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Feast of Johannes Kepler (November 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Stamp Depicting Johannes Kepler

Image in the Public Domain



German Lutheran Astronomer and Mathematician

My greatest desire is that I may perceive the God whom I find everywhere in the external world, in like manner also within and inside myself.

–Johannes Kepler


Geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God.



Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.

–Galileo Gailiei


Johannes Kepler comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.  His Episcopal feast day (since 2009), shared with Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), is May 23.  On my Ecumenical Calendar, however, Copernicus shares a feast day with Gailieo Galilei (1564-1642).

The following two assertions are true:

  1. Our societies shape us.  We are products of our times.
  2. We shape our societies.  We help to make our times.

Kepler was both a product of his times and a shaper of the future.  He was, in many ways, ahead of his time, especially as he matured.

Kepler became a founder of modern astronomy.  He, a subject of the Holy Roman Empire, began his journey into revolutionizing science began at Weil der Stadt, where, on December 27, 1571, Catherine (Guldenmann) Kepler, from a formerly noble family, gave birth to our saint.  The Kepler family’s fortunes had been declining for some time; the father worked as a soldier.  When Johannes was four years old, he nearly went blind due to smallpox.  The condition damaged his eyesight permanently.

Kepler, who once aspired to the Lutheran ministry, became a mathematician and a scientist instead.  After graduating from Maulbronn with his Bachelor’s degree in 1588, he matriculated at Tübingen, from which he graduated with a Master’s degree in 1591.  At Tübingen Kepler studied the Copernican theory (heliocentrism), then a controversial idea, especially in ecclesiastical circles.  Kepler accepted heliocentrism and helped to shape modern astronomy.

Doing this entailed contradicting contemporary Christian orthodoxy, according to which the other planets, as well as the Moon and Sun, revolved around the Earth.  To accept the heliocentric model was allegedly to minimize sin, given the assumption that, the closer one moved toward the center (supposedly the Earth), the farther one moved away from God and the angels.  To place the Earth in orbit of the Sun was allegedly to place sinful humans amid God and the angels.

Kepler, professor of mathematics at Graz, starting in 1594, made his contribution.  Aside from mathematics, he also taught rhetoric and Virgil.  Our saint, who lived when the distinction between astronomy and astrology did not exist, prepared astrological almanacs.  Kepler, in the realm of faith and hard science, sought order in the relationships of planetary orbits to each other.  He initially had difficulty divorcing himself from all the assumptions of the old, accepted Ptolemaic model, with its spheres, et cetera.  Our saint married Barbara von Mühlbeck (d. 1611), of Graz, in April 1597.  A purge of Protestant theologians from that city in September of that year forced the Keplers to move.  Barbara’s wealth and influence enabled the couple to return after just one month, though.  They did have to leave in 1600, however.

The Keplers moved to Prague, for our saint’s new position, in 1600.  Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) helped to facilitate this transition.  Kepler became the court mathematician to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (reigned 1576-1612).  Our saint, as an astrologer, created horoscopes for the Emperor and courtiers.  Kepler also studied and wrote about light reflection, supernovae, planetary orbits, and other topics in the realm of hard science.  Our saint, as the recipient of Tycho Brahe’s decades’ worth of astronomical observational notes, analyzed that data and in 1609, published his conclusion that planetary orbits were elliptical. Kepler contradicted the Ptolemaic model, according to which heavenly bodies moved in circular orbits.

Kepler, who remarried (to Susanna Reutlinger) in 1613, served loyally under Emperor Matthias (reigned 1612-1619), who appointed him the mathematician to the states of upper Austria in 1612.  The following year, Kepler and Matthias argued unsuccessfully for the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar, in lieu of the old Julian Calendar.  Science did not yet yield to Protestant anti-Roman Catholicism.

Kepler, who taught mathematics in Silesia from 1628 until his death at Regensberg on November 15, 1630, got much right and other theories wrong.  He practiced astrology, a pseudo-science.  Our saint also thought that comets did not return.  For that matter, Gaileo Gailiei, Kepler’s contemporary, did not accept the gravitational pull of the Moon on tides on the Earth.  Great men were not always correct.

We see farther than they did because we stand on their shoulders.

Kepler was not only a giant of science; he was also a devout Christian.  He was, in both regards, in the same league as Copernicus, Galilei, and Michael Faraday (1791-1867).

The conflict between religion and faith on one side and science on the other is unnecessary.  Truth is truth.  Bad theology is bad theology.  Good theology is good theology.  We can arrive at much truth via observation, experimentation, data analysis, documentation, et cetera–in other words, the Scientific Method and Enlightenment Modernism.  Other truth, however, resides in a different purview.  One can have access to truth via more than one channel.








