Archive for the ‘May’ Category

Feast of Roger Schutz (May 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Brother Roger

Image Source = Vatican Radio

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ROGER LOUIS SCHÜTZ-MARSAUCHE (MAY 12, 1915-AUGUST 16, 2005)

Founder and First Prior of the Taizé Community

Also known as Brother Roger

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I discovered my Christian identity by reconciling within myself my Protestant origins and my faith in the Catholic Church.

–Brother Roger

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Roger Schütz was an ecumenical pioneer who, even after his death, has continued to arouse the theological ire of both diehard anti-Roman Catholic Protestant and traditionalist Catholic camps while winning the approval of both the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.

Our saint had Protestant origins.  He, born in Provence, Switzerland, on May 12, 1915, was a son of Karl Ulrich Schütz, a Lutheran minister, and Amélie Henriette Marsauche, a French Calvinist.  From a young age, however, Roger had an interest in Roman Catholic spiritual writers, such as Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).  When our saint studied theology at Lausanne he wrote his thesis on the topic, “Is Saint Benedict’s ideal of the monastic life in conformity with the Gospel?”

The origins of the ecumenical monastery went back to 1940, when Schütz arrived in Taizé, Burgundy, France, on the border of the Nazi-occupation zone and the French State, or Vichy France.  He founded a community that sheltered Jews, orphans, and members of the Maquis.  Schütz, forced to flee from the Gestapo in 1942, returned two years later.  Then he began in earnest to set up the Taizé community.

Brother Roger wrote the community rule, the summary of which was:

Preserve at all times an interior silence to live in Christ’s presence and cultivate the spirit of the Beatitudes:  joy, simplicity, mercy.

On Easter Day 1949 the first brothers took their vows of celibacy, the sharing of possessions, and the acceptance of authority.  The ecumenical community was immediately a target of suspicion from both the Roman Catholic Church and mainstream Protestantism, although both of those camps lightened up over time.  In 1969, for example, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in France permitted Catholics to join the ecumenical monastery.  That community had 12 brothers in 1950, 50 brothers in 1965, and more than 100 brothers (most of them Catholics) in 2005.

Brother Roger was open about his Roman Catholic sympathies, although he never converted to Catholicism.  He defended the celibacy of the clergy and accepted the “universal ministry of the Pope,” for example.  Pope St. John XXIII invited our saint to observe Vatican II.  In 1974, at the Youth Council, which more than 40,000 people attended, an Orthodox bishop and five Cardinals were present.  Pope St. John Paul II visited Taizé in 1986.  Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey led a group of 100 young Anglicans there six years later.  Also, in 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, soon to become Pope Benedict XVI, gave Brother Roger communion at the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II.

Brother Roger, at the age of 90 years, was planning to retire when he died in 2005.  He had already designated a successor, Brother Alois.  On August 16, 2005, at a prayer service with 2,500 young people present, Luminita Ruxandra Solcan, a mentally ill woman from Romania, stabbed the prior fatally three times.  Those who issued their condolences included Pope Benedict XVI; Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; the Roman Catholic prelates of France and Germany; Nigel McCullough, the (Anglican) Bishop of Manchester; Geneviève Jacques, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; and Bob Edgar, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.  At Brother Roger’s funeral Brother Alois prayed for divine forgiveness of Solcan.

I have written about many saints at this weblog since 2009.  They have been quite a varied group; many of them have been quite different from me.  (Vive a différence!)  Brother Roger has been one of the saints closest to my heart, especially given his zeal for ecumenism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Roger Schütz,

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

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Feast of St. Germanus I of Constantinople (May 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Germanus I of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GERMANUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE (CIRCA 640-MAY 12, 733/740)

Patriarch of Constantinople

Byzantine Imperial politics affected the life of St. Germanus I, mostly negatively.  He, born at Constantinople circa 640, was a son of Senator Justinian, whom Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatus (reigned 668-685) ordered executed.  The cruel emperor also ordered the emasculation of St. Germanus.  Our saint went on to become a priest then the Bishop of Cyzicus.  As the Bishop of Cyzicus he attended the Synod of Constantinople (712), which decreed Monothelitism, the heresy that Christ, despite having two natures (human and divine) yet just one will.  St. Germanus criticized that heresy.  Our saint, the Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 730, also opposed iconoclasm.  This caused him to lose favor with Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (reigned 717-741), who forced him out of office in 730 and into exile at a monastery at Platonium then appointed an obedient patriarch.  St. Germanus died in the monastery between 733 and 740.

