Archive for the ‘March 1’ Category

Feast of Sts. Anna of Oxenhall, Wenna the Queen, Non, Samson of Dol, Cybi, and David of Wales (March 1)   Leave a comment


Above:  A Family Tree

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor



Welsh Prince, Priest, Bishop, and Abbot

His feast transferred from August 13 and November 8

son of


Queen of Cerniw

Also known as Saint Gwen

Her feast transferred from October 18

sister of 


Welsh Nun

Also known as Saint Nonna, Nonita, and Nonnita

Her feast transferred from March 2, 3, and 5

mother of


Welsh Abbot and Primate

Also known as Saint Dewi

His feast = March 1

Half-Nephew of


Welsh Priest, Abbot, Hermit, Bishop, and Missionary

son of


Welsh Princess

Mother of Saints Samson of Dol, Wenna the Queen, and Non


Work on this post began when I started taking notes on St. David of Wales, the patron saint of Wales.  His feast day is March 1.  Of that we can be certain; this is more than we can say about other portions of his official biography.  While taking notes on this saint I read references to many other Celtic saints, including five relatives.  I could have included many more saints than I did in this post, but I decided to keep it relatively simple and to focus on three generations of one family instead.  I, as one trained in history, have noticed discrepancies between dates in various sources.  I have done my best to honor chronology.  I have also done my best to recognize the difference between legend and objective reality.  King Arthur recurs in the hagiographies of some of these saints.  He was, of course, a composite figure and a legend–a fish story, if you will, O reader.  Instead of one big fish, fishes of various sizes existed.  By focusing on six members of one family I can be coherent while fulfilling one of my goals for the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.    That goal is to emphasize relationships and influences.

The first of six saints was St. Anna of Oxenhall (born circa 445), mother of three other saints and grandmother of two more.  She, a daughter of Vortimer Fendigaidof, King of Gwertheflyrwig (now Gwent, Wales), married twice.  Her first husband was Cynyr the Fair-Bearded, Lord of Coer Goch.  According to legends, they were the foster parents of Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur.  St. Anna’s first marriage produced at least six children, including St. Wenna the Queen (born circa 472) and St. Non (born circa 475).  The widowed St. Anna married Amon Ddu, Prince of Brittany.  They had several children, including St. Samson of Dol (circa 485-565).  The other two children also entered religious life.  Amon ended his days as a monk.

St. Wenna the Queen married Salom, King of Cerniw (now Cornwall, England).   Among their children was St. Cybi (circa 483-555), heir to the throne.  He received a fine education and became a priest, a bishop, and the Abbot of Caer Gybi.  At the age of 27, upon returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, St. Cybi learned that his father was dead and that he was the new king.  Our saint declined royal authority and opted instead to serve God via the Church.  He founded congregations throughout the Celtic world as political circumstances forced him to relocate.  St. Cybi also interacted with his esteemed cousin, St. David of Wales.  Among St. Wenna’s pious deeds was the founding of a Christian congregation in Morval, in the Cornwall region of England.

St. Non became a nun.  Scandal affected her when Sant (a.k.a. Sanctus), Prince of Ceredigian, raped and impregnated her.  Thus she became the unwed mother of Dewi Sant, a.k.a. St. David of Wales.  Mother and son founded a convent at Hanon.  Late in life she moved to Cerniw, to be close to her sister, St. Wenna the Queen.

The hagiographies of St. David are legion.  Many of them contain contradictory information.  For example, was the year of his birth closer to 500 or to 544?  I conclude that the former option is probable, based on issues of chronology.  Also, did he died closer to 589 or 601?  And, while we are pondering different chronologies, did the Synod of Brefi occur closer to 520, 550, or 560?  550 or a few years prior seems like a probable year to me, based on relevant facts.  560 is too late, due to the death of St. Dubricius circa 550.  Furthermore, I reject obviously legendary stories out of hand.  For example, I refuse to accept that a hill once rose while he was speaking, so that the audience could hear him better.  Horatio, friend of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was correct that heaven and earth hold more than human philosophies attest, but even saints and land adjacent to them must obey the laws of nature.

