Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1700s’ Category

Feast of Nikolai Grundtvig (September 8)   3 comments

Above:  Portrait of Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1862), by Constantin Hansen

Image in the Public Domain

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NIKOLAI FREDERIK SEVERIN GRUNDTVIG (SEPTEMBER 8, 1783-SEPTEMBER 2, 1872)

Danish Lutheran Minister, Bishop, Historian, Philosopher, Poet, Educator, and Hymn Writer

“The Father of the Public School in Scandinavia”

Nikolai Grundtvig comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and The Episcopal Church.  His Lutheran feast day (since 1978) is September 2.  His Episcopal feast day (since 2009) is September 8, shared, appropriately, with Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), his contemporary.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, or the Danish State Church

The Enlightenment had much to recommend it–freedom of the press, liberty of conscience, constitutional government, et cetera.  The founding of my country, the United States of America, owed much to the Enlightenment.  However, the Enlightenment had limits to its virtues.  It overestimated the powers of human reason, for example.  The intellectual movement also rejected the “supernatural,” a category I consider spurious (although I accept that many of the contents of that category are real, just as natural as birds and sunsets).  Rationalism dominated Danish Lutheranism during much of Grundtvig’s lifetime.  The influence of Rationalism reduced pastors to moral instructors, truncated and rewrote the liturgy, and rejected human sinfulness.  Rationalism was what Archdeacon Claus Harms (1778-1855) of Kiel condemned in 1877 as the

papacy of reason

–strong language, coming from a Lutheran.

A competing strand of Lutheranism was Pietism, usually dated to 1675 and either credited to or blamed on, depending on one’s opinion of it, Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705), author of Pia Desideria (Heartfelt Desire).  Pietism began as a reaction against dry, abstract orthodoxy divorced from daily life.  On the positive side, Pietism encouraged personal prayers and devotions, the study of the Bible, and much charitable work.  On the other hand, Pietism devalued grace (via a fixation on works) and the sacraments, was subjective to the point of undermining orthodoxy, frowned upon “worldly amusements” to the point of sourness, and redefined the Church as the assembly of the regenerated and reborn, not as the community of those bound together by word and sacraments.

There were also orthodox Lutherans, of course.

Young Nikolai Grundtvig

Nikolai Grundtvig, born in Udby, near Vordinborg, Denmark, on September 8, 1783, eventually offended all the above parties.  He, the youngest of five children, came from a long line of ministers.  His father sent the nine-year-old Nikolai to Jylland, to study under the Reverend L. Feld.  Two years later our saint passed his examen actium.  By the time Grundtvig graduated from the University of Copenhagen with a degree in theology in 1803, he had no faith left.

For a few years Grundtvig wandered in the spiritual wilderness.  For three years he worked as a tutor to a wealthy family in Langeland.  He, a fine poet, studied Icelandic epics and the Eddas.  In 1807 our saint wrote his first theological treatise, about religion and liturgy.  From 1808 to 1811 our saint taught history in Copenhagen.  During this time he returned to a state of faith.

Grundtvig was orthodox.  In his trial sermon, delivered in 1810, our saint asked,

Why has the Word of God disappeared from His house?

This condemnation of the dominant Rationalism delayed Grundtvig’s ordination for a year.  From 1811 to 1813 our saint served as assistant minister at Udby, under his ailing father, who died in 1813.  At Udby Grundtvig wrote Kort Begred af Verdens Kronike i Sammerhaeng (Short Concept of the World Chronicle, 1812), his first work of history from a Christian perspective.

The Wilderness Years

For much of 1813-1839 Grundtvig was unemployable as a minister.  He did not work as a pastor from 1813 to 1821 and from 1826 to 1839.  Literary work occupied much of our saint’s time.  He published a collection of poems in 1814, a volume of sermons in 1816, and an edition of Beowulf in 1820.  Grundtvig’s rejection of Romanticism foreshadowed that of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).

Grundtvig worked again as a pastor in 1821-1826.  King Frederick VI appointed our saint the pastor at Presto in 1821.  The following year Grundtvig became the assistant pastor of Our Savior’s Church, Kristianshavn.  He resigned that post amid a libel lawsuit five years later.  In 1825, in Kirkens Gienmaele (The Church’s Reply), Grundtvig had accused the theologian H. N. Clausen of treating Christianity as a merely philosophical idea.  Our saint argued that Christianity is actually a historical revelation handed down from generation to generation via Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.  Authorities censored Grundtvig’s writings.