As the heavens declare your glory, O God, and the firmament shows your handiwork,

we bless your Name for the gifts of knowledge and insight you bestowed upon Johannes Kepler,

and we pray that you would continue to advance our understanding of your cosmos,

for our good and for your glory;  through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation,

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

Genesis 1:14-19

Psalm 8

1 Corinthians 2:6-12

Matthew 2:1-11a

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 383


Feast of Gustaf Aulen and Anders Nygren (November 15)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of Sweden

Image in the Public Domain



teacher and colleague of





After World War I, Neo-orthodoxy became a major theological movement in English-speaking Christianity.  A similar movement in Swedish-speaking Christianity at the same time was Lundensian theologyGustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren were architects of that theology.

Aulén, born in Sjungsby on May 15, 1879, became a minister, bishop, theologian, and liturgist.  He, an assistant professor at the University of Uppsala (1907-1913) then Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Lund (1913-1933), founded the Swedish Theological Quarterly in 1925.  He remained on the editorial staff into his retirement.  While at Lund, he wrote influential works (later translated into English):  The Christian Conception of God (1927), Christus Victor (1930), and The Faith of the Christian Church (1932).  Aulén, a student of Nathan Söderblom (1866-1931) at Uppsala, favored the Classic Theory of the Atonement over Penal Substitutionary Atonement, which St. Anselm of Canterbury favored, and the Moral Exemplar Theory, which Peter Abelard favored.  Aulén also taught Nygren at Lund then served with him on the faculty.

Nygren, born in Gothenburg on November 15, 1890, had a lifelong fascination with philosophy that influenced his scholarly and theological work.  He, ordained in The Church of Sweden in 1912, left parish ministry nine years later.  In 1921 he received his doctorate from the University of Lund and became a lecturer there.  Three years later, he became Professor of Systematic Theology, serving until 1948.  Lundensian theology incorporated philosophical methods and perspectives for the purpose of seeking to engage in theology in a scientifically responsible manner.  Lundensian theology was also moderate, avoiding anti-intellectualism on the right and disregard for tradition on the left.  That philosophical background was evident in Nygren’s Agape and Eros (two volumes, 1930 and 1936), which argued that agape and eros are polar opposites.

Both Aulén and Nygren became bishops.  Aulén became the Bishop of Strängäs, serving from 1933 to 1952.  He, as a bishop, contributed tunes to the new hymnal (1927) and helped to shape the new service book (1942).  Aulén also helped to form the World Council of Churches (1948), as did Nygren, the first President of the Lutheran World Federation (1947-1952).  Nygren served as the Bishop of Lund from 1948 to 1958.

Both Aulén and Nygren also continued to write after they retired.  Aulén wrote, for example, Eucharist and Sacrifice (1956) and Reformation and Catholicity (1959).  Nygren, in retirement, wrote Meaning and Method:  Prolegomena to a Scientific Philosophy of Religion and a Scientific Theology (1972).

Above:  The Title Page to Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Both men argued for continuity from Jesus to St. Paul the Apostle.  Nygren made that point in his influential Commentary on Romans (1944), a volume other exegetes of that epistle quote.  According to the Carl C. Rasmussen translation (1944),

Until quite recently it was customary for theology to draw a sharp line between Jesus and Paul.  Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom of God; but Paul, it was said, changed this to the doctrine of justification by faith.  Now there is room for no doubt that this view is false, and that the continuity between Jesus and Paul is essentially unbroken.  When, therefore, we seek to fix the basic thought in Paul’s view of the gospel, it is quite proper to point out how it has both its origin and its anchor in Jesus’ proclamation about the kingdom of God.


Above:  The Spine of Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The bishops died within a year of each other.  Aulén, aged 98 years, died on December 16, 1977.  Nygren, aged 87 years, died in Lund on October 20, 1978.

Their contributions to theology have never died, fortunately.








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 servants Gustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller understanding

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.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61


Feast of John Amos Comenius (November 15)   4 comments

John Amos Comenius

Image in the Public Domain



Father of Modern Education


In The Emperor’s Club (2002), one of my favorite movies, William Hundert tells his young students,

Great ambition and conquest without contribution is without significance.  What will your contribution be?  How will history remember you?

Jan Amos KomenskyJohn Amos Comenius in the Anglicized version of his name–suffered because of insignificant conquests with lasting effects and left a fine legacy in the realms of education and the church.  Not only did he preserve the “Hidden Seed” of the persecuted, underground Moravian Church (partially by publishing the Ancient Unity’s last hymnal, small enough to fit inside an exile’s pocket, in 1659 and a catechism in 1661 from exile in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) until Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) stepped up to provide a safe haven for Moravians in 1722, but our saint also became the Father of Modern Education and the Father of the Elementary School.

Perish sects.  Perish the founders of sects.  I have consecrated myself to Christ alone.

