Archive for the ‘March 15’ Category

Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany (March 8-April 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain


A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies, not a calendar of observances with any force or a popular following.  It does, however, constitute a forum to which to propose proper additions to church calendars.

Much of the Western Church observes January 18 as the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle, the rock upon which Christ built the Church.  (Just think, O reader; I used to be a Protestant boy!  My Catholic tendencies must be inherent.)  The celebration of that feast is appropriate.  The Church does not neglect St. Martha of Bethany, either.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, she shares a feast with her sister (St. Mary) and her brother (St. Lazarus) on July 29.

There is no Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany, corresponding to the Petrine feast, however.  That constitutes an omission.  I correct that omission somewhat here at my Ecumenical Calendar as of today.  I hereby define the Sunday immediately prior to Palm/Passion Sunday as the Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.  The reason for the temporal definition is the chronology inside the Gospel of John.

This post rests primarily on John 11:20-27, St. Martha’s confession of faith in her friend, Jesus, as

the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

The combination of grief, confidence, and faith is striking.  It is one with which many people identify.  It is one that has become increasingly relevant in my life during the last few months, as I have dealt with two deaths.

Faith frequently shines brightly in the spiritual darkness and exists alongside grief.  Faith enables people to cope with their grief and helps them to see the path through the darkness.  We need to grieve, but we also need to move forward.  We will not move forward alone, for God is with us.  If we are fortunate, so are other people, as well as at least one pet.


Loving God, who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth

and enjoyed the friendship of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

We thank you for the faith of St. Martha, who understood that

you were the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was coming into the world.

May we confess with our lips and our lives our faith in you,

the Incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, and draw others to you;

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

Jeremiah 8:18-23

Psalm 142

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 11:1-44





Feast of Blesseds Jan Adalbert Balicki and Ladislaus Findysz (March 15)   Leave a comment


Above:  Map of Poland, 1935

Image Scanned from Rand McNally World Atlas and International Gazetteer–Special Household Edition

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor



Roman Catholic Priest in Poland

His feast day = March 15

mentor of 


Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in Poland

His feast transferred from August 21


Among my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  These two saints fit that bill well.

Jan Adalbert Balicki, born at Staromiescie, Poland, on January 25, 1869, came from a poor and devout family.  His education at Rzeszow instilled a love of Polish culture in him.  Balicki matriculated at the major seminary at Przemysl in September 1888.  He, ordained to the priesthood on July 20, 1892, served briefly as an assistant parish priest at Polna, where he developed a reputation as a skilled homilist and as a man of prayer.  From 1893 to 1897 he studied the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) at the Pontifical Gregorian Institute.

Balicki’s vocation was to work at the major seminary at Przemysl and to guide the spiritual formation of priests.  In 1897 he became Professor of Dogmatic Theology there.  Eventually he spent three years as the Prefect of Studies.  Then he became the Vice Rector in 1927 and the Rector the following year.  Balicki, citing health problems, resigned in 1934.  Yet he continued to live on the premises and to hear confessions and to offer spiritual direction to seminarians.


Ladislaus Findysz was among those Balicki guided spiritually.  Findysz, born at Kroscienko Nizne, near Krosno, Poland, on December 13, 1907, also came from a poor and devout family.  The Felician Sisters educated the young saint, who joined the Marian Solidarity.  He matriculated at the major seminary at Przemysl in 1927.  Findysz, ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1932, was an assistant parish priest at the following places:

  1. Boryslaw (now in the Ukraine), 1932-1935;
  2. Drohobycz (now in the Ukraine), 1935-1937;
  3. Strzyoro, 1937-1940; and
  4. Jaslo, 1940-1941.


In 1939, as part of the partition of Poland, the boundary between German and Soviet zones passed through Przemysl.  Balicki remained in the Soviet zone and hoped to keep the major seminary operational.  He had to relocate the seminary and himself to the episcopal residence.  After World War II, in Soviet-dominated Poland, Balicki struggled with failing health.  He died of pneumonia and tuberculosis at Przemysl on March 15, 1948.  He was 79 years old.


