Archive for the ‘January’ Category

Feast of John Hines (July 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN ELBRIDGE HINES (OCTOBER 10, 1910-JULY 19, 1997)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

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Justice is the corporate face of love.

John Hines, 1981

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John Elbridge Hines will probably receive his pledge on The Episcopal Church’s calendar eventually.  The appendix to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) lists him as one of those

people worthy of commemoration who do not qualify under the “reasonable passage of time” guideline.

–Page A3

That makes sense as a denominational policy.  Nevertheless, more than a reasonable amount of time has passed for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

John Elbridge Hines was a prophet, in the highest sense of that word.  He, born in Seneca, South Carolina, on October 10, 1910, graduated from The University of the South then from Virginia Theological Seminary.  Our saint, ordained during the Great Depression, served in the Diocese of Missouri for a few years, during which he imbibed deeply of Social Christianity.  He also married Helen Orwig (1910-1996).  The couple had five children.  As the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia, from 1937 to 1941, Hines was an outspoken critic of racial segregation.  Our saint’s final parish (from 1941 to 1945) was Christ Church, Houston, Texas.

Hines was a bishop most of his life.  From 1945 to 1955 he was the Bishop Coadjutor of Texas; then he was the Bishop of Texas for another nine years.  In Texas Hines helped to found the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the West, in Austin, in 1953.  He also integrated schools.  Then, in 1965, at the age of 54 years, Hines became the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

Change was in the air, and much of that change was morally correct yet no less jarring and offensive to many.  Civil rights for African Americans were difficult for many white Americans to accept, for racism ran deeply.  Likewise, feminism was challenging patriarchy, which also ran deeply.  The Episcopal Church, long known as “the Republican Party at prayer,” was engaging the winds of change.  Many of the leaders were liberal–pro-civil rights, pro-equal rights for women.  Elements of the church resisted these changes, however.  Hines, with his social conscience fully engaged with regard to race, gender, and economics, had to contend with much strong opposition within The Episcopal Church.  He built on the legacies of his two immediate predecessors–Henry Knox Sherrill (1947-1958) and Arthur Lichtenberger (1958-1964).

Much of what was revolutionary in 1965-1974 became mainstream subsequently.  The new Presiding Bishop marched at Selma, Alabama, in 1965; that was a controversial decision.  In 1971 Hines led a campaign to divest from South Africa, a proposition that aroused much opposition in much of U.S. Right Wing as late as the early 1990s.  In the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan, who told Archbishop Desmond Tutu that the dark-skinned majority of South Africa would have to wait for their rights, Reagan opposed divestment.  Yet, according to Tutu, divestment was crucial to ending Apartheid.  Hines also favored expanding roles for women in the church–including as lectors, as delegates to the General Convention, and as deacons, priests, and bishops.  He retired in 1974, just as the dispute over the ordination of women as priests became more of an issue.  Also, there were no female bishops in The Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion until 1989.  for a few years after that the election and consecration of a female bishop was a major story in the ecclesiastical press.  As of 2018, however, it has become routine.  Hines also presided over the early stages of liturgical revision, early steps toward The Book of Common Prayer (1979), a volume objectionable to many conservatives at the time, as now.  Some of them found all or much of this change so offensive that they committed schism from The Episcopal Church.  Then many of them committed schism from each other, hence the confusing organizational mess that is Continuing Anglicanism in the United States.  Many of the allegedly theologically pure were apparently purer than others of their number.  Donatism ran amok and became cannibalistic.  (I, an ecclesiastical geek, have a long attention span and a tendency to pay attention to minor details, but even I find divisions in Continuing Anglicanism confusing.  Most of the divisions are over minor theological points, actually.  Collegiality, one of the great traditions of Anglicanism, is in short supply.)

Hines, invoking hindsight, was honest about the lofty goals and mixed legacy of the General Convention Special Program (GCSP), created in 1967.  The GCSP awarded grants, with the purpose of fostering racial justice, economic justice, and self-determination.  One of the conditions for a grant was not to advocate for violence.  The initial lack (in 1967-1970) of veto power by the local bishop was an especially controversial point.  In 1970 the establishment of that veto power, with a mechanism for overriding it, meant that no grants led to embarrassing headlines, as during the first three years of the program.  The GCSP, cut back in 1973, did not survive the 1970s.  After 1973, however, funding for work among Hispanics and Native Americans increased.  Nevertheless, the damage from 1967-1970 was done.  Many people had left The Episcopal Church in protest, and many parishes and some dioceses had, for a few years, withheld funding from the national church.

