Archive for the ‘October’ Category

Feast of James Hannington and His Companions (October 29)   Leave a comment

James Hannington

Above:  James Hannington

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES HANNINGTON (SEPTEMBER 3, 1847-OCTOBER 29, 1885)

Anglican Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Guinea, 1884-1885, and Martyr

The purpose of this post is to provide a brief summary of the life of Bishop James Hannington.  For longer and more detailed accounts of his life and parts thereof I refer you, O reader, to the following sources:

  1. James Hannington, First Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa:  A History of His Life and Work (1885), by Edwin Collas Dawson;
  2. Peril and Adventure in Central Africa; Being Illustrated Letters to the Youngsters at Home, by the Late Bishop Hannington (1886);
  3. The Last Journals of Bishop Hannington; Being Narratives of a Journey Through Palestine in 1884 and a Journey Through Masai-Land and U-Soga in 1885 (1888), edited by Edwin Collas Dawson;
  4. Bishop Hannington and the Story of the Uganda Mission (1908), by William Grinton Berry;
  5. Bishop Hannington:  The Life and Adventures of a Missionary Hero (1910), by William Grinton Berry;
  6. James Hannington, Bishop and Martyr:  The Story of a Noble Life (1910), by Charles D. Michael; and
  7. James Hannington, the Merchant’s Son Who Was Martyred for Africa (1920), by Charles D. Michael.

James Hannington seemed at first unlikely to become an Anglican missionary bishop.  He grew up an Independent, not a member of The Church of England.  Our saint, born in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, on September 3, 1847, was a son of Charles Smith Harrington, who operated a warehouse.  The young saint, who attended the Temple School at Brighton, was a bad student.  He dropped out of school at age 15 to help his father at the warehouse.

Hannington’s life turned toward his destiny in 1867, when the family joined The Church of England.  He decided to pursue Holy Orders and studied at St. Mary Hall, Oxford (B.A., 1874, then M.A.)  At first our saint continued to be a bad student, but the death of his mother changed him and altered his academic habits.  Hannington, ordained to the diaconate in 1874, served as the Curate of St. Peter’s, Treentishoe, Devon, in 1874 and 1875.  Then he, as a priest, was the Curate of St. George’s, Hurstpierpoint, from 1875 to 1882.

Hannington’s life turned toward his destiny again in 1882, when he learned of the murders of missionaries in the vicinity of Lake Victoria.  He volunteered to join the Church Missionary Society’s mission to the area.  Our saint went to Africa, but bad health forced his return to England in 1883.  Upon recovering he became the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa in June 1884.  By the end of the year he left for Africa again.  Hannington reached Lake Victoria in 1885.

Our saint did have a family.  On February 10, 1877, at St. George’s Church, he had married Blanche Hankin-Turvin.  The couple had three children.  Hannington was a loving husband and father, but his call from God took into the path of danger.

Hannington had a brief episcopate.  Shortly after he and his party of about 50 people arrived in the vicinity of Lake Victoria King Mwanga II of Buganda (reigned 1884-1888 and 1890-1897) had them arrested and incarcerated.  During the course of about a week most of them suffered violence, humiliation, and martyrdom.  Mwanga feared not only the increasing rate of conversions to Christianity among this subjects but foreign encroachments upon his realm.  He also linked those two issues.  The monarch failed in his attempts to stop both, despite the executions he ordered.  Our saint died on October 29, 1885.  He was 38 years old.  Hannington’s last words were:

Go, tell Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.

Four members of Hannington’s party escaped to safety.

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing;

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them are winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

–Doris Plemm, circa 1950, in reference to victims of McCarthyism

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY AND MARTHA OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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Precious in your sight, O Lord, is the death of your saints,

whose faithful witness, by your providence, has its great reward:

We give you thanks for your martyrs James Hannington and his companions,

who purchased with their blood a road into Uganda for the proclamation of the Gospel;

and we pray that with them we may obtain the crown of righteousness

which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Job 23:10-17

Psalm 124

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 657

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Feast of Alfred the Great (October 26)   Leave a comment

England 878

Above:  Map of England in 878

Image in the Public Domain

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ALFRED THE GREAT (849-OCTOBER 26, 899)

King of the West Saxons

An old saying tells that power wears down those who do not have it.  That is certainly true in the Turkish Republic.  Even before the recent failed coup President (previously Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the judiciary to imprison journalists whose reporting was critical of him.  He thereby proved that he lacked respect for the freedom of the press.  Now, after the coup, he is targeting not only soldiers but journalists, judges, academics, and civil servants en masse.  It is a witch hunt.  The republic is really a dictatorship.  Erdogan’s power wears down those who do not have it.  Patriotism and law and order are the last refuges of a scoundrel, to paraphrase Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

Power need not wear down those who lack it, however.  If the right person uses power for proper purposes it builds up the nation–or, in the case, of King Alfred the Great, the only monarch in English history to be “the Great,” the kingdom as a whole.

