Archive for the ‘May 21’ Category

Feast of Blesseds Manuel Gomez Gonzalez and Adilo Daronch (May 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Brazil

Image in the Public Domain



Spanish-Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1924



Brazilian Roman Catholic Altar Boy and Martyr, 1924

Political turmoil has been the context of many martyrdoms.  Being stuck between a repressive regime and an equally bad rebellious force has long been a familiar reality for many people.

Blessed Manuel Gómez González was a native of Spain.  He, born in San José de Ribouteme, Pontevedra, on May 29, 1877, grew up on a farm.  Our saint, ordained a priest in 1902, served in his native land until 1904.

Above:  Flag of Portugal, 1830-1910

Image in the Public Domain

González served in Portugal from 1904 to 1913. Between the abolition of the monarchy (1910) and the establishment of a right-wing military dictatorship (1926) the First Portuguese Republic existed.  Politics were unstable, presidents came and went in rapid succession, and the militantly secularist regime persecuted the Roman Catholic Church and harassed priests.

Above:  Flag of Portugal, 1910-Present

Image in the Public Domain

González left persecution and harassment in Portugal behind and arrived in Brazil in 1913.  He served in region of the Brazilian-Uruguayan border, in Soledade (1913-1915) and Nonoai (1915-1924), both in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, to be precise.  Our saint, active in building up his community, helped to decrease homelessness by increasing the supply of housing.

Above:  Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Image Source = Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957), 47

Brazil had serious troubles, too.  The country was a republic in name only.  People voted, but the results were foregone conclusions.  Institutionalized, ingrained poverty fueled rebellious tendencies in segments of the population; armed groups fought over land in the early 1920s.  Finally, in 1930, a right-wing military dictatorship replaced the old regime.  Brazil’s troubles continued.

Blessed Adilo Daronch was one of González’s altar boys in Nonoai.  Daronch, born in Dona Francisca, Cachoeira do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, on October 25, 1908, was a son of Italian immigrants Pietro Daronch (murdered in 1923) and Giuditta Segabinazzi (died in 1932).  Our young saint accompanied González on visits to chapels.

González and Daronch were on a diocesan mission to chapels in May 1924.  Revolutionaries captured the priest and the altar boy, both of whom they captured, tortured, then shot at Feljâo Mirido, Três Passos, Rio Grande do Sul, on May 21, 1924.  González was 46 years old.  Daronch was 15 years old.

Pope Benedict XVI declared our saints Venerables in 2006.  He beatified them the following year.










Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Blesseds Manuel Gómez González and Adilo Daronch

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714


Feast of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter (May 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Poster of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Image in the Public Domain



Austrian Roman Catholic Conscientious Objector and Martyr


I can say from my own experience how painful life often is when one lives as a halfway Christian; it is more like vegetating than living.

–Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, writing to a god-child


Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, a man of lowly social origin, became a martyr because he insisted on obeying his principles.  His parents were Franz Bachmeier and Rosalia Huber, servants who did not marry because they could not afford to do so.  Our saint, born in Sankt Radegund, Austria, on May 20, 1907, lost his father at the age of ten years, during World War I.  Then Rosalia married farmer Heinrich Jägerstätter, who adopted young Franz.  Our saint’s stepfather and step-grandfather took great interest in him.  Franz, educated in a one-room school, learned much from these men.

Franz sowed some wild oats during his early twenties.  During that phase of his life he worked in the iron ore industry.  At the age of 23 years, however, he became serious about faith, married, and became a peasant farmer.  In 1936 Franz married Franziska, with whom he had three daughters.  He also worked as the sexton in his parish, to take the Holy Eucharist daily, to assist at funerals, and to minister to the grieving.

Everyone tells me, of course, that I should not do what I am doing because of the danger of death. I believe it is better to sacrifice one’s life right away than to place oneself in the grave danger of committing sin and then dying.

–Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, on resisting the military draft

The intersection of Nazism and Franz’s conscience led to his martyrdom.  In 1938 he openly opposed the Anschluss with Germany.  Our saint also answered “Heil Hitler” with “Pfui Hitler,” thereby becoming an outlier in his town.  Then military conscription became a problem.  Franz, drafted on June 17, 1940, served briefly before his mayor intervened.  Our saint returned to the farm.  Yet Franz was back in active service from October 1940 to June 1941.  The mayor intervened again, and our saint returned to the farm again.  Franz, who had once considered non-combatant service morally acceptable, changed his mind.  Any service in the cause of the Third Reich was immoral, he concluded.  When the Nazi regime called him to service again in February 1943, our saint refused to obey.  This led to incarceration and to a death sentence.

