Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1640s’ Category

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

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT JOHN KEMBLE (1599-AUGUST 22, 1679)

SAINT JOHN WALL (1620-AUGUST 22, 1679)

English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

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

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

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Feast of Blaise Pascal (August 19)   1 comment

Above:  Blaise Pascal

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

French Roman Catholic Scientist, Mathematician, and Theologian

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

–Blaise Pascal

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

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

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

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

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

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

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

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

Psalm 96

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

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Jeremy Taylor (August 13)   2 comments

Above:  Jeremy Taylor

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JEREMY TAYLOR (BAPTIZED AUGUST 15, 1613-DIED AUGUST 13, 1667)

Anglican Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore

Bishop Jeremy Taylor was a theologian, a skilled stylist of the English language, and, for a time, a political prisoner.  He, baptized as an infant at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, on August 15, 1613, was a son of Nathaniel Taylor, a barber.  Our saint, educated at the Perse School then at Gonville and Caius College, received holy orders in 1633.  Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud helped him to become a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1638.  On May 27 of that year Taylor married Phoebe Lagsdale, who died by 1651.

Taylor became caught up in the politics of that period of civil wars.  He, from 1638 to 1642 the priest at Uppingham, was also the chaplain to King Charles I, who awarded him a D.D. degree in 1643.  Taylor, as a royalist military chaplain, became a prisoner at Cardigan Castle in 1645.  Upon release our saint helped grammarian William Nicholson establish a school at Carmanthenshire, and served as the chaplain there.

Taylor was a prolific writer of theological works, some of which were revolutionary for the time and place.  In The Liberty of Prophesying (1647) he advocated for religious freedom for all who would destroy neither the state nor the foundations of Christianity.  The Great Exemplar (1649) was a devotional work based on the life of Christ.  Taylor wrote The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (1650) and The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying (1651) for Anglicans deprived of ministry by Puritan rulers.  In those works he encouraged reliance on the goodness of God.  There also followed Twenty-Eight Sermons (1651) and Twenty-Five Sermons (1653).  Taylor refuted transubstantiation in The Real Presence and Spiritual of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament (1654).  He did the same to Original Sin and Double Predestination in Unum Necessarium (1655).  The Golden Dance (1655) was a volume of prayers.

The politics of the Commonwealth interrupted Taylor’s life again.  In 1655 he was a political prisoner.  Later he married Joanna Bridges and moved to her estate in Wales.  Then Taylor relocated to London, where he ministered to royalists.  His sole secular work was A Discourse of Friendship (1657).  The following year Taylor published A Collection of Offices (1658), in lieu of The Book of Common Prayer, then illegal.  A Collection of Offices contained elements of Eastern Christian liturgies.  In June 1658 Taylor became the chaplain to Edward, the third Viscount Conway, in Ulster.  There our saint wrote Ductor Dubitantium–A Great Instrument for the Determination of Cases of Conscience (1660), dedicated to King Charles II.

The Restoration of the Monarchy in England (1660) led to Taylor joining the ranks of bishops, despite his reputation for heterodoxy.  In 1660 he became the Bishop of Down and Connor; he acquired responsibility for the adjacent Diocese of Dromore the following year.  One of our saint’s first tasks as bishop was to purge the diocese of Presbyterian ministers, who, being Reformed, rejected the episcopal office.  Taylor was also a member of the Irish Privy Council and the Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin.  He wrote Dissuasive from Papacy (1664, 1667) and Chrisis Teleiotike (1664), a study of confirmation not outdone until the 1800s.

Taylor was a great writer and an intellectual man deeply read in the classics.  He was also generous, charing, and possessed of a love of beauty, especially in nature.  While visiting a sick man Taylor contracted a fever.  Our saint died of that fever in Lisburn, Ireland, on August 13, 1667.  He was 54 years old.

The legacy of Jeremy Taylor is evident in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The prayer for a child not yet baptized (page 444) comes from A Collection of Offices.  Also, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying is the basis of the prayer that begins

O God, whose days are without end

(Rite I, page 489; Rite II, page 504), from the burial service.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 6–THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF EDITH BOYLE MACALISTER, ENGLISH NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE VIALAR, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE APPARITION

THE FEAST OF JANE CROSS BELL SIMPSON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TERESA AND MAFALDA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESSES, QUEENS, AND NUNS; AND SAINT SANCHIA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESS AND NUN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered:

Make us, like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life;

and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Proverbs 7:1-4

Psalm 16:5-11

Romans 14:7-9, 10b-12

John 3:11-21

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 525

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Jacques Fermin (July 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New France

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT JACQUES FERMIN (MARCH 12, 1628-JULY 2, 1691)

Roman Catholic Missionary Priest

St. Jacques Fermin took the Great Commission seriously.  He, born in Rheims, France, on March 12, 1628, joined the Society of Jesus in 1646.  The order sent the priest to New France in the 1650s.  Except for occasional trips to France for the purpose of raising funds and generating support, Fermin spent the rest of his life in what is now Vermont and Quebec.  He conducted missionary work among the Onodaga, Mohawk, and Cayuhoga peoples, founding a mission on Isla La Motte, in what is now Vermont.  As of 1670 our saint was in charge of the Christian Indian settlement at La Prairie, near Montreal.  In about 40 years Fermin converted nearly 10,000 indigenous people.  He died in Quebec on July 22, 1691.  Our saint was 63 years old.

