Archive for the ‘Saints of 1960-1969’ Category

Feast of Eugene Carson Blake (November 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  My Copies of the Presbyterian Books of Confessions, from 1967, 1985, and 2007

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Book of Confessions (1967), of The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The Book of Confessions (1985, 2007), of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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EUGENE CARSON BLAKE (NOVEMBER 7, 1906-JULY 31, 1985)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Ecumenist, and Moral Critic

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Boasting about our heritage of freedom, we allied ourselves with some of the worst dictators all over the world, as long as they were, in our judgment, anti-communist.  We have justified all sorts of immoral political acts either because we thought they would weaken communism or (even a more immoral excuse) that since the communists were doing them, so must we….These, and other such actions, have been occasioned far more by fear of communism than by concern for justice.

–Eugene Carson Blake, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 554

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Eugene Carson Blake comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Blake came from Midwestern Presbyterian stock.  He, born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 7, 1906, was a son of Lulu Blake and Orville Prescott Blake.  Our saint graduated from Princeton University with a degree in philosophy in 1928.  Then he taught the Bible, English, and philosophy at Forman Christian College, Lahore (then in India; now in Pakistan), for a year (1928-1929).  Next, Blake studied theology at New College, Edinburgh (1929-1930).  He matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1930 and graduated two years later.

Our saint, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) in 1932, embarked upon his ministerial career.  He was, in order:

  1. the assistant pastor (1932) then the senior pastor (1932-1935) of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas (Reformed Church in America), New York, New York;
  2. the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Albany, New York (1935-1940); and
  3. the senior pastor of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Pasadena, California (1940-1951).

Blake left parish ministry in 1951.  He served as the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1951-1958).  As such, he helped to execute the merger of the PCUSA with The United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA) to form The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) in 1958.  Then he served as the President of the Stated Clerk of the UPCUSA (1958-1966).

Above:  The Logo of the UPCUSA

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

On the ecumenical front, Blake also served as the President of the National Council of Churches (1954-1957) then as the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (1966-1972).

Blake’s ecumenism led to the founding of the Consultation on Church Union (1962-2002), the predecessor of Churches Uniting in Christ (2002-).  In 1960, at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco, California, he preached a famous sermon.  Our saint advocated for the merger of The UPCUSA (1958-1983), The Methodist Church (1939-1968), The Episcopal Church (1789-), and the United Church of Christ (1957-) into one denomination truly both Catholic and Reformed.

The Consultation on Church Union included ten denominations in 1967:

  1. the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  2. the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
  3. the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
  4. the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,
  5. The Episcopal Church,
  6. the Evangelical United Brethren Church (merged into The United Methodist Church, 1968),
  7. The Methodist Church (merged into The United Methodist Church, 1968),
  8. the Presbyterian Church in the United States (merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1983),
  9. the United Church of Christ, and
  10. The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1983).

The successor organization, Churches Uniting in Christ, consciously confronts racism.  The members are:

  1. the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  2. the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
  3. the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
  4. the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,
  5. The Episcopal Church,
  6. the International Council of Community Churches,
  7. the Moravian Church in America,
  8. the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
  9. the United Church of Christ, and
  10. The United Methodist Church.

That anti-racism is consistent with our saint’s legacy.

Blake was active in the Civil Rights Movement.  On July 4, 1963, he went to jail for trying to integrate the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, Baltimore, Maryland.  The following month, he was prominent at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which he had helped to organize.  Our saint was one of speakers at that great event.  And, at the World Council of Churches (1966-1972), Blake led a global anti-racism program.

Blake’s opposition to the Vietnam War earned the ire of two Presidents of the United States of America.  He became persona non grata with Lyndon Baines Johnson (in office 1963-1969).  Richard Nixon (in office 1969-1974) had a list of 576 enemies, subject to official harassment, such as tax audits and F.B.I. investigations.  “Enemies” included actor Paul Newman (1925-2008), journalists Daniel Schorr (1916-2010) and Mary McGrory (1918-2019), and U.S. Representatives John Conyers (1929-2019) and Ron Dellums (1935-2018).  That list also included Blake.  Newman described being on Nixon’s enemies list as a great honor.  Schorr, whom the F.B.I. investigated, spoke to Nixon at a social occasion years after Nixon left office.  The journalist referred to that investigation.  The former President, apparently not apologetic and repentant, replied:

I damn near hired you once.

Blake was in very good company on Nixon’s list of enemies.

Blake also helped to make the United Presbyterian Book of Confessions and Confession of 1967 possible.  The first edition of The Book of Confessions debuted in 1967.  The emphasis on reconciliation in Christ in the Confession of 1967 was consistent with our saint’s work.

In Jesus Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission.  This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world.  Therefore the church calls men to be reconciled to God and to one another.

–From the Confession of 1967, quoted in The Book of Confessions (1967), 9.07

In retirement, Blake worked for Bread for the World.  Feeding starving people was consistent with decreasing poverty, another social justice issue and long-time cause of our saint.  He had worked on economic and social development at the World Council of Churches, too.

Blake, aged 78 yeas, died in Stamford, Connecticut, on July 31, 1985.  By then The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States had merged to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in 1983.

Blake got more right than wrong–a daunting task and a great accomplishment.

I am an ecumenist.  Denominational structures exist because of human nature.  We in the Universal Church should, of course, strive to reduce the number of denominations via well-reasoned and feasible mergers.  And, when organic union is not feasible, perhaps cooperation is.  So be it.

I am also an Episcopalian.  I have definite Roman Catholic tendencies.  What passes for corporate worship in most of Protestantism leaves me uninspired.  I want to ask:

Do you call this a proper liturgy?

My denominational Plan B is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in full communion with The Episcopal Church.  This is a good fit, given the historical relations between Anglicanism and Lutheranism.

Blake’s proposed United Presbyterian Church-United Church of Christ-Methodist Church-Episcopal Church union was not feasible.  For example, in 1993, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) published its most recent Book of Common Worship.  It was a vast improvement over The Worshipbook–Services (1970), incorporated into The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972).  Many Presbyterians objected to the new Book of Common Worship.  It was too Episcopalian, they said.

