Archive for the ‘May 28’ Category

Feast of John H. W. Stuckenberg (May 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Publisher and Copyright Holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-18248



German-American Lutheran Minister and Academic

Born as Johann Heinrich Wilbrand(t) Stuckenberg


I favor a progressive Christianity based on the living teachings of Christ and his Apostles.  I am opposed to the stagnation created by religious dogmatism and traditionalism, and wish none of my possessions to be used in the interest of this stagnation.

–John H. W. Stuckenberg’s Last Will and Testament (June 6, 1898)


The Reverend John H. W. Stuckenberg was a scholar, pastor, chaplain, sociologist, map collector, and theological liberal.  He, born as Johann Heinrich Wilbrand(t) Stuckenberg in Bramsche, Hanover, on January 6, 1835, was the fifth of six children of Hermann Rudolph Stuckenberg and Anne Marie Biest Stuckenberg.  The family emigrated to the United States in two phases.  Hermann and a daughter arrived first, in 1837.  The remainder of the family came two years later.  The Stuckenbergs lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before leaving for Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1843.  Johann, his name Anglicized as John, was a pious and intellectual young man who grew up in a bilingual home.  Although German was the main language at home, he made English his primary language.

Above:  Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, Circa 1910

Copyright Claimant = Charles F. Bowden

Image Source = Library of Congress

Stuckenberg had a lifelong interest in sociology.  He attended Wittenberg College (now University), Springfield, Ohio, from 1852 to 1857.  There he focused on sociology, philosophy, and theology.  After graduating as the valedictorian on June 28, 1857, our saint studied at Wittenberg Theological Seminary.  He graduated the following year.

Stuckenberg became a minister.  He served as the pastor of a struggling congregation in Davenport, Iowa, in 1858 and 1859.  Next he studied theology further at the University of Halle, in Germany, from 1858 to 1861.  Our saint was working toward a doctorate, but the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War and a lack of funding interfered with his plans.  In 1861-1862 and again from October 1863 to June 1865 Stuckenberg was a pastor in Erie, Pennsylvania.  From September 1862 to October 1863 Stuckenberg was the chaplain of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteers, U.S. Army.  Our saint, an opponent of slavery and a critic of the foul language of General Winfield Scott Hancock, kept a diary, published posthumously (in 1995) as I’m Surrounded by Methodists….  This document has become the only published account of that unit of the U.S. Army.

As I had not slept any night before and had run about all day, ministering to the sick I felt very tired in the afternoon and was urged by Mrs. Wittich, and by Mrs. and Miss Coleman (at whose house I took my breakfast while at the Ferry) to remain till morning.  But I feared our regiment would move on and perhaps get into a battle, so I started the ferry at 4:20 P.M.  I got a chance to ride several miles in an ambulance.  When I got to our camp I found that the regiment had gone, so I started in pursuit and walked at a quick rate till nearly nine o’clock.  As I was very tired and still some miles from our regiment I went into a house and stayed there for the night.  The old lady and son-in-law (Mrs. Hagar) and one daughter were strong secesh.  The other daughter was Union, her husband a Un[ited] Breth[ren] preacher, being in our army.  Mrs. Hagar asked me whether I considered slavery a sin; on replying that I did, she became very much incensed and asked me whether I took the Bible for my guide?

–Stuckenberg, from the entry for November 10, 1862, at Warrenton, Virginia

In June 1865 Stuckenberg left for Germany, where he studied theology at the Universities of Göttingen, Berlin, and Tubingen (one semester each).

Stuckenberg, back in the United States in the Autumn of 1866, served as a pastor in Indianapolis, Indiana, from January 1867 to April 1868, when he left to serve at another church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until August 1873.  He married Mary Gingrich (1849-1934), a former parishioner from Erie, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 1869.  Our saint, part of the old General Synod (1820-1918), wrote The History of the Augsburg Confession (1868) and served as Professor of Theology at Wittenberg College from August 1873 until 1880, when he resigned for health-related reasons.

The Stuckenbergs lived in Berlin, Germany, for about 14 years, starting in August 1880.  He served as an early pastor of the American Church there.  The couple returned to Berlin for a visit in November 1901, for the laying of the cornerstone of the new building.