Alfred the Great was the last King of the West Saxons (alternatively, the King of Wessex) and the first King of the Anglo-Saxons (from 878).  His mother was Osburh/Osburga (died in 854), a noblewoman.  Our saint’s father was King Aethelwulf (reigned 839-858).  Alfred, born in 849, was the youngest of five children who survived to adulthood.  Aethelwulf sent his four-year-old son to visit Rome, where Pope St. Leo IV (reigned April 10, 847-July 17, 855) sponsored the prince at his confirmation.  Two years later Alfred accompanied Aethelwulf on a pilgrimage to Rome.  The prince learned to read English prior to his twelfth birthday.  He did not learn to read Latin until 887, when he had been king for some time.  Aethelwulf’s three elder sons succeeded him, in order, prior to Alfred’s accession:

  1. Aethelbald (reigned 858-860),
  2. Aethelberht (reigned 860-865), and
  3. Aethelred I (reigned 865-871).

Alfred’s public life spanned 866-899.  That public life began with Alfred assisting his elder brother, Aethelred I, resist Danish invaders, a persistent threat for generations.  In 868 the prince married Ealhswith/Ealswitha (died 902), from the Mercian royal family.  Alfred succeeded Aethelred I in 871, becoming the King of the West Saxons (alternatively, the King of Wessex).  The fight against Danish invaders continued throughout his reign.  One phase of that struggle ended in 878, when Alfred took the title “King of the Anglo-Saxons.”  In that year Alfred did not kill Guthrum, the leader of the Danish invaders; no the monarch forced Guthrum to convert to Christianity and stood as his godfather.  Another stage of that struggle ended in 896.  Alfred left behind a military legacy, including a naval fleet and reorganized militias.  He was, in fact, the “Father of the English Navy.”

Alfred did more than maintain the independence of his realm and became one of the greatest early English monarchs.  He also built up his realm and improved the lives of his subjects.  The monarch, for example, issued a law code, joining the ranks of Hammurabi (reigned 1792-1750 B.C.E.) and Justinian I (reigned 527-565 C.E.).  He also encouraged art, architecture, education, and monasticism.  Alfred recruited experts from the continent of Europe to revitalize learning.  He also ordered that children in his court learn both English and Latin.  Furthermore, the king, in 892, began to translate major Latin texts in theology and philosophy.  Other also translated major Latin texts.  Over time confusion regarding which of these Alfred translated has developed.  The monarch also founded a convent and a monastery.  His attempt to revive monasticism failed, however, due to a lack of public interest.  Alfred was ahead of his time in that regard.

Alfred died on October 26, 899.  He was about 50 years old.  His son, Edward the Elder (reigned 899-924), succeeded him.

George P. Knapp, late Professor of English at Columbia University, wrote:

It should be borne in mind, however, that it is not the magnitude of Alfred’s military achievements, nor the extent of the country which he governed, that lift him into the ranks of the world’s great men, but the beauty and moral grandeur of his character.  In him were combined the virtues of the scholar and the patriot, the efficiency of the man of affairs with the wisdom of the philosopher and the piety of the true Christian.  His character, public and private, is without a stain, and his whole life was one of enlightened and magnanimous service to his country.

–Quoted in The Encyclopedia Americana (1962), Volume 1, page 380

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FLORA MACDONALD, CANADIAN STATESWOMAN AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF NANCY BYRD TURNER, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN EDITOR

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS, 1974 AND 1975

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O Sovereign Lord, you brought your servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might

establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people:

Awake in us also a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world,

and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Wisdom 6:1-3, 9-12, 24-25

Psalm 21

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Luke 6:43-49

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 653

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Feast of Sts. Callixtus I, Anterus, Pontian, and Hippolytus (October 14)   1 comment

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith and J. G. Bartholomew

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith and J. G. Bartholomew

Above:  Map of the Roman Empire in the Third Century

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CALLIXTUS I (DIED IN 222)

Bishop of Rome

Also known as St. Callistus I

His feast day = October 14

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SAINT ANTERUS (DIED JANUARY 3, 236)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 3

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SAINT PONTIAN (DIED CIRCA 236)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 13

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SAINT HIPPOLYTUS (DIED CIRCA 236)

Antipope

Feast transferred from August 13

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INTRODUCTION

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This is a story of theft, self-righteousness, schism, false witness, forgiveness, repentance, and martyrdom.  Repentance, as I tire of having to explain, is far more than saying that one is sorry.  No, repentance is turning around or changing one’s mind.  To repent is literally to turn one’s back on sin.  That definition applies well to Sts. Callixtus I and Hippolytus.