St. David rose to become the primate of Wales.  As a young man he founded the first of a series of monasteries.  Our saint, an ascetic who survived on water and vegetables, required his monks to care for travelers, engage in study, and perform manual labor.  He was also a priest and, in time, a bishop–by whose hands, where, and when are matters of dispute.  An oft-repeated story tells us that St. David’s rebuttal of the Pelagian heresy (that people can save themselves from damnation by their free will alone) at the Synod of Brefi led to the installation as the primate of Wales.  Or perhaps that was not how he became the primate, becoming the handpicked successor of St. Dubricius.  Regardless of the reality of St. David’s life, he was an influential and respected figure in the Celtic Church.

St. David’s half-uncle (half-brother of Sts. Non and Wenna) was St. Samson of Dol (circa 485-565), a child of St. Anna of Oxenhall and her second husband, Prince Amon Ddu.  St. Samson studied at the Abbey of Llanilltud Fawr, Glamorganshire, Wales.  His teacher was St. Illtud (born circa 480), a former soldier and the founder of that monastery.  St. Samson had to depart that abbey because he had become unpopular with his teacher’s nephews.  St. Samson relocated to a monastery on Caldey Island, Wales.  Eventually he became the abbot there and reformed the abbey.  Next our saint spent time as a hermit before becoming a missionary bishop in the region of Cerniw.  Eventually St. Samson moved to Brittany, where he made Dol his see city.  He also founded monasteries at Dol and at Pental, Normandy.

People influence each other directly and indirectly.  Regardless of where reality ended and legends began with regard to the events of our six saints’ lives, a few concluding statements are certain:

  1. The faith that St. Anna of Oxenhall and her husbands instilled in their children took root;
  2. Those children passed that faith down to others; and
  3. The legacy of St. Anna of Oxenhall, her husbands, and their faithful descendants continues to influence Christian faith in people, frequently without them knowing it.

That is impressive.







Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Cybi,

Saint Wenna the Queen,

Saint Non,

Saint David of Wales,

Saint Samson of Dol, and

Saint Anna of Oxenhall,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724



Feast of Blessed Roger Lefort (March 1)   Leave a comment


Above:  Icon of Sts. Anne and Mary

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bourges

The renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days resumes, this time with saints with feast days in March, as 2016 passes the torch to 2017.

Blessed Roger Lefort was an important yet relatively observe (by current standards) saint.  He, of French noble origin, was the nephew of a cardinal.  In 1321 Lefort was a sub-deacon.  Also during that year the See of Orleans became vacant.  Certain clergymen competed to become the next Bishop of Orleans.  Lefort disapproved of such political maneuvering.  Although he did not seek the position and even considered himself unworthy to hold it, he became the next Bishop of Orleans in 1321.  The Holy Spirit had spoken, some claimed.  Lefort had, prior to his selection, joked that he would be a good bishop.  What he intended as sarcasm a sufficient number of people interpreted as truth.  Lefort was a capable bishop, one who translated to Limoges in 1328 then became the Archbishop of Bourges in 1343.

Liturgically Lefort pioneered the observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in France.  The idea of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception was not new; it derived from the writings of certain Church Fathers, including St. Justin Martyr (circa 100-circa 165) and St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 130-circa 200), both of whom thought of her as the “new Eve.”  St. Andrew of Crete (circa 660-740) and St. John of Damascus (circa 675-circa 749) considered Our Lady to have been sinless.  The annual observance of St. Mary’s conception dated to the 600s (in the East) and began to spread throughout the West (starting at Naples) in the 800s.  In the 1100s, when commemorations began in France, they prompted controversy.  Theologians including St. Albert the Great (circa 1200-1280), St. Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274), and St. Bonaventure (circa 1217-1274) rejected the idea of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.  She was not immune from original sin, they argued.  The position Lefort supported became the official position of the Roman Catholic Church in time.  The Council of Basle (1439) declared the Immaculate Conception to be theologically sound.  A decade later the Sorbonne became the first university to require its candidates to defend the doctrine.  Pope Sixtus IV established the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, with its own propers, in 1476.  Pope Clement XI made the observance a Feast of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church in 1708.  Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma.