–Comenius in his later years

The life of our saint was replete with difficulties, including wars, religious persecution, and times of exile.  Comenius, born at Nivnitz, Moravia, on March 28, 1592, grew up in the Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination.  His parents died of plague, making him an orphan at six years of age.  Our intelligent saint studied at Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, and at Heidelberg, Baden-Wurttemberg, before serving as the Rector of the Moravian school at Prerov, Moravia (1614-1616), then as the minister at Fulnek, Moravia.  Then warfare and religious intolerance descended upon Comenius.

Europe was far from a hotbed of religious toleration in the 1600s.  In fact, religious toleration was one of the more admirable values of the Enlightenment (late 160os-1700s), itself partially a rejection of the excesses of Christendom.  The Moravian Church went underground for about a century (1620-1722), the period of the “Hidden Seed”  Comenius started 1620 as the Moravian minister at Fulnek, Moravia.  The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was young and about to change the life of our saint and the lives of all members of the Unitas Fratrum drastically.  That year the Spanish Army pillaged and plundered Fulnek, committing violence against non-combatants.  Comenius lost all of his possessions and manuscripts in a fire then his wife and one child en route to refuge at the estate of Baron Charles von Zerotin at Bradeis-on-the-Adler, Moravia.  Our saint’s first exile had begun.  Comenius and other Moravians whom Baron von Zerotin sheltered had to leave the estate in 1628 due to pressures from the Hapsburg Dynasty.  Moravian exiles had settled many corners of Europe starting in 1620; Comenius led a band of Moravians to Lissa, Poland.  There, in 1636, he became a bishop–the last bishop of the Ancient Unity, in fact.

At Brandeis Comenius wrote an allegory, The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1623), to comfort Moravian exiles.  He wrote of Moravians as ideal Christians in that classic work of Czech literature.  Our saint depicted the violence and upheaval of the Thirty Years’ War and condemned social problems and endemic lack of concern for others.  His prescription for remedying the situation was a renewed dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as the Moravian Church expressed it.  Competition among sects had contributed to much violence in Europe, so the cessation of such rivalries, replaced with unity to realize God’s will, would bring peace, he reasoned.

In Poland Comenius, who hoped for better times despite appearances of current events, started his educational revolution, which he spread to other countries, such as England, Hungary, Prussia, and Sweden.  The theologically mystical bishop advocated for universal, liberal arts education with a classical core.  He considered science and religion complementary, not antagonistic.  Our saint argued for teaching in vernacular languages, not Latin, not that he opposed Latin.  In fact, our saint revolutionized the teaching of that dead language.  His Latin textbooks, which came to exist in seventeen languages, set the standard in the field during his lifetime.  And Comenius supported a rigorous education for girls and women.  After all, were not mothers the first teachers of their children?  He recognized that holding about half of the population back “in its place” constrained entire societies also.

Comenius traveled widely in Europe.  He lived and worked in England in 1641-1642, inspiring the eventual founding of the Royal Society there and of similar institutions elsewhere.  In 1642 our saint rejected an offer to become the President of the new Harvard College.  He did, however, leave England, where the first of three civil wars within a decade was starting, for Sweden, where the government invited him to reform the schools.  Comenius had to leave after a few years, for his involvement in ecumenical activities angered some prominent ministers in the state Lutheran Church.  He returned to Poland, where, in 1648, he became the leader of the entire Moravian Church.  War struck again in 1656, when Comenius lost all his manuscripts in another fire related to a military action.  Thus Comenius relocated to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he died on November 15, 1670, about fifty-two years before Zinzendorf rescued the Moravians and started the modern era of the denomination.

The Moravians survived as a church until 1722 in large part due to the labors of Comenius.  His published theological works–including the 1659 hymnal and the 1661 catechism–kept the flame burning for a few more decades.

Some of our saint’s published works exist in English.  These include a hymn I found in the 1923 and 1969 North American Moravian hymnals and some of his books, such as those for which I have found texts at and linked into this post.






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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John Amos Comenius 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






Feast of Johann Gottlob Klemm, Tobias Friedrich, David Tannenberg, Johann Philip Bachmann, and Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek (November 15)   1 comment


Above:  A Chart Depicting Relationships Among People I Have Named in This Post

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



Instrument Maker

mentor of 

DAVID TANNENBERG, SR. (MARCH 21, 1728-MAY 19, 1804)

German-American Moravian Organ Builder

mentor and father-in-law of


German-American Instrument Maker



Bohemian-American Organ Builder



German Moravian Composer and Musician



A process which began when I wrote a name–Johann Philip Bachmann–out of a book then assigned him a provisional date on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days led recently to taking notes on Herr Bachmann.  Then one person led to another and I had taken notes on five saints during several hours.  These life stories are like circles in a Venn Diagram, but I will do my best to minimize, if not prevent, confusion.

If I have prompted a desire for more details in you, O reader, some of the hyperlinks I have embedded in this post might interest you.  Others have devoted much time and effort into sharing such details online; I have endeavored to refer people to such websites in this post.