Grundtvig was out of the pulpit again.  He traveled to England several times in 1829-1831 to study old Anglo-Saxon documents.  In so doing he pioneered a field of research.  Sang-Värk til den Danske Kirke (Songs for the Danish Church), his hymnal published in 1837, was popular.  Grundtvig, a lecturer at Borsch’s College in 1838, returned to parish work, at Vartov, Copenhagen, in 1839.  There he remained for the rest of his life.

Grundtvigianism

During the 1820s Grundtvig developed Grundtvigianism, the movement that reshaped Danish Lutheranism and, to a lesser degree, influenced Norwegian Lutheranism.  Grundtvig rooted his orthodoxy in the liturgy and the sacraments.  He emphasized

the living word,

the locus of which he identified as the Apostles’ Creed, used in baptisms.  Only “the living word,” Grundtvig argued, could fulfill the need for

the great natural law of the spiritual life,

that is,

the necessity of the spoken word for the awakening of life and the transmission of the spirit.

Grundtvig rejected the position of orthodox Danish Lutherans at the time that the Bible was the sole source and standard of faith.  According to our saint, the Bible was

the dead word.

It was vital, but the word of God, broadly speaking, was the message of God, not the contents of a book.   As Luther wrote,

Printed words are dead, spoken words are living.  On the printed page they are not so forcible as when uttered by the sound of man through his mouth.

In context Grundtvig was not far afield from Martin Luther and John Calvin.  Luther, who understood Sola Scriptura narrowly, to mean that nothing outside the Bible is necessary for salvation, emphasized the power of the spoken word in the liturgy.  Grundtvig, therefore, stood in line with Luther.  Furthermore, Reformed theology has long recognized the created order as a second “book,” alongside the Bible, in which to encounter God.  Another portion of Reformation theology has been the distinction between the “word of God” (the Bible) and the “Word of God” (Jesus), a reference that reaches back to the Gospel of John.  As far as I have been able to discern, Grundtvig’s primary innovation was identifying the locus of the spoken word of God in the Apostles’ Creed.

Grundtvigianism was, according to its orthodox and Pietistic critics, heretical and lax.  The Grundtvigian openness to the possibility of postmortem conversion did more than arch eyebrows.  It allegedly encouraged, for lack of a more precise term, “loose living.”  Furthermore, Grundtvig’s Christian humanism and love of Danish culture led him to value many “worldly amusements,” thereby alarming and offending Pietists.  He, for example, enjoyed the theater and encouraged folk dancing.  Danish Pietists, or “Sad Danes,” avoided such alleged sins, which Grundtvigians, or “Happy Danes” accepted.

Many of Grundtvig’s critics within Lutheranism would have accused Luther of heresy, for Grundtvig channeled Luther well.

The Public Citizen

Grundtvig became “the Father of the Public School in Scandinavia” via his folk school movement.  He opened the first folk school in Rödding, Denmark, in 1844.  The movement spread across Denmark and to Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  In residential high schools young people came together across social class lines and educated each other.

Grundtvig, from 1839 to 1872, was pastor in Vartov, Copenhagen, and, courtesy of King Frederick VII, a bishop from 1861 to 1872, was a major figure in Denmark.  In 1848, for example, Denmark was turning into a constitutional monarchy.  Our saint was a member of the constitutional assembly.

The Great Hymn Writer

Grundtvig was the greatest Scandinavian hymn writer of the nineteenth century.  He wrote more than 1000 hymns, mostly from 1837 to 1860.  (I have added a few of these texts, in English, of course, to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.)  Grundtvig’s peers in the elite club of greatest Scandinavian hymn writers included Hans Adolf Brorson (1694-1764) and Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703).  Grundtvig composed hymns for the entire church year, but his favorite theme was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Death and Legacy

Grundtvig died in Copenhagen on September 2, 1872, six days prior to what would have been his eighty-ninth birthday.  He had preached his last sermon on September 1.

Grundtvig’s influence extended beyond Scandinavia.  When Danish immigration to Canada and the United States of America began in earnest in the late 1800s, the immigrants were not of one mind regarding religion.  Many of them, indifferent to religion in Denmark, remained indifferent to it in the New World.  Grundtvigians and Pietists also immigrated.  The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (DELCA), initially a “big tent,” became a smaller tent via the Pietistic schism of 1894.  No such schism disrupted the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, however.