Lefort died, aged 90 years, on March 1, 1367.  He left his estate for the education of poor boys.







The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)

Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary

to be the worthy mother of your Son.

You let her share beforehand in the salvation

Christ would bring by his death,

and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.

Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 8:22-35

Romans 8:29-30

Psalm 113

Luke 1:26-28

–Compiled from The Book of Catholic Worship (1966), pages 301-302, and Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), pages 1332-1334


Feast of Daniel March, Sr. (March 1)   Leave a comment

Woburn Public Library

Above:  Public Library, Woburn, Massachusetts, Circa 1880

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-15349


DANIEL MARCH, SR. (JULY 21, 1816-MARCH 2, 1909)

U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist

Daniel March, Sr., was a prolific author and enthusiastic world traveler.  Many people considered him to be very well-informed and worth listening to and reading.  Yet his books have faded into obscurity and one hymn–“Hark! the Voice of Jesus Crying” (1868)–has become the text on which his historical reputation rests.  The hymn if four stanzas includes a frequently omitted stanza–the one which speaks of “heathen lands” and “heathen nearer.”  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) lacks that stanza because of what follows the “heathen” references–theology with which I agree yet which certain Confessional Lutherans considered troublesome in the late 1930 and 1940s, and which many adherents of that school of Christianity still find objectionable.  That stanza, in fact, is absent from both versions of the hymn in the Lutheran Service Book (2006), a successor of The Lutheran Hymnal.  Our saint, an enthusiastic supporter of missions, wrote:

Hark! the voice of Jesus crying,

“Who will go and work today?

Fields are white and harvests waiting,

Who will bear the sheaves away?”

Loud and long the Master calleth,

Rich reward He offers thee;

Who will answer, gladly saying,

“Here am I, send me, send me”?


If you cannot cross the ocean,

And the heathen lands explore,

You can find the heathen nearer,

You can help them at your door;

If you cannot give your thousands,

You can give the widow’s mite,

And the least you give for Jesus

Will be precious in His sight.


If you cannot speak like angels,

If you cannot preach like Paul,

You can tell the love of Jesus,

You can say he died for all.

If you cannot rouse the wicked

With the Judgment’s dread alarms,

You can lead the little children

To the Savior’s waiting arms.


Let none hear you idly saying,

“There is nothing I can do,”

While the souls of men are dying

And the Master calls for you.

Take the work He gives you gladly,

Let His work your pleasure be;

Answer quickly when he calleth,

“Here I am, send me, send me!”

The treatment of the hymn in other hymn books interests me.  In some hymnals Jesus is crying; in others, however, he is calling.  The committee which prepared The Methodist Hymnal (1935) changed no words yet omitted the third stanza.  The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931/1935) committee, however, altered the text–a practice which dated to March’s time and bothered him.  In the 1931/1935 hymnal the third stanza was absent , “heathen lands” became “mission lands,” the “heathen nearer” became the “needy nearer,” and “Rich reward he offers thee” became “Flings a challenge strong to thee.”  The hymn has fallen out of favor with many hymnal committees since the 1950s, being absent, for example, from successor hymnals of the United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church, and their predecessor bodies.  I have read altered versions of the text and seldom read all four original stanzas in other hymnals.  For example, The Baptist Hymnal (1991) and the Baptist Hymnal (2008) speaks of “distant lands” and the “lost around you,” but not of the heathen.  The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (1996) offers all four stanzas, albeit in altered form; there is “a distant land” instead of “heathen lands,” and the “pagan nearby” instead of the “heathen nearer.” The Trinity Hymnal (1961), the Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990), and the Trinity Hymnal–Baptist Edition (1995) offer the same four-stanza version–one which replaces March’s third stanza with words he did not write and leaves the rest of the text as he composed it.  (I like having a collection of hymnals!)

The author of that hymn entered the world at Millburg, Massachusetts, on July 21, 1816.  His parents were Samuel March and Zoa Park March, farmers.  Our saint, the third of six children, attended the Millburg Academy before matriculating at Amherst College in 1834.  He left Amherst College after two years without graduating yet graduated from Yale College with his B.A. degree in 1840.  March worked as the Principal of Fairfield Academy, Fairfield, Connecticut, from 1840 to 1843 before completing his theological studies at Yale in 1845.  By then he had earned his M.A. from Yale (1843), had been a licensed preacher for three years, and had been the husband of Jane Parker Gilson March (1818-1857) for four years.