A denomination has a character.  Some denominations are better fits with other denominations than with others.

Blake issued his proposal at a different time.  Most Christian denominations in the United States of America were growing in membership, for example.  Also, The Episcopal Church had yet to bear the full fruits of liturgical renewal in 1960.  Nevertheless, his vision for a more united institutional church has become more relevant when, in the United States of America and the rest of the Western world, “none” has become the fastest-growing religious affiliation.

Sadly, Blake’s foci on reducing poverty and racism are more germane than ever.  Related to them is another one of his favorite themes.  We need reconciliation with each other and God more than ever.  Reconciliation is difficult to achieve when mutually hostile camps cannot even agree on what constitutes objective reality.

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Loving and righteous God, who transcends all religious denominations,

we thank you for the faithful ministry, social witness, and legacy of your servant, Eugene Carson Blake.

May we also seek to bring the world closer to the high calling of the fully-realized Kingdom of God,

and embrace our brother and sister Christians in other denominations;

for your glory and for the common good.

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

Leviticus 19:9-18

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

John 17:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Feast of John Harris Burt (October 20)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN HARRIS BURT (APRIL 11, 1918-OCTOBER 20, 2009)

Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and Civil Rights Activist

Bishop John Harris Burt comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his connection to his father, Bates Gilbert Burt (1878-1948), already here.

John Harris Burt was a native of Michigan.  He, born in Marquette on April 11, 1918, was a son of Father Bates Gilbert Burt and Abigail Gilbert Bates Burt.  Burt, Sr., was the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Marquette (1904-1922).  Burt, Sr., was later the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pontiac, Michigan (1922-1947).  Our saint, after graduating from high school in Pontiac, matriculated at Amherst College (B.A., 1940).  Then he studied social work for a year at Columbia University, followed by further studies at Virginia Theological Seminary (Class of 1943).

Then Burt began ordained ministry.  He, ordained to the diaconate (1943) then the priesthood (1944), was the canon of the Cathedral chapter of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis (1943-1944).   He met Martha May Miller at St. Paul’s Church.  Next, Burt served as a chaplain in the United States Navy (1944-1946).  He married Martha on February 16, 1946.  Our saint was also the Episcopal chaplain at The University of Michigan (1946-1950).  He left that post to become the Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown, Ohio (1950-1957).  As the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, California (1957-1967), Burt made that parish a leader in social activism.  He was, for example, a prominent ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.

Above:  The Flag of Ohio

Image in the Public Domain

Burt became a bishop.  He, elected in 1966, became the Bishop Coadjutor of Ohio on February 4, 1967.  He succeeded to become the Bishop of Ohio by the end of the year.  Burt served until he retired in 1983.  Our saint was outspoken and active.  He opposed the Vietnam War.  In 1967, Burt spoke at the International Inter-Religious Symposium of Peace in New Delhi, India.  Following the collapse of the steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio, our saint co-founded the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley.  This earned him the Thomas Merton Award, previously given to luminaries, such as Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan.  Burt, an early advocate for the ordination to women to the priesthood, promised to resign if the General Convention of 1976 did not approve such ordinations.  It did, much to the consternation of many a traditionalist Anglican.

Burt was active in Christian ecumenism and interfaith relations.  He was, for a time, the President of the Southern California Council of Churches, as well as a representative to the National Council of Churches at another time.  Our saint chaired the denominational Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (1974-1979).  He worked on Jewish-Christian relations at The Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel.

Burt understood that loving one’s neighbors had practical applications.  Therefore, for example, he worked on energy independence, as well as solutions to economic problems in Ohio and seven nearby states.

Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Marquette, Michigan, on October 20, 2009.  Martha, their four daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren survived him.

Burt said:

The world alters us as we walk in it.

He worked to alter the world for the better as he walked through it.

May each of us do likewise.

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God of Shalom, we thank you for the ministry, international work,

and community development work of your servant, John Harris Burt.

May we also, in the Name of Jesus, pursue peace with our neighbors near and far away,

and build up each other spiritually, economically, and concretely.

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

Amos 8:1-10

Psalm 1

James 2:14-26

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Feast of Richard McSorley (October 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

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RICHARD T. MCSORLEY, S.J. (OCTOBER 2, 1914-OCTOBER 17, 2002)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Professor, and Peace Activist

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I see my mission in life, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church what it should be, a peace church.  To be Christian means to have respect for life in all its forms, and in today’s nuclear age, that means Christians must become active witnesses for peace and must firmly oppose all forms of war.

–Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 540

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Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The McSorleys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were a large and devout Roman Catholic family.  There were fifteen children, eight of whom entered religious life.  Young Richard entered the Society of Jesus in 1932, at Wernesville, Pennsylvania.  By 19939, our saint completed his degree in philosophy.  That year, the order sent him to Manila, the Philippines, to teach at a Jesuit high school and seminary.

McSorley spent December 13, 1941-February 23, 1945, as a prisoner of the Japanese Empire.  He and other Jesuits and seminarians suffered repeated tortures.  McSorley nearly died of starvation.  He, hauled repeatedly before firing squads, saw fellow prisoners executed.  Japanese soldiers laughed at our saint, and aimed their guns at him without shooting.  They faked him out three times.

After U.S. paratroopers rescued the prisoners.  McSorley returned to the Untied States of America.  Our saint graduated from seminary at Woodstock College in Maryland.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1946, embarked upon a life of ministry and social justice.  He, assigned to St. James’ Church, St. Mary’s City, Maryland, confronted Jim Crow laws, individual racism, and the Ku Klux Klan.  He preached against racism, advocated for the desegregation of church and society, and nearly became the victim of a Klan lynching.  McSorley, not intimidated, refused to be silent.