Above:  Map of Poland, Post-World War II

Scanned from Your Post-World War II Supplement (no earlier than 1949) to Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Balicki had written a study of mystical prayer, four stages of which he identified:

  1. Prayer of quiet,
  2. Prayer of simple union,
  3. Ecstatic union, and
  4. Perfect union.

He also identified seven steps for progress in the spiritual life:

  1. Serious approach to life,
  2. Readiness to be critical of oneself,
  3. Unshakable confidence in prayer,
  4. Joy of spirit,
  5. Love for suffering,
  6. Praise of divine mercy, and
  7. Continuous self-amendment.

Pope John Paul II declared Balicki a Venerable in 1994 and a Blessed in 2002.


Findysz operated out of Nowy Zmigrod, Poland, from 1941 until his death, with a few exceptions.  In 1941 he became the parish administrator there.  Eventually he became the parish priest.  It was a tumultuous era, one defined by World War II and the Cold War.  In October 1944 the German Army, retreating westward, expelled the inhabitants of the town.  Findysz returned the following year; his purposes were to rebuild the parish and to minister to war refugees.  The secret police of the Soviet-dominated Polish government kept him under surveillance from 1946 to 1964, when he died.  Our saint, an honorary canon in 1946, received orders from the government to cease teaching the catechism in 1952.  That government, to make his ministry more difficult, forced Findysz to live outside his parish in 1952 and 1954.  In 1957 he became the Vice Dean of the deanery; his title changed to Dean five years later.

The final blow fell in 1963.  That year Findysz began Conciliar Works of Charity, a campaign of writing letters to encourage parishioners to return to the Church.  This led to his arrest (on November 25, 1963) on the charge of forcing religion on the parishioners.  The result of the show trial (December 16 and 17) was a sentence of 30 months in prison.  His health was already failing; our saint required surgery for cancer of the esophagus.  Authorities guaranteed that he did not receive that procedure.  Finally they released him in February 1964; his health had broken and his cancer had become inoperable.  Findysz died, aged 56 years, at Nowy Zmigrod, on August 21, 1964.

The Roman Catholic Church classifies him as a martyr.

Pope John Paul II declared Findysz a Venerable in 2004.  Pope Benedict XVI beatified him the following year.








Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Blessed Jan Adalbert Balicki and Blessed Ladislaus Findysz,

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), page 60


Feast of Vethappan Solomon (March 15)   Leave a comment


Above:  The Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor



Apostle to the Nicobar Islands

Also known as Vedappan Solomon

The name of Vethappan Solomon came to my attention via The Book of Worship of the Church of North India (1995), which lists him as the saint for March 15.  I have found little information about him.  Most of it, however, has been consistent, except for the date of his death.

Vethappan Solomon, a Tamil, converted to Christianity prior to 1895.  He, a government employee, operated a school for boys in the Andaman Islands.  On March 15, 1895, he landed at Mus, on the island of Car Nicobar, in the Nicobar Islands.  He was officially the new meteorological observer.  He was also a catechist for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.  Our saint soon opened a school, which began with twelve students.  Among those pupils as Ha Chev Ka (June 6, 1888-June 3, 1978), baptized in 1901 as John Richardson.  Eventually Solomon resigned from his government job so he could focus on the school.  He and his first wife, who died of apoplexy in 1901, as well as his second wife, Betsy, whom he married in 1905, also offered medical care, encouraged dairy farming and the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, and taught sewing and carpentry.  Solomon was not the first Christian missionary in the Nicobar Islands, but he was the Apostle to them.  When he died, in 1909, there were 128 baptized Christians on Car Nicobar.  Among his tactics was teaching students to memorize and repeat key passages of scripture.

Betsy, Solomon’s widow, served as the head mistress of the school at Mus. until she died, in 1921.  Richardson also remained active in the school and the broader mission in the archipelago.  On January 15, 1950, he became the Anglican Bishop of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.  He was a great Christian leader and a culturally significant figure in the region.  His influence was partially due to the efforts of Vethappan Solomon and his wives.








God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Vethappan Solomon,

who made the good news known in the Nicobar Islands.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59


Feast of Ozora Stearns Davis (March 15)   1 comment


Above:  Ozora Stearns Davis in 1925

Image Source = Library of Congress

Image Creator = Chicago Daily News, Inc.

