Archive for the ‘July’ Category

Feast of Albert John Luthuli (July 21)   Leave a comment

Flag of South Africa 1994

Above:  The Flag of South Africa, 1994-Present

Image in the Public Domain

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ALBERT JOHN MVUMBI LUTHULI (1898-JULY 21, 1967)

Witness for Civil Rights in South Africa

Albert John Luthuli struggled for civil rights in South Africa.  His life typified the sage counsel of the father of the Reverend Doctor Vernon Johns (1892-1965), predecessor of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968), in Montgomery, Alabama:  when you see a good fight, get in it.

Our saint came from a Christian family.  His father, John Bunyan Lutuli, was a Seventh-day Adventist missionary.  Young Albert, born near Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in 1898, lost his father to death in 1908.  Luthuli and his mother, Mtonya Gumede, moved to her hometown, Groutville, in Natal, our saint’s uncle, Martin Lutuli, was the chief of the Christian Zulus in the area.  Martin had ties to the U.S. Congregationalist mission in the province.  Mtonya, a washerwoman, helped to put her son through Adams College, the U.S. Congregationalist institution of higher learning at Adams, near Durban.  Luthuli, who had become a Methodist, joined the faculty.  He was one of three African instructors at Adams College.

Luthuli worked as an educator.  In 1927 the instructor married Nokukhanya Bhengu, also a teacher.  Our saint, who also encouraged missions, advocated for a liberal arts education (not just a technical one) for Africans.  He became the Secretary of the African Teachers Association in 1928 and the President thereof five years later.  Also in 1933 tribal elders asked Luthuli to succeed his uncle as chief.  He finally accepted the offer three years later, after much consideration.

Luthuli joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1945.  His roles and responsibilities in the organization increased until December 1952, when he became the President-General of the ANC.  His vocal opposition to Apartheid brought him into conflict with the national, White minority government.  Although that government had deposed him as chief in November 1952, he remained the de facto chief.  Upon the event of his dismissal as chief our saint issued a statement, “The Road to Freedom is Via the Cross.”  Luthuli was also a banned person from 1952 to 1956.  In 1956, after an ANC conference, the national government charged him and many others with treason.  A court acquitted everyone in 1961.  Luthuli, a banned person again from 1959 until his death, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.  His journey to Oslo and back in 1961 was a brief respite from his enforced isolation.

Being a banned person took its toll on Luthuli.  He suffered from discouragement, high blood pressure, and a stroke.  He died near his home on July 21, 1967, after a train struck him.

In a scene from Cry Freedom (1987) White liberal newspaper editor Donald Woods (1933-2001) speaks with a member of the cabinet.  The government minister explains that he fears what might happen to White South Africans should Apartheid end.  I contend, however, that fear of the potential negative consequences of ceasing oppression is not a moral justification for continuing to oppress people.  In fact, persisting in oppression is counterproductive.  It is like being concerned about a pot of boiling water spilling out onto an oven range yet turning up the heat anyway.  That which we do to others, we do also to ourselves; this is a moral law of the universe.

Luthuli understood all this well.  His political involvement had its origin in his faith:

My own urge because I am a Christian is to get into the thick of the struggle with other Christians, taking my Christianity with me and praying that it may be used to influence for good the character of the resistance.

I wonder how that sounded to his oppressors, many of whom belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, which quoted the Bible to defend Apartheid until 1992.  I wonder how Luthuli’s presence affected those who enforced his isolation.  I wonder how the work of enforcing that isolation damaged the souls of those who engaged in it.  In the case of oppression there are oppressors and victims–and only victims, for nobody can oppress another without harming himself or herself spiritually.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CESAR CHAVEZ, LABOR UNION LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR

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Eternal God, we thank you for the witness of Chief Luthuli, Nobel Laureate for Peace,

who was sustained by his Christian faith as he led the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.

Strengthen us, after his example, to make no peace with oppression and to witness boldly for

our Deliverer, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Numbers 20:9-11

Psalm 122

Ephesians 2:12-17

John 16:25-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 479

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Feast of Elizabeth Ferard (July 18)   Leave a comment

Elizabeth Ferard

Above:  Elizabeth Ferard

Image in the Public Domain

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ELIZABETH CATHERINE FERARD (FEBRUARY 22, 1825-APRIL 18, 1883)

First Deaconess in The Church of England

Sometimes that which seems new is merely a revival of something quite odd.  Hence that which is new is more traditional than the status quo.