In prison our saint wrote:

Just as the man who thinks only of this world does everything possible to make life here easier and better, so must we, too, who believe in the eternal Kingdom, risk everything in order to receive a great reward there. Just as those who believe in National Socialism tell themselves that their struggle is for survival, so must we, too, convince ourselves that our struggle is for the eternal Kingdom. But with this difference: we need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but instead, spiritual weapons – and the foremost among these is prayer. Through prayer, we continually implore new grace from God, since without God’s help and grace it would be impossible for us to preserve the Faith and be true to His commandments. Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray for Those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity. And happy are they who live and die in God’s love.

Franz, sentenced to die on July 6, 1943, went to the guillotine at Brandenburg on August 9 that year.  He was 36 years old.

Pope Benedict XVI declared our saint a Venerable then a Blessed in 2007.






Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adopted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 714


Feast of St. Eugene de Mazenod (May 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Eugène de Mazenod

Image in the Public Domain



Bishop of Marseille and Founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries, Oblates of Mary Immaculate


I am a priest, a priest of Jesus Christ.  That says it all.

–St. Eugène de Mazenod


St. Eugène de Mazenod, who hailed from minor nobility, experienced the political turmoil of the French Revolution and founded an order of missionary priests.  Our saint, born in Aix-en-Provence, on August 1, 1782, went into exile with his family when he was eight years old.  His father, Charles-Antoine de Mazenod, had been the President of the Court of Accounts, Aids and Finances in Aix-en-Provence.  Charles-Antoine, in exile in a series of Italian cities, proved to be an unsuccessful businessman, so the family’s financial condition declined precipitously.  As the family traveled from city to city, St. Eugène’s formal education ended prematurely.  In Venice a priest, Bartolo Zinelli, continued our saint’s education informally.  The family moved on to Naples then to Palermo.  There, thanks to the patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Cannizzaro, the de Mazenods’ fortunes improved greatly.  There St. Eugène assumed the title “Count.”

In 1802 “Count” Eugène de Mazenod returned to his homeland after an absence of 11 years.  In France he was merely Citizen de Mazenod.  His parents had separated.  St. Eugène’s mother, Marie-Rose Joannis de Mazenod, was struggling to recover the family’s property, seized in 1790.  She was also attempting to arrange the marriage of her son to the wealthiest heiress possible.  St. Eugène, suffering from depression, saw no good future for himself until he discerned a vocation to the Roman Catholic priesthood.  He matriculated at the seminary of St. Sulpice, Paris, in 1808, and joined the ranks of priests on December 21, 1811.

Learn who you are in the eyes of God.

–St. Eugène de Mazenod

St. Eugène returned to his hometown as a priest.  He, not seeking social status, served as a priest to villagers, youth, servants, prisoners, and the ill.  Like-minded priests joined our saint in this noble work.  These self-proclaimed Missionaries of Provence, the origin of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (as of 1826), heard many confessions.  They also preached not in French, but in Provencal, the language of the common people.  St. Eugène served as the first Superior General of the order, from 1826 until he died, in 1861.

Leave nothing undared for the Kingdom of God.

–St. Eugène de Mazenod

St. Eugène rose to the episcopate.  In 1802 the regime of Napoleon Bonaparte suppressed the Diocese of Marseille.  When the French government reversed that decision Canon Fortuné de Mazenod, our saint’s uncle, became the bishop.  Immediately, in 1823, Fortuné appointed his nephew the Vicar-General of the diocese.  Nine years later our saint became the Auxiliary Bishop of Marseille.  This consecration created a major diplomatic incident, for it happened in Rome and the French government (that of King Louis-Philippe at the time) had become accustomed to holding a prominent role in ecclesiastical affairs since the Concordat of 1802.  Diplomatic tensions died down eventually.  In 1837 Fortuné retired.  St. Eugène succeeded him.  As the Bishop of Marseille our saint oversaw the construction of the cathedral at Marseille and the founding of parishes.  He, appointed a senator in 1856, died of cancer on May 21, 1861.  St. Eugène was 78 years old.

