Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1880s’ Category

Feast of Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER (1865?-SEPTEMBER 24, 1947)

African-American Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia, and Educator

Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.

The history of this feast exemplifies how many commemorations rise to the denominational level in The Episcopal Church.

The feast rose from the diocesan level.  In 1998 Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the Bishop of Georgia, declared Deaconess Anna Alexander a saint of Georgia, with the feast day of September 24.  The feast rose to the national level at the General Convention of 2015, which added the commemoration to A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), the expanded version of the official calendar of saints contained in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007).  The General Convention of 2018 approved the greatly expanded official calendar of saints, Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (as of the writing of this post, available as a PDF, pending the final, published version next year), with the deaconess included.

As with many other Southern African-Americans of the time, the date–the year, even–of Anna’s birth remained uncertain, due to the lack of written records.  Records of the Diocese of Georgia listed her year of birth as 1878.  In 1947 her death certificate listed 1881 as her year of birth.  Anna’s birth actually occurred shortly after the end of the Civil War.  Most recent sources have given 1865 as her year of birth.

Above:  Coastal Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Our saint was the youngest of eleven children of former slaves James and Daphne Alexander (married in 1841), of the Pierce Butler Plantation on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Daphne was a child of plantation rape; her biological father was Roswell King, Jr.  James, or “Aleck,” was a skilled carpenter and builder, as well as Butler’s personal assistant.  The Alexanders instilled the value of education into their children, and modeled it.  James, for example, taught himself to read and write.  The couple, when slaves, violated the law against educating slaves; they taught their children.

Above:  Glynn and McIntosh Counties, Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Anna, raised in The Episcopal Church, found the public education available to her in Glynn County, Georgia, substandard.  (The inadequate education of African Americans in the Postbellum South was often a matter of policy.)  It was fortunate, then, that the Alexanders provided informal education for their children.  Our saint, seeking to help others less fortunate than herself, became a teacher at the parochial school (attached to St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Darien, Georgia) her sister, Mary Alexander Mann, had founded.  (Mary’s husband, Ferdinand M. Mann, was the Vicar of St. Cyprian’s Church from 1892 to 1914.)  Many also taught at the parochial school, as did another sister, Dora.  The school was, for a time, a vital to the education of African Americans in Darien.

Anna’s base of operations for most of her life was the poor, rural community of Pennick, in Glynn County.  In 1894 she prompted the founding of a mission, Church of the Good Shepherd.  She spent 1894-1897 studying at St. Paul’s Normal School (later College), Lawrenceville, Virginia.  Episcopal priest James Solomon Russell (1857-1935) had founded the school in 1888.  (St. Paul’s College closed in 2013).  Our saint, back in Pennick, rebuilt the congregation and, in 1901, founded the parochial school, which grew from one room to two rooms, with an apartment for the deaconess.

The Diocese of Georgia, founded in 1823, divided in 1907; the Diocese of Atlanta formed to the northwest of the rump Diocese of Georgia.  Bishop Cleland Kinloch Nelson, based in Atlanta when he was the Bishop of Georgia (1892-1907), remained in the capital city and became the first Bishop of Atlanta (1907-1917).  Nelson was a relatively liberal white Georgian of the time.  He disapproved of Jim Crow, but knew he could not change the system alone, so he at least tried to keep his diocese integrated.  Nelson also encouraged African-American missions.  The bishop was not all-powerful, however; he could not override the collective will of the majority of lay people.  So, in 1907, after the as the Diocese of Atlanta was forming, the Diocese of Georgia was segregating.  Nevertheless, one of Nelson’s final acts as the Bishop of Georgia was to consecrate Anna Alexander as a deaconess–the only African-American deaconess in the denomination.  He did this on Friday, May 13, 1907, at the second annual meeting of the Council of Colored Churchmen.

The rump Diocese of Georgia was officially segregated for four decades.  During most of that time policy was to discourage African-American missions.  In 1907-1946 there were no African-American delegates to the annual diocesan conventions.  The Council of Colored Churchmen, formed in 1906, barely had any representation on diocesan committees.  Bishop Frederick Focke Reese (in office 1908-1936), a racist who delivered paternalistic addresses to African-American clergymen, neglected African-American congregations and schools financially.  Therefore, much financial assistance had to come from other sources, official (such as the denomination) and individual.  Anna was an effective fund raiser in this context.  The deaconess provided an education to many African-American youth and shepherded them into further education–some at colleges and others at technical schools.  She also worked as a cook at Camp Reese, the diocesan, whites-only summer camp on St. Simon’s Island, for a number of years.  The racially segregated Diocese of Georgia named a cabin after her in 1938.  The deaconess, while working as a cook for white campers at Camp Reese, brought groups of African-American youth to St. Simon’s Island and provided a sort of summer camp for them.

