Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1550s’ Category

Feast of St. Nicholas of Flue and Blessed Conrad Scheuber (March 21)   Leave a comment

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Above:  St. Nicholas of Flue

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT NICHOLAS OF FLUE (MARCH 21, 1417-MARCH 21, 1487)

Swiss Hermit and Statesman

Also known as Brother Klaus and Saint Nicholas von Flue

His feast day = March 21

Alternative feast day = September 25

grandfather of 

BLESSED CONRAD SCHEUBER (1481-MARCH 5, 1559)

Swiss Hermit

His feast transferred from March 5

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My Lord and my God,

remove from me

whatever keeps me from you.

My Lord and my God,

confer upon me

whatever enables me to reach you.

My Lord and my God,

free me from self

and make me wholly yours.

–St. Nicholas of Flue

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The vocation to be a hermit is a legitimate one–one which many people do not have yet which certain ones do.  May no person whom God has chosen not to grant that calling ridicule or underestimate it in those whom God has called to become hermits.

St. Nicholas of Flue lived for 70 years to the day.  He, born on March 21, 1417, in Sachsen, Switzerland, came from a relatively wealthy peasant family.  He was a farmer and a councilor and a judge in the canon of Unterwalden.  He also rejected an opportunity to become the governor.  During a war against the secessionist canon of Zurich our saint commanded soldiers.  He also condemned wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants as immoral.

At the age of 30 St. Nicholas married Dorothy Wiss.  The couple had 10 children in 20 years.  Shortly after the birth of his youngest child our saint discerned a vocation to become a hermit.  He reported a vision of a harnessed draft horse (representing his life as a farmer) eating a lily (representing his spiritual life).  With his family’s consent he became a hermit.  St. Nicholas spent most of his time as a hermit in the Ranft Valley.  Each day he assisted with the Mass and spent most of his time in prayer.  The hermit, renowned for his piety, attracted many spiritual students.  In 1481 he left his hermitage long enough to mediate a dispute that threatened to lead to a civil war.  Once our saint had ensured national unity, he resumed his routine as a hermit.  St. Nicholas died, surrounded by his family, in 1487.

Pope Innocent X beatified St. Nicholas in 1649.  Pope Pius XII canonized him in 1947.

St. Nicholas is the patron of Switzerland, councilmen, separated spouses, difficult marriages, Swiss Guards, large families, parents of large families, and magistrates.

One of the descendants of St. Nicholas was a grandson, Blessed Conrad Scheuber, born at Altfallen, Switzerland, in 1481.  He was a hermit first at the hermitage of St. Nicholas then at Wolfenschiessen.  He died at Bettelrutti, Switzerland, on March 5, 1559.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MIROCLES OF MILAN AND EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ALBAN ROE AND THOMAS REYNOLDS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN YI YON-ON, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN KOREA

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servants Saints Nicholas of Flue and Blessed Conrad Scheuber,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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Feast of Sebastian Castellio (March 20)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Sebastian Castellio 

Image in the Public Domain

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SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO (1515-DECEMBER 29, 1563)

Prophet of Religious Liberty

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To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man.

–Sebastian Castellio, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 126

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Certain officially recognized saints of the Reformation era trouble me.  For example, I consult Anglican calendars and read about prominent churchmen who denied the existence of the right to dissent theologically.  Some of these churchmen went so far as to order the execution of dissenters or at least to consent to these judicial killings.  (It is not technically murder if it is legal.)  And that is what I find within my faith tradition, now one so tolerant that some accuse it of having become too liberal.  Better too liberal than likely to persecute dissenters, I say!  I also ponder the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and find the names of similarly troubling people there.  Overall, I have generally negative opinions of Thomas Cranmer, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and the Popes at the time–all of whom cover much theological ground collectively.  I have generally low opinions of them because they proceeded from the ubiquitous assumption that

error has no rights,

so they persecuted those who disagreed with them or consented to the persecution of those who held other beliefs.  This did not glorify God.

I can, however, respect Sebastian Castellio without any reservations.