Roman Catholic writer Thomas J. Craughwell notes the value of being honest about the dark episodes in the lives of the saints.  He states:

The point of reading these stories is not to experience some tabloid thrill, but to understand how grace works in the world.  Every day, all day long, God pours out his grace upon us, coaxing us, to turn away from everything that is base and cheap and unsatisfying, and turn toward the only thing that is eternal, perfect, and true–that is, himself.

Saints Behaving Badly:  The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints (New York, NY:  Doubleday, 2006), page xii

Some of the most forgiving people have been those who have known of their need of much mercy and received it.  They, having received forgiveness in abundance, have become practitioners of forgiveness–sometimes to the consternation of others, many of whom have thought of themselves as pious and orthodox, as pure.  That summary applied well to St. Hippolytus for much of his life.

Roman Catholic tradition tells the stories of two of these men–Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus–together, for they share the same feast day, August 13.  I have found that I cannot tell their stores properly without recounting that of St. Callixtus I and, in passing, what little we know of St. Anterus.  Each of these two saints has his own feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar.  I, for the sake of convenience, have moved three of the four saints to the date for the feast of St. Callixtus I.  After all, the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is my project; I answer to nobody else with regard to it.

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SAINT CALLIXTUS I

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St. Callixtus I was a slave, a bad investor, an embezzler, and an inciter of needless violence before be became a deacon, a pope, and a martyr.  As a young man he was the slave of one Carpophorus, a Christian of Rome.  Circa 190 Carpophorus founded a bank for the Christians of Rome and made St. Callixtus, who had experience managing money, the administrator thereof.  Many of the depositors were of modest means and there was no ancient equivalent of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (F.D.I.C.).  St. Callixtus proved to be a bad investor and an eager embezzler, so the bank failed, much to the financial detriment of many of the depositors.  The perfidious slave fled Rome and got as far as Portus, where his master captured him.  Back in Rome, Carpophorus sentenced St. Callixtus to the hard labor of turning a large stone wheel at a grist mill daily.  Nevertheless, some of the defrauded depositors were merciful.  They convinced Carpophorus to liberate St. Callixtus, on the condition that the slave try to recover some of the lost funds.

St. Callixtus remained a troublesome character.  He attempted to recover some of the lost funds by interrupting a Jewish worship service, demanding money from investors present, and thereby starting a brawl.  Legal charges of disturbing the peace and desecrating a holy place ensued.  Carpophorus lied in court when he denied that St. Callixtus, a baptized person, was a Christian.  (Christianity was not yet legal in the Roman Empire.)  The prefect sentenced St. Callixtus to scourging then to hard labor in the salt mines of Sardinia.  That was effectively a death sentence.

Marcia, a Christian and the mistress of the Emperor Commodus (reigned 180-192), used her influence to aid her coreligionists.  She asked Pope St. Victor I (reigned 189-198; feast day = July 28) for a list of Christians sent to Sardinia.  He gave her that list, minus St. Callixtus, whose name he omitted on purpose.  Marcia interceded with the governor of Sardinia, who freed all the listed prisoners plus St. Callixtus, who begged his way into freedom.  St. Victor, not convinced that St. Callixtus had ceased to be a scoundrel, sent him to live outside the walls of Rome and gave him an allowance.  Eventually the pontiff concluded that St. Callixtus, who had remained out of trouble for some time, had indeed repented.  St. Victor permitted him to assist St. Zephyrinus, the priest who managed the assignments of priests and deacons in Rome.

St. Zephyrinus became the mentor to St. Callixtus.  St. Victor died in 198; St. Zephyrinus succeeded him as pontiff.  The new pope ordained St. Callixtus to the diaconate and placed him in charge of the Christian cemetery (now the Catacomb of St. Callixtus) on the Appian Way.  St. Callixtus became a powerful figure in the Roman Catholic Church during the papacy of his mentor.  Predictably, he succeeded St. Zephyrinus as the Pope upon the death of the latter in 217.

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SAINTS CALLIXTUS I AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS

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The election of St. Callixtus displeased St. Hippolytus, a priest, theologian, and author of treatises and Biblical commentaries.  St. Hippolytus, born before 170, practiced a rigorous form of Roman Catholicism.  Pope St. Zephyrinus, he was convinced, held heretical views regarding the Holy Trinity.  (Ironically, in the context of the Council of Nicaea, 325 C.E., St. Hippolytus was heretic avant le lettre regarding the Holy Trinity, for he held to a subordinationist position.)  St. Hippolytus not only spoke out but did something; he became the antipope first to St. Callixtus I (reigned 217-222) then to St. Urban I (reigned 222-230) then to St. Pontian (reigned 230-235) then to St. Anterus (reigned 235-236) and possibly then briefly to St. Fabian (reigned 236-250).  St. Hippolytus led a schismatic group as he condemned St. Callixtus for everything from his past crimes to this eagerness to forgive sinners.  The latter indicated doctrinal laxity, the antipope argued.  St. Hippolytus fumed whenever St. Callixtus forgave an errant and penitent bishop who had committed fornication, for example.  The antipope complained whenever St. Callixtus welcomed former members of schismatic sects back into the fold of Holy Mother Church enthusiastically and without requiring any sign of penance.  Furthermore, St. Hippolytus falsely accused St. Callixtus of being a modalist.

