Archive for the ‘Saints of 1620-1639’ Category

Feast of St. Jan Sarkander (March 17)   1 comment

Above:  St. Jan Sarkander

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JAN SARKANDER (DECEMBER 20, 1576-MARCH 17, 1620)

Silesian Roman Catholic Priest and “Martyr of the Confessional,” 1620

Protestant-Roman Catholic tensions have cooled since the lifetime of St. Jan Sarkander, but petty personal politics have remained constant.  Unfortunately, so has judicial murder.

St. Jan Sarkander, born in Skotschan, Silesia (now Skocjow, Poland), on December 20, 1576, was a son of Georg Mathias Sarkander and Helene Kornize (Sarkander).  Georg died when our saint was young.  Jan’s marriage ended with the death of his wife.  The couple had no children.  Then Sarkander turned to the Church.

Sarkander became a priest.  He studied under Jesuits in Prague, earning his master of philosophy degree in 1603.  Then he studied theology in Austria.  This led to his ordination to the priesthood in 1607, at Grozin.  Sarkander, curate at Boskowitz from 1613 to 1616, became a parish priest in Olmütz, Moravia (now Olomouc, Czech Republic).  Moravia was a strongly Protestant area.  Bitowsky von Bystritz, a wealthy landowner and a Protestant, opposed our saint.  Sarkander had a prominent supporter and parishioner, though; Baron von Labkowitz favored him.

Sarkander became a victim of Bystritz.  The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was, in part, a war of religion (Protestant versus Roman Catholic).  Our saint, briefly forced into exile during Protestant occupation of the area, returned to tend to his flock.  In 1620, when Roman Catholic forces approached the area, Sarkander prevented combat by taking a monstrance to the would-be battlefield.  Bystritz accused the priest of treason.  Bystritz was really seeking information to use against Labkowitz.  Sarkander never violated the seal of the confessional, despite tortures.  He died (by burning alive) at Olmütz on March 17, 1620.  He was 43 years old.

The Roman Catholic Church recognized Sarkander formally.  Pope Pius IX declared our saint a Venerable in 1859 then beatified him the following year.  Pope John Paul II canonized Sarkander in 1995.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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

who have given their lives for the message of your love.

Inspire us with the memory of those martyrs for the Gospel

[like your servant Saint Jan Sarkander] whose faithfulness led them in the way of the cross,

and give us the courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Domenico and Gregorio Allegri (February 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Floor Plan of the Church of San Luigi des Francesi (Saint Louis of France), Rome

Image in the Public Domain

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GREGORIO ALLEGRI (1582-FEBRUARY 7, 1652)

Italian Roman Catholic Priest, Composer, and Singer

brother of

DOMENICO ALLEGRI (CIRCA 1585-SEPTEMBER 5, 1629)

Italian Roman Catholic Composer and Singer

Gregorio and Domenico Allegri come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via their work in church music and via my unapologetic musical snobbery.

Constantino Allegri, a coachman from Milan, lived with his family in Rome.  He sent his three sons–Gregorio (b. 1582), Domenico (b. circa 1585), and Bartholomeo–to study music and to sing in the choir at San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.  Gregorio and Domenico became composers and remained singers as adults.  Gregorio also joined the ranks of priests.

Domenico worked as a maestro di cappella in churches:

  1. Santa Maria, Spello (1606-1609);
  2. Santa Maria, Trastevero, Rome (1609-1610); and
  3. Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome (1610-1629).

Much of Domenico’s music has fallen victim to the ravages of time, unfortunately.  His Modi Quos Expositis in Choris (1617) has survived, though.

Domenico died in Rome on September 5, 1629.

Gregorio was a priest at the Cathedral Church of the Assumption of Saint Mary, Fermo, when he came to the attention of Pope Urban VIII (in office 1623-1644).  Our saint, having begun to compose music while in Fermo, continued to do so after he received the Papal appointment to sing contralto in the choir at the Sistine Chapel.  Gregorio composed sinfonia, masses (including Missa Vidi Turbam Magnam), instrumental music (including the earliest string quartet), and two settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah.  His most famous work was Miserere Mei, Deus (circa 1638), for the Tenebrae service during Holy Week, in the Sistine Chapel.

Gregorio died in Rome on February 7, 1652.