Consider, O reader, that many people since Fermin’s time have been Christians partially because he converted someone.  His influence, both direct and indirect, has been immense.

Yet, as we know, the Church is perpetually one generation away from extinction.  In a global context in which the fastest growing religious affiliation in many places is none, evangelism becomes even more urgent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

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

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

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant St. Jacques Fermin,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the indigenous peoples of Quebec and Vermont.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of the 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 forever.  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), 716

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Blessed Philip Powel (June 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BLESSED PHILIP POWEL (FEBRUARY 2, 1594-JUNE 30, 1646)

English Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

The call of God on the life of Blessed Philip Powel led to martyrdom.  Powel, born in Tralon, Brecknockshire, England, on February 2, 1594, was a son of Roger and Catherine Powel.  Our saint studied law in London before pursuing theological studies in Douai, France.  He, having joined the Benedictines at Douai, became a priest there in 1618.  Four years later Powel returned to his homeland as an underground priest.  From 1624 to 1645 our saint worked in Leighland, Somersetshire.  Then civil war forced him to relocate to Devonshire.  For half a year Powel served as a chaplain to Roman Catholic soldiers in Cornwall.  En route to southern Wales via ship, Powel became a prisoner on February 22, 1646.  The harsh conditions of his incarceration in the Tower of London led to him developing pleurisy, or the inflammation of the lining of the lungs and the chest wall.  Powel, tried, convicted, and condemned on June 9, 1646, died on June 30.  He was 52 years old.

Pope Pius XI recognized Powel as a Venerable then a Blessed in 1929.

The English government should have pursued a policy of religious toleration.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HELDER CAMARA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF OLINDA AND RECIFE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBERT NIERYCHLEWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MITCHELL J. DAHOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES, APOSTLE TO THE SARACENS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Philip Powel

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Feast of John Gerard and Mary Ward (June 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JOHN GERARD (OCTOBER 4, 1564-JULY 27, 1637)

English Jesuit Priest

++++++++++++++++

MARY WARD (JANUARY 23, 1586-JUNE 23, 1645)

Foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary

++++++++++++++++

John Gerard and Mary Ward come to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), where they have separate feast days.

++++++++++++++++

JOHN GERARD, S.J.

John Gerard was a Jesuit priest.  He, born in Derbyshire, England, on October 4, 1564, joined the Society of Jesus in August 1588, at the at the age of 23 years.  The young priest returned to his homeland later that year.  For years, due to his knowledge of hunting and falconry, Gerard passed as a country gentleman.  Meanwhile he worked as an underground priest, saying Masses for Roman Catholic members of the gentry and those who worshiped in their homes.  Our saint did this while evading priest hunters until 1594, when authorities arrested him.  Our saint, treated harshly–even tortured–then became a prisoner in the Tower of London in 1597.  Later that year he escaped from that prison and went on the lam until 1606.

The Gunpowder Plot (1605) backfired on a few guilty and a host of innocent Roman Catholics.  It was a failed conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Gerard was a friend and a priest to some of the conspirators, but none of them told him of the plot.  Nevertheless, there was an arrest warrant with his name on it.  Also, authorities doubled down on the persecution of Roman Catholics.  On orders of his superiors Gerard escaped in 1606.  On May 3 of that year our saint left England when he posed as a retainer of the Spanish Ambassador.

Gerard landed in Flanders, where he became the Jesuit superior.  By 1620 he had become the novice-master at Liege.  He lost that position that year due to his advocacy for Mary Ward.

++++++++++++++++

MARY WARD

Mary Ward was a woman who suffered for her faith at the hands of both the Roman Catholic Church and The Church of England.  She, born on January 23, 1586, came from Roman Catholic gentry.  Her family hosted underground priests and illegal Masses.  Ward, discerning a vocation to become a nun, rejected all opportunities to marry.  She, smuggled out of England, made her way to Belgium.  There, in 1606, she reluctantly obey a bishop’s order to become a lay sister (servant) to a Poor Clares community instead.

Conventional methods were not for Ward, however.  She discerned a vocation to found a new order of nuns–the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Before Ward could do that, however, she visited England clandestinely.  Our saint assisted priests saying illegal Masses in homes.  She also visited incarcerated priests.  Eventually authorities captured, imprisoned, and sentenced Ward to death, before exiling her instead.

Ward, back in Europe, founded her new order, with papal permission.  The free schools for girls were not controversial, but the lack of episcopal supervision was.  Were women not supposed to be under male supervision?  In 1631 the Church suppressed the order, which had yet to receive papal recognition.  Ward spent a brief term as a prisoner of Holy Mother Church; she was allegedly a heretic and a schismatic.

