Archive for the ‘January 11-20’ Category

Feast of John Hines (July 19)   1 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 and Witness for Civil Rights

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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 Carl 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 St. Fabian (January 20)   2 comments

st-fabian

Above:  St. Fabian

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FABIAN (DIED JANUARY 20, 250)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr

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The glory of his death befitted the purity and holiness of his life.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, writing to Pope St. Cornelius, quoted in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Pope St. Anterus (reigned November 21, 235-January 3, 236) had died suddenly.  A week later, a crowd gathered in Rome as the election of the next Pope took place.  A dove alighted upon the head of St. Fabian, a member of that crowd.  He was a layman and a farmer from elsewhere in Italy.  The dominant interpretation of the dove’s action was that the Holy Spirit had chosen St. Fabian.  He was a good choice.

St. Fabian was a capable leader.  He sent St. Denis and his companions to Gaul.  St. Fabian also restructured the Church; he organized the local clergy into seven districts, each with a deacon and seven subdeacons.  This gave the Church a structure suitable for its growing numbers.  St. Fabian also opposed the heresy of Bishop Privatus of Lambesa.  (I have attempted in vain to locate a summary of that heresy, but I have learned that a church council condemned it.)  Furthermore, the Pope repatriated the bodies of Pope St. Callixtus I and Antipope St. Hippolytus, both martyrs who died in the salt mines of Sardinia.

St. Fabian became one of the first victims of the Decian persecution.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 29:  THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

THE FEAST OF RICHARD WATSON GILDER, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FRANCIS LYTE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PRISCILLA LYDIA SELLON, A RESTORER OF RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF THEODORE CLAUDIUS PEASE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, you called Fabian to be a faithful pastor and servant of your people,

and to lay down his life in witness to your Son:

Grant that we, strengthened by his example and aided by his prayers,

may in times of trial and persecution remain steadfast in faith and endurance,

for the sake of him who laid down his life for us all, Jesus Christ our Savior;

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126

1 Corinthians 15:31-36, 44b-49

Luke 21:20-24

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 179

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Feast of St. Antony of Egypt (January 17)   1 comment

stanthony

Above:  Icon of St. Antony

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT (251-356)

Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism

Also known as St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony the Great, et cetera

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Let us not look back upon the world and fancy we have given up great things.  For the whole earth is a very little thing compared with the whole of heaven.

–St. Antony, 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 34

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Asceticism is a vocation from God.  It, like other divine vocations, is not universal.  Asceticism has helped many people deal effectively with their idolatry related to physical and psychological attachments and appetites.  For others, however, it has not proven proper or useful.  So be it.

Asceticism was among the vocations of St. Antony of Egypt.  He came from a wealthy Christian family at Heracleas, near Memphis, Egypt, in 251.  St. Antony’s parents died when he was 18 or 20 years old, leaving him as the heir to a fortune and as his sister’s guardian.  Eventually, in church, he heard the gospel story in which Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  Our saint took this message to heart and acted on it, leaving just enough to meet his needs and those of his sister.  Years later he felt guilty for doing that much, given the biblical injunction not to be anxious about tomorrow.  At the age of 35 years St. Antony sold the rest of his possessions and gave himself to God.  His sister entered a convent (and eventually became an abbess) and he went off to live in the desert–to be precise, in a series of caves, huts, and cemeteries.  Our saint, a hermit for 20 years, survived the risks of wildlife and rejected temptations, such as wine, women, food, and indolence.  He remained healthy, living to the ripe old age of 105 years.

St. Antony ceased to be a hermit and became an abbot.  Not only did monks gather around him, but pilgrims came to him for spiritual guidance.  At Mount Kolzim, near the northwestern corner of the Red Sea, our saint was a magnet for those seeking to be near a holy man.  St. Antony, who encouraged Christians suffering under the persecution of Maximinus II Daia (reigned 305-313), was so removed from the priorities of the world that, when he received a letter from Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337), he was not impressed.  In his final years St. Antony condemned the Arian heresy.

