Archive for the ‘Saints of 1990-1999’ Category

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 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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Feast of Stephen G. Cary (September 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Peace Sign

Image in the Public Domain

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STEPHEN GORDON CARY (SEPTEMBER 21, 1915-JULY 30, 2002)

U.S. Quaker Humanitarian and Antiwar Activist

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It seems to me that in our (American) support of militarism we crucify Christ afresh every day.

–Stephen G. Cary, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 433

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Stephen G. Cary comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via A Year with American Saints (2006).

Cary, an academic and an antiwar activist, entered the world at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 21, 1915.  After graduating from Germantown Friends School in 1933, our saint matriculated at Columbia University, New York City.  He graduated with a B.A. in economics and a minor in chemistry (1937), then a M.A. in International Administration (1943).  While a university student, Cary worked in the accounting department of General Electric (1937-1939) and as a building materials salesman for the John Manville Sales Corporation (1939-1941).

Our saint, a pacifist, was, of course, a conscientious objector during World War II.  Therefore, he served in the Civilian Public Service (1942-1946).  During that time, he directed the public service camps in Big Flats, New York, and in Elkhorn, Oregon.  And, in 1943, he directed the Overseas Training Unit of the Civilian Public Service at Swarthmore College.

Cary began his long-term involvement in the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in 1946.  He was one of the directors of relief operations in Europe in 1946-1948.  Therefore, our saint was partially responsible for the AFSC winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.  Over the decades, Cary held various titles and fulfilled a range of duties, as needed.  His final title was Chairman (1979-1991).

Cary was consistent in labeling militarism as evil.  The Holocaust was evil.  The Killing Fields of Cambodia were evil.  U.S. shells fired from U.S. naval vessels landing and killing civilians was evil.  The devastation of napalm was evil.  Cary was unpopular in certain political circles in the United States of America, of course.  He conducted a fact-finding mission that preceded and informed a decade’s worth of AFSC in South Vietnam.  Our saint joined an ecumenical fast in front of the White House in 1971.  And, the following year, he joined a group that attempted to prevent the loading of ammunition aboard the U.S.S. Nitro, on a mission to supply aircraft carriers engaged in the Vietnam War.

Cary also supported social justice movements at home and abroad.  He demonstrated in favor of the Poor People’s Campaign (1968).  Our saint also represented the AFSC at a 1969 seminar for young professionals and leaders of Francophone and Anglophone African countries, newly independent.  These leaders needed to contact each other and work together, he affirmed.

Cary also had a long-term association with Haverford College.  He sat on the Board of Managers (1955-1969) then served as the Vice President of Development (1969-1974).  Next, our saint was the Vice President of Finance and Development (1974-1977), the Acting President (1977-1978), and the Senior Vice President (1979-1981).  He earned his nickname, “Mr. Haverford.”

Cary enjoyed his life.  Nature was one of his loves.  He hiked in the Himalaya Mountains and around the Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan.  Our saint sailed in the Pacific Ocean, too.

Cary, aged eighty-six years, died in Chatham, Massachusetts, on July 30, 2002.  Survivors included Elizabeth, to whom he had been married for fifty-four years; Comfort Richardson, his sister; his children, Anne Sampson, Charles Cary, and Dorothy Cary; and seven grandchildren.

Cary wrote in Intrepid Quaker, his posthumously-published autobiography:

As a Quaker, I believe that there is a Light that dwells within each human being on earth, and gives to each of us the capacity to know directly the will of God.  It follows for us that the presence of this Light endows each life with a sacred dimension, so that it must not be debased or exploited or destroyed for any reason or under any circumstance.

Cary lived that ethic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR AND ISAAC THE GREAT, PATRIARCHS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF MEISTER ECKHART, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN AND MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT METODEJ DOMINIK TRCKA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1959

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTORIAN OF HADRUMETUM, MARTYR AT CARTHAGE, 484

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER OF PONTOISE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND ECCLESIASTICAL REFORMER

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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 Stephen G. Cary] 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 Raymond E. Brown (August 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Books by Father Raymond E. Brown, from my Library

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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RAYMOND EDWARD BROWN (MAY 22, 1928-AUGUST 8, 1998)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar

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To

a remarkable group of doctoral candidates

who studied at Union Theological Seminary (NYC)

in the years J. Louis Martyn and I taught New Testament

and who now teach me by their writings

–The dedication from An Introduction to the New Testament (1997)

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Father Raymond E. Brown comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my library.  I own copies of some of his books, most of which are thick.  Brown’s commentary on the Gospel of John, for example, consists of two tomes.  Furthermore, his commentary on the brief 1-3 John is 812 pages long.