Some of the hymnal companion volumes and hymn websites I consulted informed me erroneously that March’s 1845 ordination was in the Presbyterian Church.  Actually, the ordaining authority was the Fairfield West Association, and his first pastorate was the Congregational Church at Cheshire, Connecticut, from 1845 to 1848.  About six years (1849-1855) at First Congregational Church, Nashua, New Hampshire, followed.  From 1856 to 1862 our saint ministered at First Congregational Church, Woburn, Massachusetts.

Then March’s Presbyterian connections began.  He served as the pastor of Clinton Street Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1862 to 1876.  He also spent part of the 1860s serving on the Presbyterian Publication Committee (headquartered in that city), which published some of his books.  And March was, from the 1860s until his death, a minister of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, even though he returned to the pulpit of the First Congregational Church of Woburn for a second tenure (1877-1895).

March, as a family man, married twice.  He and his first wife, Jane Parker Gilson March (1818-1857), had four children:

  1. Anna Parker March (1842-1863);
  2. Charles A. March, who became an attorney and outlived his father;
  3. Daniel March, Jr. (1884-1897), who became a doctor; and
  4. Frederick William March (1847-1935), who became a Presbyterian minister and a missionary to Syria.

Our saint remarried in 1859.  His second wife was Anna LeConte March, who died in 1879.

Dr. Daniel March, Sr. (Doctor of Divinity, Western University of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, 1864) opposed slavery, supported foreign missions, and was a relatively High Church Calvinist.  His published works included an antislavery speech, devotional and other theological books, and a volume of liturgical forms.  Those works include the following:

  1. Yankee Land and the Yankee (1840);
  2. A Poem Delivered Before the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Yale College, August 19, 1846 (1846);
  3. The Crisis of Freedom:  Remarks on the Duty Which All Christian Men and Good Citizens Owe to Their Country in the Present State of Public Affairs (1854);
  4. Walks and Homes of Jesus (1866);
  5. Night Scenes in the Bible (1868);
  6. Our Father’s House, or the Unwritten Word (1869);
  7. Home Life in the Bible (1873);
  8. The Introduction to Household Worship (1873), by a Layman;
  9. Public Worship, Partly Responsive; Designed for Any Christian Congregation (1873);
  10. An article on “Research and Travel in Bible Lands” in Wood’s Bible Animals (1877), by J. G. Wood;
  11. From Dark to Dawn; Being a Second Series of Night Scenes in the Bible (1878);
  12. The Introduction to The Pictoral Bible and Commentator–New Edition (1878), by Ingram Cobbin;
  13. The First Khedive:  Lessons in the Life of Joseph (1887);
  14. Walks with Jesus; or, Days of the Son of Man (1888); and
  15. Morning Light in Many Lands (1891).

March delivered his last sermon at First Congregational Church, Woburn, Massachusetts, in July 1908.  He died in that town less than a year later–on March 2, 1909.  He was ninety-two years old.  Yet our saint’s hymn lives on in various altered forms.








Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Daniel March, Sr.)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26






Feast of Edwin Hodder (March 1)   1 comment

Union Jack

Above:  The Union Jack



English Biographer, Devotional Writer, and Hymn Writer

Edwin Hodder, born in Staines, Middlesex County, England, in 1837, migrated to New Zealand in 1856, when he was nineteen years old.  Five years later he returned to his homeland and commenced a career in the Civil Service, retiring in 1897.  His hobbies obviously included researching and writing, for Hodder produced an impressive line of of books (, from biographies ( and to histories of missions (, and to histories ( and to The New Sunday School Hymn Book (first edition, 1863; revised and enlarged edition, 1868).

I have posted one of Hodder’s hymns, “Thy Word is Like a Garden, Lord,” at my GATHERED PRAYERS blog.  According to the hymn, God’s Word is like, in sequence, a garden, a glorious choir, an armory, and a trusty sword.