Such was the case with the revival of the ancient order of deaconesses in Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopal denominations in the 1800s.  I have read a portion of the Lutheran side of this history in Frederick S. Weiser, Love’s Response:  A Story of Lutheran Deaconesses in America (Philadelphia, PA:  The Board of Publication of The United Lutheran Church in America, 1962).  According to Robert Prichard, A History of The Episcopal Church (Harrisburg, PA:  Morehouse Publishing, 1999), The Episcopal Church revived the order in 1889.  Other denominations, such as various Methodist bodies and The United Church of Canada, also resurrected the order.  In recent decades, with the ordination of women to orders formerly restricted to men in many denominations, the female diaconate has faded and folded into regular ministerial orders in a host of denominations.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, the female diaconate merged with the formerly exclusively male diaconate in the 1970s.  Nevertheless, the order of deaconesses provided many faithful women with opportunities to serve God and their fellow human beings in the 1800s and 1900s.

The listing for our saint in Common Worship:  Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) reads:

Elizabeth Ferard, first Deaconess of the Church of England, Founder of the Community of St. Andrew, 1883).

Elizabeth Catherine Ferard, born in London, England, United Kingdom, on February 22, 1825, had a vocation to care for people.  Her father, Daniel Ferard (1788-1839), was a solicitor.  Our saint’s mother, an invalid, died in 1858.  Ferard, who had provided care for her mother, received support from Archibald Tait (1811-1882), the Bishop of London, in pursuing her vocation.  He sent her to Germany, to visit Lutheran deaconesses.  More encouragement and assistance came from Thomas Pelham Dale (1821-1892), a priest who went on to suffer incarceration for his ritualism in 1880-1881, as part of the anti-ritualist policy of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881).  In 1861, with Tait’s support, Ferard and Dale founded the North London Deaconess Institution (later renamed the Diocesan Deaconess Institution then the Community of St. Andrew), based on a monastic model.  Our saint was one of three original members.  On July 18, 1862 (hence her feast day in The Church of England), Ferard became the first deaconess in The Church of England and the Anglican Communion.  She worked among the poor of London as a teacher and a nurse.  Although health issues forced her to resign as the leader of the order in 1873, she operated a home for convalescing children after that year and before her death at London on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1883.

The poor will always be with us.  That statement is true and accurate for a host of reasons, but it provides no moral cover for throwing up one’s hands in discouragement or claiming that, because we cannot solve the problem, we must nor or will not do anything to address it.  After all, the commandments to love God as we love ourselves and to behave toward others as we want them to act toward us apply.  Furthermore, whenever we help “the least of these” we serve Jesus, and whenever we do not aid “the least of these” we do not serve Jesus.

Elizabeth Ferard served Jesus ably.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CESAR CHAVEZ, LABOR UNION LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Elizabeth Catherine Ferard,

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 for ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Samson Occom (July 14)   Leave a comment

Samson Occom

Above:  Samson Occom

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMSON OCCOM (1723-JULY 14, 1792)

U.S. Presbyterian Missionary to Native Americans

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), the guide to the calendar of saints of The Episcopal Church, lists our saint as Samuel Occum and describes him as a “Witness to the Faith in New England.”  “Occum” is one spelling of his last name, but the most common spelling I found is “Occom,” which I use in this post.

Samson Occom, born near New London, Connecticut, in 1723, was a member of the Mohegan nation.  By the age of sixteen, during the (First) Great Awakening, young Samson had become a Christian.  From 1743 to 1747 he studied at the Latin School of Eleazar Wheelock (1711-1779), a Congregationalist minister.  For the following two years our saint worked with the Revered Solomon Williams at New London.  Next Occom taught and preached to the Pequots on Long Island.  He also married Mary Fowler, a local woman, and helped members of the tribe adapt to the presence of Europeans.

Occom became the first Native American minister.  He, ordained by the Presbyterians in 1759, received a stipend from the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge.  The promise of remuneration equal to that of White ministers never became reality, so he lived in poverty for much of his life.  Our saint traveled among and preached to members of the Iroquois nations in 1761-1763, with little success.  Then, in 1763, he settled at Mohecan, near New London, and began to teach.

Wheelock had founded a school for Native Americans at Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1754.  At his request Occom traveled in Great Britain in 1766-1767 to raise funds from wealthy donors for that institution.  Wheelock had promised that he would take care of our saint’s wife and children during Occom’s absence.  Our saint returned from a successful fundraising trip to learn that Wheelock had failed to keep that promise.  Wheelock also relocated to New Hampshire and founded Dartmouth College, for Englishmen, in 1769.