Modalism is a heresy pertaining to the Holy Trinity.  It is, actually, a form of Unitarianism whose proponents argue that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not persons but are really modes of God’s being.  God, in modalist thought, is united and indivisible.  As Praxeas argued circa 210 C.E., God the Father entered the womb of St. Mary of Nazareth, suffered, died, and rose again.  This is false doctrine, as Tertullian (circa 155-225) knew well.  He retorted that Praxeas had

put to flight the Holy Spirit and crucified the Father.

–Quoted in Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought–Revised and Expanded Edition (New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 1995), page 58

St. Callixtus was no modalist.  In fact, he excommunicated Sabellius, a prominent modalist.  St. Hippolytus replied that the Pope had done that to cover up his own modalism, however.

The life and papacy of St. Callixtus ended in 222, when a pagan mob murdered him.  Members of that mob then threw his corpse down a well in Rome.

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SUBSEQUENT POPES AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS

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The persecution of Christianity in the Roman Empire was not continuous.  Certain emperors engaged in the practice; others did not.  Few persecutions were empire-wide; most were regional and sporadic.  For most of the tenure of Pope St. Pontian (July 21, 230-September 28, 235) imperial persecution was not a problem.  Other issues dominated the reign of the son of Calpurnius.  St. Pontian presided over the synod that ratified the decision of St. Demetrius of Alexandria (126-231) to banish Origen (185-254), to refuse to recognize his priestly ordination, and to excommunicate him.  (Nevertheless, Origen found refuge with sympathetic bishops and persuaded heretics to turn to orthodoxy.)  In March 235 Maximinus I became emperor.  He ended his predecessor’s policy of toleration of Christianity and targeted leaders of the faith first.  Authorities arrested Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus, convicted them, and sent them to die in the salt mines of Sardinia.  St. Pontian, recognizing the need of continuous leadership of the church, became the first pope to resign.  He stepped down on September 28, 235.

The next pope, St. Anterus, of whom we know little, much like his predecessor once removed, St. Urban I (reigned 222-230), took office on November 21, 235.  Contrary to the tradition that he died a martyr, St. Anterus seems to have died of natural causes.  His pontificate was brief, ending on January 3, 236.

Pope St. Fabian (reigned January 10, 236-January 20, 250) had a longer pontificate.  He became one of the first victims of the Decian persecution, one of those empire-wide persecutions of Christianity.

Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus died on Sardinia circa 236–the latter of the hard labor and the former by means of a beating by guards.  The antipope renounced schism, reconciled with the Church, and urged his followers to do the same while in prison in Rome or on Sardinia.  (The available sources disagree on that point.)  In 236 or 237 Pope St. Fabian interred the remains of these two men in Rome.  Holy Mother Church forgave him and recognized him as a saint.  To paraphrase Thomas J. Craughwell, writing in Saints Behaving Badly, the Church was more like St. Callixtus I than St. Hippolytus.

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CONCLUSION

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St. Hippolytus, prior to his repentance, thought of the Church as the assembly of saints, not as the hospital for sinners.  He was not the last person to hold that opinion and to start a schismatic movement based on that premise.  For example, just a few decades later, in the wake of the Decian persecution, Donatism (in its narrow definition) arose and persisted for centuries, dividing the Church in northern Africa.  Donatism, in its broad definition, has never ceased.  It has, in fact, led to many ecclesiastical schisms.  My studies of church history have revealed that most ecclesiastical schisms have occurred to the right and most ecclesiastical mergers (unions and reunions) have occurred to the left.  The self-identified pure of theology have long argued not only with those in the institutions from which they departed but also among themselves.  Thus schisms have frequently begat schisms.  (I can recall examples of this generalization easily.  I think for example, of the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1936, of the subsequent split in that body almost immediately, and of the rending asunder the group that broke away from it.)  In that process of bickering and breaking away one casualty has frequently been forgiveness.

I spent the most recent Good Friday in Americus, Georgia, away from home.  While in that town I attended the Noontime service at Calvary Episcopal Church.  The Rector said in the homily that we Christians stand in the need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ.  Nevertheless, many non-Christians perceive us as standing in the place of judgment, much like Pontius Pilate.  That statement was sadly accurate.  I have concluded that the main cause of the perception that we are judgmental is the fact that many of us are indeed judgmental, that many of us seem not to know that we really stand in the need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ.

St. Callixtus I knew where he stood.  St. Hippolytus eventually learned where he stood.  St. Pontian knew where he stood and extended mercy to the antipope.  All three men died as martyrs.