Gregorio and Domenico Allegri glorified God with their lives and their music.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

we bless your name for inspiring Domenico and Gregorio Allegri

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of Blessed Liborius Wagner (December 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Liborius Wagner

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED LIBORIUS WAGNER (DECEMBER 5, 1593-DECEMBER 9, 1631)

German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1631

Religious persecution is always wrong.  Frequently it occurs when atheists or antitheists (to use Reza Aslan’s term) persecute religion in general.  On other occasions, religious persecution is of members of one religion by adherents of another one.  Another variety of religious persecution is intrafaith, such as Christians persecuting other Christians.  Consider the martyrdom of Blessed Liborius Wagner, O reader.

Wagner, born in Mühlhausen, Unstrut-Hainich, Thuringia, on December 5, 1593, grew up a Lutheran.  At that time of polarized religion and the Religious Wars, our saint’s conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1613 led to a break with his parents.  Four years later, Wagner became a teacher.  The date of his ordination to the priesthood was March 29, 1625.

Religious conflict during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) forced Wagner to move from town to town.  In 1631 he was a priest in Altenmünster.  The approach of Swedish forces compelled Wagner to flee.  He hid with and ministered to his parishioners in nearby Reichmannhausen.  Swedes captured our saint on December 4, 1631, after someone betrayed him.  The Swedish Army dragged Wagner behind a horse for a few miles to Mainberg.  There they tortured the priest, who refused to renounce his faith.  The immediate cause of his death was beating with firearms and swords, on December 9, 1631.

Pope Paul VI declared Wagner a Venerable in 1973 then beatified him the following year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Liborius Wagner

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant to us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of Johannes Kepler (November 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Stamp Depicting Johannes Kepler

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANNES KEPLER (DECEMBER 27, 1571-NOVEMBER 15, 1630)

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

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

–Kepler

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

–Galileo Gailiei

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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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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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

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Feast of Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Peter Claver (September 9)   2 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCIS BORGIA (OCTOBER 28, 1510-SEPTEMBER 30, 1572)

“Second Founder of the Society of Jesus”

Also known as Francisco de Borja y Aragon

His feast transferred from September 30, October 3, and October 10

worked with

SAINT PETER FABER (APRIL 13, 1506-AUGUST 1, 1546)

Apostle of Germany, and Cofounder of the Society of Jesus

His feast transferred from August 1

taught

SAINT ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ (JULY 25, 1532-OCTOBER 31, 1617)

Spanish Jesuit Lay Brother

His feast transferred from October 31

counseled

SAINT PETER CLAVER (1580/1581-SEPTEMBER 8, 1654)

“Apostle to the Negroes”

His feast day = September 9

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One of my goals in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That goal is germane to this post.

I began by taking notes about St. Peter Claver.  During that process I noticed the link to St. Alphonsus Rodriguez.  While I took notes on him, I saw the name of St. Peter Faber.  I took notes about him and noticed the link to St. Francis Borgia, so I added Borgia to the post too.

Above:  St. Francis Borgia, S.J.

Image in the Public Domain

St. Francis Borgia, born in Gandia, Valencia, Aragon, on October 28, 1510, was a nobleman.  He, related to Aragonese royalty, was a great-grandson of the infamous Rodrigo Borgia, who, in 1492, bribed his way into the Papacy and became Alexander VI.  Our saint, raised in the court of King Charles I of Spain/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, married Eleanor de Castro (d. 1546) in 1529.  The couple had eight children.  From 1539 to 1543 Borgia was the Viceroy of Catalonia.  Then, in 1543, he became the Duke of Gandia.

Borgia made his greatest contributors as a Jesuit.  He, a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), joined the Society of Jesus in 1548.  Three years later our saint became a priest.  His responsibilities increased as time passed.  Borgia had oversight of missions in the East Indies and the West Indies before become the superior in Spain in 1560.  Five years later Borgia became the Superior General of the order.  In a few years he revitalized the order and established missions in Peru, Florida, and elsewhere in the Spanish Empire in the Americas.  Our saint, convinced that Jesuits were working too much and praying too little, introduced the hour-long meditation.

Borgia died in Ferrara (now in Italy) on September 30, 1572, about a month prior to what would have been his sixty-second birthday.  Pope Gregory XV beatified him in 1624.  Pope Clement X canonized him in 1670.

Above:  St. Peter Faber

Image in the Public Domain

Borgia worked with St. Peter Faber, born in Villaret, Savoy, on April 13, 1506.  Faber, from a farm family, worked as a shepherd when he was young.  Our saint was devout from childhood; he even catechized other children when he was one.

Faber, educated at Saint-Barbe College, Paris, became a priest in 1534, the same year he and his friend, St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founded the Society of Jesus.  Faber, also a friend of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), was an active participant–a preacher and theologian–in the Counter-Reformation.  He enabled St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), leader of the Counter-Reformation in Germany, to fulfill that function.