The Stuckenbergs, back in the United States in 1894, settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Our saint was primarily an academic from 1894 until his death in 1903.  Theological developments at Wittenberg College soured Stuckenberg on his alma mater, so he transferred his favor to the progressive Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  He left his estate (including his collection of maps) and papers to that institution of higher learning.  [Aside:  Unfortunately, the author of the biography of John H. W. Stuckenberg at the webpage of the Special Collections and College Archives at Gettysburg College seems not to know consistently that “Stuckenberg’s” is a singular possessive adjective, not a plural noun.]  Stuckenberg traveled to Germany and England for occasional research.  Our saint, in London in April and May 1903, fell ill and required surgery.  At the time Mary was in Berlin.  She departed for London yet arrived too late; her husband had died during surgery.

Stuckenberg was a proto-Social Gospeler.  He, the author of Christian Sociology (1880), argued that authentic Christianity makes a concrete difference in society, influencing public policy for the better in lasting ways.  Our saint also insisted that human history is moving toward shalom, which makes no room for social class distinctions.

Stuckenberg, the author of many articles, also wrote the following books:

  1. The Life of Immanuel Kant (1882);
  2. The Final Science; or Spiritual Materialism (1885);
  3. Introduction to the Study of Philosophy (1888 and 1896);
  4. The Age and the Church (1893);
  5. The Social Problem (1897);
  6. Introduction to the Study of Sociology (1897);
  7. Sociology: The Science of Human Society (1903)–Volumes I and II.

Stuckenberg had also helped to translate K. R. Hagenbach’s German Rationalism, In Its Rise, Progress, and Decline into English (1865).

Stuckenberg was a great figure in U.S. Lutheranism.  Unfortunately, he has fallen through the cracks of scholarship with the passage of time.








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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John H. W. Stuckenberg 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







As I prepared this post I read different versions of Stuckenberg’s Anglicized full name.  I read “John Henry Wilburn Stuckenberg” in the published version of his Civil War diary.  The biography at Gettysburg College listed his Anglicized name as “John Henry Wilbrand Stuckenberg.”  However, I found both “John Henry Wilbrandt Stuckenberg” and “John Henry Wilburn Stuckenberg” at




Feast of St. Bernard of Menthon (May 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Part of Europe, 962 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Priest and Archdeacon of Aosta

Apostle of the Alps

Alternative feast day = June 15

St. Bernard, patron saint of skiers, mountaineers, mountain climbers, travelers in the mountains, dwellers in the Alps, and Campiglia Cerva (in Italy), came from nobility.  He, born in a castle in Menthon, Savoy (now France), circa 923, received a fine education.  Then he rejected the marriage his father had arranged for him.  St. Bernard prepared for the priesthood instead.  Our saint proved to be an effective evangelist in the region of Aosta for 42 years.

The mountain pass from the Valley of Aosta into Valois canton, Switzerland, was perilous.  That pass, now named for St. Bernard, was prone to avalanches and a haunt for robbers.  Our saint founded two monasteries (the first one in 962) along the pass and staffed them with Augustinian monks.  They provided shelter for religious pilgrims and religious pilgrims.  The monks, assisted by dogs, also searched for people lost in the snow.  St. Bernard also founded a patrol to rid the pass of robbers.

St. Bernard served on the diocesan level also.  He, the Archdeacon of Aosta (starting in 996), also held the position of Vicar-General of the diocese.

St. Bernard died in Novara, Italy, in 1008.  He was about 85 years old.  Starting in the 1300s he was informally a saint, until Pope Innocent XI canonized him in 1681.








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

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Saint Bernard of Menthon,

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

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

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

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

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

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


Feast of Jeremias Dencke, Simon Peter, and Johann Friedrich Peter (May 28)   4 comments


Above:  Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, February 1969

Photographer = Jack E. Boucher

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS PA,48-BETH,2–4



Silesian-American Moravian Composer and Organist


SIMON PETER (APRIL 2, 1743-MAY 29, 1819)

German-American Composer, Educator, Musician, and Minister

brother of


German-American Composer, Educator, Musician, and Minister


This is a post about three important early American Composers–all of them Moravians and two of them pastors.  Their stories overlap, hence their inclusion in one post.