Evaluating Grundtvigianism

I find much to admire and little to question in Grundtvigianism.

Grundtvig’s encouragement of a positive form of Christianity that embraces the positive elements of society and culture, thereby eschewing serial contrariness and rejecting sourness in religion, in the name of God, was wonderful.  Pietistic and Puritanical hostility to “worldly amusements” has never been a spiritually or physically healthy attitude.  Much of what these Christians weaned on dill pickles have condemned–from tea, with its antioxidants, to chess, with its therapeutic uses, especially for patients suffering from cognitive decline–science has proven to be beneficial.  Art, especially those forms of it involving acting, has enriched the lives of many people.  And has there every been anything wrong with folk dancing?

Grundtvig’s liturgical and sacramental focus, in the context of Christian community, was laudable.  He stood well within Christian tradition in that and other matters.  His liturgical and sacramental focus has long had the ring of truth with me, even before I knew he had lived.  I grew up a United Methodist in rural southern Georgia, U.S.A.  We usually took Holy Communion every three months.  I wanted it more often, however, for I felt closest God in that sacrament.  That reality contributed greatly to my decision to convert to The Episcopal Church, which I did at St. Anne’s Church, Tifton, Georgia, on December 22, 1991.

My only reservation regarding Grundtvigianism relates to the unusually high status of the Apostles’ Creed.  That is a fine creed, but the identification of it as the locus of “the living word” is too narrow and specific.  The “word of God,” in my thought, is the message of God.  I can encounter in the Bible, in nature, in fine literature, in fine music, in the spoken words of another person, in the silence, in prayer, in contemplation, in the sacraments, in the liturgy, et cetera.  The canon is fixed at 73 books, per the Council of Trent, but the word of God is available from many sources.

My disagreement with Grundtvig is quite minor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF COLBERT S. CARTWRIGHT, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUGLIELMO MASSAIA, ITALIAN CARDINAL, MISSIONARY, AND CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SCRIMGER, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, ECUMENIST, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty God, you built your Church upon a rock:

Help us remember with your hymn writer Nikolai Grundtvig,

that though steeples may fall and buildings made by hands may crumble,

Jesus made our bodies his temple through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Help us to recognize Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life,

that we may join our voices to the eternal alleluia;

through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-2, 5-8

Psalm 86:1-12

Romans 5:1-5

Matthew 8:5-10

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 567

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Feast of George Croly (August 17)   1 comment

Above:  George Croly

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE CROLY (AUGUST 17, 1780-NOVEMBER 24, 1860)

Anglican Priest, Poet, Historian, Novelist, Dramatist, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

Good hymnals are wonderful sources of names of saints, most of them not canonized.  Consider, O reader, George Croly, author of “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.”

Croly was a native of Ireland.  He, born in Dublin on August 17, 1780, studied at Trinity College in that city.  Our saint, an excellent student of Greek, graduated with his B. A. in 1800 and his M.A. four years later.  (Trinity College awarded him a LL.D. in 1831.)  Croly, ordained an Anglican priest in 1804, served as a curate in the north for six years before moving to London.

Croly devoted most of his life to writing.  He wrote works of history, biography, theology, poetry, fiction, and drama.  His published works included the following:

  1. Paris in 1815:  A Poem (1817);
  2. The Angel of the World:  An Arabian Tale.  Sebastian:  A Spanish Tale:  With Other Poems (1820);
  3. May Fair:  In Four Cantos (1827);
  4. The Apocalypse of St. John, or Prophecy of the Rise, Progress, and Fall of the Church of Rome; the Inquisition; the Revolution of France; the Universal War; and the Final Triumph of Christianity (1827);
  5. Tales of the Great Saint Bernard (1828), Volumes I, II, and III;
  6. The Beauties of the British Poets, with a Few Introductory Observations by the Rev. George Croly (1828);
  7. Salathiel, or the Wandering Jew:  A Story of the Past, the Present, and the Future (1829);
  8. The Life and Times of His Late Majesty George the Fourth:  With Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons of the Last Fifty Years (1830);
  9. Divine Providence, or the Three Cycles of Revelation, Showing the Parallelism of the Patriarchal, Jewish, and Christian Dispensations; Being a New Evidence of the Divine Origin of Christianity (1834);
  10. A Memoir of the Political Life of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; with Extracts from His Writings (1840), Volumes I and II;
  11. The Personal History of His Late Majesty George the Fourth (1841), Volumes I and II;
  12. Historical Sketches, Speeches, and Characters (1842);
  13. Marston; or the Soldier and Statesman (1845), Volumes I, II, and III;
  14. The Poetical Works of the Rev. George Croly (1850), Volumes I and II;
  15. The Theory of Baptism:  The Regeneration of Infants in Baptism Vindicated on the Testimony of Holy Scriptures, Christian Antiquity, and the Church of England (1850);
  16. Scenes from Scripture, with Other Poems (1851);
  17. The Book of Job (1851); read the biographical sketch of Croly by his son, Frederick W. Croly, in the reprint from 1863;
  18. Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship (1854), as editor;
  19. The Modern Orlando:  A Poem (1855);
  20. Introductory Preface in Paper & Paper Making, Ancient and Modern (1855), by Richard Herring; and
  21. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia (1855), Volumes I, II, III, IV, V, and VI;.