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Holy God, in whom judgment and mercy exist in balance,

thank you for the lived example of Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior and Lord.

May we know that we stand not in the place of judgment

but in need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ,

and, by grace, nurture the habit of forgiveness of others and ourselves.

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

Isaiah 30:15-26

Psalm 130

Romans 12:1-21

Luke 17:1-4

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, ANGLICAN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND BISHOP OF DURHAM; AND FENTON JOHN ANTHONY HORT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN HENRY BATEMAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHAN NORDAHL BRUN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN BISHOP, AUTHOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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Feast of Edward White Benson (October 13)   6 comments

Edward White Benson

Above:  Edward White Benson

Image in the Public Domain

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EDWARD WHITE BENSON, JR. (JULY 14, 1829-OCTOBER 11, 1896)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Edward White Benson was a leading figure in The Church of England in the late 1800s.

Benson was a native of Birmingham, England, where he entered the world on July 14, 1829.  His mother was Harriet Baker Benson (1805-1850).  Our saint’s father, Edward White Benson, Sr. (1802-1843), was a manufacturing chemist.  His death impoverished the family.  Benson studied at King Edward’s School, Birmingham.  James Prince Lee (1804-1869), the headmaster, influenced the young saint greatly.  Benson revered Lee, who went on to become the Bishop of Manchester in 1847  Our saint even preached at Lee’s funeral.  At King Edward’s School Benson forged lifelong friendships with other future leading lights of The Church of England and continued to be their classmate at Trinity College, Cambridge.  These friends were:

  1. Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828-1889), later the Bishop of Durham (1879-1889);
  2. Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901), who succeeded Lightfoot immediately as the Bishop of Durham; and
  3. Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), who, like Lightfoot and Westcott, was a Biblical scholar and translator.

Benson, who graduated from Trinity College in 1852, won the Chancellor’s medal there that year and became a fellow of that institution in 1853.

Benson became a priest and an educator.  From 1852 to 1858 he served as the Assistant Headmaster of Rugby School, succeeding George Edward Lynch Cotton (1813-1866), later the Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India.  Frederick Temple (1821-1902) became the Headmaster of Rugby School in 1858.  On June 23, 1859 he conducted the marriage ceremony of our saint and Mary Sidgwick (1841-1918).  Also in 1859 Benson, on the recommendation of Temple, became the first headmaster of Wellington College, an institution for the orphans of army officers.

The Bensons had six children:

  1. Martin White Benson (1860-1878), who died of tubercular meningitis at the age of 17 years;
  2. Arthur Christopher Benson (1862-1925), who became a school master, a prolific writer, the biographer of his brother Robert Hugh Benson as well as his father, and who wrote the lyrics of “Land of Hope and Glory;”
  3. Mary Eleanor Benson (1863-1890), who became an activist for poor people and died of diphtheria, contracted while engaging in that work;
  4. Margaret Benson (1865-1916), an Egyptologist and author;
  5. Edward Frederic Benson (1867-1940), a prolific novelist; and
  6. Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914), an Anglican priest (1895-1903), convert to Roman Catholicism (1903), Roman Catholic priest (1904-1914), and papal chamberlain (1911f).

None of the Bensons’ children married and all seem to have suffered from congenital mental illness.   Our saint was subject to fits of depression, and not just because he buried two of his children.  (Aside:  One might wonder how much better their lives would have been if certain medications would have been available to them.)

Benson built up Wellington College.  It began as a poorly endowed institution, but he transformed it into a great school by the time he left for Lincoln.  Our saint, while leader of Wellington College, began his study of the life of St. Cyprian of Carthage (died in 258).  Benson’s interest in patristics and ecclesiastical symbolism was obvious in the architecture, mosaics, carvings, and windows of the college chapel, the construction of which he oversaw.

Benson served in other capacities prior to becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury.  As the Chancellor of Lincoln (Cathedral) from 1873 to 1877 he founded a theological college and established night schools and university extension lectures.  As the first Bishop of Truro our saint revitalized Anglicanism in Cornwall, an area in which religious nonconformity was strong  He also founded the cathedral, the construction of which continued after he died.

Archibald Campbell Tait (1811-1882), former Headmaster of Rugby School (1842-1848) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1868-1882), died, creating the vacancy Benson filled in 1883. As the leader of The Church of England our saint opposed attempts to disestablish the Welsh Church, supported high church ritualism at a time when that was controversial, opened talks with the Russian Orthodox Church, and re-established the Anglican bishopric in Jerusalem.  Benson also resolved the schism in the Natal resulting from the heterodoxy of John William Colenso (1814-1883), the deposed and excommunicated Bishop of Natal (1853-1883), who, due to legal maneuverings, retained his title despite his deposition and excommunication.  The official bishop in the area from 1869 to 1892 was William Macrorie (1831-1905), the Bishop of Maritzburg.  Arthur Hamilton Baynes (1854-1942) succeeded Macrorie in 1892 and Colenso the following year, serving until 1901.  (Aside:  “The Church’s One Foundation” contains references to the Colenso Affair.  Consider, O reader, “By schisms rent asunder,/By heresies distressed.”)  Benson was also properly suspicious of the Roman Catholic investigation into the validity of Anglican holy orders relative to Apostolic Succession, for Holy Mother Church ruled Anglican holy orders invalid in 1896.