DN-0079535, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum



U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

Ozora Stearns Davis, born at Wheelock, Vermont, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1889 then from Hartford Theological Seminary then from the University of Leipzig.  He, ordained in 1896, served the following churches:

  1. First Congregational Church, Springfield, Vermont, founded in 1832 (1896-1900);
  2. Central Congregational Church, Newtonville, Newton, Massachusetts (founded in 1868) (1900-1904); and
  3. South Congregational Church, New Britain, Connecticut, founded in 1842 (1904-1909).

Davis left parish ministry to become the President of Chicago Theological Seminary (1909-1920).  And, from 1927 to 1929, he served as the moderator of the National Council of Congregational Churches.  Failing health forced Davis to resign.  As the Handbook to The Hymnal (1935), page 195, states:

Preceding his death on March 15, 1931, Dr. Davis gave to the world a noble example of a Christian’s approaching the end of life in his prime.  Under a time schedule set by the usual progress of his disease he continually challenged the world with his calm spirit and cheering view of the future as death was about to disclose it.

Davis died near Kansas City, Missouri, while traveling with Grace, his wife, from Los Angeles to Chicago.

Our saint’s theological works included the following:

  1. The Gospel in the Light of the Great War (1919);
  2. International Aspects of Christianity (1919); and
  3. Preaching the Social Gospel (1922).

Our saint wrote at least two hymns for the National Congregational Brotherhood convention of 1909.  (I have found two.)  One follows:

We bear the strain of earthly care,

But bear it not alone;

Beside us walks our Brother Christ

And makes our task His own.


Through din of market, whirl of wheels,

And thrust of driving trade,

We follow where our Master leads,

Serene and unafraid.


The common hopes that make us men

Were His in Galilee;

The tasks He gives are those He gave

Beside the restless sea.


Our brotherhood still rests in Him,

The Brother of us all,

And o’er the centuries still we hear

The Master’s winsome call.

And here is the other one:

At length there dawns the glorious day

By prophets long foretold;

At length the chorus clearer grows

That shepherds heard of old.

The day of dawning Brotherhood

Breaks on our eager eyes,

And human hatreds flee before

The radiant eastern skies.


For what are sundering strains of blood,

Or ancient caste and creed?

One claim unites all men in God

To serve each human need.

Then here together, brother men,

We pledge the Lord anew

Our loyal love, our stalwart faith,

Our service, strong and true.


One common faith unites us all,

We seek one common goal,

One tender comfort broods upon

The struggling human soul.

To this clear call of brotherhood

Our hearts responsive ring;

We join the glorious new crusade

Of our great Lord and King.

Our saint’s papers are available at the Congregational Library, the Congregational Christian Historical Society.

Ozora Stearns Davis sought to love God actively in his social context.  As far as I can tell, he succeeded.



First Congregational Church, Springfield, Vermont, is an active congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 2013.

Central Congregational Church, Newtonville, Newton, Massachusetts, hit hard by urban demographic changes, disbanded in 2003, dispersing its members to other UCC congregations in the area.

South Congregational Church and First Baptist Church, New Britain, Connecticut, on the same downtown street and both affected adversely by urban demographic changes, merged in 1974.  In 2013 the South Congregational-First Baptist Church (UCC and American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.) ministers in its city in an exercise of Christian Brotherhood.







O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Ozora Stearns Davis,

and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

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

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 720


Revised on December 23, 2016


Feast of St. Zachary of Rome (March 15)   1 comment

Above:  The Vatican Flag

Image in the Public Domain



Bishop of Rome

Of Greek ancestry, St. Zachary was born at Calabria.  He became Bishop of Rome on December 3, 741, and remained in that office until he died on March 15, 752.

Bishops of Rome have often had to deal with political situations and function as diplomats.  St. Zachary was no exception.  The Lombards threatened Rome itself.  The Pope intervened diplomatically several times (in 742, 743, and 749), securing the release of prisoners, the return of confiscated estates and seized lands, and the cessation of hostilities.  He also opposed Byzantine Iconoclasm, dealing diplomatically with the imperial palace while providing shelter for nuns who had to flee Constantinople due to that controversy.  And St. Zachary recognized Pepin III “the Short,” formerly Mayor of the Palace, as the Frankish monarch, displacing the feeble Merovingian Dynasty and its last king, Childeric III (reigned 743-751).