He died at Mount Kolzim in 356.  Our saint’s biography has come to us courtesy of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373), author of the Life of Antony.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 29:  THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

THE FEAST OF RICHARD WATSON GILDER, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FRANCIS LYTE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PRISCILLA LYDIA SELLON, A RESTORER OF RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF THEODORE CLAUDIUS PEASE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you enabled your servant Antony

to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil:

Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God;

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

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

Isaiah 61:1-3

Psalm 139:1-9 or 139:1-17

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

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Feast of Roberto de Nobili (January 16)   Leave a comment

roberto-de-nobili

Above:  Roberto de Nobili

Image in the Public Domain

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ROBERTO DE NOBILI (1577-JANUARY 16, 1656)

Roman Catholic Missionary in India

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Roberto de Nobili comes to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from The Book of Worship of the Church of North India (1995).

De Nobili, born to Italian nobility in Montepulciano, Tuscany, in 1577, devoted his adult life to God.  He joined the Society of Jesus at Naples in 1597.  The order sent him to southern India.  Our saint sailed for India in October 1604 and arrived in Goa in May 1605.  De Nobili moved to Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in November 1606.  Within a year he mastered the Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit languages.  He met Goncalo Fernandez, a fellow Jesuit who had labored as a missionary for a decade without converting one person.  De Nobili concluded that proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner agreeable to Hindu Brahmin culture might succeed.

So our saint pursued that strategy for half a century.  De Nobili dressed like a Hindu holy man and preached to people from all castes, converting many of them.  He pioneered a controversial method of evangelism, on of which Pope Gregory XV approved in 1623.  The perception of Christianity among many Hindus was that it was the religion of the invaders, and therefore undesirable.  De Nobili sought to overcome this problem.  He worked at Madura, Mysore, and Karotic.  Our saint wrote catechisms and apologetic works, translated prayers into indigenous languages, and pioneered a missionary strategy other Jesuits followed.  He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ constantly, even during times of incarceration, such as at Madura from 1639 to 1641.  Eventually blindness and bad health forced de Nobili to retire.  He died at Mylapore on January 16, 1656.

De Nobili’s mission, successful in the short term, failed in the long term.  By 1740 the number of Indian Christians exceeded 100,000.  In 1744, however, Pope Benedict XIV suppressed the methods de Nobili favored.  This did not help, but it did not change the fact that de Nobili and his successors, despite their best efforts, never changed the widespread perception among Hindus that Christianity was the religion of the invaders.

De Nobili has remained a subject of criticism, much of it vitriolic.  Certain websites (especially weblogs) I have found via a Google search have perpetuated accusations that he was a bad person–either a heretic or an imperialist–but still a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Southern Baptist missionary Cody C. Lorance offered a nuanced critique in 2005.  He was generally sympathetic toward de Nobili while arguing that the Jesuit contributed to the longterm failure of that missionary venture.  De Nobili, Lorance argued, should have translated the Bible or parts thereof, as Lutheran Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg did subsequently.  The reason for that failure was the politics of the Counter-Reformation.  Lorance also criticized de Nobili for failing to encourage the education of Indians as priests and attributed that failure to cultural biases.

Certainly de Nobili, being a human being, was imperfect.  Yes, he could and should have done some things differently than he did.

Despite the validity of some criticisms of de Nobili and his tactics, I choose to focus on the positive.

De Nobili could have lived in relative comfort in Europe, but he chose to serve God in a foreign land.  He subjected himself to decades of hardship, including years of incarceration.  Through it all he proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ consistently.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 19, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, PRINCESS OF HUNGARY AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE NEVIN, U.S. GERMAN REFORMED LITURGIST AND COMPOSER OF HYMN TEXTS

THE FEAST OF F. BLAND TUCKER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHANN HERMANN SCHEIN, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER

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Almighty God, who called your Church to witness that you were in

Christ reconciling men to yourself:  Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love,

that all who hear it may be reconciled to you; through him who died for us and rose again

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

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 97 or 100

Ephesians 2:13-22

Matthew 28:16-20

Alternative Prayer Book 1984, page 750

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Feast of Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15 or April 4)   10 comments

1964

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

Photographer = Marion S. Trikosko

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ6-1847

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (JANUARY 15, 1929-APRIL 4, 1968)

Civil Rights Leader and Martyr

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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

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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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL JOHN STONE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR TOZER RUSSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

THE FEAST OF JANE ELIZA(BETH) LEESON, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

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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

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Feast of St. Macrina the Elder, Her Family, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger (January 14)   1 comment

holy-family

Above:  A Family Tree

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER (CIRCA 270-CIRCA 340)

