, where, in 1937, he earned his Doctor of Sacred Theology degree.  Weigel taught theology at the Catholic University of Chile from 1937 to 1948 and for two months in 1949.  He spent the rest of his academic career at Woodstock College while writing books and articles, as well as lecturing in the United States and Germany.

Years before Pope St. John XXIII opened the windows of the Church, so to speak, Weigel became involved in ecumenism.  He engaged with Protestantism in writing as early as 1954.  Six years later, our saint and Presbyterian Robert McAfee Brown collaborated on An American Dialogue.  That year, Weigel became the first Roman Catholic to deliver endowed lectures at Yale University.

Weigel, aged 57 years, died on January 3, 1964.

As Weigel wrote, final ecclesiastical reunion will be the work of God.  Christians, however, can and must overcome misconceptions they harbor about each other and their traditions.





God our Father, your Son Jesus prayed that his followers might be one as he is one with you,

so that in peace and concord we may carry to the world the message of your love,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 133

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 17:15-23

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61


Feast of Bertha Paulssen (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Image in the Public Domain



German-American Seminary Professor, Psychologist, and Sociologist


Modern men and women suffer most deeply from their inability to love their neighbors.  How can they love their neighbors if they know nothing of God?

–Bertha Paulssen; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 38


Bertha Paulssen devoted most of her life to helping “the least of these” in the name of Christ.  She, born in Leipzig, German Empire, on January 15, 1891, grew up in a wealthy, cultured, and Lutheran family.  She internalized the Christian faith and concluded that the church of her youth was too dogmatic and insufficiently addressing human needs.  Our saint, educated at a Moravian school then at the Universities of Leipzig and Göttingen, earned her doctorate at Leipzig in 1917.  Next, Paulssen worked as a librarian and a teaching assistant.  She moved to Frankfurt in 1919, to manage a home for girls who had dropped out of school.  After a few years, our saint worked with children, with prostitutes, and with prisoners in Kiel and Stettin.  Starting in 1923, Paulssen assumed a supervisory role in Hamburg.  She, a state employee, supervised 800 social workers.  Our saint replaced top-down management with tactics that emphasized individual solutions.  The rise of the Third Reich ended Paulssen’s career in Germany in 1933.

Paulssen, who fled Germany, spent most of her life after 1935 in the United States.  She headed first for England, before departing for New York City.  Our saint worked with youth in the “Big Apple” before teaching at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Next, she taught at the (Lutheran) Deaconess Motherhouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before teaching at Wagner College, Staten Island, New York City.  Paulssen, legally an “enemy alien” after early December 1941, had to leave the United States.  She settled in Cuba, naturalized as an American citizen in 1944, and returned to the United States.

From 1945 to 1963, Paulssen was a professor jointly at Muhlenberg College, Gettysburg College, and Gettysburg Theological Seminary.  She became the first woman and lay person to hold a tenured professorship at a Lutheran theological seminary in the United States.  Our saint’s social ethic informed her presentation of the Christian faith and brought sociology and psychology to bear on theology.

Paulssen, aged 82 years, died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on April 2, 1973.





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,

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), 60


Feast of Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15 or April 4)   29 comments


Above:  Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, 1964

Photographer = Marion S. Trikosko

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ6-1847



Civil Rights Leader and Martyr


A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

–Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967


I refer you, O reader, to the following biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a prophet; he spoke truth to power and to society when doing that was dangerous and unpopular.  He was also a human being, with virtues and vices.  The totality of his vices did not begin to approach the totality of his virtues.  King was sufficiently threatening (despite his nonviolence) to many racists and other defenders of the status quo that he had to endure numerous false accusations and an attempt by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to blackmail him into committing suicide.  (It can happen here.  It has happened here.)  For example, some accused King of being a Communist.  He was actually neither a Communist nor a capitalist.  Communism, he said, assumes falsely that people lacked souls, and capitalism misunderstands the proper value of a person also.  A moral society, King argued, is person-centered, not thing-centered; human rights ought to matter more than property rights.  King was actually a Christian Socialist and a man who became more radical as he aged; he was not the figure of the “I Have a Dream” Speech frozen in the amber of comfortable white historical memory.   On the other hand, Malcolm X mellowed in his final years.  The two moved toward each other politically as they approached death.