Hines, who understood that the institutional quest for justice was important than complacent, oblivious tranquility and internal reconciliation, retired three years early, in 1974.  He and Helen moved to North Carolina before relocating to Texas in 1993.  She, aged 85 years, died on May 17, 1996.  Our saint, aged 86 years, died in Austin on July 19, 1997.

The legacy of John Elbridge Hines should remind us of the moral necessity of applying Christian principles to pressing social issues, of creating justice, and of recognizing our individual, collective, and institutional complicity in injustice.  His legacy should also remind us that strong opposition to confronting injustice exists even within the church, and that doing the right thing will often come at a high cost.  We must still do the right thing, though.  The legacy of Bishop Hines should teach us these lessons.  Whether it does is up to us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS COLUMBA OF RIETI AND OSANNA ANDREASI, DOMINICAN MYSTICS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, “THE APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP, FOUNDRESS OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF HAWTHORNE

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John Elbridge Hines,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Menno Simons (January 31)   Leave a comment

menno-simons

Above:  Menno Simons

Image in the Public Domain

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MENNO SIMONS (1496-JANUARY 31, 1561)

Mennonite Leader

Konrad Grebel (circa 1498-1526), an erstwhile disciple of Ulrich Zwingli, founded the Swiss Brethren and the Anabaptist movement on January 21, 1525.  Swiss authorities persecuted and all but eradicated the Swiss Brethren; Zwingli was among the persecutors.  Felix Manz became the first Anabaptist martyr on January 5, 1527, when his punishment for rebaptizing people was drowning.  The Anabaptist movement spread into The Netherlands.  The movement also fragmented into four major sects and lacked coherent theological and ethical standards.  It was coming apart at the seams.

Menno Simons provided the standards and stability the Anabaptist movement needed to survive and thrive.  He had been a Dutch Roman Catholic priest in the village of Pingium, starting in 1524.  He began to experience major theological doubts, though.  Was Transubstantiation true?  And was infant baptism valid?  So the priest studied the Bible and the writings of Martin Luther for answers.  (Luther defended the validity of infant baptism.  If it were invalid, he argued, there had not been any Christians in Europe for about 1000 years.  I find that argument convincing.)  Simons became an Anabaptist in January 1536 and a preacher the following year.  His writings became foundational for the Anabaptist movement.  He was so vital to the movement that many Anabaptists adopted the label “Mennonite.”

Simons, an active missioner, moved around much, starting in 1541.  He died at Wustenfield, Holstein, on January 31, 1561.  He was 64 or 65 years old.

I disagree with our saint on many theological points.  I am, in fact, an Episcopalian with strong Lutheran and Roman Catholic tendencies.  Both Transubstantiation and infant baptism make sense to me.  Furthermore, I recognize no need to rebaptize anyone baptized in the Trinitarian formula.  None of these facts prevents me from honoring Menno Simons, however.  He was, I conclude, a servant of God who had a vital witness to Jesus Christ in the world.  That witness continues via the Anabaptist movement, which he stabilized.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HILEY BATHHURST, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF PETRUS NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN EDUCATOR AND COMPOSER; AND GEORG NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Menno Simons,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2016), page 60

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Feast of Lesslie Newbigin (January 30)   4 comments

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin

Above:  Lesslie Newbigin

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES EDWARD LESSLIE NEWBIGIN (DECEMBER 8, 1909-JANUARY 30, 1998)

Missionary and Theologian

I refer you, O reader, to the following links:

  1. An interview with Newbigin in 1991 (YouTube),
  2. Newbigin on Nihilism (YouTube),
  3. Paul Weston of Newbigin (YouTube),
  4. John H. Armstrong on Newbigin (YouTube),
  5. An obituary of Newbigin, and
  6. Another obituary of Newbigin.

Newbigin has challenged some of my foundational assumptions.  Our most basic assumptions, an expert on critical thinking has said, are those we do not think of as being assumptions.  We all carry these in our heads, of course, and we find identifying them in others easier than identifying them in ourselves.  Reading Newbigin has helped me to think critically about some of my Enlightenment-based assumptions.  One reason for this reassessment has been our saint’s gentle approach; he did not “raise his voice” on the page.  Friendly persuasion is frequently more effective than shouting.