St. Zachary earned a reputation for managing church affairs efficiently, giving aid to the poor, and manifesting scholarship.  He translated the Dialogues of Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” into Greek.







Almighty God,

you raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Saint Zachary of Rome.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

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


Revised on December 24, 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)

  • Edwin Hodder, English Biographer, Devotional Writer, and Hymn Writer
  • George Wishart, Scottish Calvinist Reformer and Martyr, 1546; and Walter Milne, Scottish Protestant Martyr, 1558
  • 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; 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 Saints 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
  • Daniel March, Sr., U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
  • John Stuart Blackie, Scottish Presbyterian Scholar, Linguist, Poet, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Ludmilla of Bohemia, Duchess of Bohemia, and Martyr, 921; her grandson, Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, and Martyr, 929; Agnes of Prague, Bohemian Princess and Nun; her pen pal, Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Poor Clares; her sister, Agnes of Assisi, Abbess at Monticelli; and her mother, 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
  • Teresa Eustochio Verzeri, Founder of the Institute of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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

  • Henry Suso, German Roman Catholic Mystic, Preacher, and Spiritual Writer
  • John Edgar Park, U.S. Presbyterian then Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Thomas Hornblower Gill, English Unitarian then Anglican Hymn Writer

5 (Karl Rahner, Jesuit Priest and Theologian)

  • Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle, English Roman Catholic Convert, Spiritual Writer, and Translator of Spiritual Writings; Founder of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey
  • Christopher Macassoli of Vigevano, Franciscan Priest
  • Eusebius of Cremona, Roman Catholic Abbot and Humanitarian
  • Ion Costist, Franciscan Lay Brother
  • John S. Stamm, Bishop of The Evangelical Church then the Evangelical United Brethren Church

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

  • Chrodegang of Metz, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Fred B. Craddock, U.S. Disciples of Christ Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Renowned Preacher
  • Jean-Pierre de Caussade, French Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Director
  • Jordan of Pisa, Dominican Evangelist
  • William Bright, Anglican Canon, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

7 (James Hewitt McGown, U.S. Presbyterian 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
  • Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, Founder of the Daughters of the Divine Savior
  • Paul Cuffee, U.S. Presbyterian Missionary to the Shinnecock Nation
  • 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 (Harriet Tubman, U.S. Abolitionist)

  • Emanuel Cronenwett, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Frances of Rome, Founder of the Collatines
  • Johann Pachelbel, German Lutheran Organist and Composer
  • Sophronius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Patriarch

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
  • Alexander Clark, U.S. Methodist Protestant Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor
  • Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, Anglican Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • John Oglivie, Scottish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1615
  • 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; Roman Catholic Martyrs, 859
  • Francis Wayland, U.S. Baptist Minister, Educator, and Social Reformer
  • Mary Ann Thomson, Episcopal Hymn Writer
  • Pal Prennushi, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1948

12 (Trasilla and Emiliana; their sister-in-law, Sylvia of Rome; and her son, Gregory I “the Great,” Bishop of Rome)

  • Henry Walford Davies, Anglican Organist and Composer
  • John H. Caldwell, U.S. Methodist Minister and Social Reformer
  • Maximillian of Treveste, Roman Conscientious Objector and Martyr, 295
  • Rutilio Grande, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1977
  • Theophanes the Chroncler, Defender of Icons

13 (Yves Congar, Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian)

  • Heldrad, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • James Theodore Holly, Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, and the Dominican Republic; First African-American Bishop in The Episcopal Church
  • Plato of Symboleon and Theodore Studites, Eastern Orthodox Abbots; and Nicephorus of Constantinople, Patriarch
  • Roderic of Cabra and Solomon of Cordoba, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 857

14 (Fannie Lou Hamer, Prophet of Freedom)

  • Albert Lister Peace, Organist in England and Scotland
  • Harriet King Osgood Munger, U.S. Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • Nehemiah Goreh, Indian Anglican Priest and Theologian
  • Vincenzina Cusmano, Superior of the Sisters Servants of the Poor; and her brother, Giacomo Cusmano, Founder of the Sisters Servants of the Poor and the Missionary Servants of the Poor
  • William Leddra, British Quaker Martyr in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1661