Castellio, born at Saint-Martin-du-Frene, France, in 1515, was a scholar and a man ahead of his time.  He, educated at the University of Lyons, was a master of six languages:  French, Italian, German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.  In January 1540 our saint, then in his mid-twenties, witnesses the execution of three Lutherans as heretics at Lyons.  This “act of faith” had such an effect on him that he left France for Switzerland and the Roman Catholic Church for the Reformed Church.  In 1542 John Calvin, the theocrat of Geneva, appointed Castellio the Rector of the College of Geneva.  The following year, during an outbreak of plague, our saint did what many clergymen refused to do–minister to the sick and the dying.  Despite his lived piety, Castellio’s request for ordination met with rejection.  Perhaps jealousy among clergymen he had embarrassed by ministering to victims of plague was among the reasons for this result.  Officially Castellio was heterodox and too liberal.  In layman’s terms, he rejected the doctrine of Double Predestination, which he considered abhorrent.  Our saint had to leave Geneva.  He moved to Basel, Switzerland.  After years of grinding poverty Castellio finally became a professor of Greek in that city, where he spent the rest of his life.

In 1553, at Geneva, John Calvin ordered theologian Michael Servetus, who had denied the Holy Trinity, burned at the stake on the charge of heresy.  The reformer and theocrat reasoned that one function of the magistrate was to defend true doctrine and therefore to glorify God.  This execution troubled many, including Castellio.  He expressed his objections in On Heretics:  Whether They Should Be Punished by the Magistrate, which he published under a pseudonym.  He argued that to kill a person in the name of God is a blasphemous act.  A Christian’s first duty is to love his neighbor as he loves himself, our saint wrote; to execute heretics (alleged or actual) violates this principle.  Furthermore, Castellio wrote, the competing sects of Christianity not only disagreed with each other, but each of them operated from the assumption that it was obeying the Word of God.  Everyone was a heretic, according to others:

I can discover no more than this, that we regard those as heretics with whom we disagree.

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), page 127

The pseudonym did not hide Castellio’s identity for long.  When he died on December 29, 1563, legal proceedings against him were underway.  The Religious Wars had begun.  Many people would have lived longer had religious toleration been the rule.  Furthermore, slaughtering people in the name of Jesus did not glorify God.

In this post I describe Castellio as a “Prophet of Religious Liberty.”  In so doing I quote Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1997).  I understand that there is no such thing as absolute religious liberty, even in a pluralistic society with a (properly) secular state; we all must, for the common good, sacrifice some rights without trampling individual rights either.  As long as one does not endanger public health and safety or the most basic civil rights and liberties in the name of religious liberty, I have no objection.  Certainly the statement that one should not execute or incarcerate heretics (alleged or actual) should receive widespread support.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MIROCLES OF MILAN AND EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ALBAN ROE AND THOMAS REYNOLDS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN YI YON-ON, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN KOREA

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Sebastian Castellio,

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, 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 Luis de Leon (February 27)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Map of Spain and Portugal, 1584

Image in the Public Domain

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LUIS DE LEON (1527-AUGUST 23, 1591)

Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

Luis de Leon expanded his horizons, much to the disapproval of the Inquisition.  Our saint, born in 1527 at Belmonte, Cuenea, Spain, was an Augustinian priest who taught the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Salamanca.  He chose to move beyond scholastic theology and studied Platonism, Arabic philosophy, Jewish mysticism, et cetera.  De Leon also mastered the Hebrew language so he could study the Hebrew Bible better.  During our saint’s study of the Old Testament he identified certain mistranslations in the Vulgate of St. Jerome.  News of this led to de Leon’s incarceration (without sacraments as well as knowledge of the charges against him) by the Valladolid Inquisition from March 1572 to December 1576.  Eventually the Inquisition cleared de Leon of all charges and released him.  His experience with the Inquisition influenced some of de Leon’s subsequent writings, as when he contrasted the arrogance of certain authority figures with the humility of Christ:

What can we say about kings and princes who not only lower and despise some of their subjects but think that this is the only way they themselves can feel important and try their best so that the groups they have lowered and despised will be held down and despised generation after generation?