Croly, a Tory, edited The Universal Review and contributed to Blackwood’s Magazine and Britannia, an organ of the Tory Party.  In 1819 he married Margaret Helen Begbie (d. 1851), a writer he met via his literary work.

Croly returned to parish ministry in 1832.  For several years he served at Ramford parish, Essex.  Then, in 1835, via the Whig Party, ironically, our saint transferred to the yoked congregations of St. Stephen’s, Walbrook-St. Benet Sherehog, London.  There he remained for the rest of his life.  Croly built up the small parish into a larger one, became a renowned preacher, and still found plenty of time for writing.  Croly’s appeal was to members of various social classes.  In 1847 he spent several months doubling as the afternoon preacher at the Foundlings Hospital.  However, Croly’s sermons were allegedly “too abstruse,” and he resigned.  Our saint’s Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship (1854) went to just one printing, and a fire destroyed most copies.  He did, anyway, write 10 of the 25 metrical psalms and 10 of the 50 hymns.

Croly, aged 80 years, was walking in Holborn, London, on November 24, 1860, when he dropped dead.  He had truly loved God with his mind and his creative energies, as well as been an attentive pastor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF BERNARD ADAM GRUBE, GERMAN-AMERICAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, COMPOSER, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [George Croly 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 St. Herman of Alaska (August 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Kodiak Island, Alaska, 1968

Scanned from Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)

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SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA (1755-DECEMBER 25, 1837)

Russian Orthodox Monk and Missionary to the Aleut

“Herman” was our saint’s monastic name.  His birth name–even his family name–has become lost to historical records.

Our saint, born into a merchant family of Serpukhov, Russia, in 1755, was a devout boy.  In 1771, at the age of 16 years, he entered monastic life at the Monastery of St. Sergius, near St. Petersburg, and became Herman.  After five years he transferred to the Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga, Finland.  There, in 1793, St. Herman volunteered to join a missionary journey to Alaska.  The eight missionaries arrived at Kodiak Island on December 25, 1793 (Julian Calendar)/January 5, 1794 (Gregorian Calendar).

The mission was initially to Russian fur traders, not indigenous people.  The founding of Holy Resurrection Church, Kodiak, in 1794, was a pivotal event.  The following year the first martyrdom of a Russian Orthodox missionary in Alaska occurred when Juvenal, a priest-monk, died at Lake Iliamma.  In 1799 Archimandrite Joasaf, head of the Alaska mission, became the Bishop of Kodiak.  Not only were some fur traders mistreating Aleut people, but, in 1800, Russian officialdom forbade missionaries from having any contact with the Natives.  The missionaries, allies of the Aleuts in complaints of mistreatment, were allegedly stirring up resistance to the Russian government there.  Missionaries’ attempts to be faithful led to their house arrest in 1801 and the cessation of services for a year.  They complained to the Holy Synod.  The mission resumed in 1804.

A few years later St. Herman moved to Spruce Island, near Kodiak Island.  He lived in a cave until the Russian American Company built a cell for him.  There St. Herman spent the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, the Kodiak mission lasted until 1820, nine years after the Holy Synod closed the Diocese of Kodiak and transferred missionary work on Kodiak Island to the Bishop of Irkutsk.

On Spruce Island St. Herman ministered to the Aleuts.  From 1820 to 1831 he did this despite official Russian persecution.  Our saint established a school, converted people, fed animals by hand, counseled locals, and baked cookies and biscuits for children.  St. Herman demonstrated his love for the people, who reciprocated.