McSorley, who taught philosophy at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania (1952-1961), completed his doctorate at Ottawa University, Canada, during those years.  Then he taught theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1961f).  He also did all of the following:

  1. He tutored the children of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
  2. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama.
  3. He opposed the Vietnam War.
  4. He became a pacifist in the 1960s.
  5. He tried to abolish all chapters of the R.O.T.C. at Roman Catholic colleges and universities.
  6. He favored the abolition of the R.O.T.C.
  7. He denounced all weapons of mass destruction.
  8. He condemned nuclear weapons as sinful.
  9. He helped to found Pax Christi U.S.A. in the 1970s.
  10. He went to jail for peacefully protesting Apartheid and nuclear weapons.
  11. He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting repressive governments in Latin America.
  12. He wrote books and articles.

McSorley had a well-developed sense of the disparity between the laws of God and the laws of governments.  For our saint, Christian love was nonviolent love.  He considered Just War Theory absurd, especially in the age of nuclear weapons:

Can we serve both God and our government when the government orders us to do what God forbids?  Of course not.

McSorley belonged to the Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton wing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint made enemies, of course.  He made enemies inside the Society of Jesus.  F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover (that paragon of opposition to civil rights and civil liberties) considered McSorley a “disgrace” and searched in vain for a way to smear his reputation.

McSorley, aged 88 years, died in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2002.

Our saint took to heart the commandment of Jesus to love one’s enemies.  In so doing, McSorley became a radical–a radical Christian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MIKEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

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

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Richard T. McSorley] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Joseph Lowery (October 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Joseph and Evelyn Lowery, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-47972

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JOSEPH ECHOLS LOWERY, SR. (OCTOBER 6, 1921-MARCH 27, 2020)

African-American United Methodist Minister and Civil Rights Leader

Joseph Lowery comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via civil rights activism.

The struggle to gain and retain civil rights, which should be automatic because one has a pulse, never ends.  At any given time, some person, group, or political party seeks to deny or curtail the civil rights of certain people based on an arbitrary characteristic.  These evildoers frequently cloak these efforts in the language of righteousness.  The life and legacy of Joseph Lowery contains lessons that, sadly, remain current and relevant.

Lowery, born in Huntsville, Alabama, on October 6, 1921, grew up in the (old) Jim Crow South.  His mother, Dora Lowery, was a teacher.  His father, Leroy Lowery, Jr., was a small businessman.  The 14-year-old Lowery once refused to get off a sidewalk as a white man approached and passed.  For this alleged offense, a white police officer punched our young saint.  The youth rushed home to get a gun, but his father dissuaded him.  The family sent Lowery to live with relatives in Chicago, Illinois, for a few years.  Our saint returned to Huntsville in 1936.  After graduating from William Cooper Council High School in 1939, he went to college.  He matriculated at Knoxville College, transferred to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College, then studied at Paine College, Augusta, Georgia (Class of 1943).

Lowery became a minister in The Methodist Church (1939-1968).  He matriculated at Payne Theological Seminary (of the African Methodist Episcopal Church), Wilberforce, Ohio, 1944.  In the early 1940s, he had married Agnes Moore.  The couple had two children, Joseph Lowery, Jr.; and Leroy Lowery, III.  That marriage ended in divorce in the middle 1940s.  Our saint completed his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Chicago Ecumenical Institute, Chicago, Illinois (1950).  That year, he also married civil rights activist Evelyn Gibson, a member of The Methodist Church.  The couple had three children:  Yvonne, Karen, and Cheryl.

Lowery served as the pastor of Warren Street Methodist Church, Mobile, Alabama (1952-1961).  During those years, he became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.  He helped to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Lowery also led the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, dedicated to the desegregation of buses and public places.  In 1957, Lowery; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and others founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  He held various positions in the SCLC before serving as the President (1977-1997).  The State of Alabama harassed Lowery and certain other civil rights leaders in 1959.  The state seized their cars and other property to pay damages resulting from a libel suit.  The United States Supreme Court, in New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964), ruled that Alabama’s libel law violated the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of speech and press.  The State of Alabama, therefore, had acted unconstitutionally.

From 1961 to 1964, Lowery worked in the office of Methodist Bishop Michael Golden, in Nashville, Tennessee.  Our saint continued to participate in protests for civil rights during these years.

Lowery was pastor of St. Paul Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, from 1964 to 1968.  He also marched with Dr. King at Selma in 1965.

Lowery was the senior pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1968-1986).  Almost immediately, he continued his tradition of getting arrested from a righteous cause, but in Georgia.  Our saint’s participation in a sanitation workers’ strike (1968) led to jail time.  This was neither his first nor last time to go to jail for protesting peacefully.  He, active in the anti-Apartheid movement, went to jail in the District of Columbia for participating in a protest there outside the South African embassy in 1984, for example.

Lower was the senior pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1986-1992).  He built up his congregation, community, city, and society.  Our saint worked to ensure that Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) lines ran through African-American communities.  He also helped to initiate a gun buyback program.  Evelyn initiated an HIV/AIDS program from African-American communities.  Lowery retired in 1992.

Lowery remained socially conscious, active, and controversial (as all proper social activists are) in retirement.  He served as the President of the SCLC until 1997.  Clark Atlanta University opened the Joseph E. Lowery Center for Justice and Human Rights in 2001.  At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, in 2006, in the presence of President George W. Bush, Lowery aroused much conservative ire by condemning the federal government for fighting a war in Iraq yet not a war on domestic poverty.  (One gets to denounce a U.S. President peacefully in the presence of that President in the United States of America, of course.  It is a grand American tradition.)  Later in life, our saint openly advocated for equal rights for homosexuals.  He initially spoke out in favor of civil unions, then, in 2012, same-sex marriage.

Evelyn Lowery died on September 26, 2013.

Our saint, aged 99 years, died in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 27, 2020.

Perhaps the best way to conclude this post is with Lowery’s benediction at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, on January 20, 2009:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest,

and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work

for that day when black will not be asked to get in back; 

when brown can stick around;

when yellow will be mellow;

when the red man can get ahead, man;

and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say,

Amen!  Say Amen!  And Amen!