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 93

De Leon’s academic and ecclesiastical career advanced post-Inquisition.  In his masterpiece, The Names of God (1583), he meditated on the titles of Christ.  Our saint received academic promotions and, in 1591, shortly before his death, became the provincial for the Augustinian order in Castille.  He died at Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, on August 23, 1591.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

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

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, you have enlightened your Church by the teachings of your servant Luis de Leon;

enrich it evermore with your heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses, who by their life and teaching

may proclaim to all people the truth of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:1-10

Psalm 34:11-17 or 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Matthew 5:13-19

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 684

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Feast of Antonio Valdivieso (February 26)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Map of the New World (1596), by Theodor de Bry

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO VALDIVIESO (1495-FEBRUARY 26, 1550)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Leon and Martyr

Antonio Valdivieso, born at Burgos, Spain, in 1495, was a Spanish Dominican priest and a disciple of Bartolome de Las Casas (1474/1484-1566), who also defended the rights of indigenous people.  Valdevieso arrived in Nicarague in 1544.  He confronted the governor and other colonial officials who oppressed the native people.  Our saint went so far as to return to Spain and express his concerns to King Charles I/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1516-1556) in person.  The monarch made our saint the Bishop of Leon and sent him back to Nicaragua in 1545.  Valdivieso suspected that this was effectively a death sentence.  He was correct.  Our saint continued to oppose the governor and his administration in person.  Valdivieso, based at the cathedral in Leon, made himself a thorn in the side of officialdom.  On Ash Wednesday (February 26),  1550, the governor and some henchmen killed our saint and two other Dominicans.  Valdivieso became the first bishop in the Americas to die for the rights of indigenous people.

He was one of many Roman Catholic clerics to lay down their lives for that just cause.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

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

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Ever-loving God, by your grace and power your holy martyr

Antonio Valdivieso triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death;

strengthen us with your grace that we may faithfully witness to Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21

Psalm 3 or 116

Hebrews 11:32-40

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 680-681

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Feast of Philipp Melanchthon (February 16)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIPP MELANCHTHON (FEBRUARY 16, 1497-APRIL 19, 1560)

German Lutheran Theologian and Scribe of the Reformation

Philipp Melanchthon was a leader of the Protestant Reformation.  Our saint, born Philipp Schwarzerd at Bretton, Baden, on February 16, 1497, was a son of Georg Schwarzerd (an armorer) and Barbara Reuter (niece of classical and humanist scholar Johann Reuchlin).  Reuchlin supervised our saint’s classical and humanist education, transforming him into a classical and humanist scholar whom other classical and humanist scholars respected.  Reuchlin gave our saint the surname “Melanchthon,” Greek for “Schwarzerd.”  Melanchthon, who earned his B.A. degree at Heiderberg (1512), M.A. degree at Tubingern (1514), and B.D. degree at Wittenberg (1519), translated certain classical Greek works into German.

Melanchthon’s move to Wittengerg in 1518 was crucial.  In August of that year our saint arrived to teach Greek at the university there.  On August 29, 1518, he delivered an influential address, The Improvement of Studies, in which he proposed to renew society and education by bypassing certain secondary sources and returning to primary sources.  The scholarship of Melanchthon influenced the work of Martin Luther, whose ally he became the following year.  In 1520 Melanchthon married Katharine Krapp of Wittenberg.  The couple had four children:  Anna (1522), Philipp (1525), Georg (1527), and Magdalen (1533).  Melanchthon influenced education in Germany.  His educational theories led to the founding of Protestant public schools and the reorganization of universities in much of Germany.  Thus he became the “Preceptor of Germany.”

Melanchthon, the scribe of the Reformation, wrote Biblical commentaries and composed the Augsburg Confession (1530) and a defense of it.  Despite these facts, some Lutherans considered our saint to be insufficiently Lutheran.  Melanchthon was a Lutheran diplomat and spokesman in discussions with representatives of the Reformed and the Roman Catholic Churches.  For him justification by faith was essential; any point not contradicting it was nonessential.  Melanchthon was even willing, for the sake of Christian unity, to accept papal government yet not supremacy.