Our story begins with Jeremias Dencke (1725-1795), born in Langenbielau, Silesia.  He, a recent convert to the Moravian Church in 1748, moved to Herrnhut, the Moravian headquarters in Saxony.  There he served as an organist before emigrating to America in 1761 on the same boat with the father of our other two saints, Simon Peter (1743-1819) and Johann Friedrich Simon (1746-1813).  Five years later, for the occasion of the Provincial Synod at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Dencke composed the first piece of concerted church music in America; it was a work for chorus, strings, and organ.  Other major works from his oeuvre included three sets of sacred songs for soprano, organ, and strings.  Johann Friedrich Peter’s collection preserved these sets of sacred songs.  Dencke, probably the first composer of instrumentally accompanied sacred vocal music anyone composed in America, died at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on May 28, 1795.  He was fifty-nine years old.

The birthplace of the Peter brothers–Simon (1743-1819) and Johann Friedrich (1746-1813)–was Heerendijk, Holland.  They, educated in Europe, followed their father to America in 1770.  Both brothers were composers, musicians, educators, and pastors.

Johann Friedrich Simon (1746-1813) was the more prominent composer in the family.  This was due to where he worked, for Simon Peter (1743-1819) usually labored in churches and communities without fine instrumental ensembles and/or choirs.  When a church had a choir the vocal ensemble was usually small.  Thus his musical compositions were not as numerous as those of his brother, but he made up for the lack of quantity with a high standard of quality.  Among Simon’s works was an anthem, “Look, Ye, How My Servants Shall Be Feasting,” for the fiftieth anniversary of the Moravian arrival in North Carolina.

Both brothers’ American odyssey began in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where they arrived in 1770 to teach at Nazareth Hall, the boys’ school there.  Johann Friedrich left three years later, but Simon remained in Pennsylvania until 1784, when he moved to North Carolina.  He worked as a pastor, a music teacher, and a church administrator.  Among Simon’s pupils was Johann Christian Till (1762-1844), whom he mentored at Nazareth.  Simon proved crucial to arranging for Till, a nail maker and woodworker, to take music lessons during part of his (Till’s) lunch hours.  Till went on to become a schoolmaster, composer, piano builder, and musician.  In 1811 Till succeeded Johann Friedrich Peter as organist at Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Simon died at Salem, North Carolina, on May 29, 1819.

Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) went from being a pupil to a master teacher and a faithful servant of God in U.S. Moravian communities.  He also became the leading Moravian composer in the United States, for he had talent and opportunities to pursue it.  Johann Friedrich’s Moravian upbringing taught him that the proper uses of talents were to glorify God (Christ, specifically) and to edify one’s community, not to enrich oneself.  During his time on Earth Johann Friedrich struggled spiritually with his ego and his musical gifts.  He also thanked Christ for these gifts and the successful navigation of that spiritual struggle.

Johann Friedrich was a well-educated and capable man.  He matriculated at the boarding school at Niesky, Germany, in 1755.  There he studied under Johann Daniel Grimm (1719-1760).  From 1765 to 1769 Johann Friedrich attended the seminary at Barby, Germany.  There he started copying music, which he carried to America.  That collection included works from European composers, may of whom were alive at the time.

Bethlehem-Nazareth, PA

Above:  The Bethlehem-Nazareth Area in Pennyslvania, 1945

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Johann Friedrich lived in America from 1770 to his death forty-three years later.  He spent most of that time in Pennsylvania, usually in Bethlehem.  From 1770 to 1773 he taught at Nazareth Hall, the boy’s school, at Nazareth.  Johann Friedrich spent 1773-1779 in Bethlehem.  There he led the community instrumental ensemble, the collegium musicum, and made it part of regular worship services.  A brief stint (1779-1780) at Lititz followed.  There he kept the church records.

Lititz-Mountjoy, PA

Above:  The Lititz-Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, Area

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

From 1780 to 1790 Johann Friedrich served in various capacities at Salem, North Carolina, and in the vicinity.  He compiled orders of worship, played the organ, preached, baptized, administered communion, supervised and taught at the boy’s school, kept the congregational diary, served the church as secretary, served as the community’s music director, led the collegium musicum, and, for a time, served as the interim pastor.  After he left Salem, others continued his musical legacy in the community.  Johann Friedrich also conducted services in outlying communities, where he administered the sacraments and, as necessary, played the organ and sang.

Below:  Home Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1935

Photographer = Frances Benjamin Johnston

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-csas-02658



Graceham, MD

Above:  Graceham, Maryland, 1945

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Johann Friedrich moved a few times before returning to Bethlehem for more service (1793-1802.  He was the interim pastor at Graceham, Maryland, from 1790 to 1791, before returning to Bethlehem briefly (1791).