That vision remains in the future tense, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, BISHOP OF DURHAM

THE FEAST OF HENRI PERRIN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC WORKER PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHN GLOUCESTER, FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 655; AND SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR, EASTERN ORTHODOX MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR, 662

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROLANDO RIVI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1945

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

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

Help us [like your servant, Joseph Echols Lowery, Sr.] to use our freedom

to bring justice among peoples and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Walter and Albertina Sisulu (October 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Walter and Albertina Sisulu with their Wedding Party, Including Nelson Mandela

Image in the Public Domain

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WALTER ULYETE MAX SISULU (MAY 18, 1912-MAY 5, 2003)

Anti-Apartheid Activist and Political Prisoner in South Africa

husband of

NONTSIKELELO ALBERTINA SISULU (OCTOBER 21, 1918-JUNE 2, 1911)

Anti-Apartheid Activist and Political Prisoner in South Africa

“Mother of the Nation”

Born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe

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[The South African government] call themselves Christians, but I fail to understand, because in the very Bible they are carrying it says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  But they are busy killing the children, busy killing the people in jail.

–Albertina Sisulu, April 1988; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005), 36

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To share the sacrament as part of the tradition of my Church was important for me.  It gave me a sense of inner quiet and calm.  I used to come away from these services feeling a new man.

–Walter Sisulu, in a letter from prison, May 10, 1979

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I have never abandoned my Christian beliefs.

–Walter Sisulu, 1993

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INTRODUCTION

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Albertina Sisulu comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Wallis and Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (2005).  Walter Sisulu joins her here because he was her husband and fellow activist for social justice, in the name of God.  One cannot properly tell the story of one Sisulu alone.  One can, however, properly tell the story of the couple.

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MEET WALTER SISULU

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Walter Sisulu, born in Qutubeni, a village in the Engcobo district of Transkei, Eastern Cape, on May 18, 1912, was the son of Albert of Victor Dickenson and Alice Mase Sisulu.  Dickenson, an assistant magistrate, was White.  The mother was African.  The couple was not married.  Young Walter grew up with his grandmother and uncle until he was six years old.  Then he began to live in his mother’s household.  Our saint, baptized a Methodist, studied at an Anglican missionary school until he was 15 years old, when his uncle died.  Walter had to leave school and work in a dairy in Johannesburg to help support his family financially.

Walter, who worked in a gold mine, starting in 1929, eventually moved to East London, Eastern Cape, to rejoin his mother, who had become a domestic worker there.  In East London, our saint met Clements Kadalie, the leader of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU).  In 1933, Walter and his mother settled in Johannesburg.  He worked at the Premier Biscuit factory and attended the Bantu Men’s Social Centre’s night school.   Our saint also helped to organize a strike for higher wages at the bakery.  So, he got fired in 1940.  That year, he also joined the African National Congress (ANC).

Throughout the 1940s, Walter worked in a succession of jobs, departing from one for the next one in a disagreement.  Finally, our saint went into real estate.  First he was a partner with a White man.  Then Walter branched out on his own.

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MEET ALBERTINA SISULU

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Nontsikelelo Thethiwe, born in the Tsomo district of Transkei, Eastern Cape, on October 21, 1918, was the second of five children of Bonizwe and Monikazi Thethiwe.  Nontsikelelo arrived at a perilous time, that of the Spanish Influenza, which her mother had while pregnant wtih her.  Bonilizwe, the father, was away, working in the mines.  Monkazi, the mother, suffered aftereffects of the Spanish Influenza.  Therefore, our saint and her immediate family (except for her father) lived with Monkazi’s relatives in Xolobe.  There our saint attended a Presbyterian missionary school.  According to the custom at the school, she selected a Christian name for herself.  Nontsikelelo chose to become Albertina.

Albertina was a good student, but domestic demands held her back academically.  Her mother being ill constantly, our saint had to keep leaving school to take care of her younger siblings.  This situation, combined with her age, disqualified Albertina for a four-year scholarship for which she had competed and which she had won.  Given that the competition call had not stated an age limit, this predicament was unfair.  Albertina’s teachers advocated for her.  Some local Roman Catholic priests took up this case and arranged for a four-year scholarship for Albertina to attend the high school at Mariazell College, Mataliele, Eastern Cape.  She graduated in 1939.

Albertina, who had converted to Roman Catholicism while a student at Mariazell College, pondered becoming a nun.  Yet doing this would not have enabled our saint to work to support her family financially.  Therefore, a priest advised Albertina to consider nursing instead.  She started training to become a nurse in Johannesburg in January 1940.

Albertina experienced racism for the first time in Johannesburg.  White nurses had higher status than Black nurses.  African patients could not receive treatment in European wards, even when the non-European ward was full and the European ward was not.  And racist restrictions on Black nurses prevented Albertina from attending her mother’s funeral in 1941.

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WALTER AND ALBERTINA

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Above:  The Flag of South Africa, 1928-1994

Image in the Public Domain

Albertina met Walter in 1941.  He was politically active; she was not.  Then she became politically active, too, under his influence.  In 1944, Albertina became a fully qualified nurse.  That July 15, she and Walter married in a ceremony held at the Bantu Men’s Social Club, Johannesburg.

The Sisulus’ household spanned three generations.  The couple had five children:  Max (b. 1945), Lungi (b. 1948), Zwelkhe (b. 1950), Lindiwe (b. 1954), and Nonkuleleko (b. 1958).  The household, at 7373, Orlando, Soweto, also included Walter’s mother (Alice), as well as younger members of the extended family.  Gerald (b. 1944) and Beryl (b. 1948), children of Walter’s sister, lived there, too.  So did Jongumzi (b. 1957), the son of Walter’s cousin.  Meanwhile, Albertina worked as a nurse.

The Sisulu house was also a hub of political activity.  ANC activists visited frequently.  In 1948, when the ANC formed its Women’s League, Albertina joined.  Walter became the first full-time Secretary-General of the ANC the following year.  He, having become increasingly militant during the 1940s, was prepared for the resistance struggle against full-blown Apartheid, imposed starting in 1948.