Our saint, anguished by ecclesiastical schisms, maintained his ecumenical dialogues until he died, aged 63 years, on April 19, 1560.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF DAMASCUS AND COSMAS OF MAIUMA, THEOLOGIANS AND HYMNODISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Philipp Melanchthon,

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, 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 Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (February 1)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Image in the Public Domain

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GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA (1525-FEBRUARY 2, 1594)

Roman Catholic Composer and Musician

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (Latinized name = Ioanes Petraloysius Praenestinus), was a native of Palestrina, near Rome.  His musical training started at a young age; he was a choir boy at St. Maria Maggiore, Palestrina, by the age of 12 years.  By 1544 he was both an organist and a singer at the church.  Giammaria Ciocchi del Monte, Bishop of Palestrina (1543-1550), the future Pope Julius III (reigned 1550-1555), noticed the musician’s talents.  Our saint married Lucrezia Gori in 1547; the couple had three sons:  Rodolfo, Angelo, and Iginio.  The family was in Rome as the maestro di cappella of the Julian Chapel.  In the Eternal City the composer published his first book of Masses and dedicated it to Pope Julius III.  Our saint also sang in the pontifical choir (until Pope Paul IV forbade married men to do so), became the composer to the papal chapel, and, in 1555, became the choir director at St. John Lateran.  That choir, unfortunately, was small in both number an ability.

The composer left Rome in 1560.  He returned to St. Maria Maggiore.  However, our saint returned to the Eternal City six years later.  From 1567 to 1571 he was in charge of the music at the Villa d’Este, Tivoli, under Cardinal Ippolito d’Este.  Then, from 1571 to 1594, our saint held his old job, maestro di cappella of the Julian Chapel.  From 1572 to 1581 he buried his first wife and his first two sons.  Eventually the composer remarried; his second wife was Virginia Dormiti, widow of a wealthy merchant.

The composer died at Rome on February 2, 1594.  He was about 69 years old.

Our saint composed many madrigals, motets, and Masses.  His masterpieces included the following:

  1. O Magnum Mysterium,
  2. Pope Marcellus Mass,
  3. Missarum Liber Primus,
  4. Canticum Canticorum,
  5. Exsultate Deo,
  6. Lamentationes Ieremiae Prophetae,
  7. Missa Brevis,
  8. Missa Assumpta est Marie in Caelum, and
  9. Missa Nigra Sum.

The compositions of our saint have enriched the lives of many people (including me) during the centuries since the 1500s.  He praised and glorified God with his God-given abilities and added much beauty to the world in the process.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK COOK ATKINSON, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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

We bless your name for inspiring Giovanni Palestrina da Palestrina

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

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

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

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

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Feast of Menno Simons (January 31)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Menno Simons

Image in the Public Domain

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MENNO SIMONS (1496-JANUARY 31, 1561)

Mennonite Leader

Konrad Grebel (circa 1498-1526), an erstwhile disciple of Ulrich Zwingli, founded the Swiss Brethren and the Anabaptist movement on January 21, 1525.  Swiss authorities persecuted and all but eradicated the Swiss Brethren; Zwingli was among the persecutors.  Felix Manz became the first Anabaptist martyr on January 5, 1527, when his punishment for rebaptizing people was drowning.  The Anabaptist movement spread into The Netherlands.  The movement also fragmented into four major sects and lacked coherent theological and ethical standards.  It was coming apart at the seams.

Menno Simons provided the standards and stability the Anabaptist movement needed to survive and thrive.  He had been a Dutch Roman Catholic priest in the village of Pingium, starting in 1524.  He began to experience major theological doubts, though.  Was Transubstantiation true?  And was infant baptism valid?  So the priest studied the Bible and the writings of Martin Luther for answers.  (Luther defended the validity of infant baptism.  If it were invalid, he argued, there had not been any Christians in Europe for about 1000 years.  I find that argument convincing.)  Simons became an Anabaptist in January 1536 and a preacher the following year.  His writings became foundational for the Anabaptist movement.  He was so vital to the movement that many Anabaptists adopted the label “Mennonite.”

Simons, an active missioner, moved around much, starting in 1541.  He died at Wustenfield, Holstein, on January 31, 1561.  He was 64 or 65 years old.

I disagree with our saint on many theological points.  I am, in fact, an Episcopalian with strong Lutheran and Roman Catholic tendencies.  Both Transubstantiation and infant baptism make sense to me.  Furthermore, I recognize no need to rebaptize anyone baptized in the Trinitarian formula.  None of these facts prevents me from honoring Menno Simons, however.  He was, I conclude, a servant of God who had a vital witness to Jesus Christ in the world.  That witness continues via the Anabaptist movement, which he stabilized.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HILEY BATHHURST, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF PETRUS NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN EDUCATOR AND COMPOSER; AND GEORG NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Menno Simons,

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, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2016), page 60

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