St. Germanus wrote histories, homilies, and hymns.  Some hymns have survived.

So have varieties of iconoclasm, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Saint Germanus I of Constantinople,

and we pray that, by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth

we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of Henry Knox Sherrill (May 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRY KNOX SHERRILL (NOVEMBER 6, 1890-MAY 11, 1980)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Henry Knox Sherrill made his mark on The Episcopal Church, the United States of America, and the global church.

Our saint grew up in a devout family and became an Episcopal priest.  His parents were Henry Williams Sherrill (1853-1900) and Maria Knox Mills Sherrill (1855-1932).  His brother was Franklin Goldthwaite Sherrill (1883-1933).  Our saint, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 6, 1890, graduated from Yale University with his Bachelor’s degree in 1911.  At Yale his mentor had been Henry Sloane Coffin (1877-1954).  Then he attended the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1914.

The young priest opposed intolerance and favored progressive causes throughout his life.  He began his ministerial career as the Assistant Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1914-1917).  Next he served as a Red Cross chaplain, assigned first to a hospital in Boston (1917) then in Talence, France (1917-1919).  Our saint, discharged from the U.S. Army after World War I, served as the Rector of the Church of Our Saviour, Brookline, Massachusetts (1919-1923), then as the Rector of Trinity Church, Boston (1923-1930).  During his time in Boston in the 1920s Sherrill also taught pastoral care and homiletics at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, and pastoral care at the Boston University School of University.

Sherrill became a bishop in 1930.  He, the Ninth Bishop of Massachusetts from October 14, 1930, to June 1, 1947, served as the chairman of The Episcopal Church’s Army/Navy Commission and the General Commission of Army/Navy Chaplains.  In the latter capacity our saint traveled widely in combat zones.  For this work he received the Medal of Merit, the U.S.A.’s highest award for a civilian.  Sherrill, Presiding Bishop from January 1, 1947, resigned as Bishop of Massachusetts on June 1, 1947, in accordance with national church canons.  As the Presiding Bishop our saint oversaw the organization of the Episcopal Church Foundation, the creation of the Seabury Press, and the progress of civil rights in the denomination.

That commitment to civil rights ran deeply with Sherrill.  In 1946 President Harry S Truman had appointed our saint to serve on the Civil Rights Advisory Committee, which produced the signal report “To Secure These Rights” (October 1947).  Sherrill also presided over the decision to change the location of the denominational General Convention of 1955 from Houston, Texas, where African-American delegates would not have received equal housing arrangements, to Honolulu, Hawai’i.  That was a controversial decision.  Under Sherrill’s leadership the General Convention of 1955 issued a strong statement decrying racial segregation and discrimination as being contrary to the will of God.  Our saint also supported ecclesiastical integration openly:

Integration in the whole church is inevitable; it is fundamental to the heart of the Gospel.

–Sherrill, September 18, 1956; quoted in David E. Summer, The Episcopal Church’s History:  1945-1985 (Wilton, CT:  Morehouse-Barlow, 1987), page 37

Sherrill was also an ecumenical leader.  He served as the first President of the National Council of Churches from 1950 to 1952 then as the President of the World Council of Churches from 1954 to 1961.

Our saint, who resigned as the Presiding Bishop on November 14, 1958, for health-related reasons, received 21 honorary degrees from universities such as Columbia, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton.  He retired to the Boston area, where he died on May 11, 1980, aged 89 years.

Sherrill’s legacy has continued not only via institutions, but also via his family.  He married Barbara Harris.  The couple had four children, who had their own families and other direct and indirect influences.

Edmund K. Sherrill became a priest.  He was the Bishop of Central Brazil in 1975 and the Bishop of Northern Brazil five years later.

Barbara Prue Sherrill married Mason Wilson, Jr.

Henry Williams Sherrill (1922-2001) became an Episcopal priest.