Faber, aged 40 years, died in Rome on August 1, 1546.  Toward the end he was too ill to attend the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and to become the Patriarch of Ethiopia.  Pope Leo XIII beatified Faber in 1872.  Pope Francis canonized our saint in 2013.

Faber prepared the 10-year-old St. Alphonsus Rodriguez for First Communion.

Above:  St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Image in the Public Domain

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, once a businessman, became a Jesuit lay brother and an influential spiritual advisor.  He, born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, was the third of eleven children of prosperous wool merchant Diego Rodriguez, who died when our saint was 15 years old.  That death ended the education of young Alphonsus by the Jesuits, for a time.  Our saint, back home, took over the family business.  Rodriguez married Maria Suarez when he was 26 years old.  The couple had three children, two of whom predeceased their mother.  Rodriguez buried his wife then his mother in his thirties.  Next he sold the business and moved in with his sisters, who helped to raise the young son and taught our saint prayerful meditation.

Rodriguez had a vocation to religious life.  After the death of his third (of three) child, he inquired about becoming a novice.  Our saint did not meet the educational requirement to become a novice.  Attempts to acquire that education ended in failure.  He could, however, become a lay brother and study with children.  After six months the order sent Rodriguez to the College of Montesión, Palma, Majorca/Mallorca.  There our saint was the porter for 46 years; he delivered packages, gave alms to the poor, and assisted travelers in search of lodging.  Rodriguez made his final vows in 1586/1587, when he was 54 years old.

Above:  St. Peter Claver

Image in the Public Domain

St. Peter Claver, born into a farming family in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, in 1580/1581, grew up and became a great missionary.  His parents sent him to Barcelona, to study under Jesuits.  The Jesuit influence rubbed of on Claver, who became a novice at Tarragona.  The order sent him to Palma, Majorca/Mallorca, where he was unsure about what his future should be.  St. Adolphus Rodriguez convinced the novice to ask to become a missionary to the New World.  Claver arrived in Cartagena (now in Colombia) in 1610.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez continued to live at Palma until he died, aged 87 years, on October 31, 1617.  He was 87 years old.  Pope Urban VIII declared Rodriguez a Venerable in 1626.  Pope Leo XII beatified him in 1825.

Claver spent the rest of his life in Cartagena, where he was the “Apostle to the Negroes.”  He was initially the assistant to Father Alphonsus de Sandoval, S.J., who ministered to recently arrived African slaves, still in slave pens, prior to auction.  Sandoval was a dedicated minister to slaves; Claver was more so.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1815, catechized and baptized more than 300,000 African slaves through 1650.  Against strong opposition from powerful people and much indifference from his superiors in Cartagena, Claver labored faithfully.  He could not end slavery, but he did what he could; he advocated for improved conditions on plantations, and succeeded.  Mostly he was present with and sympathetic to slaves.  Claver described himself as

the slave of the Negroes forever.

Claver, ill and unable to leave his room during the last four years of his life, endured the company of just one servant, who beat him frequently.  Our saint died in Cartagena on September 8, 1654.  Surprisingly, the Church gave him a grand funeral.

Pope Pius IX beatified Claver in 1851.

Pope Leo XIII canonized Claver and Rodriguez together in 1888.

Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, and Alphonsus Rodriguez enabled the productive ministry of St. Peter Claver.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH STEIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK AND MISSIONARY TO THE ALEUT

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF MARY SUMNER, FOUNDRESS OF THE MOTHERS’ UNION

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

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

Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Peter Faber, Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Saint Peter Claver,

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

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

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

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

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

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

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Feast of Sts. John Kemble and John Wall (August 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN KEMBLE (1599-AUGUST 22, 1679)

SAINT JOHN WALL (1620-AUGUST 22, 1679)

English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs

Alternative feast day (as two of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales) = October 25

Alternative feast day (as two of the Martyrs of Douai) = October 29

Sts. John Kemble and John Wall died because they insisted on remaining faithful Roman Catholics in England.

Kemble, born in 1599, was a son of John and Anne Kemble.  He studied theology in Douai, France.  Kemble, ordained to the priesthood on February 23, 1625, was back in his homeland as a missioner in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire on June 4, 1625.  For the next 53 years he was a covert priest.

Wall, born in Lancashire, England, in 1620, grew up in a wealthy Roman Catholic family.  He studied theology in Douai, France, then matriculated (as John Marsh) at the Roman College on November 5, 1641.  Wall, ordained to the priesthood on December 3, 1645, joined the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) in Rome, as Joachim of Saint Anne, on January 1, 1651.  He went on to serve as the vicar at Douai and as the novice-master there.  Wall returned to England, on a mission to Worcester, in 1656.