15 (Zachary of Rome, Bishop of Rome)

  • 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, 1183
  • Megingaud of Wurzburg, Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop
  • Thomas Wyatt Turner, U.S. Roman Catholic Scientist, Educator, and Civil Rights Activist; Founder of Federated Colored Catholics

17 (Patrick, Apostle of Ireland)

  • Ebenezer Elliott, “The Corn Law Rhymer”
  • Henry Scott Holland, Anglican Hymn Writer and Priest
  • Jan Sarkander, Silesian Roman Catholic Priest and “Martyr of the Confessional,” 1620
  • Maria Barbara Maix, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

18 (Leonides of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Martyr, 202; Origen, Roman Catholic Theologian; Demetrius of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Alexander of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Theologian, and Liturgist
  • Eliza Sibbald Alderson, Poet and Hymn Writer; and John Bacchus Dykes, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Paul of Cyprus, Eastern Orthodox Martyr, 760
  • Robert Walmsley, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer


20 (Sebastian Castellio, Prophet of Religious Liberty)

  • Christopher Wordsworth, Hymn Writer and Anglican Bishop of Lincoln
  • Ellen Gates Starr, U.S. Episcopalian then Roman Catholic Social Activist and Reformer
  • Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra, Founder 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

22 (Deogratias, Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage)

  • Emmanuel Mournier, French Personalist Philosopher
  • James De Koven, Episcopal Priest
  • Thomas Hughes, British Social Reformer and Member of Parliament
  • William Edward Hickson, English Music Educator and Social Reformer

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, 1959
  • Umphrey Lee, U.S. Methodist Minister and President of Southern Methodist University
  • Victorian of Hadrumetum, Martyr at Carthage, 484
  • Walter of Pontoise, French Roman Catholic Abbot and Ecclesiastical Reformer

24 (Oscar Romero, Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador; and the Martyrs of El Salvador, 1980-1992)

  • Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, Capuchin Friar
  • George Rundle Prynne, Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Paul Couturier, Apostle of Christian Unity
  • Thomas Attwood, “Father of Modern Church Music”


  • Dismas, Penitent Bandit

26 (Margaret Clitherow, English Roman Catholic Martyr, 1586)

  • Flannery O’Connor, U.S. Roman Catholic Writer
  • James Rendel Harris, Anglo-American Congregationalist then Quaker Biblical Scholar and Orientalist; Robert Lubbock Bensly, English Biblical Translator and Orientalist; Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson, English Biblical Scholars and Linguists; Samuel Savage Lewis, Anglican Priest and Librarian of Corpus Christi College; and James Young Gibson, Scottish United Presbyterian Minister and Literary Translator
  • Ludger, Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster

27 (Charles Henry Brent, Episcopal Missionary Bishop of the Philippines, Bishop of Western New York, and Ecumenist)

  • Nicholas Owen, Thomas Garnet, Mark Barkworth, Edward Oldcorne, and Ralph Ashley, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1601-1608
  • Robert Hall Baynes, Anglican Bishop of Madagascar
  • Rupert of Salzburg, Apostle of Bavaria and Austria
  • Stanley Rother, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Guatemala, 1981

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

  • Elizabeth Rundle Charles, Anglican Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer
  • Guntram of Burgundy, King
  • Katharine Lee Bates, U.S. Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Richard Chevenix Trench, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin
  • Tutilo, Roman Catholic Monk and Composer

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, 327

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

  • Cordelia Cox, U.S. Lutheran Social Worker, Educator, and Resettler of Refugees
  • John Wright Buckham, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Julio Alvarez Mendoza, Mexican Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1927

31 (Maria Skobtsova, Russian Orthodox Martyr, 1945)

  • Ernest Trice Thompson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Renewer of the Church
  • Franz Joseph Haydn and his brother, Michael Haydn, Composers
  • Joan of Toulouse, Carmelite Nun; and Simon Stock, Carmelite Friar
  • John Donne, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • John Marriott, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer



  • The Confession of Saint Martha of Bethany (the Sunday immediately prior to Palm Sunday; March 8-April 11)


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

Third Sunday in Lent, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Jacob’s Well in 1934

The Water of Life

MARCH 15, 2020


Exodus 17:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said,

Give us water to drink.