My reading of primary sources regarding how many people perceived King from the middle 1950s to his death in 1968 and immediately afterward has confirmed the generalization (found in many secondary historical sources) that many white people feared King and understood him to be threat to their way of life.  How ironic is it then, that many people who are the political descendants of King’s opponents have embraced the King federal holiday and the naming of streets after him?  He has become a non-threatening figure converted into a statue and placed on a pedestal.  This reality has blunted his prophetic power in contemporary politics.

Michael Eric Dyson is correct; the non-threatening, friendly King of the federal holiday and all those roads is not the person our saint really was.  For example, of one reads King’s anti-Vietnam War speech of April 4, 1967, one reads an address that cost him dearly politically during the last year of his life.  One also reads a scathing critique of the bipartisan Cold War consensus in U.S. foreign policy.  One also reads a timeless condemnation of militarism and institutionalized racism that is at least as potent today as it was in 1967.  That King makes many people squirm in their chairs, however; they prefer to play reruns of the “I Have a Dream Speech” and feel good about agreeing with him on those points.

A prophet is preferable to a mere hero immortalized as a statue, a holiday, and a plethora of street names, I am convinced, for a prophet speaks to the present, regardless of when he spoke originally.  A prophet does not let us off the hook.  We ignore a prophet at our risk, but we get to pat ourselves on our backs for admiring a mere hero.  Furthermore, a martyred prophet challenges us to ask ourselves for what cause we would be willing to die.

Dr. King was a prophet.








Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant

you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last:

Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King,

may resist oppression in the name of love,

and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

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

Genesis 37:17b-20

Psalm 77:11-20

Ephesians 6:10-20

Luke 6:27-36

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 307


Feast of John Cosin (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Durham Cathedral

Image Source = Library of Congress



Anglican Bishop of Durham

John Cosin, born at Norwich, England, graduated from Caius College, Cambridge, then joined the ranks of priests of The Church of England.  During his career he held a series of posts, including Chaplain to the Bishop of Durham, followed by, among other positions, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Dean of Peterborough.  In 1627 Cosin published the Collection of Private Devotions, which included his translation of the Veni, Creator Spiritus:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

And lighten with celestial fire.

Thou the anointing Spirit art,

Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above

Is comfort, life and fire of love.

Enable with perpetual light

The dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face

With the abundance of thy grace.

Keep far our foes, give peace at home:

Where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,

And thee, of both, to be but one,

That through the ages all along,

This may be our endless song:

Praise to thy eternal merit,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Cosin’s book aroused much criticism from Puritan quarters, where anything Roman Catholic was suspect.  Indeed, he clashed with Puritans.  So, during the English Civil Wars and the Commonwealth, he spent much time in exile in France.

Yet the Restoration of the monarchy occurred in 1660, and Cosin became the Bishop of Durham that year.  It was his final church posting.  He spent much money on the cathedral, its library, and charitable works.  And Cosin helped to prepare the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which introduced his translation of the Veni, Creator Spiritus into Anglican liturgy.

Bishop John Cosin was one in a series of scholar-priests who, with their talents, have enriched the Christian Church greatly.  I give thanks for all them generally.  Today I rejoice in the legacy of John Cosin by name.






Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring John Cosin and all those who

with words and images have filled us with desire and love for you;

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

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728


Revised on November 21, 2016


Saints’ Days and Holy Days for January   Leave a comment

Snow in January

Image in the Public Domain


  • Holy Name of Jesus
  • World Day of Peace


  • Gaspar del Bufalo, Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood
  • Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, Bavarian Lutheran Minister, and Coordinator of Domestic and Foreign Missions
  • Narcissus of Tomi, Argeus of Tomi, and Marcellinus of Tomi, Roman Martyrs, 320
  • Odilo of Cluny, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Sabine Baring-Gould, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


  • Edward Caswall, English Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Perronet, British Methodist Preacher
  • Elmer G. Homrighausen, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Professor of Christian Education
  • Gladys Aylward, Missionary in China and Taiwan
  • William Alfred Passavant, Sr., U.S. Lutheran Minister, Humanitarian, and Evangelist


  • Angela of Foligno, Italian Roman Catholic Penitent and Humanitarian
  • Elizabeth Ann Seton, Founder of the American Sisters of Charity
  • Gregory of Langres, Terticus of Langres, Gallus of Clermont, Gregory of Tours, Avitus I of Clermont, Magnericus of Trier, and Gaugericus, Roman Catholic Bishops
  • Johann Ludwig Freydt, German Moravian Composer and Educator
  • Mary Lundie Duncan, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer


  • Antonio Lotti, Italian Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Felix Manz, First Anabaptist Martyr, 1527
  • Genoveva Torres Morales, Founder of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels
  • John Nepomucene Neumann, Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia
  • Margaret Mackay, Scottish Hymn Writer


7 (François Fénelon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cambrai)

  • Aldric of Le Mans, Roman Catholic Bishop of Le Mans
  • Jean Kenyon Mackenzie, U.S. Presbyterian Missionary in West Africa
  • Lanza del Vasto, Founder of the Community of the Ark
  • Lucian of Antioch, Roman Catholic Martyr, 312
  • William Jones, Anglican Priest and Musician

8 (Thorfinn of Hamar, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • A. J. Muste, Dutch-American Minister, Labor Activist, and Pacifist
  • Arcangelo Corelli, Italian Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, Scientists
  • Harriet Bedell, Episcopal Deaconess and Missionary
  • Pepin of Landen, Itta of Metz, Their Relations, Amand, Austregisilus, and Sulpicius II of Bourges, Faithful Christians Across Generational Lines

9 (Julia Chester Emery, Upholder of Missions)

  • Emily Greene Balch, U.S. Quaker Sociologist, Economist, and Peace Activist
  • Gene M. Tucker, United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Johann Josef Ignaz von Döllinger, Dissident and Excommunicated German Roman Catholic Priest, Theologian, and Historian
  • Philip II of Moscow, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, and Martyr, 1569
  • Thomas Curtis Clark, U.S. Disciples of Christ Evangelist, Poet, and Hymn Writer

10 (John the Good, Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan)

  • Allen William Chatfield, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Translator
  • Louise Cecilia Fleming, African-American Baptist Missionary and Physician
  • María Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña y Ortega, Founder of the Centers of Instruction, the Association of the Sodality of the Virgin Mary, the Ladies of the Catechetical Institute, the Association of the Apostolic Laymen/the Sopeña Lay Movement, the Works of the Doctrines/the Center for the Workers, and the Social and Cultural Work Sopeña/the Sopeña Catechetical Institute
  • W. Sibley Towner, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • William Gay Ballantine, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Educator, Scholar, Poet, and Hymn Writer

11 (Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Roman Catholic Monk)

  • Charles William Everest, Episcopal Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Ignatius Spencer, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Apostle of Ecumenical Prayer; and his protégé, Elizabeth Prout, Founder of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion
  • Miep Gies, Righteous Gentile
  • Paulinus II of Aquileia, Roman Catholic Patriarch of Aquileia
  • Richard Frederick Littledale, Anglican Priest and Translator of Hymns

12 (Benedict Biscop, Roman Catholic Abbot of Wearmouth)

  • Aelred of Hexham, Roman Catholic Abbot of Rievaulx
  • Caesarius of Arles, Roman Catholic Bishop of Arles; and his sister, Caesaria of Arles, Roman Catholic Abbess
  • Anthony Mary Pucci, Italian Roman Catholic Priest
  • Henry Alford, Anglican Priest, Biblical Scholar, Literary Translator, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Bible Translator
  • Marguerite Bourgeoys, Founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame

13 (Hilary of Poitiers, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers, “Athanasius of the West;” and Hymn Writer; and his protégé, Martin of Tours, Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours)

  • Christian Keimann, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Edgar J. Goodspeed, U.S. Baptist Biblical Scholar and Translator
  • George Fox, Founder of the Religious Society of Friends
  • Mary Slessor, Scottish Presbyterian Missionary in West Africa
  • Samuel Preiswerk, Swiss Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

14 (Macrina the Elder, Her Family, and Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger)

  • Abby Kelley Foster and her husband, Stephen Symonds Foster, U.S. Quaker Abolitionists and Feminists
  • Eivind Josef Berggrav, Lutheran Bishop of Oslo, Hymn Translator, and Leader of the Norwegian Resistance During World War II
  • Kristen Kvamme, Norwegian-American Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Richard Meux Benson, Anglican Priest and Co-Founder of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist; Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Priest, Co-Founder of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, and Bishop of Fond du Lac; and Charles Gore, Anglican Bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and Oxford; Founder of the Community of the Resurrection; Theologian; and Advocate for Social Justice and World Peace
  • Sava I, Founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and First Archbishop of Serbs

