Archive for the ‘November 24’ Category

Feast of John LaFarge, Jr. (November 24)   3 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain



U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society


The Negro brings to the Church something that is in danger of disappearing from its life in this country, and thereby putting American Catholicism out of touch with the rest of the great universal suffering world–a keen sense of social justice.

–Father John LaFarge, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 512


Father John LaFarge, Jr., comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Ellsberg’s All Saints and G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

LaFarge, from a background of privilege, dedicated most of his adult life to resisting bigotry.  His mother was Margaret Mason Perry (1839-1925).  She, a convert to Roman Catholicism, had Isaiah Hecker (1819-1888) for a spiritual mentor.  Our saint’s father was John LaFarge, Sr. (1835-1910), a prominent painter and stained glass window maker.  Our saint, the youngest of eight children, entered the world at Newport, Rhode Island, on February 13, 1880.  John, Jr., a member of the Harvard University Class of 1901, studied for the priesthood in Europe.  There he joined the Society of Jesus (much to his mother’s dismay) and became a priest (ordained at Innsbruck, Austria) on July 26, 1905.

LaFarge understood the relationship between the gospel of Jesus Christ and social justice.  Early assignments included teaching at Jesuit colleges and assisting in parishes.  One assignment was as chaplain at the prison and hospital on Blackwell Island, New York, New York.  Later, our saint served in a mostly African-American parish in Leonardville, Maryland.  In 1924 he founded an industrial school for African Americans at Ridge, Maryland.  From 1926 to 1963 LaFarge worked at America magazine, a Jesuit publication.  In 1963, he, Dorothy Day, and others founded the Catholic Layman’s Union, which became the first Catholic Interracial Council of New York.  He traveled across the United States, speaking about social justice and encouraging the formation of similar organizations.  In 1938, Pope Pius XI asked LaFarge to draft an encyclical on racism.  Our saint completed the draft document, but Pius XI died in 1939, and Pope Pius XII shelved it, just in time for the Holocaust and World War II.

LaFarge, a pioneer for racial justice and opposition to anti-Semitism in U.S. Roman Catholicism prior to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), understood that one one divine purpose for the human race was unity.  He, therefore, condemned anti-Semitism and racial segregation laws.  That concern for unity also led LaFarge to become a pioneer in the ecumenical movement.  Related to his concern for unity was support for constitutional government; our saint criticized his Church for hostility to constitutional governments and support for dictatorships and therefore for a dubious record on human rights.  He, an advocate for freedom of religion as a human right, lived long enough to learn of the introduction of the draft Declaration on Religious Freedom at Vatican II.

LaFarge, aged 83 years, died in his sleep in New York, New York, early in the morning of November 25, 1963.

Theological orthodoxy and social justice need not be at odds with each other.  Despite the long and shameful record of self-proclaimed orthodox Christians propping up sins such as Jim Crow laws, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, nativism, and the subordination of women, actual orthodoxy, with the Golden Rule as a constituent part, facilitates social justice and confronts institutions and proponents of oppression and hatred.









Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John LaFarge, Jr.,

through whom you 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


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 those 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 Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

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

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

Help us, like your servant John LaFarge, Jr., 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), 60


Proper 29, Year C   Leave a comment


Shame, Transformed Into Victory and Glory

The Sunday Closest to November 23

Last Sunday After Pentecost:  Christ the King Sunday

NOVEMBER 24, 2019


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Canticle 16 (Luke 1:68-79) or Psalm 46


Colossians 1:11-20

Luke 23:33-43

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

Hope of the World:

This is My Father’s World:

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus:


Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever.  Amen.

A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 181


Colossians 1:13-20 describes Jesus well–better than I can–so I defer to it as a superior expression of Christology.  Please meditate on it, O reader.

Jesus of Nazareth, to whom Zechariah referred in Luke 1:68-79, died on a cross and under a mocking sign calling him


Crucifixion was the way the Roman Empire executed those of whom its leaders wanted to make a public and humiliating example.  Usually nobody even buried the corpses, left for nature to consume.  Thus crucifixion, carrying great stigma, extinguished a person in society most of the time.

But it did not extinguish Jesus.  So a symbol of shame became a symbol of triumph.  Symbols mean what people agree they signify; therefore a symbol of state-sponsored terror–judicial murder–has become a symbol of perfect love.