Franklin Goldthwaite Sherrill II, or F. Goldthwaite Sherrill, served as the Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, New York, New York, from 1967 until his retirement in 1993.  He died, aged 87 years, in late July 2017.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Henry Knox Sherrill,

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

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Feast of St. Matthew Le Van Gam (May 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Indochina, 1842

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MATTHÊÔ LÊ VAN GAM (CIRCA 1813-MAY 11, 1847)

Vietnamese Roman Catholic Martyr

Alternative feast day = November 24 (as one of the Martyrs of Vietnam)

St. Matthêô Lê Van Gam found his vocation as a layman.  He, born circa 1813 in Gò Công, Biên Hòa, Vietnam, grew up in a Christian family.  Our saint studied at the seminary at Lai Thieu, but left to assume his responsibilities as the firstborn son in his family.  He married and became the father of four children, two of whom died because they were Christian.  After an incident of infidelity our saint rededicated himself to his faith and to the Church, especially to assisting missionaries.

Emperor Nguyen Phuoc Toan (Thiêu Tri, reigned 1841-1847) persecuted Christians.  In 1864 our saint came to the attention of authorities.  He, a skilled sailor, was smuggling Christians out of the country.  For example, in two separate trips, our saint smuggled a group of seminarians to Malaysia and a group of diocesan priests out of the kingdom.  In July 1846 authorities arrested our saint, who bribed some soldiers successfully yet failed to escape imprisonment and frequent torture after he refused to desecrate a cross.  On May 11, 1847, at Cho Ðui, Dong Nai, Vietnam, our saint died of beheading after three blows.

Pope Leo XIII declared our saint a Venerable in 1899 then a Blessed the following year.  Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1988.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of Saint Matthêô Lê Van Gam,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage

to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

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

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Feast of Blessed Enrico Rebushini and St. Luigi Guanella (May 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of the Vatican

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ENRICO REBUSCHINI (APRIL 28, 1860-MAY 10, 1938)

Roman Catholic Priest and Servant of the Sick

helped by

SAINT LUIGI GUANELLA (DECEMBER 9, 1842-OCTOBER 24, 1915)

Founder of the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, the Servants of Charity, and the Confraternity of Saint Joseph

His feast transferred from October 24

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O my Jesus, draw me entirely to you.  Draw me with all the love of my heart.  If I knew that one fiber of my heart did not palpitate for you, I would tear it out at any cost.  But I know that I could not speak without your help.  Draw me, O my Jesus, draw me completely.  I know it well, my heart cannot rest until it rests in you.

–St. Luigi Guanella

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We need assistance from each other to become what we ought to be spiritually.  To function as an instrument of God in that way is a high calling.

Above:  Blessed Enrico Rebuschini

Image in the Public Domain

Blessed Enrico Rebuschini, born in Gravedona, Como, Italy, on April 28, 1860, encountered obstacles in his spiritual path and received help in overcoming them.  His mother, Sophia, was devout, but his father, Domenico, a tax inspector for the province of Como, had no use for religion.  Young Enrico, the second of five children, discerned a vocation to the religious life, but his father’s opposition frustrated plans for acting on that call.  Our saint studied mathematics at Pavia for one year.  He left due to the anticlericalism rampant at the university.  Rebuschini, back home, performed his year of mandatory military service.  The devout young man graduated (with honors) with a college degree in accounting in 1882.  Then he went to work as an administrator in the silk firm of a brother-in-law.  This employment did not satisfy our saint, prone to severe depression.  Finally, in the summer of 1884, Domenico permitted his son to pursue a religious vocation.  The intervention of St. Luigi Guanella was partially responsible for this decision.

Above:  Saint Luigi Guanella

Image in the Public Domain

Guanella was a priest who acted to help many people with regard to their practical needs.  He, born in Francisco di Campodolino, Sondrio, Italy, on December 9, 1842, was the ninth of thirteen children of the poor and pious Lawrence and Maria Guanella.  Our saint, who started his seminary studies at age 12, became a priest on May 26, 1866.  As a parish priest Guanella opened schools for the poor, founded a nursing home, started an orphanage, and founded a home for the handicapped.  From 1875 to 1878 he had worked with St. John Bosco in caring for homeless children.  Our saint was a friend and advisor of Pope St. Pius X and St. Andrea Carlo Ferrari (1850-1921), from 1894 the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan.  Guanella also founded three religious orders–the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, the Servants of Charity (of the Guanellians, for men), and the Confraternity of Saint Joseph (to pray for the dying).

Guanella suffered a stroke in 1915.  He died of complications of that stroke on October 24 of that year.  He was 72 years old.

Pope John XXIII declared Guanella a Venerable in 1962.  Pope Paul VI declared our saint a Blessed in 1964.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized Guanella in 2011.