Benson’s published works included the following:

  1. Work, Friendship, Worship:  Three Sermons Preached Before The University of Cambridge, October, 1871 (1872);
  2. Phoebe the Servant of the Church:  A Sermon, Preached at St. Peter’s Church, South Kensington, on May 11, 1873, in the Aid of the Parochial Mission-Women Fund (1873);
  3. Scholae Cancellarii:  Training of Candidates for Holy Orders at Lincoln:  A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of the Diocese (1875);
  4. Singleheart (1877);
  5. The Cathedral:  Its Necessary Place in the Life and Work of the Church (1878);
  6. The Voice and Its Homes:  A Sermon Preached in Behalf of the Incorporated Church Building Society, in S. Paul’s Cathedral, London, on May 20, 1881:  Being the First Anniversary of the Foundation of Truro Cathedral (1881);
  7. The Primate and Church Defense (1883);
  8. Boy-Life, Its Trial, Its Strength, Its Fulness:  Sundays in Wellington College, 1859-1873:  Three Books–New Edition (1883);
  9. Report of a Speech Delivered at the 183rd Annual Public Meeting of the Society:  Held in St. James’s Hall, on Tuesday, June 17, 1884 (1884);
  10. The Seven Gifts (1885);
  11. The Liquor Traffic with Native Races:  A Letter from the Archbishops (1887);
  12. An Address Given at Croyden:  At a Meeting of the Canterbury Diocesan Church Reading Society, on Monday, Nov. 28th, 1887 (1887);
  13. Christ and His Times:  Addressed to the Diocese of Canterbury on His Second Visitation (1890);
  14. Technical Education and Its Influence on Society:  An Address (1892);
  15. The Church in Wales:  Shall We Forsake Her?  A Speech by His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury at the Church Congress, Rhyl, on Tuesday, October 6, 1891 (1892);
  16. Fishers of Men:  Addressed to the Diocese of Canterbury in His Third Visitation (1893); and
  17. Living Theology (1893).

Benson died at Hawarden, Wales, on Sunday, October 11, 1896.  He, a house guest of former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) at Hawarden Castle, had returned from an exhausting tour of Ireland.  Our saint suffered a stroke while attending a morning service at the local parish church.  He was 67 years old.  Frederick Temple succeeded him as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Benson left some unpublished writings, which others made available to the public via printing presses.  These works included the following;

  1. Archbishop Benson in Ireland:  A Record of the Irish Sermons and Addresses (1896);
  2. Cyprian:  His Life, His Times, His Work (1897);
  3. The Apocalypse:  An Introductory Study of the Revelation of St. John the Divine, Being a Presentment of the Structure of the Book and of the Fundamental Principles of Its Interpretation (1900); and
  4. On Convocation:  A Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury; and a Speech in the Upper House of the Convocation of the Southern Province (1917).

Arthur Christopher Benson wrote his father’s biography, The Life of Edward White Benson, Sometime Archbishop of Canterbury (1899)–Volumes I and II.

Edward White Benson worked to glorify God and benefit his fellow human beings.  He pursued these goals in particular ways, at a particular era, and in a particular setting.  The details of his spiritual vocation were specific to him.  Nevertheless, the general calling to glorify God and to benefit others remains unbounded by identity, geography, and time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE YOUNGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Edward White Benson

to be a faithful bishop and 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 as 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

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

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Feast of George Edward Lynch Cotton (October 6)   2 comments

St. Paul's Cathedral, Calcutta, 1865

Above:  St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta, India, 1865

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE EDWARD LYNCH COTTON (OCTOBER 29, 1813-OCTOBER 6, 1866)

Anglican Bishop of Calcutta

George Edward Lynch Cotton was an educator and a priest and bishop of The Church of England.  He, born at Chester, England, on October 29, 1813, was son of Captain Thomas Cotton, killed in action on November 13 of that year, and of Mary Cotton.  Our saint died at Westminster then at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating from the latter in 1836.  He became a priest and a school administrator, serving first as the Assistant Master of Rugby School from 1837 to 1852.  Cotton became the basis of the “model young master” in Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1867), by Thomas Hughes.  On June 26, 1845, our saint married Sophia Anne Tomkinson.  The couple had two children–Colonel Sir Edward Thomas Davenant Cotton-Jodrell (1847-1917) and Ursula Mary Cotton Atkinson (died in 1928).  From 1852 to 1858 Cotton led Marlborough College.  He left that post to become the Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India.

