Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1310s’ Category

Feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (July 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Elizabeth of Portugal

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY (1271-JULY 4, 1336)

Peacemaker and Queen

Also known as Saint Elizabeth of Aragon

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Do not forget that when sovereigns are at war they can no longer busy themselves with their administration; justice is not distributed; no care is take of the people; and this alone is your sovereign charge, this is the main point of your duty as kings.

–Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Compay, 1997), 293

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St. Elizabeth of Portugal, born into the royal family of Aragon, had a fine pedigree.  Her great-aunt was St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231).  Our saint’s grandfather was Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (reigned 1220-1250), also the King of Sicily (1198-1250), the King of Germany (1212-1250), and the King of Jerusalem (1229-1250).  St. Elizabeth’s parents were Constantia (Constance) of Sicily and Pedro (Peter) III “the Great” of Aragon (reigned 1276-1285).

Our saint, raised a pious Roman Catholic, led a holy life.  In 1282 she entered into an arranged marriage to King Diniz (Denis) of Portugal (reigned 1279-1325), a man known for interest in and patronage of the arts, for hard work, and for immorality.  Diniz cheated on and abused St. Elizabeth, fathering children out-of-wedlock.  She and Diniz had two children–Constantia and the future King Alfonso IV “the Brave” (reigned 1325-1357).  Diniz’s favorite child, though, was Alfonso Sanches, not in line to succeed to the throne.  For many years St. Elizabeth prayed for Diniz’s conversion.  He reformed his life toward the end of it.  St. Elizabeth also founded convents, orphanages, monasteries, hospitals, and halfway houses for former prostitutes.

During her lifetime St. Elizabeth had a reputation as a peacemaker.  In 1323 she rushed to the battlefield, where she ended the civil war between King Diniz and his heir, the future Alfonso IV.  After Diniz died in 1325, our saint became a Franciscan tertiary and retired to the Poor Clares convent (which she had founded) at Coimbra.  At the end of St. Elizabeth’s life she went to another battlefield–this time at Estremoz, Portugal–to reconcile her son, Alfonso IV, and his son-in-law, King Alfonso IX of Castille (reigned 1313-1350).  The two were locked in combat in 1336, for Alfonso IX, husband of Alfonso IV’s daughter, Maria, had cheated on her and imprisoned her in a castle.  At Estremoz St. Elizabeth made peace once more.  There she died of a fever on July 4, 1336.

Pope Urban VIII canonized her in 1625.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace:

Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity.

Grant us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided,

that forgiven and forgiving, we may be one in Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever, one holy and undivided Trinity.  Amen.

Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22

Psalm 51:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

Luke 23:32-43

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 737

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Feast of Meister Eckhart (March 23)   Leave a comment

eckhart

Above:  Eckhart of Hochheim

Image in the Public Domain

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ECKHART OF HOCHHEIM (CIRCA 1260-1327/1328)

Roman Catholic Theologian and Mystic

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

–Eckhart

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I conclude that certain ecclesiastical leaders chose to ignore that advice.

Eckhart, born at Hochheim, near Gotha, Turingia, Holy Roman Empire, circa 1260, was a mystic.  Like certain mystics before and after his time, he incurred the wrath of ecclesiastical authorities seeking to safeguard their power.

Eckhart joined the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans, when he was what we would today call a teenager.  From 1293 to 1302 he studied theology at St. Jacques, Paris; he graduated as a master (meister).  Two years later he became the provincial minister of the order in Saxony.  From 1314 to 1322 our saint taught and preached in Strasbourg.  Next he preached in Cologne for years.  He was the most popular preacher in Germany.

In 1326, however, the charge of heresy fell upon Eckhart.  His theology, though, was fairly orthodox.  One of the influences on Eckhart’s theology was St. Thomas Aquinas (canonized in 1323), his favorite author.  Another major influence on Eckhart’s theology was St. Augustine of Hippo.  Eckhart’s main doctrine was the birth of God the Son (Christ) in the soul, signifying the mystical union of the divine and the human.  This union, he wrote, was the highest human goal and occurred via a union of wills.  This union of wills came about via grace, not human merit.  He always affirmed the necessity of the Church and of the sacraments.  Furthermore, in true orthodox fashion, Eckhart argued that rituals and good works were spiritually useful only when one was inclined toward God.