Hope, NJ

Above:  Hope, New Jersey, 1945

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Then he left to supervise the school at Hope, New Jersey, from 1791 to 1793.  During his third tenure (1793-1802) at Bethlehem Johann Friedrich served as the clerk, secretary, and organist at Central Moravian Church.  He left again in 1802 to become the pastor at Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, but returned to Bethlehem two years later.  There he remained for the rest of his life.  Johann Friedrich retired as organist in 1811.  Johann Christian Till (1762-1844), his brother Simon’s former student, became the new organist.  Our saint died suddenly on July 13, 1813, shortly after playing the organ for a children’s service at Bethlehem.

The great man–a composer and a music teacher–left human and musical legacies.  His pupils served in their communities for decades and influenced countless numbers of people directly and indirectly.  The prolific composer left his works, such as six string quartets (from 1789), the earliest chamber music anyone composed in the United States.  Johann Friedrich also composed church anthems, such as “It is a Precious Thing,” originally a duet for two sopranos.  (The 1954 edition is, however, a duet between a baritone and a soprano, followed by a four-part a cappella chorale.)  Other anthems included “Unto Us a Child is Born” and “Hearken, Stay Close to Him.”

Johann Friedrich understood that his talents came from God.  Thus our saint employed them to glorify God and to edify his communities.  He was piously humble about his many services to God and communities, leaving many unmentioned.  I, however, mention three here:

  1. He organized a service of mourning for the passing of President George Washington.  The service occurred at Bethlehem on February 22, 1800.
  2. Johann Friedrich organized the service of dedication of the new (and current) structure for Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, in 1806.
  3. He played the violin in an early American performance of Haydn’s Creation at Bethlehem in 1811.  David Moritz Michael (1751-1827), a composer of church anthems, conducted.

These three “new” saints–Jeremias Dencke, Simon Peter, and Johann Friedrich Peter–seem like kindred spirits not only to each other but to me.  I thank my late father for introducing me to classical music, especially the ecclesiastical side of it.  Thus my well-honed musical tastes cause me to like these three saints for cultural reasons, among others.  May their musical legacies thrive.





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

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

Jeremias Dencke, Simon Peter, and Johann Friedrich Peter,

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

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

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

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


Feast of Edwin Pond Parker (May 28)   1 comment


Above:  Edwin Pond Parker

Image Source = HymnTime



U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

The Reverend Edwin Pond Parker was a talented and remarkable man.  He left a lasting legacy in the lives of many of his parishioners, all of whom have died.  But, to the rest of us born in more recent years, his legacy is one of hymns.

Parker, born in Castine, Maine, graduated from Bowdoin College then Bangor Theological Seminary.  Then he, ordained a Congregationalist minister, began his remarkable career.  From 1860 to 1912 he was pastor of the Second Church of Christ (South Church), Hartford, Connecticut, whose history he wrote.  He was, for some of that time, also the chaplain to the state Senate.  Seldom does anyone have so long a pastoral tenure.  Parker’s term started with some controversy, which died down, thus enabling him to do the good work of a dutiful pastor for so long.

And our saint enriched the life of the larger church via his work in hymnody.  He edited hymnals:

  1. Song Flowers for the Sunday School (1866);
  2. Book of Praise (1868);
  3. Sunday School Songs (1869);
  4. The Christian Hymnal (1877);
  5. Sunday School Hymnal (1880); and
  6. The Christian Hymnal (1889).

Parker also wrote at least eight hymns and composed hymn tunes.  I have posted the text of one of his hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Here is another hymn, from 1888:

Master, no offering,

Costly and sweet,

May we, like Magdalene,

Lay at Thy feet;

Yet may love’s incense rise,

Sweeter than sacrifice,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.


Daily our lives would show

Weakness made strong,

Toil some and gloomy ways

Brightened with song;

Some deeds of kindness done,

Some souls by patience won,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.


Some word of hope for hearts

Burdened with fears,

Some balm of peace for eyes

Blinded with tears,

Some dews of mercy shed.

Some wayward footsteps led,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.


Thus in Thy service, Lord,

Till eventide

Closes the day of life,

May we abide!