As the Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India Cotton was responsible for Anglican missionary work in India (the present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) as well as Ceylon, Burma, Mauritius, and Australasia.  He led vigorous missionary activity, improved the position of chaplains, and founded schools for British and Eurasian children.  Our saint became especially famous for ordering crates of socks for children’s homes.  Cotton’s episcopate and life ended on October 6, 1866, at Koshtea (now Kushtia, Bangladesh), where, after consecrating a cemetery there, he disembarked from a steamer and fell into the Ganges River, in which he drowned as the current carried him away.

His widow edited the Memoir of George Edward Lynch Cotton, D.D., Bishop of Calcutta, and Metropolitan, with Selections from His Journals and Correspondence (1871).

Cotton’s published works included the following:

  1. Short Prayers and Other Helps to Devotion:  For Boys of a Public School (First Edition, 1843; Fifth Edition, 1854);
  2. Instructions in the Doctrine and Practice of Christianity:  Intended Chiefly as an Introduction to Confirmation (First Edition, 1845; Fourth Edition, 1858); and
  3. Seven Sermons Chiefly Connected with Public Events of the Year MDCCCLIV (1855).

Another literary legacy of Bishop Cotton is a hymn, “We Thank Thee, Lord” (1856), which debuted in print in Hymns for Use in the Chapel of Marlborough College (1856).

Cotton spent his life in the cause of the highest possible good.  He would have accomplished more had he lived longer, but at least he did much with the time he had.

May we do much for the glory of God and the benefit of others with the time we have.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALEN POSTEL, FOUNDER OF THE POOR DAUGHTERS OF MERCY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ALFRED TAYLOR RYGH, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

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Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant George Edward Lynch Cotton,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

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

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Feast of Harry Webb Farrington (October 27)   1 comment

farrington_signature

Above:  The Signature of Harry Webb Farrington

Image Source = Ghpierson

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HARRY WEBB FARRINGTON (JULY 14, 1879-OCTOBER 27, 1930)

U.S. Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer

Before I write about Farrington’s life and legacy I choose to focus on a technical matter germane to the preparation of this post.  I have a collection of hymnals and their companion volumes.  I also consult certain hymn websites as well as government records (available online) and newspapers.com, the only website I pay to use.  Some of these sources contradict each other regarding the dates (even the year) and locations of both Farrington’s fateful accident as well as his death.  As a matter of principle I am tolerant of a range of opinions yet insist that objective reality is fixed.  In other words, Farrington died at a place on a given date; this is not a subjective matter.  Information regarding that question is either accurate or inaccurate.  Some say he died on October 25; others on October 27.  Certain sources indicate that Farrington died in 1930, but others place his death in 1931.  I tell you, O reader, that I have researched this matter, weighed sources against each other, and endeavored to write accurately of our saint’s life and legacy.  If I have not succeeded fully, that fact has not resulted from a lack of effort.

Harry Webb Farrington devoted his life to the glory of God and the benefit of others, especially children.  He, born at Nassau, the Bahamas, to William Farrington and Emma Russell Farrington on July 14, 1879, became an orphan while an infant.  Our saint grew up a Methodist in Maryland (starting in Baltimore).  He studied at Darlington Academy, Darlington, and had a conversion experience at the Darlington Methodist Episcopal Church.  Our saint became a Methodist minister, serving in New England starting in 1903.  He continued his studies at Dickinson Seminary, Syracuse University (B.A., 1907).  While there he played basketball and football.  Farrington went on to study at the Boston University School of Theology (S.T.B., 1910) before entering a M.A. program in philosophy and education at Harvard University in 1910.

In 1910, at Harvard, Farrington entered a poem into a Christmas hymn contest at the university.  His submission, “I Know Not How that Bethlehem’s Babe,” was the prize-winning text.  It became a staple of many denominational hymnals in the early and middle twentieth century and was, by 1966, the only one of his 29 hymns still in common use.  The Methodist Hymnal (1935) contained two of Farrington’s hymns, including the text from 1910.  That number decreased to one in The Methodist Hymnal (1966) and none in The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).

I know not how that Bethlehem’s Babe

Could in the Godhead be;

I only know the manger Child

Has brought God’s life to me.

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I know not how that Calvary’s cross

A world from sin could free;

I only know its matchless love

Has brought God’s love to me.

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I know not that Joseph’s tomb

Could solve death’s mystery;

I only know a living Christ,

Our immortality.

Farrington’s other prize-winning hymn was “Dear Lord, Who Sought at Dawn of Day” (1925), for which the Homilietical Review honored him in 1927.