So what did Eckhart allegedly do wrong?  He wrote and uttered statements that seemed to undermine the authority of the Church.

Seek God and you shall find him.  Indeed, with such an attitude, you might step on a stone and it would be a more pious act than to receive the body of our Lord, thinking of yourself.

–Eckhart

That statement is orthodox, is it not?  Anyhow, Eckhart’s use of Neoplatonist language (He was in the vein of St. Thomas Aquinas, recently canonized.) opened him up to false allegations of pantheism.  He was really in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Holy Mother Church pressured Eckhart into recanting the allegedly heretical propositions in 1327.  On March 29, 1329, Pope John XXII issued a bull (an appropriate term for the document) condemning those 28 propositions and mentioning Eckhart as being deceased.  Our saint had died in the good graces of the Church, which had abused him.

You may call God love, you may call God goodness.  But the best name for God is compassion.

–Eckhart

Pope John XXII and others who condemned Eckhart should have paid attention to that piece of wisdom.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ALBERT THE GREAT AND THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD FREDERICK LITTLEDALE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Meister Eckhart

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God,

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;  who lives and reigns

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 721

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Feast of Blessed Jordan of Pisa (March 6)   Leave a comment

jordan-of-pisa

Above:  Blessed Jordan of Pisa

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JORDAN OF PISA (CIRCA 1255-AUGUST 19, 1311)

Dominican Evangelist

Alternative feast day = August 19

Blessed Jordan of Pisa, born at Pisa circa 1255, joined the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) at that city in 1280 then studied at the Sorbonne.  By 1305 he was Lector at Sainta Maria Novella Church, Florence.  In that city he was a popular and effective preacher, for he spoke not in the respectable Latin but in vernacular Italian and Tuscan.  This was controversial.  In 1311, the year of his death at Piacenza, he had become Professor of Theology at St. James Friary, Paris.  Our saint, who had a devotion to Our Lady, memorized the missal, the breviary, most of the Bible, and the second part of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Pope Gregory XVI beatified Jordan of Pisa in 1838.

The question of how best to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always current.  Some, for all their sincerity, cross the line into tackiness and wind up embarrassing many longterm adherents while inviting ridicule.  (The Extreme Teen Study Bible comes to mind immediately.)  A separate issue related to methodology is that of class distinctions, which are not necessarily infallible definitions of good taste.  Blessed Jordan of Pisa provides a case study is crossing the class barrier without resorting to tackiness.  How can one respond to the message of Christ if one cannot hear it in one’s language, after all?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PEPIN OF LANDEN, ITTA OF METZ, THEIR RELATIONS, AMAND, AUSTREGISILUS, AND SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ACROSS GENERATIONAL LINES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JULIA CHESTER EMERY, UPHOLDER OF MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP II OF MOSCOW, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA AND MARTYR

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Almighty and everlasting God,

we thank you for your servant Blessed Jordan of Pisa,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Florence.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 716

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Feast of Blessed Roger Lefort (March 1)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Icon of Sts. Anne and Mary

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ROGER LEFORT (CIRCA 1277-MARCH 1, 1367)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bourges

The renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days resumes, this time with saints with feast days in March, as 2016 passes the torch to 2017.

Blessed Roger Lefort was an important yet relatively observe (by current standards) saint.  He, of French noble origin, was the nephew of a cardinal.  In 1321 Lefort was a sub-deacon.  Also during that year the See of Orleans became vacant.  Certain clergymen competed to become the next Bishop of Orleans.  Lefort disapproved of such political maneuvering.  Although he did not seek the position and even considered himself unworthy to hold it, he became the next Bishop of Orleans in 1321.  The Holy Spirit had spoken, some claimed.  Lefort had, prior to his selection, joked that he would be a good bishop.  What he intended as sarcasm a sufficient number of people interpreted as truth.  Lefort was a capable bishop, one who translated to Limoges in 1328 then became the Archbishop of Bourges in 1343.