Johann Gottlob Klemm (I)

Our story begins with Johann Gottlob Klemm (1690-1762), born near Dresden.  Klemm’s father was an organist, organ builder, and schoolmaster.  The saint trained in the art of building organs near Dresden, starting circa 1710 after having studied theology at Freiberg and Leipzig.  Among his clients was Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), for whom he build a harpsichord.  The Zinzendorf connection brought Klemm into the Moravian Church in 1726, when the saint moved to Herrnhut, where he lived for seven years.  There he was present for the Moravian Pentecost (August 13, 1727), the birth of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum, and taught boys and led some services.

Tobias Friedrich

Klemm also built a clavichord for Tobias Friedrich (1706-1736).  This saint came from a farming family, but God put him on the Earth for music, not agriculture.  Friedrich trained to become the cantor in the nearby town of Castell when he was twelve years old.  At age fourteen (1720) he met Count Zinzendorf.  The die was cast.  Friedrich became one of the early settlers at Herrnhut, where he remained for the rest of his life, except for a few months in 1731, when the Church sent him on a missions trip to Denmark and Sweden.  He worked for Zinzendorf in a variety of capacities over time, ending as the Count’s secretary.  Friedrich served also as the first organist at Herrnhut, as a member of the Church’s Board of Direction (from 1731 to 1736), and as one of the founders of the collegium musicum (musical ensemble) at Herrnhut.

Friedrich’s lasting legacy to the Moravian Church was in the realm of hymnody.  He, a fine violinist and organist, understood well how to accompany a worshiping congregation.  He also grasped the importance of hymn tunes.  He laid the strong foundation of hymnody in the Renewed Unitas Fratrum.  More than 200 tunes in the Church’s first post-renewal hymnal, the Herrnhuter Gesangbuch (1735), flowed from his pen.  At least twenty of them reamined in Christian Gregor‘s standard-setting Choralbuch (1784).

Friedrich died on June 8, 1736, after a brief illness.  He was just twenty-nine years old.  What more might he have accomplished had he lived longer?

Johann Gottlob Klemm (II)

Klemm, once a devout Moravian, walked away from the Unitas Fratrum in 1733 and emigrated to Pennsylvania with a group of Schwenkfelders, who belonged to the sect which Kaspar von Schwenkfeld (1489-1561) had founded.  Schwenkfeld preferred a style of Protestantism more mystical than either the Lutheran or Reformed traditions, so he argued with both Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, who also argued with each other, especially regarding Eucharistic theology.  Schwenkfeld, who made good use of the printing presses to spread his ideas, had to contend with other Protestants banning his books.  He spent the last twenty-one years of his life as a fugitive due to his theology, for the religious freedom he championed did not exist for him.

Klemm, once he settled near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, chose to live without a formal religious affiliation for decades.  He also Anglicized his name as “John Clemm” and worked as the first professional organ and keyboard builder in the American colonies.  His market was ecumenical, including the following:

  1. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1738);
  2. Trinity Church (then Anglican, now Episcopal) Church, Wall Street, New York, New York (1741);
  3. the Moravian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1742); and
  4. the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1746).

Klemm returned to the Unitas Fratrum at the end of his life.  The Moravian community at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, accepted him.  There he mentored David Tannenberg, Sr. (1728-1804), in the art of building organs.  They built five organs for the Moravians.  One of those instruments went to the church at Bethabara, North Carolina.  Klemm died at Bethlehem on May 4, 1762.

David Tannenberg, Sr.

Tannenberg, born into a Moravian Church family, became the major organ builder in America during the 1700s.  He grew up at Herrnhut, except for a period of schooling elsewhere from his tenth to fourteenth years of life.  In 1748 he lived at Zeist, The Netherlands.  The following year he emigrated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Shortly after Tannenberg arrived he married Anna Rosina Kern.  For eight years he worked as a joiner and a business manager at Bethlehem then at Nazareth.  This experience helped him succeed as a master organ builder.

As I wrote, Johann Gottlob Klemm (1690-1762) settled at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1757.  Then Tannenberg became his apprentice.  Tannenberg persisted in the art and trade of building organs despite the request of Moravian Elders that he make cabinets instead.  Building organs was, they said, “tied up with much disorder.”

Tannenberg’s skill extended beyond the bounds of organ building.  He and his family relocated to Lititz, Pennsylvania, in 1765.  There he not only established his workshop but performed as a vocalist and a violinist in the community.  Tannenberg, who built an average of one organ annually, constructed fifty during his lifetime.  Nine of them survive in 2014.  He installed organs in Pennyslvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, for Roman Catholic, Moravian, Reformed, and Lutheran churches plus private homes.  Tannenberg’s output increased in 1793, when, at his request, Johann Philip Bachmann (1762-1837) arrived from Herrnhut.  They built fourteen organs in either seven or ten years.  I am unsure of the length of their professional relationship, for my source tells me that they parted ways in 1800 on one page then in 1803 on another.  (One of those dates might be a typographical error.)  That source does agree with itself, however, on the existence of tension between the men, hence their professional parting.

