Archive for the ‘March 8’ Category

Feast of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy (March 8)   1 comment


Above:  Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy

Image Source =



Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


Nobody worries about Christ as long as he can be kept shut up in churches.  He is quite safe inside.  But there is always trouble if you try and let him out.

–Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy


Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (surname = Studdert Kennedy) was a man from and of the Church.  He, born on June 27, 1883, was a native of Leeds, England, where his father, William Studdert Kennedy, was an Anglican vicar.  Our saint, educated at Leeds Grammar School and at Trinity College, Dublin, took Holy Orders.  He served as a priest at, in order, Ripon and Rugby, before becoming the Vicar of St. Paul’s Worcester, in 1914.  From 1916 to 1919 Studdert Kennedy was a military chaplain.  He placed his life at risk to tend to the material and spiritual needs of soldiers, especially the injured and the dying.  For his valor–recklessness, King George V called it–our saint received the Military Cross in 1917.  He became known as “Woodbine Willie” for distributing Woodbine cigarettes to soldiers.

After the war Studdert Kennedy, who married Emily Catlow in 1914, became a pacifist and a Christian Socialist.  Our saint, the Rector of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, Lombard Street, London, from 1922, went on the lecture circuit for the Industrial Christian Fellowship.

Studdert Kennedy published poems, sermons, essays, and social critiques.  His published works included the following:

  1. The Hardest Part (1918);
  2. Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918);
  3. More Rough Rhymes (1919);
  4. Lies (1919);
  5. Democracy and the Dog Collar (1921);
  6. Food for the Fed Up (1921);
  7. The Wicked Gate (1923);
  8. The Word and the Work (1925);
  9. I Believe:  Sermons on the Apostles’ Creed (1928); and
  10. The Warrior, the Woman, and the Christ (1928).

There was also an undated volume, The Sorrows of God, and Other Poems.

Studdert Kennedy’s hymns included “Not Here for High and Holy Things” and “When Through the Whirl of Wheels.”

When thro’ the whirl of wheels, and engines humming,

Patiently powerful for the sons of men,

Peals like a trumpet promise of his coming,

Who in the clouds is pledged to come again;


When thro’ the night of the furnace fires aflaring,

Shooting out tongues of flame like leaping blood,

Speak to the heart of Love, alive and daring,

Sing of the boundless energy of God;


When in the depths of the patient miner striving,

Feels in his arms the vigor of the Lord,

Strikes for a kingdom and his King’s arriving,

Holding his pick more splendid than the sword;


When on the sweat of labor and its sorrow,

Toiling in the twilight flickering and dim,

Flames out sunshine of the great tomorrow,

When all the world looks up because of him–


Then will he come with meekness for his glory,

God in a workman’s jacket as before,

Living again in th’eternal gospel story,

Sweeping the shavings from his workshop floor.

Studdert Kennedy died at Liverpool, England, on March 8, 1929, while on the lecture circuit for the Industrial Christian Fellowship.  He was 45 years old.








Glorious God, we give thanks not merely for high and holy things,

but for the common things of earth which you have created:

Wake us to love and work, that Jesus, the Lord of life,

may set our hearts ablaze and that we, like Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy,

may recognize you in your people and in your creation,

serving the holy and undivided Trinity;

who lives and reigns throughout all ages and ages.  Amen.

2 Samuel 22:1-7 (8-16) 17-19

Psalm 69:15-20

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Luke 10:25-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 265


Feast of Edward King (March 8)   Leave a comment

NPG Ax38337; Edward King

Above:  Edward King

Image in the Public Domain



Bishop of Lincoln


We must not give up on any soul as hopeless.

–Edward King


We should acknowledge God in trade by truthfulness of work, by fair dealing, and by fair wages.

–Edward King


The housing of the people is in reality immediately connected with the social and moral condition of the nation.

–Edward King


The Feast of Edward King comes from the calendar of saints of The Church of England.

Edward King came from an ecclesiastical family and served God via the Church.  His grandfather was Walker King (Sr.) (1751-1827), the Bishop of Rochester from 1809 to 1827.  Our saint’s parents were Anne Heberden and Walker King (Jr.), Rector of Stone, Kent.  Edward, born at London on December 29, 1829, was the third of ten children.  He had a reputation for kindliness from an early age.  Anne, one of his sisters, was an invalid for twelve years.  Our saint sat by her bedside many nights and learned Italian so he could share her love of the writing of Dante Alighieri.  Edward’s constitution was also weak; he remained at home while John Day, his father’s curate (and later the Vicar or Ellesmere, Shropshire) tutored him.  Our saint helped Day with the choir and a Bible class for men. In February 1848 King matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford.  There he became a Tractarian.  Our saint had to leave Oxford for health reasons in 1851, but he accepted an honorary degree.  Next he toured the Holy Land and environs (in 1852) and worked as a private tutor (in 1853).  King, ordained deacon in 1854 and priest the following year, served as the Curate of Wheatley from 1854 to 1858.  It was his only pastorate.  Cuddesdon Theological College (now Ripon College), Cuddesdon, beckoned next.  He was chaplain from 1858 to 1863 and principal from 1863 to 1873.  From Cuddesdon our saint returned to Oxford; he became the Chair of Pastoral Theology and the Canon of Christ Church in 1873.  Six years later King helped to found St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, an Anglo-Catholic theological college.  In 1885 King succeeded Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) as the Bishop of Lincoln.  Our saint remained in that post for the rest of his life.  King remained kindly and concerned about the plight of a wide range of people, from farmers to industrial workers to prisoners condemned to die.  The Gospel commanded him to minister to them, he understood.