Liturgically Lefort pioneered the observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in France.  The idea of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception was not new; it derived from the writings of certain Church Fathers, including St. Justin Martyr (circa 100-circa 165) and St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 130-circa 200), both of whom thought of her as the “new Eve.”  St. Andrew of Crete (circa 660-740) and St. John of Damascus (circa 675-circa 749) considered Our Lady to have been sinless.  The annual observance of St. Mary’s conception dated to the 600s (in the East) and began to spread throughout the West (starting at Naples) in the 800s.  In the 1100s, when commemorations began in France, they prompted controversy.  Theologians including St. Albert the Great (circa 1200-1280), St. Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274), and St. Bonaventure (circa 1217-1274) rejected the idea of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.  She was not immune from original sin, they argued.  The position Lefort supported became the official position of the Roman Catholic Church in time.  The Council of Basle (1439) declared the Immaculate Conception to be theologically sound.  A decade later the Sorbonne became the first university to require its candidates to defend the doctrine.  Pope Sixtus IV established the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, with its own propers, in 1476.  Pope Clement XI made the observance a Feast of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church in 1708.  Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma.

Lefort died, aged 90 years, on March 1, 1367.  He left his estate for the education of poor boys.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, YEAR A

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)

Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary

to be the worthy mother of your Son.

You let her share beforehand in the salvation

Christ would bring by his death,

and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.

Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 8:22-35

Romans 8:29-30

Psalm 113

Luke 1:26-28

–Compiled from The Book of Catholic Worship (1966), pages 301-302, and Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), pages 1332-1334

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Feast of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden (July 23)   Leave a comment

Vadstena Abbey Church

Above:  Vadstena Parish Church

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN (CIRCA 1303-JULY 23, 1373)

Founder of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Brigitta Birgensdotter, Saint Birgitta of Sweden, and Saint Birgit of Sweden

mother of

SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN (1331-MARCH 24, 1381)

Superior of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Catherine Vastanesis and Saint Catherine of Vadstena

Her feast transferred from March 22

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St. Bridget of Sweden has at least two feast days.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) observe her feast on July 23.  The Roman Catholic Church, however, celebrates her legacy on October 8.  I have added St. Catherine of Sweden to this commemoration as a practical matter.  Furthermore, this is my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, so this is my decision.

St. Bridget of Sweden (circa 1303-1373), a mystic, came from a prominent family.  According to one tradition, her date of birth was June 14, 1303.  Her father was Birger Persson, governor of Uppland.  At the age of 10 years ours saint reported receiving a vision of Christ crucified.  For the rest of her life St. Bridget made the Passion of Jesus the center of her spiritual devotion.  In 1316, when our saint was 13 years old, she married Ulf Gudmarsson, governor of Nericia.  The couple had eight children, one of which was St. Catherine of Sweden (1331-1381).  In 1342 the couple made the pilgrimage to Santo Domingo de Compostella.  Gudmarsson died at the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra in 1344.

Later that year the widow, already renowned for her saintliness and charitable works, became a Franciscan nun.  The frequency of St. Bridget’s visions increased during this period of time.  She dictated her Revelations (published in 1492) to the prior, Peter Olafsson, who translated them into Latin.  Among these visions was a command to found a new religious order.  This was the prompt for the creation of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Brigittines), at Vadstena, Sweden, in 1346.  The order (still extant) spread across Europe, from Scandinavia to Italy and Portugal and Spain to Russia.  The Brigittines used to have double monasteries, with nuns living one side, monks residing on the other, and both groups sharing the chapel.  The Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution reduced the number of Brigittine institutions.

In 1349 Sts. Bridget and Catherine made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  St. Catherine, educated at a convent, had, at age 12 or 13, married Egard van Kyren, a German nobleman.  They had a white, or chaste, marriage.  Egard died while his wife was away on pilgrimage in 1349.  She spent most of the rest of her life refusing the advances of suitors.

In 1350, during the time do the Black Death, which killed at least two-fifths of the population of Europe in less than five years, St. Catherine, an ascetic like her mother, traveled to Rome with Birger (her brother), St. Bridget, and a small party.  They sought Papal approval of their order.  That approval was forthcoming 20 years later.  The building of the mother house at Vadstena started the following year.  St. Bridget lived in Rome for the rest of her life, her faithful daughter by her side.  The two women made pilgrimages to the Holy Land (one together in 1372) and collaborated in providing shelter to homeless people.