He had, meanwhile, expanded the work of the Oblates into Ireland, Switzerland, England, Canada, the United States, Ceylon, South Africa, and Lesotho.

Pope Paul VI declared St. Eugène a Venerable in 1970 then a Blessed five years later.  Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1995.








Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints,

and who raised up your servant Saint Eugène de Mazenod to be a light in the world:

Shine, we pray, in your hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise,

who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 98 or 98:1-4

Acts 17:22-31

Matthew 28:16-20

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 717


Feast of Christian de Cherge and His Companions (May 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Northern Algeria

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)

Tibhirine is northwest of Médéa, southeast of Cherchel, and southwest of Blida.



Prior of the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of Atlas, Tibhirine, Algeria


If it should happen one day—and it could be today—that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. I ask them to accept that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to be able to associate such a death with the many other deaths that were just as violent, but forgotten through indifference and anonymity.

–From the Last Testament of Christian de Chergé, translated by the Monks of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, Leicester, England


The story of the monks of Tibhirine became the basis of the movie Of Gods and Men (2010).

In the early hours of March 27, 1996, twenty soldiers of the Armed Islamic Group (G.I.A.) burst into the Monastery of Our Lady of Atlas, Tibhirine, Algeria.  They abducted seven monks:

  1. Father Christian de Chergé, the Prior;
  2. Brother Luc (born Paul Bechier), a physician;
  3. Father Christophe Lebreton;
  4. Brother Michel Fleury;
  5. Father Bruno (born Christian LeMarchand);
  6. Father Célestin Ringeard; and
  7. Brother Paul Favre-Miville.

During a civil war in Algeria the G.I.A. wanted all foreigners to leave the country–or else.  The monks had remained, despite many warnings.  The Islamist group hoped to swap the monks for prisoners, but the French government refused to negotiate with terrorists.  The G.I.A. beheaded the monks on May 21.  Two monks–Father Jean-Pierre and Father Amédée, hid successfully from the terrorists on March 27.  These fortunate men told the story of the others.

The monks of Tibhirine understood the difference between Islam and Islamism.  They lived peaceably among Muslims, with whom they prayed and who came to the monastery for medical care.  The villagers certainly were not violent toward the monks.  Extremists were, unfortunately.

Christian de Chergé was a peaceful and tolerant man.  He, born in Colmar, France, on January 18, 1937, was the second of eight children born into a devout Roman Catholic family.  In 1959 our saint was a French soldier stationed in Algeria during the war for independence.  One of his friends was Mohammed, a police officer and a devout Muslim.  When a rebel attempted to ambush de Chergé, Mohammed, acting on his faith, saved our saint’s life.  The police officer became the victim of an assassination that day or the next one.  De Chergé never forgot his friend’s action and the high price he paid for it, and looked forward to meeting him again in the communion of saints.  De Chergé went on to become a priest in 1964 and a Trappist monk at Aiguebelle five years later.  He transferred to Tibhirine in 1971.  Our saint became an avid student of the Koran.  Villagers reciprocated his respect for them, Algeria, Islam, and Muslims.

Unfortunately, extremists, who did not know de Chergé and his fellow monks, acted out of a toxic stew of hatred, intolerance, and narrow nationalism.  The G.I.A., fighting a civil war against the less than warm-and-fuzzy military-controlled Algerian government, started killing foreigners who remained in the country after December 1, 1993.

The rest is history.

And you also, the friend of my final moment, who would not be aware of what you were doing. Yes, for you also I wish this “thank you”—and this <adieu>—to commend you to the God whose face I see in yours.

And may we find each other, happy “good thieves,” in Paradise, if it pleases God, the Father of us both. Amen.

–From the Last Testament of Christian de Chergé, translated by the Monks of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, Leicester, England

To repay violence with violence, hatred with hatred, intolerance with intolerance, and evil with evil is tempting and morally incorrect.  Shall we consider the scriptures?

Never pay back evil for evil.  Let your aims be such as all count honourable.  If possible, so far as it lies with you, live at peace with all.  My dear friends, do not seek revenge, but leave a place for divine retribution; for there is a text which reads, “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.”  But there is another text:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; by doing this you will heap live coals on his head.”  Do not let evil conquer you, but use good to conquer evil.