 Brown was a great Biblical scholar.  Cardinal Roger Mahoney, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, called our saint,

the most distinguished and renowned Catholic Biblical scholar

ever to emerge in the United States.  Brown also carried on a prolonged academic debate with John Dominic Crossan.  Our saint avoided doing what Crossan did frequently, expecially in Crossan’s The Historical Jesus (1993); Brown never made anything up.  (Aside:  I have read Crossan’s The Historical Jesus.  I have concluded that the first half of the book is excellent.  That is the part of the book in which Crossan established the socio-economic-political background in which Jesus lived.  Then, at the halfway point, Crossan started writing about Jesus and making up content.)  Yet our saint was too liberal for the theological tastes of traditionalist Catholics and many conservative Protestants.  And Brown was too conservative for the Crossan corner of theology, of course.  Our saint, who has informed my Biblical studies for years, was about right.

Brown came from a Roman Catholic family.  He, born in New York, New York, on May 22, 1928, was a son of Robert H. Brown and Loretta Brown.  When our saint was 15 years old, in 1943, Pope Pius XII began to reverse Pope Piux X’s restrictions on Biblical scholarship.  Pope Pius XII permitted the use of the historical-critical method.  Brown grew up to become one of the foremost practitioners of that method.

Brown was a priest and a scholar.  His family moved to Florida in 1944.  Therefore, our saint went to St. Charles Seminary, the Catholic University of America, and the Gregorian University (in Rome) from the Diocese of St. Augustine.  Our saint, who joined the Society of Saint-Sulpice in 1951, became a priest in 1953.  Then he earned two doctorates–a Doctor of Sacred Theology (St. Mary’s Theology, Baltimore, Maryland, 1955) and a Ph.D. in Semitic languages (The Johns Hopkins University, 1958, under William F. Albright).

Brown taught at St. Mary’s University until 1971.  During these years, he continued to work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  (He had started work on them while at Johns Hopkins.)  Our saint, an ecumenist, was the Roman Catholic advisor to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (1968-1993).  He also participated in official Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues and received honorary degrees from Protestant institutions.  And Brown taught at Woodstock College (1971-1974) and Union Theological Seminary (1971-1990).  He became the first Roman Catholic priest to serve as a tenured professor at Union Theological Seminary.

Brown, whose breadth and depth of knowledge he made obvious in thick commentaries, specialized in the Johannine tradition.  He argued, for example, of several layers of authorship in the Gospel of John.  According to Brown, there was the first layer, with direct experiences of Jesus.  Then a Johannine community contributed to the Fourth Gospel.  Finally came the third and last draft, the one we read.

Brown frequently raised the hackles of many to his right.  For example, he argued that the infancy accounts of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are historically inaccurate.  He pointed out that the census in Luke never happened and argued against the plausibility of the story of the Magi in Matthew.

None of this disturbs me.  I conclude that, if ancient Roman imperial records do not indicate the census from Luke, so be it.  Objective reality is what it is.  Besides, I have read enough about historical Jesus scholarship to know that many scholars of the New Testament admit what Brown did regarding that census.  More conservative scholars tend to struggle to explain the historicity of that census.  I am not a Biblical literalist, so this knowledge does not ruin my Christmas every year.  However, I disagree with Brown regarding the  story of the Magi.  I do not pretend to read a purely accurate account at the beginning of Matthew.  Nevertheless, one can explain the “star of Bethlehem” scientifically, to a point.  (I detect some embellishment in the account.)  And the story of the Magi arriving seems plausible.

Brown sought to determine what the original authors intended to communicate to the original audiences.  Doing so fulfilled his understanding of his vocation as a priest and scholar.  Biblical interpretation should begin with the authors’ intention, Brown insisted.  He was correct.

(Aside:  Some people criticize me for focusing so much on the authors’ original intention and how the original audience understood texts.  I agree with Brown and push back against excessive relativism in Biblical interpretation.  A text says, in original context, what it says.  It means, in original context, what it means.  We moderns can–and should–apply these texts to our contexts and interpret these texts in that light.  Yet me must ground ourselves in historical perspective and objective reality.  My training in historical methodology tells me that.)