Careers can be ways to serve God and to help one’s fellow human beings.  And so can hobbies.








God of grace and glory,

you have given a rich variety of interests and talents to us; thank you.

Thank you for those who have served you and helped their fellow human beings

in their daily lives habitually via their vocations yet most memorably their avocations,

and for those who do so.

May we, reminded of and encouraged in our responsibilities to you and each other by their examples,

continue faithfully in the endeavors you assign us.

In the name of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 38:24-34a

Psalm 33

Romans 14:7-8

Matthew 5:13-16







Revised on December 23. 2016


Saints’ Days and Holy Days for March   Leave a comment


Image Source = Bertil Videt

1 (Anna of Oxenhall and Her Faithful Descendants, Wenna the Queen, Non, Samson of Dol, Cybi, and David of Wales)

  • Daniel March, Sr., U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
  • Edwin Hodder, English Biographer, Devotional Writer, and Hymn Writer
  • Roger Lefort, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bourges

2 (Shabbaz Bhatti and Other Christian Martyrs of the Islamic World)

  • Aidan of Lindisfarne, Celtic Missionary Bishop; Caelin, Celtic Priest; St. Cedd of Lastingham, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Bishop of Essex, and Abbot of Lastingham; Cynibil of Lastingham, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest and Monk; Chad of Mercia, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of York/the Northumbrians and of Lichfield/the Mercians and the Lindsey People; Vitalian, Bishop of Rome; Adrian of Canterbury, Roman Catholic Abbot of Ss. Peter and Paul, Canterbury; Theodore of Tarsus, Roman Catholic Monk and Archbishop of Canterbury; and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, Celtic and Roman Catholic Monk, Hermit, Priest, and Bishop of Lindisfarne
  • John Stuart Blackie, Scottish Presbyterian Scholar, Linguist, Poet, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Ludmilla of Bohemia, Duchess of Bohemia and Martyr; Her Grandson, Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia and Martyr; Agnes of Prague, Bohemian Princess and Nun; Pen Pal of Clare of Assisi, Foundress of the Poor Clares; Sister of Agnes of Assisi, Abbot at Monticelli; Daughter of Hortulana of Assisi, Poor Clare Nun

3 (Katharine Drexel, Founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament)

  • Antonio Francesco Marzorati, Johannes Laurentius Weiss, and Michele Pro Fasoli, Franscican Missionary Priests and Martyrs in Ethiopia, 1716
  • Gervinus, Roman Catholic Abbot and Scholar
  • Henry Elias Fries, U.S. Moravian Industrialist; and His Wife, Rosa Elvira Fries, U.S. Moravian Musician

4 (Charles Simeon, Anglican Priest and Promoter of Missions; Henry Martyn, Anglican Priest, Linguist, Translator, and Missionary; and Abdul Masih, Indian Convert and Missionary)

  • John Edgar Park, U.S. Presbyterian then Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Paul Cuffee, U.S. Presbyterian Missionary to the Shinnecock Nation
  • Thomas Hornblower Gill, English Unitarian then Anglican Hymn Writer

5 (Karl Rahner, Jesuit Priest and Theologian)

  • Christopher Macassoli of Vigevano, Franciscan Priest
  • Eusebius of Cremona, Roman Catholic Abbot and Humanitarian
  • Ion Costist, Franciscan Lay Brother

6 (Martin Niemoller, German Lutheran Minister and Peace Activist)

  • Chrodegang of Metz, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Jordan of Pisa, Dominican Evangelist
  • William Bright, Anglican Canon, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

7 (James Hewitt McGown, Humanitarian)

  • Drausinus and Ansericus, Roman Catholic Bishops of Soissons; Vindician, Roman Catholic Bishop of Cambrai; and Leodegarius, Roman Catholic Bishop of Autun
  • Edward Osler, English Doctor, Editor, and Poet
  • Perpetua, Felicity, and Their Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 203

8 (Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln)

  • Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John Hampden Gurney, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John of God, Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God

9 (Sophronius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Patriarch)

  • Emanuel Cronenwett, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Frances of Rome, Foundress of the Collatines
  • Robert Hall Baynes, Anglican Bishop of Madagascar