Rebuschini was content in 1885, for he was, partially due to help from Guanella, living into his vocation.  Rebuschini was studying for the priesthood at the Gregorian University, Rome.  There was a major problem, however.  In March 1886 our saint fell into a nervous depression that lasted through May 1887.  He returned home.  Rebuschini, pondering that stage of his life in real time, wrote:

There are moments when the hand of God has weighed down on us and has plunged us into suffering…what a month of silence and what suffering at this time.  May God at least put an end to this and give us back our treasure.

Eight years later our saint wrote:

I was sent to a spa.  There God restored my health by giving me total confidence in His infinite goodness and mercy.

Yet Rebuschini never fully recovered his health.  He suffered occasional bouts of depression, although they were not as severe as the period of March 1886-May 1887.  He would have fared better had he lived during a time when better treatments existed.

Rebuschini, who had a devotion to St. Mary, the Mother of God, chose to help those who needed the most.  In 1887 he worked briefly in a hospital, losing his job because he insisted on working not in the assigned department, but instead among the poorest and most isolated patients.  On September 27 of that year our saint joined the Camillians (the Company of the Servants of the Sick) of Verona.  He, ordained a priest on April 14, 1889, made his profession in that order on December 8, 1891.  Among his duties for a few years was to be a hospital chaplain in Verona.

Rebuschini had a reputation as a kind man who sought to focus on the best characteristics of people he met.  He admitted that doing this was difficult for him much of the time; he relied on God to help him succeed.  Our saint was most critical of himself, however; his perfectionist tendencies, applied to himself, led him to regard himself as unworthy of taking on many tasks assigned to him.  He followed through on those tasks anyway.

On a happy note, Rebuschini was a punster.  Obviously he had an excellent sense of humor and a fine vocabulary.

Our saint, a hospital chaplain at Verona (1890-189?) and vice-novice master and professor of theology in that city (by 1895), left for Cremona in 1899.  At Cremona he served as the first chaplain to the Camillian Sisters.  A few years later he took on a second portfolio–that of bursar, which he performed for between 34 and 35 years, until 1937.  During that time Rebuschini also served as superior for 11 years.  In 1938, shortly before he died of pneumonia at the age 78 years, our saint asked forgiveness from all those he thought he might have offended.

Pope John Paul II declared Rebuschini a Venerable in 1995 then a Blessed two years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Blessed Ivan Merz (May 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Ivan Merz

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED IVAN MERZ (OCTOBER 16, 1896-MAY 10, 1928)

Croatian Roman Catholic Intellectual

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Catholic faith is my life vocation.

–Blessed Ivan Merz

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Blessed Ivan Merz was a man who, according to people who knew him well, was in nearly perpetual union with God–in a state of prayer, simply put.  He, born in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary, on October 16, 1896, became an academic.  Our saint began his studies at Banja Luka before he attended the military academy at Wiener Neustadt.  Then, in 1915, Merz matriculated at the University of Vienna.  In March 1916, however, our saint enlisted in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  While fighting in Italy, Merz placed his future in God’s hands.  He made a vow of perpetual chastity in February 1918.  At that time he wrote in his diary:

Never forget God!  Always desire to be united with Him.  Begin each day in the first place with meditation and prayer, possibly close to the Blessed Sacrament or during Mass.  During this time, plans for the day are made, one’s defects are put under examination and grace is implored for the strength to overcome all weakness.  It would be something terrible if this war had no meaning for me!…I must begin a life regenerated in the spirit of this new understanding of Catholicism.  The Lord alone can help me, as man can do nothing on his own.

–February 5, 1918

Merz resumed his studies after World War I.  He studied at Vienna (1919-1920), Paris (1920-1922), and Zagreb, Croatia, Yugoslavia (1922-1923), earning his doctorate in philosophy.  The title of his dissertation was “The Influence of the Liturgy on French Authors.”  Our saint went on to become Professor of Language and French Literature at the University of Zagreb.  In his spare time he studied philosophy as well as documents of the Catholic Magisterium.

Merz also had an active interest in the Christian formation of the young.  He founded the League of Young Croatian Catholics and, within the Catholic Action movement in Croatia, the Croatian League of Eagles.

Merz died of natural causes at Zabreb on May 10, 1928.  He was 31 years old.  Our saint had offered his suffering to God.