St. Herman died on December 13 (Julian Calendar)/December 25 (Gregorian Calendar), 1837.  His reputation grew posthumously, leading to his canonization by the Orthodox Church in America on August 9, 1970.  The Episcopal Church added his feast to its calendar of saints in 2009.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy God, we bless your Name for Herman, joyful North Star of Christ’s Church,

who came from Russia to bring the Good News of Christ’s love to your native people in Alaska,

to defend them from oppressors and to proclaim the Gospel of peace;

and we pray that we may follow his example in proclaiming the Gospel:

through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, throughout all ages.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 1:1-10

Psalm 148:7-14

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Luke 9:46-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 517

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Feast of Antonio Vivaldi (July 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Antonio Vivaldi

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO LUCIO VIVALDI (MARCH 4, 1679-JULY 28, 1741)

Italian Roman Catholic Priest, Composer, and Violinist

“The Red Priest”

The volume of Antonio Vivaldi‘s output as a composer is staggering, but biographical information is much less plentiful.  (The catalog of our saint, who influenced Johann Sebastian Bach, includes concerti (including The Four Seasons), various choral works (many of them sacred), and about 40 operas.

Vivaldi came from a musical family.  He, born in Venice on March 4, 1679, first studied music under his father, Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, a violinist at St. Mark’s, Venice.  Our saint, apparently a redhead, studied music under Giovanni Legrenzi.

Vivaldi, from March 1703 a priest, spent much of his time traveling in Europe.  From 1703 to 1740 he had an association with the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned girls.  The institution had one of the finest orchestras in Italy.  Vivaldi composed hundreds of works for that orchestra.  The asthmatic priest and violin virtuoso traveled, though, spending 1719-1722 in Vienna and 1737-1738 in Amsterdam, for example.  By 1735 Vivaldi was back in Venice as the maestro di concerti at the Ospedale for a second time, but he was back in Verona two years later.  Frequently over the years Vivaldi visited Venice, where he produced many operas.  He returned to Vienna in 1740 to seek employment in the imperial court.  Vivaldi, aged 64 years, died in that city on July 28, 1741.

Vivaldi’s musical legacy continues to enrich the world, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF NISIBIS, BISHOP; AND SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA, “THE HARP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GETULIUS, AMANTIUS, CAERAELIS, AND PRIMITIVUS, MARTYRS AT TIVOLI, 12O; AND SAINT SYMPHOROSA OF TIVOLI, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THOR MARTIN JOHNSON, U.S. MORAVIAN CONDUCTOR AND MUSIC DIRECTOR

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Antonio Vivaldi.

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 for ever.  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

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Feast of William White (July 17)   3 comments

Above:  Second Street North from Market Street, with Christ Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1800

Engraver = William Russell Birch (1755-1834)

Image Source = Library of Congress

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WILLIAM WHITE (MARCH 24, 1747-JULY 17, 1836)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

On the Episcopal calendar of saints July 17 is the Feast of William White, one of the three original bishops (with Samuel Seabury and Samuel Provoost), and the father of the denominational constitution.

White was a man of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Eventually he developed a well-earned reputation as the “first citizen” of that city.  He, born there on March 24, 1747, was a son of Esther Hawlings and attorney and surveyor Thomas White.  Our saint graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1765 then studied theology privately under the tutelage of the priests at Christ Church as well as Provost William Smith of the College of Philadelphia.  White, ordained to the diaconate in England on December 23, 1770, returned to that country for his ordination to the priesthood, April 25, 1772.  The following year our saint married Mary Harrison.  The couple had eight children.

White balanced overlapping ecclesiastical portfolios from the 1770s until his death in 1836.  He, for a time during  the Revolutionary War the only Anglican priest in Pennsylvania, due to the expulsion of Loyalist clergymen, was the following:

  1. Assistant Priest, Christ Church and St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia (1772-1779);
  2. Chaplain of the Second Continental Congress (1777-1781);
  3. Rector, Christ Church and St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia (1779-1836);
  4. Chaplain of the Confederation Congress (1781-1788);
  5. Bishop of Pennsylvania (1787-1836);
  6. Chaplain of the U.S. Senate (1789-1800); and
  7. Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (1789, 1795-1836).