Albertina and Walter actively opposed that racially-defined form of tyranny.  They also went to jail repeatedly and endured official harassment at home.  The Sisulus opposed measures such as the pass laws.  They also operated an alternative school for a time.  Over the decades, both of them were also banned people.  Walter joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the early 1950s.  In 1956, he was one of a large group of activists accused of treason after having organized the Freedom Charter campaign and the Congress of the People.  The verdict in 1961 was an acquittal.  After the Sharpville Massacre (1960), the government imposed a state of emergency.  Walter was one of the ANC activists detained for several months during this time.  He, later placed under house arrest, continued to lead the militant struggle against Apartheid.

Walter, convicted of furthering the aims of the ANC and sentenced to six years of incarceration in March 1963, skipped bail and house arrest on April 20, 1963.  He went underground at the secret headquarters of the SACP.  Government security forces arrested Albertina and Zwelakhe.  Albertina spent two months in solitary confinement.  Interrogators made her believe that her husband had died.  She learned that he was alive after his arrest on July 11, 1963.

Walter and his fellow conspirators received life sentences on June 12, 1964.  They served their sentences at Robben Island.  For the next quarter of a century, Albertina continued the struggle and spent some time in prison, too.  In order to visit her husband, she had to humiliate herself by applying for a passbook.  And, for almost all of that that quarter of a century, she was a banned person.  Finally, finances were difficult, of course.  Fortunately, overseas donors and local Anglican priests helped.  Despite the many difficulties, Albertina kept mothering children from her extended family and adding on to the house, to accommodate them.

Other members of the Sisulu joined the anti-Apartheid struggle and faced the legal consequences of doing so.  Daughter Lindiwe, arrested in 1976, went to prison.  She remained in custody for more than a year, during which she endured repeated tortures.  After her release, she left the country.  Also, Max, after release from detention, went into exile, too.  And Zwelakhe spent two years in detention without a trial.

Meanwhile, Walter led from prison.  He taught younger members of the ANC the history of that organization.  He advised Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) on how to negotiate with the South African government in the 1980s, too.

Albertina, arrested in late 1983 for giving an illegal speech on behalf of the ANC while a banned person, received a sentence of four years in prison on February 24, 1984.  The court suspended two of those years for five years.  Allies paid our saint’s bail that day.  Yet Albertina, arrested again on February 19, 1985, on the charge of treason, went into solitary confinement.  The court permitted bail on the condition that Albertina curtail her political activity.  The state, acknowledging its weak legal hand, withdrew charges on December 9, 1985.

Starting in 1984, Albertina worked for Dr. Abu Asvat, who operated a mobile clinic that served poor people.  He paid her even when she was in custody.  The two anti-Apartheid activists of different political stripes tended effectively to essential problems of the very poor.  For example, they installed 20 toilets for 150 people who lived in their vehicles at McDonald’s Farm.  Also, the two instituted a daily feeding program for the approximately 80 children at the farm.

Albertina, a banned person again in the late 1980s, granted an interview with Joyce Hollyday of Sojourners magazine.  In that interview, Albertina spoke of her faith, family, and anti-Apartheid struggle.  She expressed the hope that Apartheid would end during her lifetime.  And our saint correctly diagnosed why the South African government perpetuated Apartheid and operated a police state:  fear.

By 1989, the foundations of Apartheid were cracking.  That much was obvious.  The government released Walter from prison on October 26.  Mandela (a prisoner until February 11, 1990) insisted on this as a condition for continuing to negotiate with the government.  The following year, the government lifted the ban on the ANC, banned since 1963.  Albertina helped to reestablish the ANC Women’s League in 1990.  In 1991, she won election to the ANC’s National Executive Committee and Walter won election as the ANC’s Deputy President.

The Flag of South Africa, 1994-

Image in the Public Domain

Apartheid ended in 1994.  Nelson Mandela, elected President, served until 1999.  Both Albertina and Walter served in the new parliament until 1999, too.

The Sisulus moved into a new house in Linden, Johannesburg, in 1999.  Walter died there, in Albertina’s arms, on May 5, 2003.  He died thirteen days prior to his ninety-first birthday.  Albertina died in Johannesburg on June 2, 2011.  She was ninety-two years old.  Each Sisulu received a state funeral.

God Bless Africa.

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CONCLUSION

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Meister Eckhart (c. 1268-1327/1328), the great Dominican theologian and mystic, offered timeless spiritual counsel.  One gem of his sagacity was:

Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.

People frequently harm, hate, and discriminate against others out of fear and insecurity.  Those who hate, harm, and discriminate against may know that they are in the wrong yet have too much fear and insecurity to cease doing that.  They may ask themselves what those they have been hating, harming, and discriminating against will do to them, given the opportunity.  Therefore, the cycle of oppression and injustice continues unbroken.  Love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice break that cycle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS NEPHEW, WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID URIBE-VELASCO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF GODFREY DIEKMANN, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, ECUMENIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

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

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil

and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servants Walter and Albertina Sisulu]

to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Chuck Matthei (October 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Chuck Matthei

Image Scanned from Cloud of Witnesses (2005)

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CHARLES LEE MATTHEI (FEBRUARY 14, 1948-OCTOBER 1, 2002)

Founder and Director of the Equity Trust, Inc.

Chuck Matthei comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005).

Matthei’s Roman Catholic faith compelled him to devote most of his life to social justice.  Why not?  He understood that, in the Bible, justice and righteousness are the same.

Matthei, born in Chicago, Illinois, on February 14, 1948, learned the Christian ethic of social justice at home.  He, a son of Robert L. Matthei and Nancy Horne Matthei, had two sisters, Nancy and Patty.  Our saint, active in the Civil Rights Movement as an adolescent, drew inspiration from Jesus and Mohandas Gandhi.  The Hebrew Prophets’ message of economic justice also informed Matthei’s life.

This mission manifested itself in various ways.  Matthei, as the Executive Director of the Institute for Community Economics, Greenfield, Massachusetts (1980-1990), accomplished much.  He created many affordable housing units.  Matthei also increased the number of community land trusts from 12 to more than 100 in 23 states.  Furthermore, our saint helped to organize the National Association of Community Development Loan Funds (now the National Community Capital Association).  He was the founding Chairman (1985-1990).  As if that were not enough, Matthei also sat on the board of the Social Investment Forum from 1983 to 1988.  He affirmed socially responsible investment.