And when earth’s labors cease,

Bid us depart in peace,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

My only (very mild) criticism of the generally excellent text is the use of the word “Magdalene.”  The author referred to Luke 7:36-50, which does not identify the woman.  We do read the name of Mary Magdalene in Luke 8:2, but as a follower of Jesus.  And, that text tells us, seven demons had gone out from her.  Given the Hellenistic understanding of demonic possession as being responsible for a host of ailments from mental illness to epilepsy, I wonder what “seven demons” might mean in modern diagnosis.  The erroneous tradition of identifying St. Mary Magdalene as ever having been a prostitute has besmirched her reputation in Western Christianity.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, however, she occupies her rightful place as “Equal to the Apostles.”

Parker died a few months after celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of assuming pastoral duties in Hartford, Connecticut.

I highlight the work of a pastor, which many people do not notice and to which a host of individuals do not give sufficient praise.  It is challenging and frequently thankless work, labor which many lay people, perhaps out of ignorance, are quick to criticize.  Our saint labored in one congregation for fifty-two years, dealing with a variety of personalities.  I can only imagine what that must have been like.








O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Edwin Pond Parker

to be a pastor 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 and 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

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

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
  • 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 Humaniarian and Social Reformer)

  • Marie-Léonie Paradis, Foundress 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)

  • 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

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

  • 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, Foundress of the Institute of the Daughters of Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Immaculate)

  • Tobias Clausnitzer, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • 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
  • Clarence Dickinson, U.S. Presbyterian Organist and Composer

7 (Domitian of Huy, Roman Catholic Archbishop)

  • Harriet Starr Cannon, Foundress of the Community of Saint Mary
  • Joseph Armitage Robinson, Anglican Dean, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Rosa Venerini, Foundress of the Venerini Sisters; mentor of Lucia Filippini, Foundress of the Religious Teachers Filippini

8 (Juliana of Norwich, Mystic and Spiritual Writer)

  • Acacius of Byzantium, Martyr, 303
  • Magdalena of Canossa, Foundress 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, Cofounders of the Catholic Worker Movement
  • 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

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

  • John James Moment, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Matteo Ricci, Roman Catholic Missionary
  • Matthêô Lê Van Gam, Vietnamese Roman Catholic Martyr

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

  • Christian Friedrich Hasse, German-British Moravian Composer and Educator
  • Gregory of Ostia, Roman Catholic Abbot, Cardinal, and Legate; and Dominic of the Causeway, Roman Catholic Hermit
  • Roger Schütz, Founder of the Taizé Community

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
  • Sylvester II, Bishop of Rome

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

  • Carthage the Younger, Irish Abbot-Bishop
  • Maria Dominica Mazarello, Cofounder of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
  • Victor the Martyr and Corona of Damascus, Martyrs in Syria, 165


16 (Andrew Fournet and Elizabeth Bichier, Cofounders 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
  • Martyrs of the Sudan
  • Ubaldo Baldassini, Roman Catholic Bishop of Gubbio

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, Foundress of the Servants of the Sacred Heart; Ludovico da Casoria, Founder of the Gray Friars of Charity and Cofounder of the Gray Sisters of Saint Elizabeth; and Giulia Salzano, Foundress 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

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

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

19 (Jacques Ellul, French Reformed Theologian and Sociologist)

  • Celestine V, Bishop of Rome
  • Dunstan of Canterbury, Abbot of Glastonbury and Archbishop of Canterbury
  • 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”
  • Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne

21 (Christian de Chargé 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

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

  • Georg Gottfried Muller, German-American Moravian Minister and Composer
  • John Forest and Thomas Abel, English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1538 and 1540
  • Julia of Corsica, Martyr at Corsica, 620

23  (Ivo of Chartres, Roman Catholic Bishop)

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

  • Jackson Kemper, Episcopal Missionary Bishop
  • Edith Mary Mellish (a.k.a. Mother Edith), Foundress of the Community of the Sacred Name

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
  • Madeleine-Sophie Barat, Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart; and Rose Philippine Duchesne, Roman Catholic Nun and Missionary
  • Mykola Tsehelskyi, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr

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
  • Lojze Grozde, Slovenian Roman Catholic Martyr

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

  • Bernard of Menthon, Roman Catholic Priest and Archdeacon of Aosta
  • Edwin Pond Parker, U.S. Congregationalist Minister 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

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
  • Joachim Neander, German Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

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

  • Apolo Kivebulaya, Apostle to the Pygmies
  • Josephine Butler, English Feminist and Social Reformer
  • Luke Kirby, Thomas Cottam, William Filby, and Laurence Richardson, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs



  • 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

JUNE 1, 2014

MAY 28, 2017


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.