Christ the King Sunday exists to remind people that, as the Reverend Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858-1901) wrote in a hymn which his widow had published:

This is my Father’s world:

O let me ne’er forget

that though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

the battle is not done;

Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,

and earth and heaven be one.

That promise is true, although the culmination of it remains in the future tense.  But may we who claim the name “Christian” never abandon hope.






Feast of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and St. Peter Thi (November 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Vatican City

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs in Vietnam

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, born Dung An Tran, came from a poor family in northern Vietnam.  His family, seeking work, moved to Hanoi when he was twelve years old.  There he met a Roman Catholic catechist, who provided food, shelter, and religious instruction.  Thus, after three years of religious instruction, Dung An Tran became a Christian, being baptized as Andrew.  The saint became a catechist.  Then, on March 15, 1823, he received Holy Orders as a priest.  He was an effective parish priest, baptizing many people.

Times were perilous for Vietnamese Christians, for the Emperor, Minh-Mang, persecuted them.  Thus is was that authorities arrested Andrew Dung-Lac in 1835 and 1839, with members of his congregation purchasing his freedom each time.  Yet the third arrest (the second to occur in 1839), was the last one.  Authorities apprehended Andrew Dung-Lac and a fellow priest, Peter Thi, while the two were traveling together to go to confession.  The two priests suffered tortures before dying by beheading on December 21, 1839.

Pope John Paul II canonized the two priest-martyrs in 1988.  The Roman Catholic Church lists November 24 as the Feast of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and December 20 as the Feast of St. Peter Thi, but I have combined the two occasions for my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

We who enjoy religious freedom are truly blessed.  Many of our fellow human beings of various labels lack this basic human right.  So may we not take our religious freedom for granted.  Furthermore, may we support efforts to extend religious freedom to others.  Freedom, as I tell my students, extends to those who agree with us and to those who do not, those who are like us and those who are different from us.  So may we not restrict our efforts to helping our fellow Christians, although we should, of course, take a special interest in their well-being.  All human beings bear the image of God, although many do not worship God, unfortunately.  Bringing them to God can be risky, as the examples of these priests demonstrate, but that work is always worthwhile.







The Collect and Lections for a Martyr:

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 Sts. Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi,

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 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Feast of St. Theophane Venard (November 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  A 1913 Map of French Indochina

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Vietnam, 1861

Alternative feast day = February 2

Former feast days = November 4 and 6

Born at St. Loup, France, in 1829, St. Jean-Theophane Venard became a Roman Catholic priest on June 5, 1852.  Just a few months later, on September 19, he left France forever and sailed for Asia.  After spending fifteen months at Hong Kong, he arrived at his mission station in Tonkin (Tongking on the public domain map above).  Christians in the region had been suffering from persecution, a fact which only became worse shortly after Venard’s arrival.  A royal decree increased the severity of the persecution, so Venard and his flock had to hide in caves and the dense forest.  Exposure to the elements took a toll on his weak constitution, but he persisted in his ministry.

Then, on November 30, 1860, authorities captured Venard, due to an act of betrayal.  He lived in a cage until February 2, 1861, keeping a positive attitude until the end.  He wrote encouraging letters to friends and family members during that time.  And, on the the way to his martyrdom by beheading, Venard chanted psalms and hymns.

Venard and 33 other martyrs of Vietnam and China became Blesseds on May 2, 1909.  Then, on June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized Venard and 19 other Martyrs of Vietnam.

Sometimes the call of God is, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in the 1900s, to follow Christ and die.  This was the case for St. Theophane Venard.  He gave his life to Christ, for whom he died.  The best way to die well, I read once, is to live well, for our pattern of living will inform our dying.  Venard’s life affirms that thought, for he lived in the joy of God and also died there.





For Further Reading:

Another Account of the Saint’s Life:


The Collect and Lections for a Martyr:

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 St. Theophane Venard,

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 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

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; godfather of Jacques Maritain, French Roman Catholic Philosopher; husband of Raïssa Maritain, French Roman Catholic Contemplative
  • Theodore Weld, U.S. Congregationalist then Quaker Abolitionist and Educator; husband of 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 (Arthur 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)

  • Bernard Lichtenberg, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1943
  • Hryhorii Lakota, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1950
  • Johann Daniel Grimm, German Moravian Musician

6 (Christian Gregor, Father of Moravian Church Music)

  • 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, Foundress of the Little Sisters of Jesus

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

  • 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)

  • 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”)

  • 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 the Great, Bishop of Rome)

  • 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
  • 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)