King’s liturgical “innovations,” actually returns to older practices, proved controversial and got him into trouble.  At the time members of the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of The Church of England clashed, with some Evangelical Anglicans went so far as to accuse Anglo-Catholics of being in league with Satan and certain Anglo-Catholics accused Evangelical Anglicans of practicing false religion.  Also, Parliament passed the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, forbidding certain ritualistic practices.  In 1888 King had to contend with eight allegations of supposed liturgical malfeasance:

  1. Mixing water and wine in the chalice;
  2. Administering the mixed elements to communicants;
  3. Washing the communion vessels ceremonially then drinking the water;
  4. Facing eastward before communion;
  5. Standing during the prayer of consecration so that nobody in the congregation could see him perform the Manual Acts of Consecration;
  6. Having two lit candles not necessary for illumination on the altar during the service;
  7. Permitting the singing of the Agnus Dei after the consecration of the elements; and
  8. Making the sign of the cross in the air with his hand at the benediction.

Archbishop of Canterbury Edward White Benson (1829-1896) spared King a civil prosecution by convening an ecclesiastical court.  In 1890 the court exonerated the Bishop of Lincoln on all but two counts:  (5) and (6).  Benson ordered King not to commit them any longer.  King obeyed that judgment.  The ordeal, however, stressed him spiritually and physically. The matter should never have come to the attention of any court.

King, who never married, died on March 8, 1910.  He was 80 years old.








O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Edward King

to be a bishop in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ

and stewards of your divine mysteries;

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

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

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


Feast of John Hampden Gurney (March 8)   1 comment

St. Marylebone, London, 1834

Above:  Map of St. Marylebone, London, England, 1834

Image in the Public Domain



Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

John Hampden Gurney came from a wealthy family.  His father, Sir John Gurney, was a baron in the court of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  Our saint, a member of the British establishment, studied at Trinity College, Cambridge (A.B., 1824; A.M., 1827) and took Anglican Holy Orders (1824).  The native of London served as the Curate of Lutterworth, Leicestershire (1824-1844), where he also worked as the chaplain of the poor-law union.  Helping the downtrodden was one of Gurney’s passions; another was the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).  From 1847 to 1857 he was the Rector of St. Mary’s, Bryanstone, Marylebone, London.  Then, from 1857 to 1862, Gurney was Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Our saint wrote hymns and edited hymnals.  He also wrote on the subject of hymnody.  His published works in the field were:

  1. A Collection of Hymns for Public Worship, a.k.a. the Lutterworth Collection (1838), with 300 hymns;
  2. Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship, Selected for some of the Churches of Marylebone, a.k.a. the Marylebone Collection (1851), with 300 hymns; and
  3. Church Psalmody:  Hints for the Improvement of a Collection of Hymns Published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1853).

I have added some of Gurney’s hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Our saint also published collections of sermons.  I found the following volumes at

  1. Sermons Chiefly on Old Testament Histories; from Texts in the Sunday Lessons (1856);
  2. Sermons Preached in St. Mary’s, Marylebone:  Third Series (1860); and
  3. Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles (1862).

Other published works by Gurney included the following:

  1. The New Poor Law the Poor Man’s Friend; A Plain Address to the Labouring Classes Among His Parishioners (1836); and
  2. Historical Sketches; Illustrating Some Important Events and Epochs from A.D. 1400 to A.D. 1546 (1852).

Gurney died in London on March 8, 1862.





Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant John Hampden Gurney,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness

of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 718


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.

Feast of St. John of God (March 8)   2 comments

Above:  Caduceus

Image in the Public Domain



Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God

Sometimes the process of finding of one’s vocation, the intersection of one’s deepest joys and the world’s greatest needs, takes some time.  However long this process might last, it is never too late to pursue one’s calling from God.

Consider the case of St. John of God.  Born in Portugal in 1495, he bounced around in various careers.  He served the Count of Oroprusa (in Castille and Spain) as Bailiff.  Then, in 1522, the saint began to fight in military campaigns, first against the French (who were fighting the Spanish) then the Turks in Hungary.  After the close of his military career, in 1536, the saint became a shepherd near Seville.