Ward, her health broken and her vocation destroyed, returned to England, despite the great risks (such as incarceration, torture, and death) of doing so.  She died, aged 59 years, at York on June 23, 1645.

Pope Clement XI confirmed the rule of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1703.

++++++++++++++++

JOHN GERARD, S.J.

Gerard, a confessor at the Jesuit college in Rome, died in the Eternal City on July 27, 1637.  He was 72 years old.

++++++++++++++++

John Gerard and Mary Ward deserve recognition on multiple calendars of saints.  Robert Ellsberg has done a fine job by adding them to his calendar in All Saints.  I follow his example (except by merging the feasts) gladly here.  Hopefully ecclesiastical organizations will formally recognize Gerard and Ward in years to come.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCUS AURELIUS CLEMENS PRUDENTIUS, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MATEO CORREA-MAGALLANES AND MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT VEDAST (VAAST), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ARRAS AND CAMBRAI

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BOYCE AND JOHN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN COMPOSERS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

John Gerard and Mary Ward,

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

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

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

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

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of John Eliot (May 20)   Leave a comment

Above:   John Eliot

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JOHN ELIOT (JULY OR AUGUST 1604-MAY 20, 1690)

“The Apostle to the Indians”

On the calendar of saints of The Episcopal Church the commemoration of the life of John Eliot falls on May 21.  May 20 is a better date, however, given the fact he died on May 20, 1690.  Therefore the Feast of John Eliot falls on May 20 on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Since his feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar via The Episcopal Church, my denomination, I emphasize a particular point about the breadth of the Episcopal calendar of saints.  I note that Eliot, a Puritan (albeit a Non-Separatist one), occupies a slot on the calendar of saints of a church that is the U.S. counterpart of the denomination he rejected de facto.  The catholicity of the Episcopal calendar of saints appeals to me.

John Eliot, who became an evangelist to Native Americans, was an Anglican priest who turned into a Non-Separatist Puritan minister.  He, born in England in July or August 1604, graduated from Cambridge in 1622 then became a priest in The Church of England.  During the next few years he transformed into a Puritan, however.  He arrived in the new Massachusetts Bay colony in 1631 and became a minister at Roxbury.  Unlike many other Puritans, our saint did not consider indigenous people to be agents of Satan and a population to kill.  (If one cannot kill alleged agents of Satan, which group of people can one kill in good conscience, I ask facetiously.)  No, he studied the Algonquin language and, having mastered it, inaugurated his mission to the native speakers of that tongue in 1646.

The “Apostle to the Indians” was an effective evangelist.  Eliot received help from the government of the English commonwealth via the Corporation for Promoting and Propagating the Gospel Among the Indians of New England, which Parliament chartered in 1649.  Natives in the “praying towns,” fourteen of which Eliot founded over time, received education, homes, clothing, and food.  Eliot founded the first indigenous church in 1660, published an Algonquin translation of the New Testament the following year, and released the full Bible in Algonquin in 1663.  As of 1674 about 3,600 “Praying Indians” resided in New England.

Unfortunately, war came, and fear, intolerance, and violence destroyed what Eliot worked so hard to maintain.  During King Philip’s War (1675-1676) many panicky colonists did not distinguish between Christian Indians and non-Christian Natives while attacking and killing people.  After the war, which resulted in the decimation of the indigenous population of New England and the selling of many Indians into slavery in the Caribbean basin, the work of evangelizing Native Americans in New England became more difficult.  The mission dwindled.  The last native minister died in 1716.

Eliot was also historically important with regard to publishing in North America.  He helped to prepare the Bay Psalm Book (1640), the first book printed in New England.  Our saint also wrote The Christian Commonwealth (1659), suppressed due to its political position, republicanism.  Eliot’s The Communion of Churches (1665) was the first book published privately in North America.  Other works by our saint were Indian Grammar Begun (1666), The Indian Primer (1669), and The Harmony of the Gospels (1678).

Eliot, aged 85 years, died at Roxbury on May 20, 1690.  He had built up a mission for the glory of God and the spiritual benefit of his indigenous neighbors.  Unfortunately, others tore that down.  Nevertheless, Eliot was faithful to the end.  As St. Teresa of Calcutta said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.

Eliot was a pioneer in the fields of Native American linguistic studies and missions to indigenous populations in North America.  Many subsequent people have stood on his proverbial soldiers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 20, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD WATSON GILDER, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FRANCIS LYTE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PRISCILLA LYDIA SELLON, A RESTORER OF RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF THEODORE CLAUDIUS PEASE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, by the proclamation of your Word all nations are drawn to you:

Make us desire, like John Eliot, to share your Good News with those whom we encounter,

so that all people may come to a saving knowledge of you;

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

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

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Great Creator, we thank you for the imagination and conviction of your evangelist, John Eliot,

who brought both literacy and the Bible to the Algonquin people,

and reshaped their communities into fellowships of Christ to serve you and give you praise;

and we pray that we may so desire to share your Good News

with others that we labor for mutual understanding and trust;

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

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 1:1-11

Psalm 68:33-36

Romans 15:13-21

Mark 4:1-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 381

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++