After Brown retired from Union Theological Seminary, in 1990, he moved to Menlo Park, California, and went into residence at St. Patrick’s Seminary.  During the final eight years of his life, Brown was productive.  He updated The Birth of the Messiah (1977, 1993).  He wrote The Death of the Messiah (two volumes, 1994).  And our saint completed his final major work, An Introduction to the New Testament (1997), considerably longer than the New Testament.

Brown, aged 60 years, died in Menlo Park, California, on August 8, 1998.

I wonder how many more major works he would have completed had he lived long enough.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA OF OXENHALL AND HER FAITHFUL DESCENDANTS, SAINT WENNA THE QUEEN, SAINT NON, SAINT SAMSON OF DOL, SAINT CYBI, AND SAINT DAVID OF WALES

THE FEAST OF EDWARD HODDER, ENGLISH BIOGRAPHER, DEVOTIONAL WRITER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WISHART, SCOTTISH CALVINIST REFORMER AND MARTYR, 1546; AND WALTER MILNE, SCOTTISH PROTESTANT MARTYR, 1558

THE FEAST OF JEAN-PIERRE DE CAUSSADE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROGER LEFORT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF BOURGES

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Raymond E. Brown 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 Carroll O’Connor (August 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker 

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN CARROLL O’CONNER (AUGUST 2, 1924-JUNE 24, 2001)

U.S. Roman Catholic Actor and Screen Writer

Carroll O’Connor comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my choice.  The Ecumenical Calendar is, after all, my hobby, by which I call attention to holy lives and legacies.

Edward Joseph O’Connor and Elise Patricia O’Connor, of Manhattan, New York, New York, had three sons.  The attorney and his wife had Hugh (who grew up to become a doctor), Robert (who grew up to become a psychiatrist), and (John) Carroll.  Our saint, born in The Bronx on August 2, 1924, grew up mostly in Queens.  After graduating from Newtown High School, Queens, he matriculated at Wake Forest University in 1941.  In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, our saint dropped out of Wake Forest University.  Rejected by the U.S. Navy, O’Connor served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II instead.

After the war, O’Connor resumed his higher education.  He matriculated at the University of Montana.  There he served on the editorial staff of the campus newspaper, the Montana Kaimin.  In 1949, our saint resigned from the newspaper staff to protest the destruction of one issue.  That issue had contained an editorial cartoon that criticized the state Board of Education.  At the University of Montana, O’Connor also acted in theater productions.  This was how he met his fiancée, Nancy Fields (1929-2014), then working as a makeup artist of campus theater productions.

O’Connor left Montana for Dublin, Ireland, to help his brother Hugh get into medical school at University College Dublin.  Our saint studied literature and Irish history at University College Dublin, and commenced his career as an actor.

Nancy, having graduated from the University of Montana with degrees in drama and English in 1951, joined her fiancé in Dublin, Ireland.  They married there on July 28, 1951.  She also continued her education at University College Dublin.  The couple returned to Montana in 1956.  Our saint pursued a master’s degree in speech.

O’Connor became a character actor.  He appeared in many movies and television series.  He became a leading man when he began to portray the bigoted Archie Bunker on All in the Family (1971-1979).  Our saint continued to play Bunker in Archie Bunker’s Place (1979-1983).

Archie Bunker was a seminal character.  He was a working-class, right-wing bigot who committed frequent malapropisms, such as

up the creek without a saddle.

Bunker was afraid of the world, which was changing around him.  Bunker was anti-Semitic.  He also despised Poles, Roman Catholics, Hispanics, African Americans, feminists, liberals, and peace activists.  President Richard Nixon, who appealed to his “Silent Majority,” complained that the series made the bigoted main character come across as a “horse’s ass.”  Yet Bunker, as O’Connor portrayed him, was no stereotypical character.  And Bunker mellowed over the years.  At the end, he had a Jewish business partner.

O’Connor’s next long-lasting series was In the Heat of the Night (1988-1995).  He portrayed Bill Gillespie, the Chief of Police (later Sheriff) of Sparta, Mississippi.  In the third season, when our saint became an executive producer, he transformed the series into a vehicle for addressing social issues.