Authorities arrested Kemble and Wall in 1678.  Our two saints were allegedly part of the Titus Oates Plot.  Oates was a man who specialized in peddling what we of 2018 call, in Orwellian language, “alternative facts,” or what Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) referred to as “damn lies.”  (Twain’s other two types of lies were lies and statistics.)  Oates fabricated a Roman Catholic plot to assassinate King Charles II.  Kemble and Wall were supposedly conspirators.  They died, not as conspirators in a fictional plot, but as Roman Catholic priests, thereby officially as traitors.  They died at separate places on the same day–August 22, 1679.  Kemble went to his martyrdom at Hereford.  Respect for him prompted authorities to let him die during the hanging part of hanging, drawing, and quartering.  He was about 80 years old.  Wall died via hanging, drawing, and quartering at Redhill, Corcester.  He was about 59 years old.

Pope Pius XI declared our saints Venerables then Blesseds in 1929.  Pope Pius VI canonized them in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love

in the heart of your holy martyrs Saint John Kemble and Saint John Wall:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph, may profit by their examples;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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Feast of Blaise Pascal (August 19)   3 comments

Above:  Blaise Pascal

Image in the Public Domain

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BLAISE PASCAL (JUNE 19, 1623-AUGUST 19, 1662)

French Roman Catholic Scientist, Mathematician, and Theologian

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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

–Blaise Pascal

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Blaise Pascal was a brilliant man accustomed to physical suffering; he would have benefited from modern medicine, had he lived in contemporary times.  Pascal was also an influential philosopher who influenced Existentialists.  Our saint was also a faithful Roman Catholic who often found himself stuck between the Church and the truth, as he understood it.

Pascal was a native of Clermont-Ferrand, France.  He, born on June 19, 1623, lost his mother, Antoinette Bégon, to death in 1626.  Our saint’s father, Étienne Pascal, was a mathematician.  Étienne moved the family to Paris in 1631.  He, an attentive father, supervised his children’s education.  In 1639 Étienne the intendant at Rouen.

Young Blaise demonstrated his great mathematical ability.  His Essai pour les coniques (1640) attracted so much positive attention that René Descartes became jealous.  Our saint was also an inventor.  Between 1642 and 1644 he invented and built a sort of calculator for his father to use at work.

The Pascals were devout Roman Catholics.  Nevertheless, they had frequently substituted decency, courtesy, and ethics for inner religion.  Pascal had at least two spiritual turning points–in 1646 and 1654.  The illness of his father (d. 1651) led our saint to perceive the need to turn away from the world and fully toward God.  Meanwhile Pascal built up his scientific reputation by testing theories of Galileo Galilei (in 1646) and conducting experiments regarding vacuums (in 1647-1648).  [Explanatory note:  The existence of vacuums was a theological problem for Roman Catholic orthodoxy.  According to approved theology, there could be no such thing as a vacuum because God is everywhere.  This argument assumed, of course, that God consists of matter.  Bad theology has often been the enemy of good science and engineering.]  Pascal’s weak constitution caused occasional delays in scientific research, but he focused on science intensely until 1654.

A profound religious experience one night in November 1654 led Pascal to do what he perceived he needed to do eight years prior:  turn completely to God.  From the final stage of our saint’s life emerged Les Provinciales (1656-1657) and the Penseés (1657-1658).  Pascal, who struggled with his ego for much of his life, immersed himself in the devotional life and in service to God in the poor–of Paris, in particular.  His writings concerned themes such as grace and the love of God.  Morality, he concluded, was inseparable from spirituality.

In some ways Pascal was on the same side as the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church; in other ways, not.  He objected to the Church’s heavy hand in cracking down on Jansenism, the Catholic counterpart to Calvinism.  That Pascal’s sister Jacqueline (d. October 1661), a nun, was a Jansenist, certainly influenced his opinion.  He encouraged Jansenists not to cave into pressure from Rome, until Jacqueline died.  Pascal also condemned the Jesuits in strong terms, pointing to laxism and sophistry.

At the end of his life Pascal was quite ill, as well as spiritually and emotionally distressed.  He spent his last weeks in the home of his sister Gilberte.  Our saint died in Paris on August 19, 1662.  He was 39 years old.

Pascal puts most of us who are older than 39 years old to shame.  He puts me to shame.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Blaise Pascal.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

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

Psalm 96

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

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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