Bridge of Faith

Her feast = January 14

mother of

SAINT BASIL THE ELDER (300S)

Attorney and Teacher of Rhetoric

His feast transferred from May 30

husband of

SAINT EMILIA OF CAESAREA (DIED MAY 30, 375)

Abbess

Also known as Saint Emmelia of Caesarea and Saint Emily of Caesara

Her feast transferred from January 11, May 8, and May 30

mother of

SAINT MACRINA THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 327-379)

Abbess and Theologian

Her feast transferred from July 19

sister of

SAINT NAUCRATIUS (300S)

Hermit

brother of

SAINT PETER OF SEBASTE (CIRCA 340-391)

Bishop of Sebaste and Theologian 

His feast transferred from January 9

brother of 

SAINT GREGORY OF NYSSA (CIRCA 335-CIRCA 395)

Bishop of Nyssa and Theologian

His feast transferred from March 9

brother of 

SAINT BASIL THE GREAT (CIRCA 330-JANUARY 1, 379)

Bishop of Caesarea and Theologian

Father of Eastern Communal Monasticism

His feast transferred from January 2 and June 14

friend of

SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 329-389)

Archbishop of Constantinople and Theologian

His feast transferred from January 25

Alternative feast date on this calendar = February 25

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A HISTORY OF FAITH, FAMILY, AND FRIENDSHIP

In this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I transfer feast days frequently.  The most common reason for doing so is to facilitate the telling of narratives of holy men and women who have influenced each other and worked together.  Retaining ecclesiastically approved feast days obstructs that purpose sometimes.  With this post I move some feast days write about nine saints, with an emphasis on intergenerational influences.

For the purposes of this post I choose to begin with St. Macrina the Elder, although I could easily back up a few generations before her.  That, however, would create a post quite difficult to follow.  Focusing on three generations of one family and adding one friend, who came from a holy family also suffices.

I have covered St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger in the context of his family is a separate post.

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Our story begins in Neocaesarea, Cappadocia, in modern-day Turkey.

For nearly 30 years the bishop there was St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (circa 213-268), whose relics St. Macrina the Elder (circa 270-circa 340) kept.  She and her husband had converted from paganism to Christianity in that city, where the late bishop had kept the flame of Christian faith alive in his small flock during times of pestilence and persecution.  St. Macrina the Elder and her husband, whose name has not survived the ravages of the passage of time, endured many hardships for their faith.  Galerius, Caesar of the East (293-305) and Maximinus II Daia, Caesar of the East (305-310) and Augustus of the East (310-313), persecuted Christianity severely.  During this time St. Macrina the Elder and her husband had to live in the woods and forage for seven years.  The couple returned to Neocaesarea after the death of Maximinus II Daia, but the local authorities seized their property and forced them to beg on the streets of the city.  Eventually circumstances improved for the couple, who had a son, St. Basil the Elder.  His father died when he was young, so St. Macrina the Elder, a widow and a single mother, had to raise him.

St. Basil the Elder became an attorney and a respected teacher of rhetoric, a prominent position in that culture.  He, educated at Caesarea and Athens, settled down at Caesarea and declined an opportunity to teach in his hometown.  He married St. Emilia (a.k.a. Emmelia or Emily) of Caesarea (died in 375), who came from a wealthy family.  Her father was also a martyr.  St. Basil the Elder and Emilia had ten children, nine of whom lived to adulthood and five of whom became canonized saints.  The sainted children were:

  1. St. Macrina the Younger (circa 327-379),
  2. St. Basil the Great (circa 330-January 1, 379),
  3. St. Gregory of Nyssa (circa 335-circa 395),
  4. St. Peter of Sebaste (circa 340-391), and
  5. St. Naucratius.

Sts. Basil the Elder and Emilia raised their family in luxury.  Some of their children developed an unhealthy relationship with wealth, but the eldest child, St. Macrina the Younger, seemed not to have done so.  While St. Basil the Elder instructed his sons in rhetoric St. Emilia made sure that her eldest child received a fine education.  For St. Macrina the Younger, with her cultivated mind made possible by money, wealth was a tool, not an idol; she was willing use that tool for the glory of God while she lived ascetically.  She paid close attention to the education of her brothers, whom she encouraged to pursue religious vocations, urged to live ascetically, and influenced theologically.  St. Macrina the Younger also encouraged her widowed mother to help her found to abbeys–a convent and a monastery–on the family estate.  St. Emilia served as the first abbess of the convent.  St. Macrina the Younger succeeded her in 375.