Newbigin argued for certain propositions, including the following:

  1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
  2. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not depend upon any human philosophy.  The Gospel is, in fact, to quote St. Paul the Apostle, “foolishness to the Greeks” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
  3. Religious toleration is part and parcel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  4. Certainty cannot exist apart from faith.  Each of us has faith that x, y, and z, are true and that reality functions in a certain way.

He was openly yet gently critical of elements of both liberal and conservative Christianity for seeking some certainty apart from faith.  Both, he said, commit errors rooted in a negative aspect of the Enlightenment.  For the same reason Newbigin was openly and gently critical of Christian apologetics that seek to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ reasonable, according to a human point of view.  To do so, he insisted, is to make a given human philosophy more important than the Gospel itself.  He concluded one book with the following paragraph:

The confidence proper to a Christian is not the confidence of one who claims possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge.  It is the confidence of one who has heard and answered the call that comes from the God through whom and for all things were made:  “Follow me.”

Proper Confidence:  Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 105

In other words, the Christian’s only proper basis of confidence is Jesus Christ.

Newbigin continues to inform and challenge my theology via his books.  If he is correct that certainty cannot exit apart from faith, what am I to do with Thomistic theology, of which I am fond?  St. Thomas Aquinas assumed that faith and reason were separate and compatible.  But what if they are not separate?  Such thoughts occupy my attention sometimes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HILEY BATHHURST, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF PETRUS NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN EDUCATOR AND COMPOSER; AND GEORG NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Grant, we beseech you, Almighty God, that following the teaching of Lesslie Newbigin,

we may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent,

that we may be counted worthy ever to be numbered among the sheep who hear his voice;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:1-8 or Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Matthew 13:51-52

–Adapted from The Book of Common Worship (The Church of South India, 1963), page 67

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Sts. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas (January 28)   9 comments

Royal 19.A.ix,  f. 4. detail

Royal 19.A.ix, f. 4. detail

Above:  Master and Scholars, by Gautier de Metz

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT (CIRCA 1200-NOVEMBER 15, 1280)

Roman Catholic Theologian and Bishop of Ratisbon

His feast transferred from November 15

teacher of

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-MARCH 7, 1274)

Roman Catholic Theologian

His feast = January 28

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These two saints, both Doctors of the Church, influenced the course of Roman Catholic theology.

St. Albert the Great, a.k.a. St. Albertus Magnus, born in Lauingen, Bavaria, circa 1200, came from German nobility.  He studied at Bologna and Padua before entering the Dominican Order in 1222.  The the saint studied then lectured in theology in Dominican houses in Germany.  In 1241 St. Albert relocated to Paris, where he began his study of the works of Aristotle.  There, from 1245 to 1248, he was a chair of theology.  In Paris the saint also met and taught St. Thomas Aquinas, allegedly a “dumb ox.”  St. Albert knew better, though.

Aquinas, born at Roccasecca, Italy, in 1225, came from Italian nobility.  When he was five years old his parents sent him to study at the monastery of Monte Cassino; they intended for him to become the abbot there.  At the age of 15 years Aquinas began to study at Naples, where he became interested in joining the Dominican Order.  His family, alarmed by this possibility, kept him under house arrest for 15 months.  Eventually, though, the saint became a Dominican in 1244.  He studied under St. Albert the Great at Paris from 1245 to 1248.  St. Albert introduced Aquinas to the works of Aristotle.

St. Albert’s project, which Aquinas took up also, was the question of the relationship between faith and reason, especially in the context of Aristotelian philosophy.  Both saints considered Christianity and Aristotelian philosophy to be compatible.  Islamic scholars had preserved the works of “the Philosopher,” as Aquinas referred to him, and translated them into Arabic.  The Latin translations of Aristotelian works were not direct translations from Greek; they were translations from Arabic.  Aristotelian philosophy contradicted Platonist philosophy, favored by luminaries such as St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, who lived about a millennium earlier.  Sts. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas found Aristotelian philosophy helpful regarding Christian doctrine, especially Transubstantiation.  This approach proved controversial during the lifetimes of both saints.

Teacher and pupil moved from Paris to Cologne, where St. Albert founded a new Dominican gymnasium generale, in 1248.  At Cologne the two saints parted company; Aquinas returned to Paris as a lecturer in 1252, and St. Albert began a three-year-long stint as the Provincial of the German province of the Dominican Order the following year.