–Romans 12:17-21, The Revised English Bible (1989)


Do not repay wrong with wrong, or abuse with abuse; on the contrary, respond with blessing, for a blessing is what God intends you to receive.

–1 Peter 3:9a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Besides, forgiveness is a better and more difficult path to trod.

De Chergé forgave his murderer in advance, for he wrote the first draft of his Last Testament on December 1, 1993, two and a half years before he died.

De Chergé puts me to shame.








Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of love in the hearts

of your holy Martyrs of Tibhirine, Algeria:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their examples;

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

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-15

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 715


Feast of Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope (May 21)   3 comments


Above:  The First Page of The Spectator, June 2, 1711

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-70444


JOSEPH ADDISON (MAY 1, 1672-JUNE 17, 1719)

English Poet and Literary Critic


ALEXANDER POPE (MAY 21, 1688-MAY 30, 1744)

English Poet, Moralist, and Satirist


Whoever writes to attain an English style familiar yet not coarse, and elegant yet not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.

–Dr. Samuel Johnson


Joseph Addison (1672-1719) and Alexander Pope (1688-1744) were major literary figures whose paths crossed.  Scholars have written about them at great length and detail, understandably.  Thus I refer any reader of this post who desires such reading to those works.  I have, in fact, provided hyperlinks to two of them.  My purpose in this post is to cover some of the major points of these saints’ lives from a theological angle.

Joseph Addison was a son of Lancelot Addison, the Church of England clergyman at Milston, Wiltshire.  One might have assumed that Joseph would follow in his father’s footsteps; some did.  The younger Addison, who attended Queen’s College then Magdalen College, Oxford, distinguished himself in Latin poetry at university.  Thus his literary career, supplemented by a series of political appointments, began.  His early main patron, through whom employment came frequently, was Charles Montague, the Earl of Halifax.  And, since the political fortunes of the Whig Party varied over time, so did those of Halifax and Addison, both Whigs.

Addison wrote much original work and translated many Greek and Latin texts.  His first published work was Account of the Greatest English Poets (1693).  He also worked on two periodicals, The Tatler (1709-1711) and The Spectator (1711-1712, 1714).  The former contained essays on life, not politics.  The latter offered literary criticism, philosophy for the public, texts for men and women, and some of Addison’s hymns.  The purpose of The Spectator, according to Addison, was

to bring philosophy out of the closets and libraries, schools and colleges; to dwell in the clubs and assemblies, at tea tables and in coffee houses.

He labored on these periodicals while serving as a Member of Parliament, a body to which he belonged from 1708 until his death.

Among the texts Addison published in The Spectator was The Messiah, by Alexander Pope (1688-1744).  Five hymns have come from that poem.  Among them is this one.

Pope, born in London to a Roman Catholic family, was the son of a wealthy and retired linen merchant who retired to Windsor Forest in 1700.  Addison’s father, although well-to-do, was of a lower social status than the great poet’s mother.  The father died in 1817.  The poet, who had never married, remained devoted to his mother until she died in 1733, aged 91 years.  He suffered from poor health–a curved spine, severe headaches, and Pott’s Disease, a tubercular condition.  Thus Pope focused more on poetry than he might have done otherwise.  And he excelled at it, creating an impressive body of work, to which I have provided a link.

Pope, mainly self-educated, benefited from the encouragement of neighbors, who included writers and retired statesmen.  By age thirteen he had translated much Latin poetry and written a tragedy about St. Genevieve.  At age sixteen he was familiar with Greek, Latin, Italian, and French.

Details of the difficult professional relationship between Addison and Pope are not as plentiful as a careful student of history might like.  Yet we do know that the trigger was the reality of rival translations of Homer’s Iliad; Pope had published the first part of his version in 1715 yet Addison preferred a rival translation.  This seems to have offended Pope, who wrote a scathing criticism of Addison then sent a copy to him.  Addison chose not to respond.  Pope, however, published that text in 1735, after Addison had been dead for sixteen years.  And the younger poet praised Addison in print in 1721 and 1737.

Addison married Charlotte, Countess of Warwick, in 1716.  It was an unhappy marriage, one which his death ended three years later.  He was forty-seven years old.  One of Addison’s great regrets was that he had yet to reconcile with a friend, Richard Steele (founder of The Tatler), who had argued with him over a bill limiting the number of peers.