Of the canonized children the least famous was St. Naucratius.  At the age of 21 years he turned his back on his legal career to become a hermit living near his family.  He cared actively for the poor and helped to take care of his mother, who had to bury him after he died suddenly at the age of 27 years.

St. Macrina the Younger professed monastic life and preceded her brothers in it.  When she was 12 years old St. Basil the Elder had arranged a marriage for her, but the intended groom died before the wedding date.  St. Macrina the Younger decided to renounce marriage, remain by her mother’s side, live simply, and help the poor.  She followed that path faithfully.  In 379, the same year her brother St. Basil the Great died, she also died.  Another brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, rushed to her bedside, her bed being two boards.  He wrote:

She was uplifted as she discoursed to us on the nature of the soul and explained the reason of life in the flesh, and why man was made, and how he was mortal, and the origin of death and nature of the journey from death to life again….All of this seemed to me more than human.

–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 308

The Cappadocian Fathers were Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger.  Two of the three were brothers.  St. Basil the Great (circa 330-January 1, 379) became the Father of Eastern Communal Monasticism, for he wrote the Rule of St. Basil (358-364).  First, however, he studied at Caesarea, Constantinople, and Athens.  At Athens, he met and befriended St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger (circa 329-389), who also came from a holy family.  These two saints became theological colleagues.

St. Basil the Great became a Doctor of the Church.  He, influenced by the example of his mother and sister, visited the chief monasteries in the East circa 357.  Then, in 358, he became a monk at the monastery on his family’s estate.  There he remained for five years.  St. Basil, ordained a priest in 364, was largely responsible for the administration of the Diocese of Caesarea from 365 to 370.  Then, in 370, he became the Bishop of Caesarea.  St. Basil resisted the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens (reigned 364-378), an Arian who persecuted orthodox Christianity.  The saint, holding his own as he confronted an astonished prefect fearlessly, said,

Perhaps you have never before had to deal with a proper bishop.

Valens, who feared St. Basil the Great, divided the Diocese of Caesarea in an effort to reduce the proper bishop’s influence.  So, circa 371, St. Basil ordained St. Gregory of Nyssa, his brother, as the Bishop of Nyssa.  St. Gregory did not want the job, for which he knew he was not suited.  The incident created a rift between the brothers.  In time, however, St. Gregory grew into the position.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger (329-389), son of St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder, Bishop of Nazianzus, also became a bishop against his will.  The Younger met St. Basil the Great Athens, where they were classmates.  He and St. Basil the Great collaborated on a major work, a selection of writings by Origen (185-254).  The Younger’s true calling was to be a monk spending his life in contemplation, but people kept placing him in leadership roles.  In 362 his father ordained him to the priesthood.  Ten years later St. Basil the Great, in a move related to the politics of Valens and the consecration of St. Gregory of Nyssa, forced the Younger to become the Bishop of Sasima.  This created tension in the relationship between the two friends.  The Younger even refused to serve as the Bishop of Sasima, for, he considered Sasima to be

a detestable little place without water or grass or any mark of civilization.

The incident caused the Younger to feel like

a bone flung to the dogs.

He went to Nazianzus and assisted his father instead.  After a few years the Younger became a monk in Seleucia.  By the time St. Basil the Great died the Younger had made peace with his old friend, at whose funeral he presided in 379.  Later that year he relocated to Constantinople, where he preached against Arianism.  Then, in 381, the Younger served as Archbishop of Constantinople for a few weeks before returning to his family estate.  There he spent the rest of his life in contemplation.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger, a Doctor of the Church, helped the Church to formulate its rebuttal of Arianism, the proposition that the Second Person of the Trinity is a created being.  His partners in this work included the other two Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa.  The Younger also argued against the Apollinarian heresy, the idea that Jesus was fully divine and partially human.

St. Basil the Great and his brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, knew who they were, for good and for ill.  Both of them were sometimes tactless men who created and contributed to their problems.  As St. Basil wrote confessionally,

For my sins, I seem to fail in everything.