The double-crossed Occom struggled with the government of Connecticut regarding lack of payment for land Mohegans had sold.  Eventually he and many fellow Mohegans moved to upstate New York.  There Occom, Joseph Johnson (his son-in-law), and David Fowler (his brother-in-law) founded Brothertown, near Waterville.  Later Christian Mohicans founded New Stockbridge, near Oneida Lake, New York.  Our saint helped to secure civil charters for these settlements in 1787.

Occom died at Brothertown on July 14, 1792.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CESAR CHAVEZ, LABOR UNION LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR

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God, Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world and whose voice thunders in the wind:

We thank you for your servant Samson Occum, strong preacher and teacher among the Mohegan people;

and we pray that we, cherishing his example, may love learning and by love build up the communities

into which you send us, and on all our paths walk in beauty with Jesus Christ;

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 14:20-27

Psalm 29

Acts 10:30-38

Luke 8:16-21

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 463

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Feast of Bartolome de Las Casas (July 18)   1 comment

Bartolomedelascasas

Above:  Portrait of Bartolome de Las Casas

Image in the Public Domain

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BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS (1474/1484-JULY 18, 1566)

“Apostle to the Indians”

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INTRODUCTION

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My background reading for this post included sources with diametrically opposed understandings of Bartolome de Las Casas.  He was imperfect, to be sure, but he was hardly the bete noir some have depicted him as being or the increasingly intolerant man of conscience of whom I read at the New Advent website.  (He was increasingly intolerant of slavery.  How is that a vice?)  I have concluded that The Church of England was correct to decide to celebrate his life, with a feast day of July 20.  Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the Ninth (Episcopal) Bishop of Georgia, said in my presence while he was still the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, in the early 1990s that one can find a reason not to think of any given saint as a saint, and that such nitpicking was not a helpful endeavor.  What really mattered, Louttit argued, was whether one considered a saint was a person of God, especially at the end.  (That is also the point of view of Thomas J. Craughwell, author of Saints Behaving Badly:  The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints, 2006.)  The Episcopal Church, which maintains a calendar of saints without canonizing anyone formally, has established a set of standards by which to evaluate proposed saints.  Among them are significance, memorability, perspective, and Christian discipleship.  That denomination has decided to celebrate the life of Las Casas on July 18.  Likewise, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have decided to remember him on July 17.

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BIOGRAPHY

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Bartolome de Las Casas changed much during his lifetime.  He, a native of Seville, Castille and Leon, came from nobility.  His father, Francisco Casas, returned from the second voyage (1493-1496) of Christopher Columbus with an Indian boy, who became our saint’s servant.  Las Casas studied law and theology at the University of Salamanca then practiced law.  In 1502 he sailed to the Spanish Antilles to begin work as an advisor to the government there.  Eight years later, at Santo Domingo, Las Casas became the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the Americas.  Then the direction of his life changed.

Our saint came under the influence of Antonio de Montesinos, a Dominican friar and the first Spaniard to preach against Spanish cruelty to indigenous people in the Americas.  Las Casas accompanied Diego Velasquez’s expedition to Cuba in 1511-1512 and tried in vain to prevent the massacre of natives at Caonas.  The Spanish Empire employed a system called repartimiento, the allotment of encomiendas, or slaves to Spanish landowners for forced labor.  Defenders of this arrangement cited economic necessity and public safety as justifications for it.  In 1514 Las Casas, having concluded that this system was evil, renounced his rights within it and encouraged others to follow his example.  Then he commenced his decades-long effort devoted to the abolition of repartimiento.

This work began in Spain in 1515, when Las Casas spoke to King Ferdinand V of Castille and Leon (reigned 1474-1516)/Ferdinand II of Castille (reigned 1506-1516), “Ferdinand the Catholic.”  The monarch was a power-hungry and unscrupulous figure, so that stage in the great work failed.  In 1516, however, Cardinal Jimenes de Cisneros, the regent, appointed Las Casas to lead a commission to inquire as to the best way to alleviate the injustices inflicted upon the native peoples by Spanish settlers and conquistadors.  Our saint returned to Hispaniola,  While there he found the zeal of his fellow commissioners lacking.  In 1517 he returned to Spain.  King Charles I (reigned 1518-1556)/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1519-1556) was struggling to gain recognition for his claim to the throne.  There was a regency in place, however, and our saint spoke to people in power to make decisions.  He proposed an end to slavery for native peoples.  (That was good.)  To replace that slave labor force Las Casas proposed African slaves.  He disavowed that recommendation shortly thereafter and spent the rest of his life making apologies for it.  No part of this proposal bore fruit.  Our saint was able, however, to obtain royal approval for the founding of a model colony (without slave labor) at Cumana, on the coast of Venezuela.  That colony failed in 1521, due to the violence of conquistadors.  Powerful economic and military interests defended the enslavement of indigenous peoples tenaciously.