After our saint received his degree from Harvard he taught there for a year then, in 1914, went to work for the Methodist Episcopal Church as a field secretary for the Board of Sunday Schools.  He pioneered weekday religious education for young people in Gary, Indiana, in 1914 and in the City of New York two years later.

Farrington participated in World War I.  He was, in fact, the first American citizen to receive a commission in the French army, in 1918.  For his work, which was directing athletics for the French army, he received a lifelong commission in the 7th and 10th Cuirassiers and the title Marechal des Logis Adjutant au Colonel, equivalent to the rank of major in the U.S. Army.  At the time the only non-Frenchman to hold that rank was the King of Italy.

Farrington, back in the United States in 1919, began the next phase of his life.  He became assistant minister of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, New York City.  On June 24, 1920, he married Dora Wilhemina Davis, daughter of Methodist missionaries to India.  Both the husband and the wife were 39 years old.  From 1920 to 1923 our saint served as the Director of Education of the Methodist Church Welfare League.  Farrington lectured in New York City schools through 1928 and traveled to lecture in other places about religious education and social ethics also.  Over the years he spoke to more than 2,500,000 young people.

Farrington also published books, including seven volumes of poetry, an autobiography, and profiles of great Americans.  His published works included the following;

  1. Poems from France (1920);
  2. Rough and Brown (1921);
  3. Walls of America; or, The House of Uncle Sam (1925);
  4. Cher Ami (1926); and
  5. Kilts to Togs (1930).

Farrington died in 1930.  On July 2, at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, he fell from a second-story porch and fell 15 feet to a concrete sidewalk when a railing gave way.  This accident paralyzed the 49-year-old minister.  He did, aged 50 years, at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn on October 27.  His widow published two posthumous volumes (Valleys and Visions and Land of Only If) of his poetry in 1932.

I have found titles of seven of Farrington’s hymns.  Of those I have located the texts of four.  Of those four I have incorporated the text of one into this post and added the texts of three to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  I have yet to find the texts of twenty-five of Farrington’s hymns, including the following:

  1. “Our Father Made the Lovely Earth,”
  2. “The Storm God of Stern Sinai’s Hill,” and
  3. “The World Came to My Home Today.”

Those three hymns were available in hymnals for children, appropriately.

Armin Haeussler described Farrington as

a man of keen intellect, brave heart, high purpose, and profound faith in Christ.

The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952), page 651

That was an accurate assessment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONAVENTURE, THEOLOGIAN

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Harry Webb Farrington and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of Petrus Herbert (October 4)   3 comments

Moravian Logo

Above:  Logo of the Moravian Church

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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PETRUS HERBERT (1530-OCTOBER 1, 1571)

German Moravian Bishop and Hymnodist

Petrus Herbert was a major figure in the early history of the Moravian Church.  Our saint, born at Fulneck, Moravia, in 1530, graduated from Wittenberg University in 1557.  He joined the Bohemian Brethren at Jungbunzlau (now Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic).  Herbert, ordained in 1562, translated the Unity’s revised confession of faith into German and presented a copy of it to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II (reigned 1564-1576) in 1564.  Maximilian, although a lifelong Roman Catholic, harbored strong Lutheran sympathies.  Two years later Herbert presented a copy of the Kirchengesang (1566), the new German-language hymnal of the Moravian Church, to Maximilian, to whom he and the other two editors of that volume had dedicated said hymn book.

One purpose of the Kirchengesang (1566) was to prove that the Moravian Church was an orthodox Christian organization.  Herbert, Michael Tham the Elder, and Jan Jelecky edited the hymnal.  The volume contained 348 hymns (90 of which our saint had translated) in the main section and 108 Lutheran hymns in the appendix.  Joseph Theodor Muller (1854-1946), German Moravian minister and archivist, wrote that

simplicity and beauty of style

distinguished Herbert’s hymn texts.  The Kirchengesang remained in print for a long time, going into print again in 1580.  Revised editions debuted in 1606, 1639, 1661, and 1694.

Herbert served in the Unity of the Brethren in other ways also.  He represented the Moravian Church in theological discussions with John Calvin (1509-1564) in Switzerland.  Our saint also joined the denomination’s Select Council in 1567.  Later he represented the Brethren in discussions with Duke Christoph of Wurttemberg (reigned 1550-1568) regarding young men from the Unity of the Brethren being able to attend the University of Tubingen.  Herbert also became a Consenior of the Unity, which meant that he became legally responsible for the denomination’s estates and property.

Herbert died at Eisenschutz (now Ivancice, Czech Republic) on October 1, 1571.

I have added four of our saint’s hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Most of his hymns, I have concluded, have not entered into English-language hymnody.  That, I argue, is unfortunate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT OF NURSIA, FATHER OF WESTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF NATHAN SODERBLOM, SWEDISH ECUMENIST AND ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Petrus Herbert)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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This is post #1450 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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