10 (Marie-Joseph Lagrange, Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar)

  • Agripinnus of Autun, Roman Catholic Bishop; Germanus of Paris, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Droctoveus of Autun, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • John Oglivie, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Macarius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop

11 (John Swertner, Dutch-German Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymnal Editor; and his collaborator, John Mueller, German-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor)

  • Aengus the Culdee, Hermit and Monk; and Maelruan, Abbot
  • Eulogius of Spain, Roman Catholic Bishop of Toledo, Cordoba; and Leocrita; Martyrs
  • Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, Anglican Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer

12 (Trasilla and Emiliana, Sisters-in-Law of Sylvia of Rome; and Her Son, Gregory I “the Great,” Bishop of Rome)

  • Maximillian of Treveste, Roman Conscientious Objector
  • Rutilio Grande, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Theophanes the Chroncler, Defender of Icons

13 (Yves Congar, Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian)

  • Heldrad, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Plato of Symboleon and Theodore Studites, Eastern Orthodox Abbots, and Nicephorus of Constantinople, Patriarch
  • Roderic of Cabra and Solomon of Cordoba, Roman Catholic Martyrs

14 (Fannie Lou Hamer, Prophet of Freedom)

  • Alfred Lister Peace, Organist in England and Scotland
  • Harriet King Osgood Munger, U.S. Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • Nehemiah Goreh, Indian Anglican Priest and Theologian

15 (Zachary of Rome, Pope)

  • Jan Adalbert Balicki and Ladislaus Findysz, Roman Catholic Priests in Poland
  • Ozora Stearns Davis, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Vethappan Solomon, Apostle to the Nicobar Islands

16 (Adalbald of Ostevant, Rictrudis of Marchiennes, and Their Relations)

  • Abraham Kidunaia, Roman Catholic Hermit, and Mary of Edessa, Roman Catholic Anchoress
  • John Cacciafronte, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, Bishop, and Martyr
  • Megingaud of Wurzburg, Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop

17 (Patrick, Apostle of Ireland)

  • Ebenezer Elliott, “The Corn Law Rhymer”
  • Eliza Sibbald Alderson, Poet and Hymn Writer; and John Bacchus Dykes, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Henry Scott Holland, Anglican Hymn Writer and Priest

18 (Leonides of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Martyr; Origen, Roman Catholic Theologian; Demetrius of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Alexander of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Theologian, and Liturgist
  • Paul of Cyprus, Eastern Orthodox Martyr
  • Robert Walmsley, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer


20 (Sebastian Castellio, Prophet of Religious Liberty)

  • Christopher Wordsworth, Hymn Writer and Anglican Bishop of Lincoln
  • Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra, Foundress of the Congregation of the Servants of Jesus
  • Samuel Rodigast, German Lutheran Academic and Hymn Writer

21 (Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach, Composers)

  • Nicholas of Flüe and His Grandson, Conrad Scheuber, Swiss Hermits
  • Serapion of Thmuis, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • William Edward Hickson, English Music Educator and Social Reformer

22 (Deogratias, Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage)

  • Emmanuel Mournier, Personalist Philosopher
  • James De Koven, Episcopal Priest
  • Thomas Hughes, British Social Reformer and Member of Parliament

23 (Gregory the Illuminator and Isaac the Great, Patriarchs of Armenia)

  • Meister Eckhart, Roman Catholic Theologian and Mystic
  • Metodej Dominik Trčka, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Victorian of Hadrumetum, Martyr at Carthage, 484

24 (Oscar Romero, Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador; and the Martyrs of El Salvador)

  • Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, Capuchin Friar
  • Paul Couturier, Apostle of Christian Unity
  • Thomas Attwood, “Father of Modern Church Music”


  • Dismas, Penitent Bandit

26 (Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist)

  • George Rundle Prynne, Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Ludger, Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster
  • Margaret Clitherow, Roman Catholic Martyr in England

27 (James Solomon Russell, Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Advocate for Racial Equality)

  • Charles Henry Brent, Episcopal Bishop and Ecumenist
  • Nicholas Owen, Thomas Garnet, Mark Barkworth, Edward Oldcorne, and Ralph Ashley, Roman Catholic Martyrs
  • Rupert of Salzburg, Apostle of Bavaria and Austria