Moses said to them,

Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?

But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said,

Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?

So Moses cried out to the Lord,

What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.

The Lord said to Moses,

Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.

Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying,

Is the Lord among us or not?

Psalm 95 (New Revised Standard Version):

O come, let us sing to the LORD;

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the LORD is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and the dry land, which has hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,

let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!

Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Masah in the wilderness,

when your ancestors tested me,

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

For forty years I loathed that generation

and said,

They are a people whose hearts go astray,

and they do not regard my ways.

Therefore in anger I swore,

They shall not enter my rest.

Romans 5:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

John 4:5-42 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her,

Give me a drink.

(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him,

How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?

(Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her,

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.

The woman said to him,

Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?

Jesus said to her,

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

The woman said to him,

Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.

Jesus said to her,

Go, call your husband, and come back.

The woman answered him,

I have no husband.

Jesus said to her,

You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!

The woman said to him,

Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.

Jesus said to her,

Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The woman said to him,

I know that Messiah is coming

(who is called Christ).

When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.

Jesus said to her,

I am he, the one who is speaking to you.

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said,

What do you want?


Why are you speaking with her?

Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people,

Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?

They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him,

Rabbi, eat something.

But he said to them,

I have food to eat that you do not know about.

So the disciples said to one another,

Surely no one has brought him something to eat?

Jesus said to them,

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,

He told me everything I have ever done.

So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman,

It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Water is precious, especially in the desert.  Modern-day Israel and surrounding nations, the locations of most of the Biblical narrative, are mostly desert.  So think of the Biblical references to water.  (Psalm 1 comes to mind immediately.)  Water can make the difference between life and death.

H2O can make the make the difference between physical life and death, just as spiritual water can make the difference between spiritual life and death.  That is my theme for this entry.

God had delivered the Israelites (through water) out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom.  This liberty entailed a nomadic life in the desert of the Sinai Peninsula.  God provided the Israelites everything they needed for survival, yet many people grumbled, waxing nostalgically about Egyptian table scraps and pressing Moses about where to find more water. They found it inside rocks.  Indeed, the presence of water inside rocks is a fact of nature.  The main issue with the Israelites was their faithlessness, fed by a lack of gratitude, patience, and vision.

Often we (including the author of this post) are impatient of God, unaware of how fortunate we are.  Human nature does not change.

Samaritans were half-breeds and heretics by orthodox Jewish standards.  So why did Jesus deign to carry on an intelligent, non-judgmental conversation with one of them?  And with a woman!  Women were the social inferiors of men in that patriarchal society.  This Samaritan woman had more faith than did many Israelites shortly after the Exodus, though, and she received spiritual water and rejuvenated faith.  She went away justified.

Truly all people who seek and find God, who demonstrate living faith in the one true deity and his only Son, Jesus, are acceptable to God–regardless of ethnic origin or sex.  Some heretics have more faith than certain observant people.  Some of my most productive and interesting theological discussions have been with refugees and exiles from organized religion.  I think especially of a young woman I knew as a classmate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, in the early and middle 1990s.  Brittany (not her real name) had grown up in a conservative, Charismatic congregation of an old, mainline Protestant denomination.  She cared deeply about epistomology, or how we know what we know.  Brittany’s congregation did not encourage her epistomological quest, equating it with faithlessness.  So, wounded and unwelcome, she left organized religion.  That was were she was spiritually when I spoke to her last, in early 1996.  Yet she was more faithful in a healthy way than those other students who attended fundamentalist churches weekly (or more often) and who discouraged my questions, telling me they would lead me to damnation.

Receptiveness to God is not the sole province of those who seem orthodox.  Sometimes the alleged heretics are closer to God.  Penitent prostitutes (not St. Mary Magdalene, who was not a prostitute), unlike some Pharisees, welcomed the message of our Lord and Savior.  The Samaritan woman at the well found much more than she expected, and led others to Jesus.  And Gentiles found God throughout the New Testament.  Perhaps the pivotal difference between those who embrace God and those who think they do is that the former population knows fully of its need for God, and therefore does not cling to false pride.

So there you have it.  May we welcome healthy faith in the only God wherever we find it, in whomever it lives.