Aquinas taught and wrote for the rest of his life.  He became a Doctor of Theology in 1256.  Three years later he left to teach in Italy, specifically at Anagni and Orvieto (1259-1265), Rome (1265-1267), and Viterbo (1267-1269).  He spent three years (1269-1272) again, before returning to Naples (1272-1274).  He halted work on the Summa Theologica in December 1273.  Aquinas concluded:

I cannot go on….All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what has been revealed to me.

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 50

Aquinas died on March 7, 1274, en route to the Council of Lyons, which St. Albert attended.  The main achievement of that council was the brief union (1274-1289) of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

St. Albert was also busy between 1256 and 1274.  For a time he served as a judge in disputes between ecclesiastical and secular parties.  Then, for two or three years, he was the Bishop of Ratisbon; he restored order to the administration of that diocese.  St. Albert resigned that post.  In 1263 and 1264 he preached the Eighth Crusade in Germany.  (I make no excuses for the Crusades, for the concept of warfare as prayer is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)  Finally, St. Albert lived in a series of Dominican houses, the last one being at Cologne, starting in 1269.

The catalog of St. Albert’s writings included treatises and biblical commentaries.  He composed commentaries on the Gospels, Job, and some of the Hebrew prophets.

St. Albert died at Cologne on November 15, 1280.  The Roman Catholic Church dubbed him “the Great” in the 1300s, beatified him in 1622, and canonized him in 1931.

As great as St. Albert was, Aquinas was greater, at least in the estimation of the Roman Catholic Church.  The Dominican Order imposed his teachings on its members in 1278, just four years after he died.  His canonization in 1323 vindicated Aquinas fully.

I am aware of a variety of well-informed positions within Christianity regarding Sts. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas.  I know, for example, that Holy Mother Church embraced Thomistic theology thoroughly for centuries and that Thomism remains a prominent strain within Roman Catholicism.  I also know of the appeal of Thomism, with its respect of the intellect and human reason, for me.  Furthermore, I know that the great Reformed missionary and theologian Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), no intellectual slouch, objected to what he considered a false dichotomy.  According to Newbigin and those who embrace his position, certainty cannot exist apart from faith, so reason cannot exist apart from faith all knowledge depends upon the assumption (via faith) that x, y, and z are accurate.  (I know that this statement applies to Euclidian geometry.)  Perhaps that proposition is correct.  Regardless of the truth of that matter, one should honor Sts. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas for bringing their intellects to matters of faith and for not being afraid of new (to them) knowledge, as their Platonist forebears Sts. Clement of Alexandria and Origen did.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HILEY BATHHURST, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF PETRUS NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN EDUCATOR AND COMPOSER; AND GEORG NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with singular learning and holiness of your servants

Sts. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas:

Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars,

and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 195

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Feast of Sts. Jerome, Paula of Rome, Eustochium, Blaesilla, Marcella, and Lea of Rome (January 27)   6 comments

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Above:  St. Jerome with Sts. Paula and Eustochium

Artist = Francisco de Zurbaran

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JEROME (347-419)

Translator of the Vulgate

His feast transferred from September 30

friend of

SAINT PAULA OF ROME (MAY 5, 547-404)

Abbess at Bethlehem

Her feast transferred from January 26

mother of 

SAINT EUSTOCHIUM (CIRCA 369-CIRCA 419)

Abbess at Bethlehem

Her feast transferred from September 28

sister of

SAINT BLAESILLA (CIRCA 363-383)

Widow

Her feast transferred from January 22

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SAINT MARCELLA (325-AUGUST 410)

Martyr

Her feast transferred from January 31

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SAINT LEA OF ROME (DIED IN 384)

Widow

Her feast transferred from March 22

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Among my purposes in the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Hence I have created this post, in which I tell the stories of six saints with overlapping stories.

St. Jerome, born Eusebius Hieronymus Sophrinus, at Strido, Dalmatia, in 347, came from a wealthy pagan family.  He studied in Rome and became an attorney.  The saint, baptized in 385, had an actual conversion experience during his subsequent study of theology.  St. Jerome became a monk and lived as a hermit in the Syrian desert.  Eventually he became a priest.  Then he studied under St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger (330-390).  Starting in 382, St. Jerome served as the secretary of Pope St. Damasus I (reigned 366-384), who commissioned him to translate the Bible into Latin.