Yet there was greater work awaiting the saint.  He became a penitent at age 40.  He sought ways to devote his life to God.  But what was the best way for him to accomplish this noble goal?  Might he travel to Africa, to rescue Christian slaves?  It was surely a noble cause.  The saint chose instead to sell sacred books and pictures in Gibraltar, in 1538.  There he heard St. John of Avila preach on St. Sebastian’s Day, the bookseller overreacted, crying aloud, beating his breast, begging for mercy publicly, wandering the streets, and generally behaving like a lunatic.  So he wound up in an asylum, where St. John of Avila advised him that the best penance was doing something to help others.

So the former bookseller began his greatest work for God.  Initially he began to help his fellow patients.   After his release, the saint sold wood to raise funds for helping the poor of Granada.  In 1540 he opened a shelter for the poor and offered medical care on the streets before finding a suitable building to function as a hospital.  He offered these services freely, in the name of God, despite the scandal which arose from the fact that he did not refuse to help people of allegedly bad character.  The only bad character at the hospital, the saint said, was himself.

A decade of this hard work led to illness and death on March 8, 1550.  The archbishop presided over the saint’s funeral.  Canonized in 1690, he is the patron saint of the sick, of hospitals, and of nurses, printers, and booksellers.  The Order of Hospitallers, which he organized to assist him in his work among the poor of Granada, became the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God in 1572.  The website ( of the U.S.A. Province of the order says this:

We, the Brothers of St. John of God, are called to witness to the people of God, Christ’s healing love as expressed by our charism of hospitality, through a community of faith and a compassionate service to God’s suffering people.

The legacy of St. John of God rests on how he spent the last ten years of his life.  What will you do for God and your fellow human beings with what remains of your time on Earth?






The Collect from Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976):

Father, you gave John of God love and compassion for others.  Grant that by doing good for others we may be counted among the saints in your kingdom.  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.

Readings I Have Selected:

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 38:1-4, 6-10, 12-14

Psalm 51

1 Corinthians 13

Matthew 25:31-46


Revised on December 24, 2016


Second Sunday in Lent, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Abraham (Russian Orthodox Icon)

Justification by the Righteousness of Faith

MARCH 8, 2020


Genesis 12:1-4a (New Revised Standard Version):

The Lord said to Abram,

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.

Psalm 121 (New Revised Standard Version):

I lift up my eyes to the hills–

from where where my help come?

My help comes from the LORD,

who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;

the LORD is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time on and forevermore.

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say?

Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written,

I have made you the father of many nations

) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

John 3:1-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him,

Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.

Jesus answered him,

Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.

Nicodemus said to him,

How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?

Jesus answered,

Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Nicodemus said to him,

How can these things be?

Jesus answered him,

Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The Collect:

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


As I begin to write I think about Psalm 121 and what composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy made of it in his oratorio Elijah.  (I own a Robert Shaw/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus recording of this work. )  Two sopranos and a mezzo-soprano (a trio of angels) sing, their voices blending and dancing around each other:

Lift thine eyes to the mountains whence thy help cometh.  Thy help cometh from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.  He hath said, “Thy foot shall not be moved; thy Keeper will never slumber.”

Then the choir sings:

He, watching over Israel, slumbers not nor sleeps.  Shouldst thou, walking in grief, languish, He will quicken thee.

The music, which I have known for decades, is transcendent.  And it helps me remember a wonderful psalm, too.  Psalm 121 makes a wonderful companion piece to the reading from Romans, from which I take my central point:  Our justification with God begins with divine initiative.

Justification is the state of being right with God, especially at the final judgment.  This justification cannot flow from good deeds, as laudable as they are.  Instead, it comes through faith in God.  This faith extends beyond mere intellectual acceptance and verbal confession of certain theological propositions.  Faith makes orthodoxy (“right belief”) and orthopraxy (“right practice”) different sides of the same coin.  Faith is lived.  Our deeds are our professions.  You shall know a tree by its fruits.  Deeds reveal creeds.

O, and just one more thing.

One need not have had a dramatic conversion experience to be a Christian.  Not to boast, but I have led a relatively sedate life, abstaining from such practices such as using illegal drugs or robbing liquor stores.  So my personal story is not as interesting as some others you, O reader, might have heard.  I have never had a dramatic conversion experience, and do not feel “regenerated,” whatever that is supposed to mean.  Yet I know that I love God as revealed in Jesus and the rest of the Trinity, and have a deepening, lived faith in the God of Christianity.  I have been a Christian for a long time, but cannot state the day or time this process began.  And that is fine.  My spiritual reality does not satisfy certain individuals, and that is just the way things will have to be.  The most important question is where I stand with God, not them.  And I report that I stand on a path of spiritual pilgrimage, and in utter dependence on grace.  I stand relative to God largely because of divine initiative.

That is my testimony, for what it is worth.