  • 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
  • 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, Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart

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

  • 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
  • William Romanis, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

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
  • 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
  • Johannes Kepler, German Lutheran Astronomer and Mathematician

17 (Hugh of Lincoln, Roman Catholic Bishop and Abbot)

  • Henriette DeLille, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Isabel Alice Hartley Crawford, Baptist Missionary to the Kiowa Nation

18 (Hilda of Whitby, Roman Catholic Abbess)

  • Alice Nevin, U.S. German Reformed Liturgist and Composer of Hymn Texts
  • Arthur Tozer Russell, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Jane Eliza(beth) Leeson, English Hymn Writer

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

  • 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

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

  • Henry Purcell and his brother, Daniel Purcell, English Composers
  • Theodore Claudius Pease, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

22 (Robert Seagrave, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Ditlef Georgson Ristad, Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, Liturgist, and Educator

23 (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)

  • Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhofer, German Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer
  • Clement I, Bishop of Rome
  • Columban, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Missionary

24 (John LaFarge, Jr., U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society)

  • Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs in Vietnam, 1839
  • Theophane Venard, Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Vietnam, 1861
  • Vincent Liem, Roman Catholic Martyr, 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
  • Petrus Nigidius, German Lutheran Educator and Composer; and Georg Nigidius, German Lutheran Composer and Hymn Writer

26 (Sojourner Truth, U.S. Abolitionist, Mystic, and Feminist)

  • H. Baxter Liebler, Episcopal Priest and Missionary to the Navajo Nation
  • John Berchmans, Roman Catholic Seminarian
  • Theodore P. Ferris, Episcopal Priest and Author

27 (James Intercisus, Roman Catholic Martyr)

  • James Mills Thoburn, Isabella Thoburn, and Clara Swain, U.S. Methodist Missionaries to India
  • 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
  • Joseph and Michael Hofer, U.S. Hutterite Conscientious Objectors and Martyrs, 1918

29 (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.

Feast of St. Vincent Liem (November 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Yellow Mustard Flower

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in Vietnam, 1773

Alternative feast day = November 7

And he [Jesus] said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.

Mark 4:30-32, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition

Jesus, in Mark 4:30-32, likens the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, a small item with large output.  The mustard bush goes where it will, and the most assiduous efforts of powers and principalities cannot stop its progress.  At best they can delay it for a time.  Yet, as a cliche says, the blood of the martyrs waters the church.  So persecution is not only inhumane and sinful, but counterproductive, too.

Many people seem never to learn this lesson.

Consider the case of St. Vincent Liem.  He, born in Tra Lu, Kingdom of Tonkin (northern Vietnam), circa 1732, grew up Roman Catholic.  Europeans had brought Catholicism to the region we call Vietnam today.  At the time the region was home to various kingdoms, including Tonkin.  Many natives were suspicious of Roman Catholicism because of its association with Europeans, many of whom were openly imperialistic (not that the Tonkinese leadership was not imperialistic, too).  It is easier to criticize the “other” for the proverbial splinter in his eye than to remove the equally proverbial plank from one’s own eye, however.  Displacement is an old pattern of human behavior.

Educated in the Philippines and ordained a priest,  Liem returned to his homeland in 1759 and began to teach novitiates of his order, the Dominicans.  This was dangerous work, for the authorities in the Vietnam region killed over 100,000 Christians and tortured others from the 1500s to the 1700s.  The tortures were cruel, ranging from dismemberment to burning flesh away from the body to branding the words ta dao, or “false religion” on the face.  St. Vincent Liem labored faithfully in the fields of the Lord while facing great risks, which led to his capture and execution by beheading in 1773.

Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1988.

Today Roman Catholics constitute a persecuted minority faith group in Vietnam.  The government there is staffed with control freaks who sanction only religious groups they control, and the Pope does not bow to their demands.  Also, many Vietnamese critics associate Roman Catholicism with French imperialists and certain corrupt South Vietnamese leaders.  Yet the faith lives in Vietnam.  The kingdom of God, like a mustard bush, goes where it will, without a permission slip.  Persecution will never change that fact, although many faithful Christians will continue to pay the ultimate price, which is to take up their cross (or whatever the modern method of execution might be at a particular time or place) and follow Jesus.  And their blood will continue to water the church.

Persecution is inhumane, sinful, and counterproductive.





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 Vincent Liem,

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), 59

Posted September 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in November 24, Saints of 1740-1759, Saints of 1760-1779

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