Tannenberg built and installed organs to the end.  His final professional act was to install an organ at Christ Lutheran Church, York, Pennyslvania.  He was ill, but he completed the job before suffering a stroke then dying.  The organ’s premiere was his funeral.

Tannenberg also built stringed instruments.  He made at least one harpsichord, which, to the best of current knowledge, no longer exists.  There is hope, however, for his oldest stringed instrument, a clavichord dating to 1761, resurfaced in 2004.

Johann Philip Bachmann

Johann Philip Bachmann (1762-1837), whose name launched me on the process of researching and writing this post, was German.  The native of Thuringia learned carpentry from his father, who might been a piano maker.  Young Bachmann left home at age sixteen to apprentice to a master carpenter.  This saint went from there to the Herrnhut, having joined the Unitas Fratrum.  At Herrnhut the carpenter learned how to make musical instruments.  In April 1793, after he arrived in Pennyslvania, he married Anna Maria Tannenberg, the youngest daughter of David Tannenberg, Sr.  Bachmann apprentice under Tannenberg until 1800 or 1803, traveling sometimes to install organs.  The two men collaborated until Tannenberg’s death (1804), despite their differences.  Bachmann turned from building organs to making pianos and cabinets by 1819, by which time he had begun to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which afflicted him for the last two decades of his life.  He, an invalid for the final months, died on November 15, 1837.

Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek

A previous apprentice to Tannenberg was Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek (1729-1801), a native of Bohemia.  He, an organ builder, millwright, and cabinet maker, apprentice under Tannenberg sometime before 1771, when he left Pennsylvania for North Carolina.  He built at least two organs there–one for the Moravian congregation at Bethabara, the other for the Moravian church at Bathania.  The Bethania organ was unusual, for the organist’s console was behind the case, requiring a window cut through the center of the case so the organist could see the congregation.

David Tannenberg, Jr.

Tannenberg had a son, David Tannenberg, Jr. (1760-circa 1802), who also learned the art and trade of building organs.  The younger Tannenberg, unlike his father, was often at odds with the Moravian community.  The son did, however, work in the field of organ construction, infusing the Pennsylvania German school of organ building with elements of the Moravian school thereof.  One example of the fusion of these two schools was the organ for Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Bally, Pennsylvania.


The worship of God is a serious matter, as the saints of whom I have written in this post knew well.  They employed their skills with great care for the glory of God.  Some of their products survive–often in museums, sometimes in churches.  The old instruments remain functional if people have maintained them.  And at least one cabinet Bulitschek made survives.  It is, according to what I have read, beautiful and well-crafted.

May we do everything excellently, so that even our must mundane and seemingly meaningless tasks may glorify God.  One can glorify God by washing the dishes if one completes the chore properly, after all.






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

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

Johann Gottlob Klemm;

David Tannenberg, Sr.;

Johann Philip Bachmann;

Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek; and

Tobias Friedrich,

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

–Common of a Saint I, Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724


Feast of St. Joseph Pignatelli (November 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Jesuit Shield

Image Source = 62173



Restorer of the Jesuits

Born Giuseppe Maria Pignatelli

Alternative feast days = November 14 and 28

Former feast day = November 11

The Jesuits have counted among their numbers great intellectuals, evangelists, and scientists.  Their loyalty to the Bishop of Rome has caused them to run afoul of monarchs, as in Spain.  King Charles III expelled members of that order in 1767.  Among the Jesuits who departed was St. Joseph Pignatelli (1737-1811), son of a Spanish woman and an Italian nobleman.  A Jesuit since age sixteen, he had become a priest in 1763.  The saint and his fellow Jesuits relocated to Corsica, which they had to leave when the French, whose monarch had also expelled members of the order, took over.  So the saint and his band of Jesuits moved to Ferrara, on the Italian peninsula.

Pope Clement XIV, under great pressure, suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773.  Yet the order survived in Prussia and in the Russian Empire, where the monarchs refused to permit this suppression.  And, with the permission of Pope Pius VI and at the invitation of the Duke of Parma, the saint restored the order in that part of Italy in the 1790s.  The Pontiff also granted permission for remaining Jesuits to join their brethren in Russia during that decade.   Pope Pius VII, in 1801, approved the Russian province of the order.  And, three years later, the saint reestablished the Society of Jesus in the Kingdom of Naples, serving as provincial.   The French invaded later that year, ending that Jesuit province, but the saint did restore the order on Sardinia and serve as Italian provincial before he died in 1811. Three years later the Church restored the Society of Jesus universally.  The saint’s labors had helped to keep the order alive.

The Society of Jesus continues its good works.







Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Saint Joseph Pignatelli,

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), 60

Proper 28, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  The Last Judgment, by Fra Angelico

Image in the Public Domain

It is Getting Dark in Here

The Sunday Closest to November 16

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

NOVEMBER 15, 2020



Judges 4:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. So the LORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.

At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him,

The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you, “Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.”

Psalm 123 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 To you I lift up my eyes,

to you enthroned in the heavens.

As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters,

and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

3 So our eyes look to the LORD our God,

until he show us his mercy.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy,

for we have had more than enough of contempt,

5 Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich,

and of the derision of the proud.


Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

Be silent before the Lord GOD!

For the day of the LORD is at hand;

the LORD has prepared a sacrifice,

he has consecrated his guests.

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,

and I will punish the people

who rest complacently on their dregs,

those who say in their hearts,

“The LORD wil not do good,

nor will he do harm.”

Their wealth shall be plundered,

and their houses laid waste.

Though they build houses,

they shall not inhabit them;

though they plant vineyards,

they shall not drink wine from them.

The great day of the LORD is near,

near and hastening fast;

the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter,

the warrior cries aloud there.

That day will be a day of wrath,

a day of distress and anguish,

a day of ruin and devastation,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and thick darkness,

a day of trumpet blast and battle cry

against the fortified cities

and against the lofty battlements.

I shall bring such distress upon people

that they shall walk like the blind,

because they have sinned against the LORD,

that blood shall be poured out like the dust,

and their flesh like dung.

Neither shall their silver nor their gold

will be able to save them

on the day of the LORD’s wrath;

in the fire of his passion

the whole earth shall be consumed;

for a full, a terrible end

he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.


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

Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say,”There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.


Matthew 25:14-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Links:

Matthew 25:

1 Thessalonians 5:

Addressing a Specific Form of Foolishness:


Today I choose to leave the Gospel reading to a related post while I pursue another track.

Proper 28 is the penultimate Sunday in the Church year; Advent is nearly upon us.  So the lectionary readings have turned toward the apocalyptic, as they are prone to do in November.  Nevertheless, I write these words in late May 2011, just a few days after the predicted rapture that never occurred.  This was no surprise for me.  To state the case simply, Harold Camping does not know more than Jesus:

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  (Matthew 24:36, New Revised Standard Version)

It is customary that, in The Episcopal Church, to read an assigned text then say, “The word of the Lord,” to which the congregation responds reflexively, “Thanks be to God.”  If the reading comes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, the priest or deacon concludes the lesson then says “The Gospel of the Lord,” to which the people say, “Praise be to you, Lord Christ.”  Yet I recall one 6:00 P.M. Sunday service at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, when our Rector, Beth Long, read the designated Gospel text, which was rather grim.  An awkward silence followed before we said with hesitation, “Praise be to you, Lord Christ.”  What else were we supposed to say?

That is the sense I take away from Zephaniah.  My fellow liturgy enthusiasts might know that the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass used to include the “Dies Irae” (“Day of wrath and doom impending”) section.  More than one composer set it to music gloriously, with Verdi’s version being the one that plays inside my cranium most often.  The lesson from Zephaniah was the basis of that Latin text.  Anyhow, am I supposed to say “Thanks be to God” after the reading from Zephaniah?

It is vital to remember that we are looking at just a portion of the sacred story; the tone is quite different on Easter Sunday, for example.  There is a time and a season for everything, if not every verse, within a well-constructed lectionary.  There is a time to rejoice.  And there is a time, as we read in 1 Thessalonians, to be serious.  Yet there is never a bad time to put on the breastplate of faith and love.

May we wear it always.



Saints’ Days and Holy Days for November   1 comment


Image Source = Didier Descouens



3 (Richard Hooker, Anglican Priest and Theologian)

  • Daniel Payne, African Methodist Episcopal Bishop
  • John Worthington, British Moravian Minister and Composer; John Antes, U.S. Moravian Instrument Maker, Composer, and Missionary; Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Sr., British Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer; Christian Ignatius LaTrobe, British Moravian Composer; Peter LaTrobe, British Moravian Bishop and Composer; Johann Christopher Pyrlaeus, Moravian Missionary and Musician; and Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg, Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer
  • Pierre-François Néron, French Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in Vietnam, 1860

4 (Ludolph Ernst Schlicht, Moravian Minister, Musician, and Hymn Writer; John Gambold, Sr., British Moravian Bishop, Hymn Writer, and Translator of Hymns; and John Gambold, Jr., Moravian Composer)