Among Addison’s hymns are “When All Thy Mercies, O My God” and this classic:

The spacious firmament on high,

With all the blue ethereal sky,

And spangled heavens, a shining frame,

Their great Original proclaim.

The unwearied sun, from day to day,

Does his Creator’s power display,

And publishes to every land,

The work of an almighty hand.


Soon as the evening shades prevail,

The moon takes up the wondrous tale,

And nightly to the listening earth

Repeats the story of her birth;

While all the stars that round her burn,

And all the planets in their turn,

Confirm the tidings, as they roll,

And spread the truth from pole to pole.


What though in solemn silence all

Move round the dark terrestrial ball?

What though no real voice nor sound

Amidst their radiant orbs be found?

In reason’s ear they all rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious voice.

Forever singing, as they shine,

“The hand that made us is divine.”

Addison, on his deathbed, told his wayward nephew, Lord Warwick,

See in what peace a Christian can die.

Pope, who had a mixed opinion of Addison, contributed much to the body of English literature and helped people in distress.  His legacy, like that of Addison, is impressive and edifying.





Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Joseph Addison, Alexander Pope, and all those who

with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

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

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–After Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728



Joseph Addison:

Collected Works:


Alexander Pope:

Complete Works:



Feast of the First Book of Common Prayer, 1549 (May-June)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury


Effective on the Day of Pentecost, June 9, 1549, During the Reign of King Edward VI

The Episcopal Church specifies that one observes this feast properly on a weekday after the Day of Pentecost.

The 1549 Book of Common Prayer, which, along with many of its successors, is available at, was mainly the product of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and poet extraordinaire.  He translated texts from various sources, ranging from Greek liturgies to German Lutheran rites to the Roman Catholic missal and the Liturgy of the Hours.  Along the way Cranmer quoted the Bible extensively.  Thus it is a common Anglican and Episcopal joke to say that the Bible quotes the Prayer Book.

My first encounter with the Book of Common Prayer was indirect, so indirect in fact that I was not aware of it.  I grew up United Methodist in the era of the 1966 Methodist Hymnal, which is far superior to the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal.  The ritual in the 1966 Hymnal was that of its 1935 and 1905 predecessors, that is, based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.   So, when I saw the 1979 Prayer Book and read Holy Eucharist Rite I, I recognized it immediately, down to the Prayer of Humble Access.

Now I an Episcopalian.  As someone told me early this year, I left the church that John Wesley made and joined the church that made John Wesley.  The rhythms of the 1979 Prayer Book have sunk into my synapses and my soul.  I also use A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), of  The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which breaks out from parts of tradition creatively and beautifully while standing within the Prayer Book tradition.

I have become a person of the Prayer Book, thankfully.





Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church:  Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Kings 8:54-61

Psalm 33:1-5, 20-21

Acts 2:38-42

John 4:21-24

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

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for May   Leave a comment

Rosa Chinensis

Image Source = Sakurai Midori


2 (Alexander of Alexandria, Patriarch; and Athanasius of Alexandria, Patriarch and “Father of Orthodoxy”)

  • Charles Silvester Horne, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Christian Friedrich Hasse, German-British Moravian Composer and Educator
  • Elias Boudinot, IV, U.S. Stateman, Philanthropist, and Witness for Social Justice
  • Julia Bulkley Cady Cory, U.S. Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • Sigismund of Burgundy, King; Clotilda, Frankish Queen; and Clodoald, Frankish Prince and Abbot

3 (Caroline Chisholm, English Humanitarian and Social Reformer)

  • Marie-Léonie Paradis, Founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Maura and Timothy of Antinoe, Martyrs, 286
  • Tomasso Acerbis, Capuchin Friar

4 (Ceferino Jimenez Malla, Spanish Romani Martyr, 1936)

  • Angus Dun, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, and Ecumenist
  • Basil Martysz, Polish Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1945
  • Jean-Martin Moyë, Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary in China, and Founder of the Sisters of Divine Providence and the Christian Virgins
  • John Houghton, Robert Lawrence, Augustine Webster, Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew, and Sebastian Newdigate, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1535

5 (Charles William Schaeffer, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Historian, Theologian, and Liturgist)