In Rome St. Jerome formed some consequential friendships.  Among his friends was St. Paula of Rome (May 5, 347-404), of Roman noble origin.  She was the widow (from 379, at the age of 32 years) of Senator Toxotius.  She was also the mother of five children, including St. Eustochium (circa 369-circa 419) and Blaesilla (circa 363-383).  St. Paula devoted her fortune and the rest of her life to helping the poor spiritually and physically.  St. Blaesilla, married for a mere seven months before becoming a widow, consecrated the rest of her brief life to God.  She studied the Hebrew language and died of a fever at the age of 20 years in 383.  St. Eustochium became a student of St. Jerome in 382.  She took a vow of perpetual virginity.  She also spoke Greek and Latin and read Hebrew.

In Rome St. Jerome also befriended St. Marcella (325-August 410), of Roman noble origin.  She, married for only seven months before becoming a widow, chose to remain single for the rest of her life.  (In her society a single woman had more freedom than a married widow; Elaine Pagels taught me that in Adam, Eve, and the Serpent.)  St. Marcella organized a group of Christian women at her mansion on the Aventine Hill; they served the poor.  Among the members of this group was St. Lea of Rome (died in 384), a widow from a noble Roman family.  She lived as an ascetic, a choice of which St. Jerome approved.   He wrote favorably of her, in fact.  St. Jerome was the spiritual director of the group.  St. Marcella disagreed with St. Jerome from time to time and held her own ground.  He was a frequently irascible man prone to speaking and writing invectives.  As the biography of him in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:   A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) concludes,

A militant champion of orthodoxy, an indefatigable worker, and a stylist of rare gifts, Jerome was seldom pleasant, but at least he was never dull.

He also retained close friendships, held high ideals, and condemned Arianism, Origenism, and Pelagianism.

St. Jerome’s friendships with Sts. Paula and Eustochium prompted much malicious gossip.  After the death of Pope St. Damasus I he relocated to Bethlehem.  There St. Jerome spent his final 34 years, completing the translation of the Vulgate, translating other works (including those of Origen), and composing original works.  He also taught Greek and Latin to children.  St. Paula, author of his biography, arrived in  396.  She encouraged St. Jerome and build churches, a hospice, a monastery, and a convent.  She also served as the first abbess of that convent.  Her daughter, St. Eustochium, helped St. Jerome translate the Vulgate, worked as his housekeeper, and read and wrote for him when his eyesight began to fail.  St. Paula died in 404.  St. Eustochium succeeded her as abbess.  She died circa 419, the same year St. Jerome died.

St. Marcella, who spent much time reading, praying, and visiting the shrines of martyrs, became a martyr herself.  In 410, when the Visigoths, led by Alaric, attacked Rome, they captured and tortured her.  They sought to force her to surrender her treasures, but were angered and disappointed to learn that she had given all her treasures to the poor. She died of the injuries the Visigoths had inflicted upon her.

The combination of these saints’ stories into a unified whole makes at least one point, which is that all kinds of people can be saints and glorify God with their lives.  An irascible man can give the world an influential translation of the Bible.  A widow can dedicate herself to the service of God in the poor and encourage others in their sacred vocations.  A woman who has chosen never to marry can help translate the Bible.

Lesbia Scott (1898-1986) wrote “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” in 1929.  The unaltered final stanza read:

They lived not only in ages past,

There are hundreds of thousands still,

The world is bright with the joyous saints

Who love to do Jesus’ will.

You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,

In a church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,

For the saints of God are just folk like me,

And I mean to be one too.

The saints of God glorify and enjoy God as they struggle with their sinful nature.  They persevere; that is what separates them from others.  I intend to be a saint too.  What about you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 24, 2016 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COOKE AND BENJAMIN WEBB, ANGLICAN PRIESTS AND TRANSLATORS OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANDREW DUNG-LAC AND PETER THI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer,

and know your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726

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Feast of the Ordination of Florence Li Tom-Oi (January 24)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Icon of Florence Li Tim-Oi

Image Source = Link

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FLORENCE LI TIM-OI (MAY 5, 1907-FEBRUARY 26, 1992)

First Female Priest in the Anglican Communion

Ordained on January 25, 1944

All civil rights issues are inherently theological and contingent upon the reality that all people bear the image of God.  Among these civil rights issues is the equality of men and women in the Church.  This remains a controversial argument, unfortunately.