Bishop Middleton Stuart Barnwell (in office 1936-1954), unlike Bishop Reese, took an interest in African-American missions.  He spent diocesan funds to replace or repair buildings.  And, in 1947, he welcomed African Americans to the first racially integrated diocesan convention in four decades.

During the Great Depression Good Shepherd, Pennick, was a distribution center for federal and private aid in Glynn County.  Anna, who ministered to her neighbors without regard to race, was in charge of distribution.  She wrote:

I am to see everyone gets what they need….some folk don’t need help now and I know who they are.  The old people and the children, they need the most….When I tell some people they can’t get help just now…that others come first, they get mad, a little, but I don’t pay no mind and soon they forget to be mad.

The deaconess earned respect in her community and vicinity; many white men removed their hats in deference when she walked past them.

Anna died on September 24, 1947.  She was either in her late seventies or early eighties.  She remained mostly forgotten for many years.  The Episcopal Church in Georgia, 1733-1957 (1960), by Henry Thompson Malone, never mentioned the deaconess’s name.  Even the otherwise excellent Black Episcopalians in Georgia:  Strife, Struggle and Salvation (1980), by Charles Lwanga Hoskins, frequently misidentified her as Dora.  (Father Hoskins was a wonderful man, a charming priest, and a fine homilist.  When I was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia, he was a supply priest, filling in when the Rector was away.  Memories of some of his sermons have never ceased to edify me spiritually.  Hoskins did, however, often mistake Anna for her sister, Dora, in his book, still an invaluable source for this post.)  In recent years, however, Anna’s legacy has become more prominent, fortunately.  It has become sufficiently prominent that, in January 2018, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, an African American, visited Good Shepherd, Pennick.

May that legacy become more prominent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH, AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF E. F. SCHUMACHER, GERMAN-BRITISH ECONOMIST AND SOCIAL CRITIC

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AND MARY GOMER, U.S. UNITED BRETHREN MISSIONARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MCKANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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O God, you called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church

and sent her as teacher and evangelist to the people of Georgia:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment which you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

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

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O God, who called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Psalm 78

Matthew 11:25-30

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRANCISCO DE PAULA VICTOR (APRIL 12, 1827-SEPTEMBER 23, 1905)

Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest

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Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.

–Romans 12:21, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor, born a slave in Campanha, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on April 12, 1827, obeyed that verse and those few immediately preceding it.  He, trained as a tailor, discerned a priestly vocation at a young age.  Blessed Francisco’s racial background (African) and social status (slave) meant that he needed special permission to matriculate at a seminary.  He received that permission, and therefore began his studies for the priesthood in 1849.  The seminary was replete with racism, however; many seminarians ostracized our saint because of his background and skin color.  Blessed Francisco, ordained priest on June 14, 1851, endured open hostility at his first parish, in which he served for about a year.  He spent decades in the second parish, however.

In Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, Blessed Francisco overcame hatred (a form of evil) with goodness, humility, love, and patience.  He won over many initially hostile parishioners and became beloved.  Our saint helped to found the College of the Holy Family, open to all children, regardless of social or racial background.  Blessed Francisco also built the Church of Our Lady of Hope, now a basilica, in Aparecida, in 1888.  Once, when there was the possibility of the bishop transferring our saint away from Três Pontas, protests ensued.  Blessed Francisco remained until he died on September 23, 1905, following a stroke.  He was 78 years old.

The Church has recognized our saint formally.  Pope Benedict XVI declared him a Venerable in 2012.  Pope Francis made our saint the first beatified Black Brazilian in 2015.

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God of mercy and justice, we thank you for the holy example of your servant, Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor,

who, with goodness, love, humility, and patience fulfilled his vocation

and ministered effectively to people from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

May we, following his example, respect the image of God in people, in their great variety,

both near and far away, and master evil with good.

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

Genesis 41:37-43

Psalm 11

Romans 12:14-21

Luke 6:27-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE DEAF

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMADEUS OF CLERMONT, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND HIS SON, SAINT AMADEUS OF LAUSANNE, FRENCH-SWISS ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC BARBERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTLE TO ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF HENRIETTE LUISE VAN HAYN, GERMAN MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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Feast of Blessed Marie Therese of Saint Joseph (September 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Marie Therese of Saint Joseph

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIE THERESE OF SAINT JOSEPH (JUNE 19, 1855-SEPTEMBER 20, 1938)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus

Born Anna Maria Tauscher van den Bosch

Alternative feast day = October 30

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To be able to dry tears, to heal the wounds of souls from the heights of Heaven, this is my ardent wish.