The effort continued.  In 1522 Las Casas entered the Dominican Order and the monastery at Santo Domingo.  There he wrote History of the Indies (published in 1875-1876), an account of early Spanish colonies in the Americas.  Our saint returned to Spain in 1530 and obtained a royal decree forbidding the enforcement of slavery in Peru.  He delivered it to Peru in person.  Circa 1535 Las Casas wrote The Only True Method of Attracting All People to the True Religion, in which he argued that preaching and good example, not enslavement, should be the first step in the process of converting Indians.  Next, in 1537-1538, our saint converted the fierce Tuzutlan tribe of Guatemala to Roman Catholicism.  He also changed the name of their territory from Tierra de Guerra (“Land of War”) to Vera Pax (“True Peace”).  The Dominican Order sent Las Casas to Spain to gather recruits in 1539.  At that time he wrote A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (published in 1552).

On November 20, 1542, the New Laws took effect.  They were not all that Las Casas wanted, but they were more than many settlers considered wise.  The New Laws, prior to amendments which made them useless, were supposed to be the beginning of the end of the repartimeinto system.  Our saint, having declined to become the Bishop of Cuzco, in Peru, in 1542, became the Bishop of Chiapas, in Mexico, in 1544.  His tenure (1544-1547) was difficult, for he had to contend with constant opposition (related to the New Laws) from clergy, laymen, and authorities.  Our saint even refused absolution of sins to anyone who refused to free his Indian slaves.

Las Casas left the Americas for the last time in 1547.  He returned to Spain, where he spent most of the rest of his life living in monasteries.  In 1550 and 1551 our saint debated famed scholar and theologian Gines de Sepulveda in public on the topic of the enslavement and destruction of indigenous peoples.  Four years later, in 1555, Las Casas followed Prince Philip, soon to become King Philip II (reigned 1556-1598), to England, to prevent colonists from winning royal approval of the perpetual slavery of Indians.  Our saint died at Atocha Monastery, Madrid, on July 18, 1566.  The struggle against slavery in the Spanish Empire continued.

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CONCLUSION

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The designated collect from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) emphasizes modern slavery.  That is appropriate, for Las Casas opposed slavery in his day.  One might think of religious-based slavery in Africa.  That practice is evil, I agree, but stopping there might lead one far away from Africa to think,

What can I do about that?

and do nothing else.  I live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, on the outskirts of the Metropolitan Atlanta Region.  (To be precise, I live just a few miles from part of the eastern border of that region.)   Southeast of my location is Atlanta, a hub of human trafficking.  Even closer to home, human trafficking is a problem in Athens-Clarke County.  The life of Las Casas challenges me to ask myself what I might do to resist slavery just a few miles from my front door.  As for religious-based slavery in Africa, certain organizations fight that evil.  They need support.

Evil, supported by powerful economic, political, and military interests and frequently dressed up in the attire of morality, surrounds us.  We cannot fight all of it successfully or partially so, but we can do our part.  God, I suppose, does not really need we mere mortals.  God is omnipotent, correct?  Yet we, I have heard, are God’s hands and feet.  Will I–will you, O reader, in the words of the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979),

…seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

and

…strive for for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

–Page 305

One of the great difficulties of timeless principles is that many people who agree to them differ when the question becomes how best to apply them.  If, for example, one accepts the proposition that one person’s rights end at the edge of the other person’s nose, how does one resolve the conflict of these two sets of rights?  May each of us, by grace, succeed in bringing honor to God and in respecting the dignity of every human being as we navigate and shape the circumstances of life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH THEOBALD SCHENCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM FIRMATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

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Eternal God, we give you thanks for the witness of Bartolome de las Casas,

whose deep love for your people caused him to refuse absolution to those who would not free their Indian slaves.