Sometimes this tendency to make enemies needlessly frustrated attempts to argue against heresies, as when St. Basil antagonized Pope St. Damasus I (reigned 366-384), his fellow opponent of Arianism.

Nevertheless, Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, some of whose writings survive, cared deeply about the poor and acted to help them.  St. Basil condemned the wealthy who did not do all they could to help the less fortunate:

You refuse to give on the pretext that you haven’t enough for your own needs.  But while your tongue makes excuses, your hand convicts you–that ring shining on your finger silently declares you to be a liar.  How many debtors could be released from prison with one of those rings?

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), page 260

St. Basil acted on his convictions.  On the outskirts of Caesarea he organized a new community and social services complex.  There the poor found health care and travelers and the poor found lodging.  They also had a church building in which to worship.  He lived in the community, for which he provided in his will.

St. Basil, a Doctor of the Church, fought the good fight.  He opposed simony, contributed to or wrote the influential Liturgy of St. Basil, and shaped the course of Christian theology.  He was also an outlier regarding classical pagan literature; he advised his nephews to use it as a tool for deepening their Christian faith.  This opinion put him in line with St. Clement of Alexandria (circa 150-circa 210/215).

St. Basil died on January 1, 379.  As he lay dying a crown waited outside.  When they heard that he had died, they proclaimed him a saint immediately.

St. Gregory of Nyssa followed in his father’s footsteps at first; he married and taught rhetoric.  (His wife was Theosebeia.)  Then he pursued a religious vocation.  As I have written in this post, St. Basil the Great ordained the Bishop of Nyssa circa 371.  St. Gregory did not seek this office.  In fact, he knew himself to be unsuited for it; he had difficulties being tactful and did not know the value of money.  False accusations of embezzlement provided a cover story for Arians to depose St. Gregory in 376.  He returned two years later, after the death of Valens.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, a mystic and an ascetic, came into his own and grew into his office after the death of St. Basil the Great in 379.  St. Gregory became a leading opponent of Arianism and, according to the First Council of Constantinople (381), a “pillar of orthodoxy.”  He died in 395.

St. Peter of Sebaste (circa 340-391) also defended Nicene doctrine.  He, like St. Gregory of Nyssa, had been an academic, but St. Macrina the Younger convinced him to pursue a religious vocation.  The youngest child of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emilia of Caesarea became a solitary ascetic.  Then, in 370, St. Basil the Great ordained him to the priesthood.  Ten years later St. Peter became the Bishop of Sebaste, in Armenia.  Although he did not write theological treatises, he did encourage St. Gregory of Nyssa to do so.

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I realize that you, O reader, have had to follow the proverbial bouncing ball.  I have led you on a journey through three generations that included two Macrinas, two Basils, and three Gregories.  Yet, given the frequent overlapping of the saints’ lives, I have decided that combining their stories into one post was the preferable method of writing about them.

This post is the successor to five posts, which I deleted shortly prior to taking notes for what you have read.  All of this has been part of an effort to renovate the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, starting with posts for January 1 and working all the way through to posts for December 31.  My progress so far has been encouraging, but, as you, O reader, can tell, January 14 is closer to January 1 than to December 31.  The possibilities of what await me have caused me to anticipate the intellectual and spiritual journey that will take me to the end of the renovation project.

I hope that you, O reader, will find reading about saints–in this case, the nine for this post–at least as edifying as the process of creating this post has been for me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL JOHN STONE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR TOZER RUSSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

THE FEAST OF JANE ELIZA(BETH) LEESON, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

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Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church.

Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.

Where it is corrupt, purify it;

where it is in error, direct it;

where in anything it is amiss, reform it.

Where it is right, strengthen it;

where it is in want, provide for it;

where it is divided, reunite it;

for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior,

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:1-6, 20-22

Psalm 12:1-7

Acts 22:30-23:10

Matthew 21:12-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 735

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Feast of Sts. Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours (January 13)   1 comment

roman-gaul

Above:  Map of Roman Gaul

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS (CIRCA 315-CIRCA 367)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers, “Athanasius of the West,” and Hymn Writer

mentor of

SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS (CIRCA 330-NOVEMBER 11, 397)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours

His feast transferred from November 11

Alternative feast day = July 4

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One theme in this post is influence, whether direct or indirect.  We, as Christians, have a mandate to be positive influences in the world.  We will, if we pay attention, detect the influences of Sts. Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours in the Church today.