Matthei, associated with the Catholic Worker movement of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), practiced his socially-conscious faith.  He practiced Gandhian nonviolence; our saint was a pacifist.  Matthei also supported the Catholic Worker movement’s shelters and soup kitchens financially.  And he criticized social institutions and systems that harmed poor people.

Matthei founded the Equity Trust, Inc., in 1991, then served as its Director.  In this capacity, he engaged in useful and essential work in the United States of America, Central America, and Kenya.  Our saint, for example, assisted the Gullah/Geechee community on Sapelo, Island, Georgia, in preserving their culture and community.  He also acquired and preserved 140 acres of land in the Hudson Valley, for agricultural use, to feed people.  Matthei, furthermore, traveled, spoke, and consulted on the topics that defined his life’s work.

Matthei, aged 54 years, died in Voluntown, Connecticut, on October 1, 2002.  The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, a complication of thyroid cancer, in our saint’s case.

Robert Ellsberg wrote of his final visit to Matthei, a few days before our saint’s death.  Thyroid cancer had robbed Matthei of the ability to speak; he dictated requests on a laptop computer.  Our saint requested that Ellsberg bring prints by Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), as well as photographs of his (Ellsberg’s) children.  Matthei was at peace, Ellsberg recalled after that meeting with his friend of 28 years.

Matthei, sitting in a wheelchair, typed a wonderful piece of advice on the laptop computer:

Every age has need of a few fools.

If understanding that justice and righteousness are identical, then acting accordingly, seems foolish, every age needs many fools.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FULBERT OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, U.S. PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

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

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Emily Gardiner Neal (October 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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EMILY GARDINER NEAL (OCTOBER 22, 1910-SEPTEMBER 23, 1989)

Episcopal Deacon, Religious Writer, and Leader of the Healing Movement in The Episcopal Church

Emily Gardiner Neal comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via two sources.  One is G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  The second source is Donald S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, eds., An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church:  A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians (1999).

Emily Gardiner, born in New York, New York, on October 22, 1910, had a plan for her life.  She wanted to become a professional violinist.  Our saint studied at the Brearly School then at the David Mannes Music School (now the Mannes School of Music), both in New York City.  She never became a professional violinist, though.  Our saint married David Neal (d. 1961) and had two daughters (Rebekah and Diane).  Emily Gardiner Neal became a journalist instead.  She wrote articles for leading magazines.

One assignment changed Neal’s life.  She, raised in an atheist family, eagerly accepted the assignment to debunk healing ministries.  Our saint investigated 100 cases and realized that she could not debunk every reported case of spiritual healing.  She wrote a book, A Reporter Finds God Through Spiritual Healing (1956), her first book.  Neal became a Christian and joined The Episcopal Church.  She lectured and counseled.  After becoming a widow, our saint moved into a convent.  And she led healing services.  Neal, appointed to The Episcopal Church’s Joint Commission on the Ministry of Healing in 1961, became a deacon on January 31, 1978.  She also became the first President of The Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation in 1987.

Neal’s books subsequent to A Reporter Finds God Through Spiritual Healing (1956) were:

  1. God Can Heal You Now (1958),
  2. Father Bob and His Boys (1963),
  3. In the Midst of Life (1963),
  4. Where There’s Smoke:  The Mystery of Christian Healing (1967),
  5. The Healing Power of Christ (1978), and
  6. The Healing Ministry:  A Personal Journey (1982).

Neal was on staff at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Terrace Park, Ohio.  She also lived at the Convent of the Transfiguration, Glendale, Ohio.  Our saint, aged 78 years, died at the convent on September 23, 1989.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2021 COMMON ERA

THURSDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, PATRIARCH OF AMERICAN LUTHERANISM; HIS GREAT-GRANDSON, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGICAL PIONEEER; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, ANNE AYRES, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE HOLY COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY LULL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MINISTER, SCHOLAR, THEOLOGIAN, AND ECUMENIST

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Almighty God, we praise you for the men and women you have sent

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as Emily Gardiner Neal].

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 kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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Feast of Joao Bosco Burnier (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Germane Region of Brazil

Scanned and Cropped by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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JOÃO BOSCO PENIDO BURNIER (JUNE 12, 1917-OCTOBER 12, 1976)

Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1976

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The history of salvation is nothing more than the accumulation of the responses of individual men and women to the call of their baptism.

–João Bosco Burnier, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 443

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João Bosco Burnier comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).

Burnier led a life defined by love of Jesus and his fellow human beings, especially “the least of these.”  He, born in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on June 12, 1917, was the fifth of nine children.  Our saint, who joined the Society of Jesus at age 19, graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.  He, ordained in Rome in 1946, wanted to be a missionary in Brazil.  First, though, he had other assignments.  Burnier was the Jesuit Assistant for Latin America (-1954).  Then our saint was the Jesuit Vice Provincial for the province that spanned the states of Goias, Minas Gerais, and Espiritu Santo (1954-1959).  Next, Burnier was a novice master and spiritual director (1959-1965).  He, as a member of the Brazilian Roman Catholic Indigenous Missionary Council (CIM), advocated for the rights of indigenous people.

Finally, in 1966, Burnier got to become a missionary.  He, based in the region of Mato Grosso, carved out of the Amazon rain forest, ministered to the Bakairi and Xavante people in the state of Minas Gerais.  Our saint understood how to succeed as a missionary in his context:

We must adapt ourselves to the culture of the Indian in order to transmit the gospel, or to discover within the life of the Indians the gospel values.

–Burnier, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 444

Burnier also conducted his missionary work in the context of the military dictatorship (1964-1985).