Help us, inspired by his example, to work and pray for the freeing of all enslaved people of our world,

for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you

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

Isaiah 59:14-20

Psalm 52

Philemon 8-16

Matthew 10:26-31

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 469

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Feast of Nathan Soderblom (July 11)   Leave a comment

Nathan Soderblom

Above:  Nathan Soderblom

Image in the Public Domain

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LARS OLOF JONATHAN SODERBLOM (JANUARY 15, 1866-JULY 12, 1931)

Swedish Ecumenist and Archbishop of Uppsala

Archbishop Nathan Soderblom‘s name came to my attention via the calendars of saints of The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), where his feast day is July 12.  I have moved his feast one day, however, for I have booked July 12 fully.  According to my rules for the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, the maximum number of observations for one day is four.

Lars Olof Jonathan “Nathan” Soderblom debuted at Trono, Halsingland, Sweden, on January 15, 1866.  His mother was the Danish-born Sophie Blume Soderblom, daughter of a medical doctor.  Our saint’s father was the Reverend Jonas Soderblom (1823-1901), descended from farmers.  The Lutheran priest was a Pietist.  Young Nathan studied at Hudiksvall then at the University of Uppsala, starting at the latter in 1883.  He graduated with degrees in Oriental languages (1886) and theology (1892).  Soderblom, who had grown up with a strict form of Lutheranism, liberalized during his postsecondary education.  This fact disturbed his father, who feared that our saint was becoming a freethinker.

Soderblom became a Lutheran priest.  He, ordained in 1893, served first as a hospital chaplain in Uppsala.  In 1894 he married Anna Forsell (1870-1955).  The couple had twelve children, eleven whom survived to adulthood.  Each of the three surviving daughters married a future bishop of the Church of Sweden, and one of the eight sons entered the ordained ministry.  From 1894 to 1901 Soderblom was the chaplain to the Swedish legation in Paris and pastor to Swedish seamen at Calais and Dunkirk.  The busy clergyman also earned his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1901.  The focus of his study was comparative eschatology.  His dissertation was La vie future d’apres le Mazdeisme, about Persian religion.

Soderblom combined support for foreign missions with advocacy for studies in comparative religion.  He was a Christian, of course–a Lutheran, to be specific–and he thought that more people should convert to Christianity.  Our saint also affirmed the proposition that missionaries should understand and not destroy the cultures in which they worked.

This point might seem obvious to you, O reader, but, as many people who train missionaries know well, a host of missionaries (in successive generations) destroyed cultures and functioned as more effective agents of earthly principalities than of the Kingdom of God for centuries.  Thus they harmed the cause for which they professed to labor.

Soderblom, an expert in Oriental religions, became a professor of theology at the University of Uppsala in 1901.  In Gudstrons uppkomst (1914) our saint argued that the fundamental concept of religion is the idea of the holy, not the concept of God.  For Soderblom, a pacifist, religion was properly a means of making peace.  Our saint, a professor at Uppsala until 1914, taught in Leipzig, Germany, in 1912-1914.  Then he received a major promotion.

From 1914 to his death in 1931 Soderblom served as the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of the Church of Sweden.  His appointment proved controversial for more than one reason.  For years our saint had to contend with allegations of heresy.  They continued to follow him.  Furthermore, Soderblom was not a bishop prior to becoming archbishop.  That was not unprecedented in Christian history, but, as a matter of practice, most archbishops have been bishops first.  Certain Swedish bishops thought that they were more qualified than Soderblom.  Our saint performed his duties ably and continued his studies, including with regard to the original teaching of Martin Luther, as opposed to subsequent developments in Lutheran theology (such as Pietism).

Soderblom was also an ardent ecumenist.  He had a great interest in liturgy and in burgeoning liturgical renewal in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism.  He also favored Christian unity, but not as any cost.  Soderblom coined the term “evangelical Catholicism,” meaning, in his words:

It would be ungodly to sacrifice anything essential in our faith and our divine heritage for the cause of unity.

The author of Christian Fellowship (1923) emphasized Christian unity as a method for working toward global peace.  He organized the first World Council on Life and Work in 1925, inviting leaders of Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican/Episcopal churches to attend.  This gathering began the process that culminated in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948.  For his ecumenical work Soderblom, who had officiated at the state funeral of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930.

In 1931 the ailing Soderblom delivered the Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The published version of these lectures was The Living God:  Basal Forms of Personal Religion (1933).  Our saint died at Uppsala on July 12, 1931.  He was 65 years old.

The article on Soderblom in the 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica concluded:

A saintly man, a scholar, and a great ecclesiastical statesman, he had a remarkable personal influence on those who knew him.

–Volume 20, page 825

His influence continues to this day.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR; AND BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, A.K.A. DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

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Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and work of Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala,

who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians.

Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of your Church in life and worship,

for the glory of your Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Kings 22:3-13

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

John 13:31-35

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 159

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Feast of Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort (July 27)   4 comments

Trinity College, Cambridge

Above:  Trinity College, Cambridge

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-08091

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BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT (JANUARY 12, 1825-JULY 27, 1901)

Anglican Scholar, Bible Translator, and Bishop of Durham

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FENTON JOHN ANTHONY HORT (APRIL 23, 1828-NOVEMBER 30, 1892)

Anglican Priest and Scholar

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What we can do for another is the test of powers; what we can suffer is the test of love.

–Brooke Foss Westcott

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With this post I add two men–a teacher and his pupil, later a partner in New Testament scholarship–to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  The name of Brooke Foss Westcott and date of July 27 come from the calendar of saints of The Church of England.  Fenton John Anthony Hort is here also because, as I read and took notes from the 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, I found his name associated closely with that of Westcott, especially with regard to an influential edition of the Greek New Testament.  This pairing also makes sense because of the association of these men on many fundamentalist websites, where authors accuse them of a host of heresies and question their Christian faith.  That seems like a recommendation to me!

WESTCOTT

Brooke Foss Westcott, who entered the world at Birmingham, England, on January 12, 1825, came from a studious family.  His father, Frederick Brooke Westcott, was a lecturer in botany at Sydenham College Medical School.  Our saint, an excellent student, attended the King Edward VI School, Birmingham.  Next the studied at Trinity College, Cambridge.  After graduation he served as a fellow there from 1849 to 1852.  Three of his students became lifelong friends and partners in projects:

  1. Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828-1889) became a patristic scholar, a New Testament scholar, a translator of the Revised Version of the New Testament (1881), and the Bishop of Durham (1879-1889).
  2. Edward White Benson (1829-1896) became a New Testament scholar, a translator of the Revised Version of the New Testament (1881), and the Archbishop of Canterbury (1883-1896).
  3. Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) became a priest, a patristic scholar, a Biblical scholar, and, with Westcott, editor of the influential New Testament in the Original Greek (1881), 28 years in the making.  This work, while in development, had served as the basis of the Revised Version of the New Testament (1881).  The New Testament in Greek (1881) also functioned as the foundation of The Twentieth Century New Testament (1904).

HORT

Hort, born on April 23, 1828, was a native of Dublin, Ireland.  He descended from Dissenters, but he grew up as an Evangelical Anglican.  Hort attended Rugby School then Trinity College, Cambridge.  At the latter institution he became a liberal Anglican.  In 1854 Hort, Lightfoot, and John Eyton Bickersteth Mayor (1825-1910) founded The Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology (Volumes I, II, III, and IV).  Hort, ordained in 1856, married Fanny Dyson Holland the following year and began a 15-year-long pastorate (1857-1872) at St. Ippolyts, near Hitchin, Hertforshire, and as well as Cambridge.  The technical description was that he had a “college living” there.  In 1870 he joined to project (led by Westcott) to prepare the Revised Version of the New Testament (1881).

WESTCOTT

Westcott became a priest and scholar.  In 1851 James Prince Lee (1804-1869), Bishop of Manchester, ordained him.  (Lee had been Westcott’s headmaster at Birmingham.)  From 1852 to 1869 our saint served as the Assistant Master of Harrow School.  He became the Resident Canon of Peterborough in 1869.  Westcott retained that title until 1884, serving also as the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge from 1871 to 1890.  Lightfoot had been a candidate for that position, but he withdrew in favor of his old friend.  In 1890 our saint succeeded Lightfoot as Bishop of Durham, serving until 1901.  Westcott also acted on his social conscience, serving as the first President of the Christian Social Union from 1889 to 1901 and mediating the settlement of the Durham coal strike of 1892.

Westcott, who promoted foreign missions, married Sarah Louise Mary Whithard (1830-1901) in 1852.  They had ten children.  Four sons became missionaries to India.  Frederick Brooke Westcott (1857-1918), named after his grandfather, became a priest, educator, and Pauline scholar.  His published works included the following:

  1. The Epistle to the Hebrews:  An Experiment in Conservative Revision (1912),
  2. St. Paul and Justification:  Being an Exposition of the Teaching in the Epistles to Rome and Galatia (1913), and
  3. A Letter to Asia:  Being a Paraphrase and Brief Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Believers at Colossae (1914).

Another son, Arthur Westcott, wrote Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, D.D. D.C.L., Sometime Bishop of Durham (1903)–Volumes I and II.

Bishop Westcott died at Durham on July 27, 1901.  He was 76 years old.