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Sts. Hilary and Martin were converts to Christianity.  St. Hilary came from a wealthy and cultivated family in Roman Gaul.  Hilarius Pictaviensis, born circa 315, eventually became a Christian.  He also married and had a daughter.  In 350, when he was 35 years old and still married, he became the Bishop of Poitiers, his hometown and place of birth.

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St. Martin was the son of a Roman soldier.  The saint, born in Sabaria, Pannonia (now Hungary), grew up in Pavia, Italy.  The military was not his vocation.  He attempted unsuccessfully to evade the draft when he was 15 years old; authorities inducted him in chains.  Years later, when he was serving at Amiens and was a catechumen, St. Martin, according to a legend, encountered a nearly naked beggar.  The saint used his sword to cut his military cloak in half and gave half a cloak to the man.  That night, in a dream, Jesus, wearing half a cloak, appeared to St. Martin.  Saints and angels surrounded Christ, who told them,

Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.

The saint completed his catechesis and became a baptized Christian.  Circa 339 he requested a military discharge, saying,

I am Christ’s soldier; I am not allowed to fight.

He received that discharge, along with an accusation of cowardice.  The former soldier dwelt in Italy and Dalmatia before becoming a hermit on an island off the coast of Luguria.

Between 350 and 353 St. Hilary ordained St. Martin to the priesthood; this set the stage for St. Martin’s great influence in the Church.  St. Martin founded the monastery at Liguge; this was the first monastery in Gaul.  His influence had just begun.

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St. Hilary was the leading opponent of the Arian heresy in the West.  He was, in fact, “the Athanasius of the West.”  He was so vigorous in his denunciation of the idea that Christ is a created being that Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361), who interjected himself into theological disputes, exiled St. Hilary to Phrygia (in modern-day Turkey) in 356.  The exiled bishop continued his campaign against Arianism.  He wrote On the Trinity and made himself sufficiently inconvenient to Arians in the East that some of them returned him to Gaul in 360.

The restored bishop tended to the needs of his diocese while engaging in theological debates.  He was, by all accounts, a compassionate and friendly man, as well as a vigorous controversialist and able debater.  Aside from treatises he composed biblical commentaries (on the Book of Psalms and the Gospel According to Matthew) and catechetical hymns.  (Certain modern hymnals, the editors and committees of which had good taste, include translations of some of these hymns.)

St. Hilary died at Poitiers circa 367.  He was orthodox by the standards of his time.  Nevertheless, he was, by the standards of subsequent developments in Christology, as ecumenical councils defined them, heterodox.  (Ex post facto heresy happened to more than one of the Church Fathers of the first five centuries of Christianity.)  In 1851 Pope Pius IX declared St. Hilary a Doctor of the Church.

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In 372, against his will, St. Martin became the Bishop of Tours.  He accepted the post on the condition that he continue to live ascetically.  As bishop the saint founded monasteries in Gaul.  Among these was the great abbey at Marmoutier; that monastery influenced Celtic monasticism in Britain.  The vigorous missionary preached orthodoxy while opposing the violent suppression (including the execution of people accused of practicing magic) of heresy.  He was not averse to destroying pagan shrines, however.  His asceticism and opposition to the harsh treatment of heretics made him unpopular with some of the other bishops.  St. Martin also defended the interests of the poor and the hopeless.

St. Martin died at Candes, near Tours in 397.  He was among the earliest non-martyrs venerated as a saint.

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Each of these saints has his separate feast day (or days, in the case of St. Martin) on official ecclesiastical calendars.  Nevertheless, I have decided that the better way to tell their stories here at the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to cover them in one post and to emphasize what they had in common.  We Christians are supposed to encourage each other in our vocations from God and influence one another for the better, to the glory of God.  We can look to Sts. Hilary and Martin as role models in that regard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER WOLLE, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER; THEODORE FRANCIS WOLLE, U.S. MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND JOHN FREDERICK “J. FRED” WOLLE, U.S. MORAVIAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND CHOIR DIRECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

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O God our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servants

Sts. Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours

to be bishops and pastors in your Church and to feed your flock:

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

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 719

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