  • Caterina Cittadini, Founder of the Ursuline Sisters of Somasco
  • Edmund Ignatius Rice, Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Ireland and the Congregation of Presentation Brothers
  • Friedrich von Hügel, Roman Catholic Independent Scholar and Philosopher
  • Honoratus of Arles and Hilary of Arles, Roman Catholic Bishops; and Venantius of Modon and Caprasius of Lerins, Roman Catholic Hermits

6 (Anna Rosa Gattorno, Founder of the Institute of the Daughters of Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Immaculate)

  • Clarence Dickinson, U.S. Presbyterian Organist and Composer
  • Maria Catalina Troiani, Founder of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Willibald of Eichstatt and Lullus of Mainz, Roman Catholic Bishops; Walburga of Heidenhelm, Roman Catholic Abbess; Petronax of Monte Cassino, Winnebald of Heidenhelm, Wigbert of Fritzlar, and Sturmius of Fulda, Roman Catholic Abbots; and Sebaldus of Vincenza, Roman Catholic Hermit and Missionary

7 (Domitian of Huy, Roman Catholic Archbishop)

  • Alexis Toth, Russian Orthodox Priest and Defender of Orthodoxy in America
  • Harriet Starr Cannon, Founder of the Community of Saint Mary
  • Joseph Armitage Robinson, Anglican Dean, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Rosa Venerini, Founder of the Venerini Sisters; and her protégé, of Lucia Filippini, Founder of the Religious Teachers Filippini
  • Tobias Clausnitzer, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

8 (Juliana of Norwich, Mystic and Spiritual Writer)

  • Acacius of Byzantium, Martyr, 303
  • Henri Dumont, Roman Catholic Composer and Organist
  • Magdalena of Canossa, Founder of the Daughters of Charity and the Sons of Charity
  • Peter of Tarentaise, Roman Catholic Archbishop

9 (Stefan Grelewski and his brother, Kazimierz Grelewski, Polish Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1941 and 1942)

  • Dietrich Buxtehude, Lutheran Organist and Composer
  • Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Co-Founders of the Catholic Worker Movement
  • Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez, Founder of the Servants of Jesus of Caracas
  • Thomas Toke Lynch, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

10 (Enrico Rebuschini, Roman Catholic Priest and Servant of the Sick; and his mentor, Luigi Guanella, Founder of the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, the Servants of Charity, and the Confraternity of Saint Joseph)

  • Anna Laetitia Waring, Humanitarian and Hymn Writer; and her uncle, Samuel Miller Waring, Hymn Writer
  • Ivan Merz, Croatian Roman Catholic Intellectual
  • John Goss, Anglican Church Composer and Organist; and William Mercer, Anglican Priest and Hymn Translator
  • Vasile Aftenie, Romanian Roman Catholic Bishop and Martyr, 1950

11 (Henry Knox Sherrill, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church)

  • Barbara Andrews, First Female Minister in The American Lutheran Church, 1970
  • John James Moment, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Matteo Ricci, Roman Catholic Missionary
  • Matthêô Lê Van Gam, Vietnamese Roman Catholic Martyr, 1847

12 (Germanus I of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Defender of Icons)

  • Gregory of Ostia, Roman Catholic Abbot, Cardinal, and Legate; and Dominic of the Causeway, Roman Catholic Hermit
  • Paul Mazakute, First Sioux Episcopal Priest
  • Roger Schütz, Founder of the Taizé Community
  • Sylvester II, Bishop of Rome

13 (Henri Dominique Lacordaire, French Roman Catholic Priest, Dominican, and Advocate for the Separation of Church and State)

  • Frances Perkins, United States Secretary of Labor
  • Gemma of Goriano Sicoli, Italian Roman Catholic Anchoress
  • Glyceria of Heraclea, Martyr, Circa 177
  • Unita Blackwell, African-American Civil Rights Activist, Rural Community Development Specialist, and Mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi

14 (Francis Makemie, Father of American Presbyterianism and Advocate for Religious Toleration)

  • Carthage the Younger, Irish Abbot-Bishop
  • Maria Dominica Mazzarello, Co-Founder of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
  • Theodore I, Bishop of Rome
  • Victor the Martyr and Corona of Damascus, Martyrs in Syria, 165