Pope John Paul II declared Merz a Venerable in 2002 then a Blessed the following year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Blessed Ivan Merz and all others]

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (May 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Dorothy Day, 1934

Image in the Public Domain

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DOROTHY DAY (NOVEMBER 8, 1897-NOVEMBER 29, 1980)

ARISTODE PIERRE MAURIN (MAY 9, 1877-MAY 15, 1949)

Cofounders of the Catholic Worker Movement

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Don’t call me a saint.  I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.

–Dorothy Day

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People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness’ sake.  Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush.  But the Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods.  Although you may be called bums and panhandlers, yo are in fact the ambassadors of God.  As God’s ambassadors you should be given good, clothing, and shelter by those who are able to give it.

–Peter Maurin on Christian hospitality

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Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin were radicals, even according to the standards of many other radicals.  Their radicalism was consistent with their Christian faith.

Peter Maurin lived according the reality that all of us depend entirely on God.  Aristode Pierre Maurin, born in Oultet, in the Lanquedoc region of France, on May 9, 1877, joined the Christian Brothers when he was 16 years old.  Mandatory military service in 1898 and 1899 highlighted sense of the conflict between civil and religious duties.

Maurin preferred his religious responsibilities.  The government of the French Third Republic closed many religious schools in 1902.  At that time our saint left the Christian Brothers and joined Sillon, a left-wing Roman Catholic movement.  He departed that movement in 1908, for he disagreed with Sillon’s increasingly political nature.  Maurin emigrated to Canada in 1909.  After two unsuccessful years as a homesteader in Saskatchewan, our saint worked a series of jobs in the United States and Canada.  He was, for example, a wheat harvester, a track layer, and a coal miner.  In 1932 Maurin, who never married, was working as a handyman at a Roman Catholic boys’ school in upstate New York.  When time permitted he travelled to New York City, where he spent time in branches of the public library and spoke on street corners.  He met Dorothy Day in the city in December 1932.

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other.  We know Him in the breaking of the bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore.  Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

–Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 8, 1897, made a roundabout journey to faith.  She, baptized in The Episcopal Church when young, had rejected the Christian faith by the time she was a college student.  Day dropped out of college to become a journalist for radical publications in New York City.  In 1926 our saint, in a common-law marriage on Staten Island, gave birth to a daughter, Tamar Teresa Day (Batterham Hennessy), who lived until 2008.  Day had her daughter baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.  The following year our saint converted to Roman Catholic Church, thereby ending her common-law marriage.

Day became dissatisfied with the church’s support for the status quo.  She channeled this attitude into The Catholic Worker, the first issue of which debuted on May 1, 1933.  The publication, which Maurin suggested calling The Catholic Radical, was pro-labor and critical of both Marxism and capitalism.  The Catholic Worker, rooted in the Gospels, advocated not for reform, but for school revolution of a nonviolent variety.  She preferred an agricultural and decentralized society grounded in faith.  Toward this end the movement founded farms.  Also, the newspaper offices became a “house of hospitality” for providing food and shelter.

Maurin suffered a stroke in 1944.  He spent his final years, during which he struggled with memory loss, at the retreat center near Newburgh, New York.  There he died on May 15, 1949, aged 72 years.  His corpse, buried in a borrowed grave, wore a secondhand suit.

Day, radical politically–to the point of being a professing anarchist–was conservative in her piety.  Our saint, a pacifist–even during World War II–opposed wars consistently and argued against nuclear proliferation.  She also committed acts of civil disobedience, for which authorities arrested her repeatedly.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated her, as if she were a threat or a criminal.  Director J. Edgar Hoover was a reactionary and an unrepentant racist who opposed social change (especially the Civil Rights Movement any antiwar movement), kept his job as long as he did by blackmailing politicians, trampled civil liberties, and presided over an agency that attempted to blackmail the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., into committing suicide.  Of course Day had an F.B.I. file.  If Jesus of Nazareth had lived in the U.S.A. at the time, Hoover would have labeled him a subversive and ordered surveillance of him.  Our Lord and Savior’s F.B.I. file would have been thicker than a large-print Bible.

Day died, aged 93 years, in New York City on November 29, 1980.  The Roman Catholic Church, having begun to consider her for recognition as a saint, has labeled her a Servant of God.

Day and Maurin were indeed subversives–for Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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