One of Burnier’s allies was his bishop.  Pedro Casaldáligo (February 16, 1928-August 8, 2020) was the Bishop of São Felix do Araguala (1971-2005).  Casaldáligo lived simply.  He defended the rights of the poor and of the indigenous peoples.  The bishop also embraced Liberation Theology and openly opposed the military dictatorship.  He was, according to enemies, a communist.  (Communism had a flexible definition, depending on who was calling someone else a communist, apparently.)

I have, by the way, added Bishop Casaldáligo to my list of people to consider seriously for inclusion on this Ecumenical Calendar.

In October 1976, Father Burnier and Bishop Casaldáligo were traveling together after having attended an ecclesiastical meeting.  They were visiting towns and villages, and enjoying doing so.  On October 11, the duo arrived in the small town of Ribeirão Bonito, Mato Grosso.  While there, they learned that police were torturing two peasant women in the jail.

The priest and the bishop did what any decent Christian men would do; they went immediately to the jail and confronted the police officers.  The officers accused Father Burner and Bishop Casaldáligo of being communists.  One officer pistol-whipped the priest.  Then the officer shot the priest in the neck.  Burnier died in the neurological unit in Goiania, Goias, Brazil, the next day.  Our saint was 59 years old.

Local peasants erected a memorial to Father Burnier on the site of his shooting.  On a cross they inscribed (in Portuguese, of course):

On 11 Oct. 76 in this place of Ribeirão Bonito, Mato Grosso, was assassinated Father Joāo Bosco Burnier, for defending the liberty of the poor.  He died, like Jesus Christ, offering his life for our liberation.

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 445

Jesus said:

Take up your cross and follow me.

Jesus said:

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s brother.

Jesus also said:

When you did it for the least of these, my brethren, you did it for me.

Father Joāo Bosco Burnier laid down his life for two peasant women he never met.  He did this without hesitation.

No greater love, indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT TIKHON OF MOSCOW, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GEORGE THE YOUNGER, GREEK ORTHODOX BISHOP OF MITYLENE

THE FEAST OF JAY THOMAS STOCKING, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MONTFORD SCOTT, EDMUND GENNINGS, HENRY WALPOLE, AND THEIR FELLOW MARTYRS, 1591 AND 1595

THE FEAST OF RANDALL DAVIDSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Gracious Lord, 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 João Bosco Burnier]

whose faithfulness led them in 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;

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 H. H. Rowley (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Dedication from John Gray, I & II Kings:  A Commentary, Second Edition (1970)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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HAROLD HENRY ROWLEY (MARCH 24, 1890-OCTOBER 4, 1969)

English Baptist Minister and Biblical Scholar

H. H. Rowley comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Biblical scholarship.

Rowley was one of the most influential British Biblical scholars of the twentieth century.  He, born in Leicester, England, on March 24, 1890, was the fifth of six children.  Our saint’s father was Richard Rowley, a foreman finisher in a shoe factory.  Our saint’s mother was Emma Saunt Rowley.  The family attended Melbourne Hall, a Baptist chapel.  This stage of Rowley’s life proved to be foundational for the the rest of his life, spiritually.  In particular, our saint developed interests in practical holiness, as well as in missionary work in China.

Rowley received a fine education.  He studied at Wyggeston School, Leicester.  Our saint was simultaneously a student at University College, London (B.D., 1912), and Bristol Baptist College (B.A., 1913).  Rowley, awarded a Baptist Union scholarship in 1913, would have studied in Germany (as that scholarship usually entailed), but World War I prevented him from doing so.  Therefore, our saint matriculated at Mansfield College, Oxford.  He studied under G. Buchanan Gray, and received the Houghton Syraic Prize in 1915.

Rowley spent 1915-1929 in ministry.  He was a chaplain (under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.) to troops in Egypt in 1915-1916.  Ill health forced our saint to return to England, though.  He served as the pastor of Baptist-Congregational Church in Wells, Somerset, from 1916 to 1922.  Then Rowley was a missionary in China (under the auspices of the Baptist Missionary Society) from 1922 to 1929.  During this time, he taught Old Testament at Shangtung Christian University.

Rowley, back in Britain, dedicated himself full-time to academia.  He worked simultaneously as a Tutor in the Old Testament at the Baptist College of South Wales, Cardiff, Wales, and as an Assistant Lecturer in Biblical Languages, University College, Cardiff, Wales, from 1930 to 1935.  Then Rowley was the Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at the University College of North Wales, Bangor (1935-1945).  From there our saint went on to become the Chair of Semitic Languages and Literatures (1945-1949) at the University of Manchester.  His title from 1949 to his retirement in 1959 was Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature.

Rowley the scholar imposed high and rigorous academic standards upon himself, his students, and his colleagues.  He was a meticulous fact-checker and proofreader.  Rowley was a natural choice to serve as the editor of the Journal of Semitic Studies (1956-1960), as well as the Secretary (1946-1960) and President (1950) of the Society of Old Testament Research.  Our saint’s books spanned topics from archaeology to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Rowley retired to Stroud, Gloucestershire.  He, aged 79 years, died there on October 4, 1969.

Certain themes recurred in Rowley’s writings.  He, a friend and colleague of William F. Albright (1891-1971), understood archaeology to be an invaluable tool for Biblical scholarship.  Related to this point was another one; our saint kept his facts straight and his chronologies in order.  He understood what Karen Armstrong did when she wrote, in A History of God (1993):

…fundamentalism is antihistorical.

–xx

For Rowley, history was central to Christian faith.  He also insisted on reading the history of the Bible through the eyes of faith.  Rowley, who found this balance, regarded fundamentalist attacks on Biblical scholarship dimly.  Rowley the bibliophile and bookworm, kept a meticulous card index.  He did not check his brain at the church doors.  Predictably, Rowley was too liberal for some people and too conservative for others.  Yet he refrained from an error ubiquitous on both the left and the right of Biblical scholarship; he did not make up anything.  Our saint’s historical and factual exactitude led him to lay aside aspects of his theological heritage.  He wound up arguing, for example, that election, in the Bible, is collective, not individual.