Florence Li Tim-Oi was a pioneer in the continuing struggle for the equality of women in the Church.

Tim-Oi (“Much Beloved”) born in Hong Kong on May 5, 1907, chose the baptized name Florence, after Florence Nightingale.  She became a deaconess in 1931, studied theology for four years in Canton, and, on the Feast of the Ascension, 1941, became a deacon.  She served a parish in Macao.  Wartime circumstances meant that a priest could not come to the Portuguese colony regularly, so Bishop Ronald Owen Hall (in office 1932-1951) of the Anglican Diocese of Victoria (spanning Hong Kong and South China) licensed her to preside at the Holy Eucharist.  Finally, on January 25, 1944, in the village of Shui Hing, Hall ordained our saint a priest.  She was already functioning as one, he reasoned.  Due to the controversy regarding her priestly ordination Tim-Oi surrendered her license (yet not her Holy Orders) in 1946.  From 1947 to 1949 she served as the Rector of St. Barnabas Church, Hepui; Bishop Hall ordered that people refer to her as a priest.

In 1949 the People’s Republic of China supplanted the Republic of China on the mainland.  Tim-Oi continued her theological studies.  She also served and taught at the Cathedral of Our Savior, Guangzhou.  Then, in 1958, the People’s Republic closed all the churches.  Our saint had to work on a farm then in a factory.  She was able to resume her public ministry in 1979.

Tim-Oi, while visiting relatives in Canada in 1981, had an opportunity to exercise her priestly office in that country.  The Anglican Diocese of Montreal licensed her; the Diocese of Ontario followed suit two years later.  She died at Toronto on February 26, 1992.  She was 84 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 24, 2016 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COOKE AND BENJAMIN WEBB, ANGLICAN PRIESTS AND TRANSLATORS OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANDREW DUNG-LAC AND PETER THI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS IN VIETNAM

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Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much beloved daughter,

to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion:

By the grace of your Spirit, inspire us to follow her example,

serving your people with patience and happiness all our days,

and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ,

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

Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29

Psalm 99 or 27:1-9

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 4:31-38

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Feast of the Martyrs of Podlasie (January 24)   Leave a comment

martyrs-of-pratulin

Above:  Icon of the Martyrs of Podlasie

Image in the Public Domain

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THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE (SHOT JANUARY 14, 1874)

Also known as the Martyrs of Pratulin

The Russian Empire, at its height, contained 100 ethnic groups.  The empire, not encouraging multiculturalism, pursued a policy of Russification instead.  As part of this effort the government sought to convert Eastern Rite Roman Catholics within its realm to the Russian Orthodox Church and used force to make this happen.  Bishops and priests who refused to submit either went to Siberia or to prison.  This strategy left members of the laity to defend their faith.

On January 24, 1874, Russian soldiers entered the Polish village of Pratulin, in the region of Podlasie, to seize the parish church for the Russian Orthodox Church.  A crowd of villagers gathered to protest this action.  The military commander ordered them to disperse and threatened them if they disobeyed.  To encourage submission he ordered the fatal shooting of 13 laymen, who were singing hymns.   These martyrs were:

  1. Anicet Hryciuk (born in 1855),
  2. Bartlomiej Orypiuk (born in 1843),
  3. Daniel Karmasz (born in 1826),
  4. Filip Geryluk (born in 1830),
  5. Ignacy Franczuk (born in 1824),
  6. Jan Andrzejuk (born in 1848),
  7. Konstanty Bojko (born in 1826),
  8. Konstanty Lukaszuk (born in 1829),
  9. Lukasz Bojko (born in 1852),
  10. Maksym Hawryluk (born in 1840),
  11. Michal Wawryszuk (born in 1853),
  12. Onufry Wasyluk (born in 1853), and
  13. Wincenty Lewoniuk (born in 1849).

Then the soldiers buried the corpses without sacred rites.  The idea was to cause people to forget that these men had even lived.  The soldiers failed, obviously.  Pope John Paul II beatified the martyrs in 1996.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 24, 2016 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COOKE AND BENJAMIN WEBB, ANGLICAN PRIESTS AND TRANSLATORS OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANDREW DUNG-LAC AND PETER THI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy Martyrs of Podlasie

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with them 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), page 714

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