Back in 1962, our saint had been in Rome, Italy, for the filming of Cleopatra.  While in the Eternal City, the O’Connors had adopted a six-day-old boy and named him Hugh O’Connor, after our saint’s late brother.  High, the brother, had died in a motorcycle accident the previous year.  The younger Hugh (born on April 7, 1962) struggled with drug addiction for the latter half of his life.  This addiction had started in adolescence, with pain killers.  Hugh worked on some of his father’s projects.  On In the Heat of the Night, he portrayed officer Lonnie Jamison.  Hugh, overwhelmed by his addiction, committed suicide on March 28, 1995.

Harry Perzigian was the drug dealer who sold the final dose of cocaine to Hugh.  Perzigian went to prison in 1996 for possessing cocaine and selling some to Hugh O’Connor.  Our saint publicly accused the drug dealer of being complicit in Hugh’s death.  The drug dealer sued the grieving father for defamation.  A jury sided with our saint in 1997.

In the wake of Hugh’s suicide, O’Connor also raised public awareness about drug addiction and lobbied for legal reform.  He filmed a public service announcement.  Our saint lobbied for California’s Drug Dealer Civil Liability Act, passed in 1997.  The law allowed anyone affected adversely by a drug dealer’s actions to sue for reimbursement for addiction-related expenses, as well as for damages.  Other states have passed similar laws.

O’Connor taught screenwriting at the University of Montana and continued to act until very late in life.  His final role was Marty O’Reilly, a kindly grandfather, in Return to Me (2000).

O’Connor, aged 76 years, died of a heart attack in Culver City, California, on June 21, 2001.

Our saint, a devout Roman Catholic, was considerably to the left of Archie Bunker.  O’Connor was also a loving husband and father.  His artistic legacy, much of it committed to film, has continued to enrich the lives of many people, fortunately.

Nancy Fields O’Connor, aged 84 years, died on November 10, 2014.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, BISHOP AND MARTYR, 107/115; SAINT POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, BISHOP AND MARTYR, 155/156; AND SAINT IRENAEUS OF LYONS, CIRCA 202 

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL WOLCOTT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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O God, you have brought us near to an innumerable company of angels,

and to the spirits of just men made perfect:

Grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to abide in their fellowship,

and in our heavenly country to become partakers of their joy;

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

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 34 or 34:15-22

Philippians 4:4-9

Luke 6:17-23

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 725

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Feast of Carlton C. Buck (August 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  First Christian Church, Eugene, Oregon

Image Source = Google Earth

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CARLTON C. BUCK (AUGUST 31, 1907-FEBRUARY 13, 1999)

U.S. Disciples of Christ Minister, Musician, and Hymn Writer

Carlton C. Buck comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Methodist Hymnal (1966).

Buck, born in Salina, Kansas, on August 31, 1907, became a musician, an author, and a minister.  After studying at the Biola Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) and Whittier College, our saint worked as a church musician.  He, ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1934, served in five congregations during his four decades of active ministry.  The name of each congregation was “First Christian Church.”  They were in, in order:

  1. Arlington, California (1934-1939);
  2. Holtville, California;
  3. Orange, California;
  4. Fullerton, California; and
  5. Eugene Oregon (1960-1974).  

Then Buck retired.

During has period of active ministry, our saint furthered his education.  He graduated from the Los Angeles Bible Seminary with a Bachelor of Sacred Music Degree (1946) and from San Gabriel College with a Master of Arts Degree (1950).

Buck wrote at least 26 hymn texts.  He also composed the tune (THE HOUR DIVINE) for one of his hymns, “Amid the Toils of a Day Filled with Care.”

Buck also wrote poems, meditations, books, and librettos.  His books included:

  1. Make Us One:  A Hymn-Prayer for Christian Unity (1939);
  2. At the Lord’s Table (1956);
  3. At the Lord’s Treasury (1959);
  4. Dust for Diamonds (1959);
  5. Spiritual Frontiers (1962);
  6. The Secret of Spiritual Success (1965);
  7. All You Need (1968);
  8. To Marry or Not to Marry (1970); and
  9. Special Time Verse (1970).

Information about Buck’s family was scarce.  The 1940 Census revealed that our saint was thirty-two years old, wife Freida was thirty-one years old, and children Eldin and Helen Louise were both eight years old.

O Lord, may church and home combine

To teach thy perfect way,

With gentleness and love like thine,

That none shall ever stray.

–Carlton C. Buck, 1961

I imagine that the stanza I quoted above described the Buck household.

Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Eugene, Oregon, on February 13, 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AQUILA, PRISCILLA, AND APOLLOS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Carlton C. Buck and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

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