16 (Andrew Fournet and Elizabeth Bichier, Co-Founders of the Daughters of the Cross; and Michael Garicoits, Founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram)

  • John Nepomucene, Bohemian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1393
  • Martyrs of the Sudan, 1983-2005
  • Ubaldo Baldassini, Roman Catholic Bishop of Gubbio
  • Vladimir Ghika, Romanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1954

17 (Thomas Bradbury Chandler, Anglican Priest; his son-in-law, John Henry Hobart, Episcopal Bishop of New York; and his grandson, William Hobart Hare, Apostle to the Sioux and Episcopal Missionary Bishop of Niobrara then South Dakota)

  • Caterina Volpicelli, Founder of the Servants of the Sacred Heart; Ludovico da Casoria, Founder of the Gray Friars of Charity and Co-Founder of the Gray Sisters of Saint Elizabeth; and Giulia Salzano, Founder of the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart
  • Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, Attorneys and Civil Rights Activists
  • Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Ivan Ziatyk, Polish Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1952

18 (Maltbie Davenport Babcock, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Writer)

  • Felix of Cantalice, Italian Roman Catholic Friar
  • John I, Bishop of Rome
  • Mary McLeod Bethune, African-American Educator and Social Activist
  • Stanislaw Kubski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945

19 (Jacques Ellul, French Reformed Theologian and Sociologist)

  • Celestine V, Bishop of Rome
  • Dunstan of Canterbury, Abbot of Glastonbury and Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Georg Gottfried Muller, German-American Moravian Minister and Composer
  • Ivo of Kermartin, Roman Catholic Attorney, Priest, and Advocate for the Poor

20 (Alcuin of York, Abbot of Tours)

  • Columba of Rieti and Osanna Andreasi, Dominican Mystics
  • John Eliot, “The Apostle to the Indians”
  • Mariá Angélica Pérez, Roman Catholic Nun
  • Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Founder of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne

21 (Christian de Chergé and His Companions, Martyrs of Tibhirine, Algeria, 1996)

  • Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseilles, and Founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries, Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Franz Jägerstätter, Austrian Roman Catholic Conscientious Objector and Martyr, 1943
  • Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope, English Poets
  • Manuel Gómez González, Spanish-Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1924; and Adilo Daronch, Brazilian Roman Catholic Altar Boy and Martyr, 1924

22 (Frederick Hermann Knubel, President of the United Lutheran Church in America)

  • Humility, Italian Roman Catholic Hermitess and Abbess
  • John Forest and Thomas Abel, English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1538 and 1540
  • Julia of Corsica, Martyr at Corsica, 620
  • Maria Rita Lópes Pontes de Souza Brito, Brazilian Roman Catholic Nun

23 (Ivo of Chartres, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Frederick Augustus Bennett, First Maori Anglican Bishop in Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • Józef Kurgawa and Wincenty Matuszewski, Polish Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1940
  • William of Perth, English Roman Catholic Baker and Martyr, 1201

24 (Nicolaus Selnecker, German Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer)

  • Benjamin Carr, Anglo-American Composer and Organist
  • Jackson Kemper, Episcopal Missionary Bishop
  • Edith Mary Mellish (a.k.a. Mother Edith), Founder of the Community of the Sacred Name
  • Maria Gargani, Founder of the Sisters Apostles of the Sacred Heart
  • Mary Madeleva Wolff, U.S. Roman Catholic Nun, Poet, Scholar, and President of Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana

25 (Bede of Jarrow, Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of English History)

  • Aldhelm of Sherborne, Poet, Literary Scholar, Abbot of Malmesbury, and Bishop of Sherborne
  • Cristobal Magollanes Jara and Agustin Caloca Cortés, Mexican Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1927
  • Madeleine-Sophie Barat, Founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart; and Rose Philippine Duchesne, Roman Catholic Nun and Missionary
  • Mykola Tsehelskyi, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1951

26 (Augustine of Canterbury, Archbishop)

  • Lambert Péloguin of Vence, Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop
  • Philip Neri, the Apostle of Rome and the Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory
  • Quadratus the Apologist, Early Christian Apologist

27 (Paul Gerhardt, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer)