15 (Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader and Martyr, 1968)

  • Bertha Paulssen, German-American Seminary Professor, Psychologist, and Sociologist
  • Gustave Weigel, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Ecumenist
  • John Cosin, Anglican Bishop of Durham
  • John Marinus Versteeg, U.S. Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Nikolaus Gross, German Roman Catholic Opponent of Nazism, and Martyr, 1945

16 (Roberto de Noboli, Roman Catholic Missionary in India)

  • Berard and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs in Morocco, 1220
  • Edmund Hamilton Sears, U.S. Unitarian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Biblical Scholar
  • Edward Bunnett, Anglican Organist and Composer
  • Juana Maria Condesa Lluch, Founder of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Immaculate Conception, Protectress of Workers
  • Timothy Richard Matthews, Anglican Priest, Organist, and Hymn Tune Composer

17 (Antony of Egypt, Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism)

  • Deicola and Gall, Roman Catholic Monks; and Othmar, Roman Catholic Abbot at Saint Gallen
  • James Woodrow, Southern Presbyterian Minister, Naturalist, and Alleged Heretic
  • Pachomius the Great, Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism
  • Rutherford Birchard Hayes, President of the United States of America
  • Thomas A. Dooley, U.S. Roman Catholic Physician and Humanitarian



19 (Sargent Shriver and his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Humanitarians)

  • Alessandro Valignano, Italian Jesuit Missionary Priest in the Far East
  • Charles Winfred Douglas, Episcopal Priest, Liturgist, Musicologist, Linguist, Poet, Hymn Translator, and Arranger
  • Henry Twells, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

20 (Fabian, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 250)

  • Euthymius the Great and Theoctistus, Roman Catholic Abbots
  • Greville Phillimore, English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Harold A. Bosley, United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Harriet Auber, Anglican Hymn Writer
  • Richard Rolle, English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

21 (Mirocles of Milan and Epiphanius of Pavia, Roman Catholic Bishops)

  • Alban Roe and Thomas Reynolds, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1642
  • John Yi Yon-on, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Korea, 1867

22 (John Julian, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymnologist)

  • Alexander Men, Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1990
  • Benjamin Lay, American Quaker Abolitionist
  • Ladislao Batthány-Strattmann, Austro-Hungarian Roman Catholic Physician and Philanthropist
  • Vincent Pallotti, Founder of the Society for the Catholic Apostolate, the Union of Catholic Apostolate, and the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate

23 (John the Almsgiver, Patriarch of Alexandria)

  • Charles Kingsley, Anglican Priest, Novelist, and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Grubb, English Quaker Author, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer
  • George A. Buttrick, Anglo-American Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar; and his son, David G. Buttrick, U.S. Presbyterian then United Church of Christ Minister, Theologian, and Liturgist
  • James D. Smart, Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Phillips Brooks, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, and Hymn Writer

24 (Ordination of Florence Li-Tim-Oi, First Female Priest in the Anglican Communion)

  • Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo
  • Lindsay Bartholomew Longacre, U.S. Methodist Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Hymn Tune Composer
  • Marie Poussepin, Founder of the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Virgin
  • Martyrs of Podlasie, 1874
  • Suranus of Sora, Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr, 580



27 (Jerome, Paula of Rome, Eustochium, Blaesilla, Marcella, and Lea of Rome)

  • Angela Merici, Founder of the Company of Saint Ursula
  • Carolina Santocanale, Founder of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculate of Lourdes
  • Caspar Neumann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Mary Evelyn “Mev” Puleo, U.S. Roman Catholic Photojournalist and Advocate for Social Justice
  • Pierre Batiffol, French Roman Catholic Priest, Historian, and Theologian

28 (Albert the Great and his pupil, Thomas Aquinas; Roman Catholic Theologians)

  • Andrei Rublev, Russian Orthodox Icon Writer
  • Daniel J. Simundson, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Henry Augustine Collins, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Joseph Barnby, Anglican Church Musician and Composer
  • Somerset Corry Lowry, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


30 (Lesslie Newbigin, English Reformed Missionary and Theologian)

  • Bathildas, Queen of France
  • David Galván Bermúdez, Mexican Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in Mexico, 1915
  • Frederick Oakeley, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest
  • Genesius I of Clermont and Praejectus of Clermont, Roman Catholic Bishops; and Amarin, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Jacques Bunol, French Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945

31 (Charles Frederick Mackenzie, Anglican Bishop of Nyasaland, and Martyr, 1862)

  • Anthony Bénézet, French-American Quaker Abolitionist
  • Menno Simons, Mennonite Leader

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

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of the Known World, According to Posidonius, dated 150-130 B.C.E.