  • Augustus Montague Toplady, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Léon Bloy, French Roman Catholic Novelist and Social Critic; his godson, Jacques Maritain, French Roman Catholic Philosopher; and his wife, Raïssa Maritain, French Roman Catholic Contemplative
  • Theodore Weld, U.S. Congregationalist then Quaker Abolitionist and Educator; his wife, Angelina Grimké, U.S. Presbyterian then Quaker Abolitionist, Educator, and Feminist; her sister, Sarah Grimké, U.S. Episcopalian then Quaker Abolitionist and Feminist; her nephew, Francis Grimké, African-American Presbyterian Minister and Civil Rights Activist; and his wife, Charlotte Grimké, African-American Abolitionist and Educator

5 (Bernard Lichtenberg, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1943)

  • Eugene Carson Blake, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Ecumenist, and Moral Critic
  • Guido Maria Conforti, Founder of the Xavierian Missionaries
  • Hryhorii Lakota, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1950

6 (Christian Gregor, Father of Moravian Church Music)

  • Arthur Tappan and Lewis Tappan, U.S. Congregationalist Businessmen and Abolitionists; colleagues and financial backers of Samuel Eli Cornish and Theodore S. Wright, African-American Ministers and Abolitionists
  • Giovanni Gabrieli and Hans Leo Hassler, Composers and Organists; and Claudio Monteverdi and Heinrich Schutz, Composers and Musicians
  • Halford E. Luccock, U.S. Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Magdeleine of Jesus, Founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus

7 (Willibrord, Apostle to the Frisians; and Boniface of Mainz, Apostle to the Germans)

  • Benedict Joseph Flaget, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bardstown then of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, and Civil Rights Activist
  • John Cawood, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John Christian Frederick Heyer, Lutheran Missionary in the United States and India; Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Jr., Lutheran Minister to the Tamils; and Ludwig Nommensen, Lutheran Missionary to Sumatra and Apostle to the Batak

8 (John Duns Scotus, Scottish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian)

  • Elizabeth of the Trinity, French Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Religious Writer
  • Johann von Staupitz, Martin Luther’s Spiritual Mentor
  • John Caspar Mattes, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist
  • Pambo of Nitria, Ammonius of Skete, Palladius of Galatia, Macarius of Egypt, Macarius of Alexandria, and Pishoy, Desert Fathers; Evagrius of Pontus, Monk and Scholar; Melania the Elder, Desert Mother; Rufinus of Aquileia, Monk and Theologian; Didymus the Blind, Biblical Scholar; John II, Bishop of Jerusalem; Melania the Younger, Desert Mother; and her husband, Pinian, Monk

9 (Martin Chemnitz, German Lutheran Theologian, and the “Second Martin”)

  • Elijah P. Lovejoy, U.S. Journalist, Abolitionist, Presbyterian Minister, and Martyr, 1837; his brother, Owen Lovejoy, U.S. Abolitionist, Lawmaker, and Congregationalist Minister; and William Wells Brown, African-American Abolitionist, Novelist, Historian, and Physician
  • Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart, German Lutheran Educator and Devotional Writer
  • Margery Kempe, English Roman Catholic Mystic and Pilgrim
  • William Croswell, Episcopal Priest and Hymn Writer

10 (Leo I “the Great,” Bishop of Rome)

  • Andreas Peter Berggreen, Danish Lutheran Musicologist, Organist, Music Educator, and Composer
  • Lott Cary, African-American Baptist Minister and Missionary to Liberia; and Melville B. Cox, U.S. Methodist Minister and Missionary to Liberia
  • Odette Prévost, French Roman Catholic Nun, and Martyr in Algeria, 1995

11 (Anne Steele, First Important English Female Hymn Writer)

  • Alijca Maria Jadwiga Kotowska, Polish Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1939
  • Edwin Hatch, Anglican Priest, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Martha Coffin Pelham Wright; her sister, Lucretia Coffin Mott; her husband, James Mott; his sister, Abigail Lydia Mott Moore; and her husband, Lindley Murray Moore; U.S. Quaker Abolitionists and Feminists
  • Peter Taylor Forsyth, Scottish Congregationalist Minister and Theologian

12 (Josaphat Kuntsevych, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Polotsk, and Martyr, 1623)

  • John Tavener, English Presbyterian then Orthodox Composer
  • Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexican Roman Catholic Nun, Composer, Writer, Philosopher, Feminist, and Alleged Heretic
  • Ray Palmer, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • William Arthur Dunkerley, British Novelist, Poet, and Hymn Writer

13 (Henry Martyn Dexter, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Historian)

  • Abbo of Fleury, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Brice of Tours, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Frances Xavier Cabrini, Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart
  • William Romanis, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

14 (Samuel Seabury, Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, and Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church)

  • Jane Montgomery Campbell, Anglican Hymn Translator and Music Educator
  • Maria Luiza Merkert, Co-Founder of the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth
  • Nicholas Tavelic and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1391
  • Peter Wolle, U.S. Moravian Bishop, Organist, and Composer; Theodore Francis Wolle, U.S. Moravian Organist and Composer; and John Frederick “J. Fred” Wolle, U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Choir Director