Meanwhile, White also served as a trustee of the College of Philadelphia and the University of the State of Pennsylvania (until 1791) as well as the merged University of Pennsylvania (1791f).

Above:  Christ Church, Philadelphia, 1814

Engraver = James Peller Malcolm (1767-1815)

Image Source = Library of Congress

From 1782 to 1789 White made an effective case for a national “Protestant Episcopal Church” separate from The Church of England.  He presided over the first three General Conventions (1785, 1786, and 1789), helped to write the Proposed Book of Common Prayer of 1786 (never adopted), and sought to reconcile factions and unite them into one denomination.  Samuel Seabury, from 1784 the Bishop of Connecticut, was an old Loyalist.  Samuel Provoost and White, from 1787 the Bishops of New York and Pennsylvania, respectively, had been rebels.  Provoost and Seabury were not on writing or speaking terms with each other for a while.  There were also regional and theological-liturgical differences; the churches from Virginia to New York disagreed with those of the South and New England with regard to the proper roles of bishops and lay members.  Delegates to the General Convention of 1789, with White presiding, forged a constitution and produced The Book of Common Prayer (1789), in use for 103 years.

Above:  William White

An image from July 19, 1838

Image Source = Library of Congress

White was influential in other ways too.  Our saint taught theology to John Henry Hobart (1775-1830) in 1797-1798 and ordained him a deacon (1798) and a priest (1800).  Hobart, from 1816 to 1830 the Bishop of New York, was also a towering figure in The Episcopal Church.  Over the decades White had various assistants.  One of these, from 1811 to 1831, was Jackson Kemper (1789-1870), a protégé of Hobart and the first missionary bishop (consecrated in 1835) in The Episcopal Church.  Another circle of influence radiated from Kemper.  One member of that circle was James Lloyd Breck (1818-1876)William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) assisted White from 1817 to 1822.  Muhlenberg became influential in The Episcopal Church by, among other legacies, encouraging the use of flowers, the singing of hymns, and the founding of ecclesiastical institutions to provide social services.  He and Anne Ayres (1816-1896) founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion (1845), the first Anglican religious community for women in North America.

White, unlike Muhlenberg, preferred traditional metrical Psalms to hymns, which were new in The Episcopal Church in the 1800s.  The bishop considered hymns too Evangelical and prone to enthusiasm, which he described as

animal sensibility.

White, aged 89 years, died in Philadelphia, on July 17, 1836.  His direct and indirect influences on The Episcopal Church have never ceased to exist, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACQUES ELLUL, FRENCH REFORMED THEOLOGIAN AND SOCIOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT CELESTINE V, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY, ABBOT OF GLASTONBURY AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ATTORNEY, PRIEST, AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

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O Lord, in a time of turmoil and confusion you raised up your servant William White,

and endowed him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper,

that he might lead your Church into ways of stability and peace:

Hear our prayer, and give us wise and faithful leaders,

that through their ministry your people may be blessed and your will be done;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 3:15-19

Psalm 92:1-4, 11-14

1 Timothy 3:1-10

John 21:15-17

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 467

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Feast of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne (July 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne

Image in the Public Domain

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CARMELITE MARTYRS OF COMPIÈGNE

Died in Paris, France, on July 17, 1794

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I forgive you as heartily as I wish God to forgive me.

–The last words of Blessed Marie-Anne Piedcourt at the guillotine in Paris, July 17, 1794

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For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

–Matthew 7:2, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

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The French Revolution (1789-1799) was one of the most revolutionary revolutions.  It was certainly one of the bloodiest, especially during its middle phase, the Reign of Terror.  One of the targets of the French Revolution was the Roman Catholic Church, which had supported the absolutist monarchy of the Bourbon Dynasty.

The targeting of the Church entailed overreacting, an unfortunate human tendency.  In 1790 the French government suppressed all religious communities not involved in teaching or nursing.  Members of the suppressed religious communities were to abandon their abbeys and dress as lay people.  In 1794 authorities arrested and convicted sixteen Carmelites from the abbey at Compiègne; they had violated the law and were allegedly enemies of the people and the republic.  The sixteen Carmelites were twelve nuns, two lay women servants, a lay sister, and a novice.  In Paris, on July 17, 1794, they went to the guillotine publicly chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus and renewing their baptismal and religious vows.