Papal Palace, Avignon, France

Above:  The Papal Palace at Avignon, France, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-05243

St. Bridget also opposed ecclesiastical corruption.  Amid the scandal of the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377), with the Papal headquarters transferred to Avignon, under the influence of the French monarchy, St. Bridget favored the return of the Papacy to Rome.  She had lauded the election of Pope Innocent VI (reigned 1352-1362), but turned against him after he ordered the imprisonment of some Spiritual Franciscans and the burning at the stake of others.  St. Bridget accused the Supreme Pontiff of being a persecutor of faithful Christians.  She also predicted the early death of Pope Urban V (1362-1370) and cautioned him not to return to Avignon.  The Pope had returned to Rome while leaving a bureaucracy in Avignon.  He returned to Avignon on September 27, 1370.  An illness claimed his life on December 19.

St. Bridget died at Rome on July 23, 1373, with St. Catherine by her side.  The daughter succeeded her mother as superior of the order and returned to Sweden, taking St. Bridget’s corpse with her.

Pope Boniface IX (reigned 1389-1404) canonized St. Bridget in 1391.  She has become one of the patron saints of Europe.

St. Catherine of Sweden, who wrote Consolation of the Soul, a devotional work, eventually returned to Rome, where she lived for a few years.  Among her close friends was St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who also advocated for the return of the Papacy to Rome.  St. Bridget’s daughter died at Vadstena on March 24, 1381.

The canonization of St. Catherine of Sweden was informal, with Pope Innocent VIII (reigned 1484-1492) supporting her veneration in 1484.  Formal canonization proved to be impossible, for that process required the documentation of miracles.  The Protestant Reformation prevented that from proceeding.

Today many people invoke St. Catherine of Sweden against abortion and miscarriage.

As I have written in various weblog posts, faith should be something families nurture.  The family of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden modeled that principle well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

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

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

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Saints Bridget and Catherine of Sweden,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Richard Rolle (January 19)   1 comment

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Above:  Richard Rolle

Image in the Public Domain

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RICHARD ROLLE (1290/1300-SEPTEMBER 29, 1349)

English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

Richard Rolle has at least two feast days.  The Episcopal Church celebrates his life on September 28 and adds two other saints–Walter Hilton (died circa 1396) and Margery Kempe (died circa 1440) to the mix.  I have chosen, however, to stay close to The Church of England’s practice of celebrating his life apart from those of Hilton and Kempe, and of doing so on January 20.  I booked January 20 fully, so I have moved Rolle’s feast day to January 19.

We know little about the early life of Richard Rolle.  Even the year of his birth is a matter of debate.  We do know, however, that he dropped out of Oxford at age 18 to become an ascetic and a hermit against his family’s wishes.  Rolle spent many years moving from hermitage to hermitage, converting a host of people along the way.  Finally he settled down outside the Cistercian Convent of St. Mary, Hampole, England, where he advised the nuns spiritually.  Rolle died at Hampole on September 29, 1349.

Our saint left an impressive written legacy in both English and Latin.  His Latin style was academic and his English prose style flowed nicely.  Rolle, who was steeped in the Bible, wrote commentaries on entire books of scripture (such as the Psalms and the Lamentations) and parts of other books (such as Job and the Song of Songs).  He also attracted a following of other spiritual writers, some of whose writings have proven difficult to tell apart from those of Rolle.  Tradition has falsely attributed The Pricke of Conscience to our saint, for example.  Rolle defended the contemplative life against critics and himself against those who accused him of promoting an overly subjective form of Christianity.  Our saint, who was well-versed in major theological works, composed both prose and poetry.  He advocated for solitude, physical self-control, and love of God.  Among his theological works were De Emendatione Vitae (The Mending of Life), Incendium Amoris (The Fire of Love)Ego Dormio, The Form of Perfect Living, and The Commandment of Love of God.

Part of the beauty of good theological writing is that, when it survives its authors, members of successive generations can benefit spiritually from it.  We who live in these times are fortunate that Rolle’s writings remain available.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE RODAT, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF VILLEFRANCHE

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BOUVERIE PUSEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Gracious God, we give you thanks for the life and work of Richard Rolle,

hermit and mystic, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld the glory.

Help us, after his example, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly,

in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Job 26:1-4

Psalm 63:1-8

Romans 11:33-12:2

Matthew 5:43-48

–Altered from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 611

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