“That salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6c, NRSV)

JANUARY 15, 2023


Isaiah 49:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Listen to me, O coastlands,

pay attention, you peoples from far away!

The LORD called me before I was born,

while I was still in my mother’s womb he named me.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow,

in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me,

You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

But I said,

I have labored in vain,

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my cause is with the LORD,

and my reward is with my God.

And now the LORD says,

who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him,

and that Israel might be gathered to him,

for I am honored in the sight of the LORD,

and my God has become my strength–

he says,

It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

to raise up the tribes of Jacob

and to restore the survivors of Israel;

I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

Thus says the LORD,

the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,

to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,

the slave of rulers.

Kings shall see and stand up,

princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,

because of the LORD, who is faithful,

the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.

Psalm 40:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

I waited patiently for the LORD;

he inclined his ear tome and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the desolate pit,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the LORD.

Happy are those who make

the LORD their trust,

who do no turn to the proud,

to those who go astray after false gods.

You have multipied, O LORD my God,

your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

none can compare with you.

Were I to proclaim and tell of them,

they would be more than can be counted.

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,

but you have given me an open ear.

Burnt offering and sin offering

you have not required.

Then I said,

Here I am;

in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

I delight to do your will, O my God;

your law is within my heart.

I have told the glad news of deliverance

int he great congregation;

see, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O LORD.

I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,

I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;

I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness

from the great congregation.

Do not, O LORD, withhold

your mercy from me;

let your steadfast love and your faithfulness

keep me safe forever.

For evils have encompassed me without number;

my iniquities have overtaken me,

until I cannot see;

they are more than the hairs of my head,

and my heart fails me.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind– just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 1:29-42 (New Revised Standard Version):

John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared,

Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.

And John testified,

I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed,

Look, here is the Lamb of God!

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them,

What are you looking for?

They said to him,


(which translated means Teacher),

where are you staying?

He said to them,

Come and see.

They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him,

We have found the Messiah

(which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said,

You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas

(which is translated Peter).

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The reading from Deutero-Isaiah is the Second Servant Song.  Here the servant is the Jewish nation, still in exile, yet about to go home, albeit as part of the Persian Empire.  The soon-to-return Jews’ mission was to be a spiritual light to the nations.  Religious history records that Jewish monotheism (practiced, not merely preached) did not flower fully until after the return from Babylonian Exile, and that this flowering did not occur immediately.  But it did happen.  Monotheism is a great advance in religious thought.  (I make this statement while taking the risk of seeming like a theological chauvinist to some, but so be it.)

Just as God delivered a seemingly insignificant population and bestowed upon them the great responsibility of being a light to the nations, Jesus recognized much potential in an impetuous fisherman we know as St. Peter, or literally “rock.”  The Bible is honest about the heroes within its pages, portraying these individuals as flawed human beings.  So it is with St. Peter, who misunderstood and misspoke often, and even denied Jesus three times shortly before our Lord’s crucifixion.  Yet St. Peter became the leader the Apostles.  Through efforts such as those of this transformed fisherman the Christian message, which began with a few people, has become the largest faith system on the planet.

I remember the pianist at a church my father pastored when I was in high school.  Angela (not her real name) was deeply insecure, partially due to guilt over an indiscretion of a few years past.  I have no doubt that God had forgiven her, but she had not forgiven herself for her own weakness.  Angela said to me one Sunday morning that she had nothing to offer.  She was wrong, of course; she had much to offer that was beautiful and necessary.  She was no more or less flawed than any of us, than St. Peter or any of the exiled Jews awaiting return to a homeland in which they had never lived.

Maybe you, O reader, are not called to be a light to the nations.  Perhaps God has called you to be a light merely to your community.  But God has given you the great responsibility of being a positive influence and a light.  Do not hide it under a bushel.