The nuns were:

  1. Blessed Angelique Roussell, a.k.a. Sister Marie of the Holy Spirit,; born on August 3, 1742, in Fresne-Mazencourt, Somme; a nun since May 14, 1769;
  2. Blessed Anne Pelras, a.k.a. Sister Mary Henrietta of Providence; born on June 17, 1760, in Carjac; a nun since October 22, 1786;
  3. Blessed Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret, a.k.a. Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection; born on September 16, 1715, in Mouy; a nun since August 19, 1740;
  4. Blessed Élisabeth-Julitte Vérolet, a.k.a. Sister Saint Francis Xavier; born on January 13, 1764, in Lignières, Aube; a nun since January 12, 1789;
  5. Blessed Marie Henniset, a.k.a. Sister Thérèse of the Heart of Mary; born on January 18, 1742, in Rheims, Marne; a nun since 1764;
  6. Blessed Marie-Anne Piedcourt; a.k.a. Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified; born on December 9, 1715, in Paris; a nun since 1737;
  7. Blessed Marie-Anne-Françoise Brideau, a.k.a. Mother Saint Louis; Sub-Prioress; born on December 7, 1751, in Belfort;
  8. Blessed Marie-Claude-Cyprienne Brard, a.k.a. Sister Euphrasie of the Immaculate Conception; born in 1736 in Bourth; a nun since 1757;
  9. Blessed Marie-Françoise de Croissy, a.k.a. Mother Henriette of Jesus; Prioress, 1779-1785; born on June 18, 1745, in Paris; a nun since February 22, 1764;
  10. Blessed Marie-Gabrielle Trezel, a.k.a Sister Thérèse of Saint Ignatius; born on April 4, 1743, in Compiègne, Olse; a nun since December 12, 1771;
  11. Blessed Marie-Madeleine-Claudine Lidoine, a.k.a. Mother Thérèse of Saint Augustine; Prioress; born on September 22, 1752, in Paris; a nun since May 1775; and
  12. Blessed Rose-Chretien de Neuville, a.k.a. Sister Julia Louise of Jesus; born in 1741 near Evreax; a nun since 1777.

Blessed Marie-Geneviève Meunier, a.k.a. Sister Constance, born on May 28, 1765, in Saint Denis, had been a novice since December 16, 1788.  She sang the Laudate Dominum as she went to the guillotine.

Blessed Marie Dufour, a.k.a. Sister Saint Martha, born on October 2, 1741, in Bannes, Sarthe, had been a lay sister since 1772.

Two sisters (literally sisters) were lay women among the martyrs.  Blessed Catherine Soiron (born on February 2, 1742) and Blessed Thérèse Soiron (born on January 23, 1748), natives of Compiègne, had handled the cloistered nuns’ business with the outside world since 1772.

Pope St. Pius X declared these women Venerables in 1905 then Blesseds the following year.

Can anyone genuinely doubt the sincerity and holiness of these martyrs?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne

triumphed over suffering, and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive and receive with them the crown on 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), 714

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Feast of St. Justin de Jacobis and Blessed Michael Ghebre (July 14)   2 comments

Above:  Map of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in 1850

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JUSTIN DE JACOBIS (OCTOBER 9, 1800-JULY 31, 1860)

Roman Catholic Missionary Bishop in Ethiopia

Also known as Saint Giustino de Jacobis

His feast transferred from July 31

converted

BLESSED MICHAEL GHEBRE (1788/1791-JULY 30, 1855)

Ethiopian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Also known as Ghébre-Michael

Alternative feast day = September 1

One of my goals in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  July 14, on the Roman Catholic calendar, is the Feast of Blessed Michael Ghebre.  On the same calendar July 31 is the feast of St. Justin (Giustino in Italian) de Jacobis, who converted him.  One can tell their stories separately, of course, but one can tell those stories more effectively together.

St. Justin fame from and worked in southern Italy, prior to national unification on that peninsula.  He, born in Sam Fele, Luciana, south of Naples, came from a once-wealthy family.  He, after having grown up mostly in Naples, joined the Vincentians in on October 17, 1818.  He was 18 years old.  St. Justin took his vows on October 18, 1820.  Then, at Brindisi, he became a priest on June 12, 1824.  St. Justin spent most of fifteen years giving missions and retreats in southern Italy, with some time off for other duties.  By 1834 he had become a much sought-after preacher and confessor also.  From 1834 to 1836 St. Justin was the Vincentian superior in Leece.  Next he directed seminarians in Naples, emphasizing personal prayer.  At Naples, in 1836-1837, our saint ministered to victims of an outbreak of cholera.  In 1838-1839 St. Justin was the superior of the Vincentian Provincial House at Naples.  He was on track to become a bishop in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies when he chose instead to found the Roman Catholic in Ethiopia (Abyssinia).