15 (John Amos Comenius, Father of Modern Education)

  • Gustaf Aulén and his protégé and colleague, Anders Nygren, Swedish Lutheran Bishops and Theologians
  • Johann Gottlob Klemm, Instrument Maker; David Tannenberg, Sr., German-American Moravian Organ Builder; Johann Philip Bachmann, German-American Moravian Instrument Maker; Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek, Bohemian-American Organ Builder; and Tobias Friedrich, German Moravian Composer and Musician
  • Johannes Kepler, German Lutheran Astronomer and Mathematician
  • Joseph Pignatelli, Restorer of the Jesuits

16 (Margaret of Scotland, Queen, Humanitarian, and Ecclesiastical Reformer)

  • Giuseppe Moscati, Italian Roman Catholic Physician
  • Ignacio Ellacuria and His Companions, Martyrs in El Salvador, November 15, 1989
  • Jesuit Martyrs of Paraguay, 1628

17 (Arthur Henry Mann, Anglican Organist, Choir Director, Hymnodist, and Hymn Tune Composer)

  • Henriette DeLille, Founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Hugh of Lincoln, Roman Catholic Bishop and Abbot

18 (Hilda of Whitby, Roman Catholic Abbess)

  • Arthur Tozer Russell, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Isabel Alice Hartley Crawford, Baptist Missionary to the Kiowa Nation
  • Jane Eliza(beth) Leeson, English Hymn Writer

19 (Elizabeth of Hungary, Princess of Hungary, and Humanitarian)

  • Alice Nevin, U.S. German Reformed Liturgist and Composer of Hymn Texts
  • Johann Christian Till, U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Piano Builder; and his son, Jacob Christian Till, U.S. Moravian Piano Builder)
  • Johann Hermann Schein, German Lutheran Composer
  • Samuel John Stone, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

20 (F. Bland Tucker, Episcopal Priest and Hymnodist; “The Dean of American Hymn Writers”)

  • Henry Francis Lyte, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Priscilla Lydia Sellon, a Restorer of Religious Life in The Church of England
  • Richard Watson Gilder, U.S. Poet, Journalist, and Social Reformer
  • Theodore Claudius Pease, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

21 (Thomas Tallis and his student and colleague, William Byrd, English Composers and Organists; and John Merbecke, English Composer, Organist, and Theologian)

  • Guy Ignatius Chabrat, Roman Catholic Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown then of Louisville, Kentucky; and his cousin, Peter Joseph Lavialle, Roman Catholic Bishop of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Henry Purcell and his brother, Daniel Purcell, English Composers
  • Maria Franciszka Siedliska, Founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

22 (Robert Seagrave, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Anna Kolesárová, Slovak Roman Catholic Martyr, 1944
  • Ditlef Georgson Ristad, Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, Liturgist, and Educator

23 (Clement I, Bishop of Rome)

  • Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhofer, German Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer
  • Columban, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Missionary
  • Enrichetta Alfieri, Italian Roman Catholic Nun and “Angel of San Vittore”
  • John Kenneth Pfohl, Sr., U.S. Moravian Bishop; his wife, Harriet Elizabeth “Bessie” Whittington Pfohl, U.S. Moravian Musician; and their son, James Christian Pfohl, Sr., U.S. Moravian Musician

24 (Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs in Vietnam, 1839)

  • Lucy Menzies, Scottish Presbyterian then Anglican Scholar and Mystic
  • Theophane Venard, Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Vietnam, 1861
  • Vincent Liem, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in Vietnam, 1773

25 (William Hiley Bathurst, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Isaac Watts, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • James Otis Sargent Huntington, Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross
  • John LaFarge, Jr., U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society
  • Petrus Nigidius, German Lutheran Educator and Composer; and Georg Nigidius, German Lutheran Composer and Hymn Writer

26 (Siricius, Bishop of Rome)

  • H. Baxter Liebler, Episcopal Priest and Missionary to the Navajo Nation
  • John Berchmans, Roman Catholic Seminarian
  • Sojourner Truth, U.S. Abolitionist, Mystic, and Feminist
  • Theodore P. Ferris, Episcopal Priest and Author

27 (James Intercisus, Roman Catholic Martyr)

  • William Cooke and Benjamin Webb, Anglican Priests and Translators of Hymns

28 (Stephen the Younger, Defender of Icons)

  • Albert George Butzer, Sr., U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Educator
  • Kamehameha IV and Emma Rooke, King and Queen of Hawai’i
  • James Mills Thoburn, Isabella Thoburn, and Clara Swain, U.S. Methodist Missionaries to India
  • Joseph Hofer and Michael Hofer, U.S. Hutterite Conscientious Objectors and Martyrs, 1918

29 (Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church)

  • Frederick Cook Atkinson, Anglican Church Organist and Composer
  • Jennette Threlfall, English Hymn Writer



  • Thanksgiving Day


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