Westcott’s published works included the following:

  1. An Introduction to the Study of the Gospels (first edition, 1851; second edition, 1860; American edition, 1866; third edition, 1866; fourth edition, 1872; fifth edition, 1875, sixth edition, 1881; revised edition, 1900);
  2. A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (first edition, 1855; second edition, 1866, third edition, 1870; fourth edition, 1875, fifth edition, 1881);
  3. Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles:  Sermons Preached Before the University of Cambridge, with Notes (1859);
  4. Introduction to the Study of the Gospels; with Historical and Explanatory Notes (1862);
  5. The Bible and the Church:  A Popular Account of the Collection and Reception of the Holy Scriptures in the Christian Churches (1864); second edition, 1866; third edition, 1870; revised edition, 1879;
  6. The Gospel of the Resurrection:  Thoughts on Its Relation to Reason and History (first edition, 1865; second edition, 1867; third edition, 1874; fourth edition, 1879; fifth edition, 1884);
  7. A General View of the History of the English Bible (first edition, 1868; second edition, 1872; third edition, 1905);
  8. The Christian Life, Manifold and One:  Six Sermons Preached in Peterborough Cathedral (1869);
  9. On Some Points in the Religious Office of the Universities (1873);
  10. Steps in the Christian Life (1880);
  11. The Revelation of the Risen Lord (1881);
  12. The Gospel According to St. John (1881);
  13. The Revelation of the Risen Lord (1881);
  14. The Historic Faith:  Short Lectures on the Apostles’ Creed (first edition, 1882; second edition, 1883; third edition, 1885; fourth edition, 1890)
  15. The Revelation of the Father:  Short Lectures on the Titles of the Lord in the Gospel of St. John (1884);
  16. Some Thoughts from the Ordinal (1884);
  17. The Epistles of St. John:  The Greek Text (first edition, 1883; second edition, 1885; third edition, 1892);
  18. Christus Consummator:  Some Aspects of the Work and Person of Christ in Relation to Modern Thought (first edition, 1886; second edition, 1887; third edition, 1890);
  19. Social Aspects of Christianity (first edition, 1887; second edition, 1888; third edition, 1900);
  20. Victory of the Cross:  Sermons Preached During Holy Week, 1888, in Hereford Cathedral (1888);
  21. From Strength to Strength:  Three Sermons on Stages in a Consecrated Life (1890);
  22. Thoughts of Revelation and Life:  Being Selections from the Writings of Brooke Foss Westcott (1891);
  23. Essays in the History of Religious Thought in the West (1891);
  24. The Gospel of Life:  Thoughts Introductory to the Study of Christian Doctrine (first edition, 1892; second edition, 1895);
  25. Theou Synergoi:  Harrow School Chapel, January 16, 17, 1892 (1892);
  26. The Incarnation and the Common Life (1893);
  27. Some Lessons of the Revised Version of the New Testament (1897);
  28. Christian Aspects of Life (1897);
  29. An Appreciation of the Late Christina Georgina Rossetti (1899); and
  30. Lessons from Work (1901).

Posthumously published works included the following:

  1. Words of Faith and Hope (1902),
  2. Common Prayers for Family Use (1903),
  3. Village Sermons (1906),
  4. Socialism (1907), and
  5. The Two Empires:  The Church and the World (1909).

HORT

Hort was a scholar to the end.  He was lecturer in divinity at Cambridge from 1872 to 1878, the Hulsean Professor of Divinity there until 1887, then the Lady Margaret Reader in Divinity there until 1892.  And, as I have written, he and Westcott collaborated on the influential New Testament in the Original Greek (1881) for 28 years.  Hort died at Cambridge on November 30, 1892.  He was 64 years old.  A son, botanist Sir Arthur Fenton Hort (1864-1902), wrote Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort (1896)–Volumes I and II.

Hort’s published works included the following:

  1. Two Dissertations (1876), and
  2. Hebrews (1876).

Posthumously published works included the following:

  1. Judaistic Christianity:  A Course of Lectures (1894);
  2. Six Lectures on the Ante-Nicene Fathers (1895);
  3. Proloegomena to St. Paul’s Epistles to the Romans and the Ephesians (1895);
  4. The Christian Ecclesia:  A Course of Lectures on the Early History and Conceptions of the Ecclesia, and Four Sermons (1907);
  5. Village Sermons (First Series, 1897; Second Series, 1904);
  6. The Way, the Truth, the Life (1897);
  7. The First Epistle of St. Peter I:1-II:17; the Greek Text, with Introductory Lecture; the Greek Text with Introductory Lecture, Commentary, and Additional Notes (1898);
  8. Cambridge and Other Sermons (1898);
  9. Notes Introductory to the Study of the Clementine Recognitions:  A Course of Lectures (1901);
  10. Miscellanies, Book VII:  The Greek Text (1902);
  11. The Apocalypse of St. John I-III:  The Greek Text with Introduction, Commentary, and Additional Notes (1908); and
  12. The Epistle of St. James:  The Greek Text, with Introduction, Commentary as Far as Chapter IV, Verse 7, and Additional Notes (1909).