  • Alfred Rooker, English Congregationalist Philanthropist and Hymn Writer; and his sister, Elizabeth Rooker Parson, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • Amelia Bloomer, U.S. Suffragette
  • John Charles Roper, Anglican Archbishop of Ottawa
  • Lojze Grozde, Slovenian Roman Catholic Martyr, 1943

28 (John H. W. Stuckenberg, German-American Lutheran Minister and Academic)

  • Bernard of Menthon, Roman Catholic Priest and Archdeacon of Aosta
  • Edwin Pond Parker, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Jeremias Dencke, Silesian-American Moravian Composer and Organist; and Simon Peter and Johann Friedrich Peter, German-American Composers, Educators, Musicians, and Ministers
  • Robert McAfee Brown, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, Activist, and Ecumenist

29 (Percy Dearmer, Anglican Canon and Translator and Author of Hymns)

  • Bona of Pisa, Roman Catholic Mystic and Pilgrim
  • Jiri Tranovsky, Luther of the Slavs and Father of Slovak Hymnody
  • Mary Theresa Ledóchowska, Founder of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver, and “Mother of the African Missions;” and her sister, Ursula Ledóchowska, Founder of the Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus (Gray Ursulines)
  • Ruby Middleton Forsythe, African-American Episcopal Educator

30 (Joan of Arc, Roman Catholic Visionary and Martyr, 1430)

  • Apolo Kivebulaya, Apostle to the Pygmies
  • Joachim Neander, German Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Josephine Butler, English Feminist and Social Reformer
  • Luke Kirby, Thomas Cottam, William Filby, and Laurence Richardson, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1582




  • Ascension
  • First Book of Common Prayer, 1549


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

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A   Leave a comment

Above: Praying Hands, by Albrecht Durer

The Power of Prayer

MAY 21, 2023


Acts 1:6-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;

as wax melts before the fire,

let the wicked perish before God.

But let the righteous be joyful;

let them exult before God;

let them be jubilant with joy.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;

lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds–

his name is the LORD–

be exultant before him.

Father of orphans and protector of widows

is God in his holy habitation.

God gives the desolate a home to live in;

he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,

but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,

when you marched through the wilderness,

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain

at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,

at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Rain in abundance, O God, you showered  abroad;

you restored your heritage when it languished;

your flock found a dwelling in it;

in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;

sing praises to the Lord.

O rider in the heavens the ancient heavens;

listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

Ascribe power to God,

whose majesty is over Israel;

and whose power is in the skies.

Awesome is God in his sanctuary,

the God of Israel;

he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed by God!

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

John 17:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. ”

The Collect:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


First a definition of prayer is appropriate.  The best and most succinct definition comes from the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer (1979).  Prayer, it says, “is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.”  Furthermore, Christian prayer is “response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A few thoughts about prayer, mostly in relation to the assigned lections, come to mind.

  1. Primary among these is that a number of Biblical readings indicate that God listens to prayers, sometimes reversing a decision.  Hence we are not mere peons in the eyes of God.
  2. Then I suggest that implicit in the lection from Luke is an assumption that one is in tune with God, hence the statements about God answering our prayers in the affirmative.  Sometimes the best (for us) answer to our prayers is, “No, I have a better plan for you.”
  3. Prayer has the power also to transform the one who prays.  Ponder this:  If you pray for, not pray about, someone whom you despise, that person might or might not change.  Yet your way of thinking about that individual will probably change.  You can become a better and more spiritual person.
  4. Also, silent prayer is at least as important as spoken prayer.  Much of the time it is appropriate to be quiet in the presence of God, to watch, and to listen.  This is quite transformational.
  5. Finally, there is no one method by which all people must pray.  Growing up in the Baptist Belt of the U.S. South, I became familiar with a style of prayer which entails a cadence and great deal of talking.  This type of praying has never appealed to me.  My preference turns toward a combination of corporate liturgical prayer, private liturgical prayer, informal chattiness, and periods of listening.  Furthermore, I have long been uncomfortable praying aloud in public without a Prayer Book.  Informal prayer is an inherently private matter for me; I want no eavesdroppers.   I have gleaned from conversations I have had from people the late, great, and frequently funny Molly Ivins would have described as “Shi’ite Baptists” that they think that I do not really pray because I pray differently than they do.  Actually, I know that there is a link between personality type and prayer style preference; a large body of literature exists on the subject.  In prayer one size does not fit all.