Rowley was an intellectual who expressed his love of God partially via his use of his intellect.  Our saint contributed much to Biblical scholarship.  His influence has remained in the work of subsequent scholars.  The Church has been better off because of this.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 413

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN HALL KENNEDY, GREEK AND LATIN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, CHINESE-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF EMIL BRUNNER, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [H. H. Rowley and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Dianna Ortiz (September 2)   3 comments

Above:  Map of Central America

Image in the Public Domain

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DIANNA MAE ORTIZ (SEPTEMBER 2, 1958-FEBRUARY 19, 2021)

U.S. Roman Catholic Nun and Anti-Torture Activist

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In spite of the memories of humiliation, I stand with the people of Guatemala.  I demand the right to heal and to know the truth.  I demand the right to a resurrection.

–Sister Dianna Ortiz, Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C., Palm Sunday, March 31, 1996; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005), 42

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From the brokenness and pain of her torture and its aftermath, beauty and joy emerged.  She modeled the gentle strength of non-violence and the deep compassion for others reflected in Catholic Social Teaching.

–Jane Deren on Sister Dianna Ortiz, 2021

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My policy here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS is almost always to cap content at a PG rating.  This post exceeds that rating.  Certain details are both essential and extremely disturbing.  At least as disturbing are the human capacities for cruelty and subsequent obfuscation.

Sister Dianna Ortiz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Wallis and Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005).

Ortiz dedicated her life to serving God, present in the vulnerable, powerless, and voiceless.  She, born to Ambroshia “Amby” Ortiz and Pilar Ortiz, Sr., on September 2, 1958, was one of eight children.  Our saint, born in Colorado Springs, grew up in Grants, New Mexico.  Ortiz became a postulant (1977) then a full member (1978) of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph.  She taught at Immaculate Conception High School, Hawesville, Kentucky (1983-1985), then at Blessed Mother School (1985-1987).

Above:  The Flag of Guatemala

Image in the Public Domain

Then Ortiz went to Guatemala in 1987.  There she taught Mayan children in the highlands.  The Guatemalan government placed our saint under surveillance for allegedly meeting with subversives.  She received many threats and moved around, out of caution.  The Guatemalan government, with the backing of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), tortured alleged subversives.  The Cold War made for morally unsavory bedfellows and the betrayal of American high principles in the name of fighting communists, real or imagined.

On November 2, 1989, Guatemalan security forces abducted our saint, whom they had mistaken for Veronica Ortiz Hernandez, allegedly a subversive.  In the presence of an American, “Alejandro,” these Guatemalans burned Ortiz’s chest and back hundreds of times with cigarettes and repeatedly gang-raped her.  They broke the nun, impregnated her, and forced her to kill another female prisoner with a machete.  Then “Alejandro,” citing the fight against communism, tried to blackmail Ortiz into forgiving her attackers.  If she did not, he said, he or they would release the photographic evidence (which they had) of the nun killing the other prisoner.  These attackers also threw the nun into a pit full of bloody corpses, some of them decapitated.  “Alejandro,” who realized that the Guatemalan security forces had abducted the wrong Ortiz and swore when he first understood this, wore dark glasses and a wig.  He had an American accent and spoke, broken Spanish yet fluent American English.

Ortiz, detained for a day, visited a Guatemalan doctor before immediately returning to the United States of America.  She was so traumatized that she did not remember her life prior to November 2.  Guatemalan and U.S. officials minimized what had happened to our saint.  After a doctor in the United States counted 111 cigarette burns on Ortiz’s back alone, our saint’s story received more factual support.  In January 1990, the Guatemalan defense and interior ministers, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, played the homophobic card.  They tried to defame Ortiz by calling her a lesbian, as if that would make the torture less egregious.

Ortiz spent years rebuilding her life and recovering memories of her life pre-November 2, 1989.  She never recovered all of these memories.  Ortiz, realizing that she was pregnant, had an abortion.  Later, she wrote that she felt she had no choice and was not proud of that decision. Official U.S. denial of involvement in the rape and torture did not help Ortiz recover.  Repeated Freedom of Information Act requests led to various results, from refusal to pages full mostly blacked-out text.  The most honest response Ortiz received face-to-face came from First Lady Hillary Clinton, who admitted that a U.S. agent was probably involved.  Ortiz’s international legal case resulted in the verdict that the government used torture.  Yet nobody directly involved faced any legal consequences.

Ortiz became an activist against torture and for victims of torture, as well as against human trafficking and for victims thereof.  She was a grassroots organizer for the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (1994-2000).  In 1998, she founded the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition.  She, with Patricia Davis, wrote The Blindfold’s Eyes:  My Journey from Torture to Truth (2002).  Our saint also testified before Congress and opposed the post-9/11 use of “enhanced interrogation.”  Ortiz worked for Pax Christi (2010-2012), first as the Interim Director then as the Deputy Director.  After serving at the Education for Justice project at the Center for Concern (2012-2018), our saint returned to Pax Christi as the Deputy Director in March 2020.

Telling her story was extremely difficult for Ortiz.  Yet she did so out of the conviction that she should be a voice for the voiceless.  After each lecture, Ortiz could not sleep for several nights.  Furthermore, she suffered flashbacks and had to spend a week in bed.

Ortiz contracted COVID-19 in 2020.  She never fully recovered from the virus.  What she initially thought to be lingering effects of COVID-19 turned out to be inoperable cancer.  Our saint, knowing that she had a few months left to live, put her affairs in order, said her goodbyes, and spoke of reuniting with her beloved father in Heaven.  Ortiz’s mother and siblings were with her in Washington, D.C., when she died on February 19, 2021.  Our saint was 62 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ANDRÉ, MAGDA, AND DANIEL TROCMÉ, RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

THE FEAST OF EMILY AYCKBOWM, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF MARIANO DE LA MATA APARICIO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND EDUCATOR IN BRAZIL

THE FEAST OF PAULINE SPERRY, U.S. MATHEMATICIAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND ACTIVIST; AND HER BROTHER, WILLARD LEAROYD SPERRY, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, ETHICIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND DEAN OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DERHAM, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND SCIENTIST

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

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

Help us [like your servant Sister Dianna Ortiz]

to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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