28 (Tutilo, Roman Catholic Monk and Composer)

  • Guntram of Burgundy, King
  • Katharine Lee Bates, U.S. Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Richard Chevenix Trench, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin

29 (Charles Villiers Stanford, Composer, Organist, and Conductor)

  • Dora Greenwell, Poet and Devotional Writer
  • John Keble, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • Jonas and Barachisius, Roman Catholic Martyrs

30 (Innocent of Alaska, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of North America)

  • Franz Joseph Haydn and His Brother, Michael Haydn, Composers
  • Joan of Toulouse, Carmelite Nun; and Simon Stock, Carmelite Friar
  • John Wright Buckham, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

31 (Maria Skobtsova, Orthodox Martyr)

  • Ernest Trice Thompson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Renewer of the Church
  • John Donne, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • John Marriott, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


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


First Sunday in Lent, Year A   Leave a comment

Above: Temptations of Christ, a Byzantine Mosaic which Resides at St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy, because Knights of the Fourth Crusade Stole It from Constantinople (But Who Is Keeping Track?)

Interpreting the Temptations of Jesus

MARCH 1, 2020


Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man,

You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman,

Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?

The woman said to the serpent,

We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”

But the serpent said to the woman,

You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Psalm 32 (New Revised Standard Version):

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me,;

my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,

and I did not hide my iniquity;

I said,

I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,

and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all who are faithful

offer prayer to you;

at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters

shall not teach them.

You are a hiding place for me;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,

whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,

else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,

but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Romans 5:12-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

As sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned– sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Matthew 4:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

After Jesus was baptized, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him,

If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.

But he answered,

It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him,

If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus said to him,

Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him,

All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.

Jesus said to him,

Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


It is appropriate to have this Gospel reading on the First Sunday in Lent, for the number “40” for days of this season comes partially from the 40 days the Gospels say Jesus spent in the wilderness.

There is something mythic about a great religious leader having to face three temptations at the hand of an evil spiritual figure as a rite of passage.  At least one Buddhist version of this tale says that Siddhartha faced down fear, lust, and ego before the became the Enlightened One.  And we read that Jesus faced three temptations, also.  I suspect that this story is part of mythology, just as much as are the early chapters of Genesis.  (All the Bible is true, and some of it happened.)

As I write this devotional nine months early, in the energy-sapping heart of Summer 2010 (with the weather certain to become worse before it improves), I turn to the late Henri Nouwen, the Dutch Roman Catholic priest and wonderful spiritual writer for his cogent interpretation of Christ’s temptations.  In The Way of the Heart (1981), Father Nouwen wrote of harried, compulsive ministers:

Just look for a moment at our daily routine.  In general we are very busy people.  We have many meetings to attend, many visits to make, many services to lead.  (Our calendars are filled with appointments, our days and weeks filled with engagements, and our years filled with plans and projects.  There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time to rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing.  We simply go along with the many “musts” and “oughts” that have been handed on to us, and we live with them as if they were authentic translations of the Gospel of our Lord.  People must be motivated to come to church, youth must be entertained, money must be raised, and above all everyone must be happy.  Moreover, we ought to be on good terms with the church and civil authorities; we ought to be liked or at least respected by a fair majority of our parishioners; we ought to move up in the ranks according to schedule; and we ought to have enough vacation and salary to live a comfortable life.  Thus we are busy people just like all other busy people, rewarded with the rewards which are rewarded to busy people! (page 12 from the 2003 reprint)

Then Nouwen defined the false self, or secular self, which, Thomas Merton explained, social compulsions have manufactured.  Instead, Nouwen wrote, one’s true self, which is spiritual, requires solitude for the purpose of transformation.  Solitude, he wrote, is “the solitude of transformation.”  Then Nouwen continued:

Jesus himself entered into this furnace.  There he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world:  to be relevant (“turn stones into loaves”), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”.  There affirmed God as the only source of his identity (“You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.”)  Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter–the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.  (page 16 from the 2003 reprint)

That is one truth we can take from this mythic story and apply in our lives.