CONCLUSION

Perhaps the greatest literary legacy of Westcott and Hort is the Revised Version of the Bible (New Testament, 1881; Old Testament, 1885; Apocrypha, 1894).  The American counterpart was the American Standard Version (1901), predecessor of the Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; Old Testament, 1952; Apocrypha, 1957) and its successors as well as of the New American Standard Bible (New Testament, 1963; Old Testament, 1971; Updated Edition, 1995).  When I hear scripture in church, I hear the New Revised Standard Version (1989).  When I lead a discussion of the lectionary readings during Sunday School, I usually have a copy of the Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002) on hand.

Merci beaucoup, Westcott and Hort!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED LEE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Brooke Foss Westcott, Fenton John Anthony Hort, and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Thomas a Kempis (July 24)   Leave a comment

Thomas a Kempis

Above:  Thomas a Kempis

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS A KEMPIS (CIRCA 1380-JULY 25, 1471)

Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, and Spiritual Writer

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The Episcopal Church observes the life and legacy of Thomas a Kempis on July 24.

Thomas Hemerken was a native of Kempen, now on the German side of the Rhine River and near the Dutch border.  In the late 1300s the political structure was that of the Holy Roman Empire.  He studied with the Brethren of the Common Life at Deventer, Holland, for seven years.  The Brethren lived simply and communally.  They operated influential schools, supported themselves financially by copying manuscripts, emphasized the inner life and virtuous living, emphasized practical theology, and practiced moderation with regard to ascetic and penitential practices.  The founder of the order was Gerhard Groote (1340-1384), who had come from a wealthy family and renounced his worldly ways.  In 1399 our saint joined the Brethren at Mount St. Agnes, near Zwolle, Holland.   His brother was the prior there.  Kempis took monastic vows in 1407, became a priest six years later, and advanced to the rank of subprior in 1425.  He was an introvert who was more comfortable in the company of books than people. (I respect that.) Kempis enjoyed copying the scriptures, works of the Church Fathers, and books about asceticism.

Kempis died at Mount St. Agnes on July 25, 1471.

Our saint’s enduring legacy is Of the Imitation of Christ, or the Imitation of Christ for short, a book whose authorship many people have doubted for a long time.  In my copy, dated 1891, for example, Anglican priest, poet, and educator Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903) argued in his introduction that the authorship of the Imitation of Christ was an impossible question to answer.  Other scholars have been certain, however, that Kempis wrote the book.  The author of an old Encyclopedia Britannica article argued that the preponderance of evidence affirmed that our saint wrote the book, for example.

The text builds on orthodox Christology and Trinitarian theology and emphasizes, as its title indicates, imitating Christ:

“He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness,” saith the Lord.  These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished how we ought to imitate His life and manners, if we will be truly enlightened, and be delivered from all blindness of heart.

Let therefore our chiefest endeavor be, to meditate upon the life of JESUS CHRIST.

–Page 13 in my copy, published in 1891

Kempis favored frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist as a spiritual practice.  Daily reception is best, he wrote.  The sacrament and the scriptures are both essential for Christian living, he insisted:

In the mean time I will walk in faith, strengthened by the examples of the Saints.

I have also holy books for my comfort and for the glass of my life; and above all these I have Thy most Holy Body and Blood for a singular remedy and refuge.

–Page 305 in my copy, published in 1891

The Imitation of Christ has become the second most influential work in Western Christianity and the Christian book translated into the second greatest number of languages.  The Bible occupies the first rank in both categories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Holy Father, you have nourished and strengthened your Church

by the inspired writings of your servant Thomas a Kempis:

Grant that we may learn from him to know what is necessary to be known,

to live what is to be loved,

to praise what rightly pleases you,

and always to seek to know and follow your will;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18

Psalm 33:1-5, 20-21

Ephesians 4:32-5:2

Luke 6:17-23

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 483

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