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, subordinate to the Coptic Church (Egyptian) until 1959, dated to the 300s, when St. Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373) dispatched St. Frumentius (d. circa 380) as a missionary.  St. Frumentius became the first Abuna, or Patriarch, of of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, often called simply the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  Christianity in that region of Africa owed much to St. Philip the Evangelist, one of the earliest Christian deacons, hopefully not confused with St. Philip the Apostle.  Over time the Ethiopian Orthodox Church parted Christological ways with Rome, embracing monophysitism, the heresy that Christ had just one nature–divine.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has long been one of the great, defining cultural institutions in that country.  It has coexisted with strong Jewish elements (due to the presence of one of the ten Lost Tribes of Israel–one descended from the tribe of Dan, to be precise) and varieties of paganism.  Since the Arab conquest of much of northern Africa in the 600s Islam has been a factor in the region.  As if all that were not enough, political struggles between Ethiopia emperors and provincial potentates were contributing to a tense situation by the 1830s.  What was political?  What was religious?  Was there a difference?

St. Justin stepped into this political and religious milieu in 1839.  He pioneered effective missionary tactics that proved controversial in the Roman Catholic Church in general and the Vincentian order in particular.  St. Justin, headquartered in the northern part of the country, adopted Ethiopian attire, mastered the three languages essential to his work, and emphasized the education of indigenous priests.  The Apostolic Vicar was so effective that, despite persecution of the Roman Catholic mission by the government, he converted about 12,000 people.  In January 1849 he became the Titular Bishop of Nilopolis; he became a bishop anyway.  Venerable Guglielmo Massaia (1809-1889) had consecrated St. Justin for this missionary work.

Blessed Michael Ghebre, also known as Ghébre-Michael, was one of St. Justin’s converts.  Blessed Michael, born in Dido, West Gojjam, in 1788 or 1791, had been an Ethiopian Orthodox monk since the age of 19 years.  He, a Roman Catholic since 1844, joined the Vincentians.  In 1851 St. Justin ordained him to the priesthood.

Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia (reigned 1855-1868) continued the persecution of Roman Catholicism.  He, a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, even outlawed Roman Catholicism in 1860.  Authorities had arrested Blessed Michael and four companions in 1854.  For thirteen months the evangelists suffered abuse in prison.  Blessed Michael died in transit between Meccia Coreccia and Molicha Gebaba, Mirab Shewa, on July 30, 1855.  St. Justin died five years later, after having spent several months in prison then having endured a forced march to the Halai region of Eritrea.  He spent the final stage of his life as a missionary in Eritrea.  St. Justin died, aged 60 years, on July 30, 1855.

Pope Pius XI declared Michael Ghebre a Venerable then a Blessed in 1926.

Holy Mother Church recognized de Jacobis as a Venerable (in 1935, by Pope Pius XI), a Blessed (in 1939, by Pope Pius XII), and a full saint (in 1975, by Pope Paul VI).

Often accounts of the persecution of Christians, from antiquity to current events, are of persecution by adherents of other religions.  Sometimes these are stories of persecution by antitheists, to use Reza Aslan‘s term.  (Aslan distinguishes between atheists and antitheists.  Atheism is the rejection of belief in God or any deity; antitheism includes the desire to destroy religion.)  In this post, however, you, O reader, have read of persecution of some Christians by other Christians.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) wrote,

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

The history of organized religion has confirmed this statement, unfortunately.  Frequently adherents of one branch of a faith have persecuted and martyred members of other branches of that faith.  This was true in ancient times.  It has remained true to this day.  So has the reality of inter-religious persecution and martyrdom.  None of it has ever been holy.

May all who commit evil–especially from religious conviction–understand the error of their ways and repent.  Theological differences and arguments will always exist, but they can–and should–exist without the evil in the name of religious conviction accompanying one or more sides.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERMANUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE AND DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND SAINT DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ROGER SCHÜTZ, FOUNDER OF THE TAIZÉ COMMUNITY

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

Saint Justin de Jacobis and Blessed Michael Ghebre,

who made the good news known in Ethiopia.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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