–Blessed Marie Therese of Saint Joseph

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Anna Maria Tauscher van den Bosch, born in Sandow, East Prussia (now Poland), on June 19, 1855, dedicated her life to serving God, present in vulnerable and marginalized people.  Her mother was Pauline van den Bosch.  Our saint’s father was the Reverend Hermann Traugott Tauscher, a Lutheran superintendent.  (In some branches of Lutheranism, the office of superintendent replaced that of bishop.)  From 1885 to 1888 Anna Maria worked at a home for the mentally disabled in Cologne.  She was, however, in the process of converting to Roman Catholicism, so she lost her job.  Our saint, officially a Roman Catholic as of October 30, 1888, founded a home for neglected children in Berlin.  From that institution arose the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus the same year.

In 1893 Anna Maria made her vows as a nun, becoming Sister Marie Therese of Saint Joseph.  She spent the rest of her life founding charitable institutions for the aged, the young, the poor, the abandoned, and immigrants.  Our saint also functioned as a spiritual advisor, often via correspondence.

Blessed Marie Therese died in Sittard, Limburg, The Netherlands, on September 20, 1938.  She was 83 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 2002.  Pope Benedict XVI beatified her six years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Walter Chalmers Smith (September 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Walter Chalmers Smith

Image in the Public Domain

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WALTER CHALMERS SMITH (DECEMBER 5, 1824-SEPTEMBER 19, 1908)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

Good hymnals are excellent sources for names for projects such as A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, of which this post in an entry.

If you, O reader, do not recognize the name of Walter Chalmers Smith, you may, assuming that you are acquainted with fine English-language hymnody, recognize at least one of the hymns he wrote.  Do you know “Immortal, Invisible,” originally six stanzas then truncated to four stanzas in The English Hymnal (1906), and more recently abbreviated to three stanzas quite often?  Perhaps you also know another fine text, “One Thing I of the Lord Desire” (1887).

Smith, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on December 5, 1824, grew up in The Church of Scotland.  He studied in Aberdeen through the Master’s degree level (Marischal College, the University of Aberdeen, 1841) then pursued theological studies at the New College, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh.  Our saint, having made his choice vis-á-vis the Disruption of 1843, became a minister in the Free Church of Scotland in 1850.  He served in the following congregations:

  1. Chadwell Street Church, Islington, London, 1850-1854;
  2. Orwell Free Church, Milnathort, 1854-1858;
  3. Roxburgh Free Church, Deinburgh, 1858-1862;
  4. Free Tron Church, Glasgow, 1862-1876; and
  5. Free High Church, Edinburgh, 1876-1894.

Smith was a prominent minister in the Free Church of Scotland (extant 1843-1900; remnant extant 1900f), which merged into the United Free Church of Scotland (extant 1900-1929; remnant extant 1929f), and finally back into The Church of Scotland.

Smith was a prolific poet.  He described the act of writing poetry as

the retreat of my nature from the burden of my labours.

His published works included the following:

  1. The Bishop’s Walk and The Bishop’s Times (1861);
  2. Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life (1867);
  3. The Sermon on the Mount:  Lectures Delivered (1867);
  4. Olrig Grange (1872);
  5. Borland Hall (1874);
  6. Hilda Among the Broken Gods (1878);
  7. Raban: or, Life Splinters (1881);
  8. North Country Folk (1883);
  9. Kildrostan:  A Dramatic Poem (1884);
  10. Thoughts and Fancies for Sunday Evenings (1887);
  11. A Heretic, and Other Poems (1891); and
  12. The Poetical Works of Walter C. Smith, D.D., LL.D. (1902).

Smith died in Kinburk, Dunblane, Perthshire, Scotland, on September 19, 1908.  He was 83 years old.

One can still enjoy his writing, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Walter Chalmers Smith and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

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Feast of Edward Bouverie Pusey (September 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Edward Bouverie Pusey

Image in the Public Domain

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EDWARD BOUVERIE PUSEY (AUGUST 22, 1800-SEPTEMBER 16, 1882)

Anglican Priest

Feast day in The Church of England = September 16

Feast day in The Episcopal Church = September 18

Edward Bouverie Pusey, born into a wealthy family, spent most of his adult life at Oxford University.  He, from 1841 the leader of the Oxford Movement, was a priest more influential in the Anglican Communion than most bishops were.

Pusey, born near Oxford on August 22, 1800, took naturally to university life.  He, educated at Eton then Christ Church, Oxford University, became a Fellow of Oriel College in 1824.  He spent 1825-1827, studying in Berlin and Göttingen, where he met leading German Biblical scholars and critics, as well as studying Semitic languages in Germany and at Oxford.  In 1828 and 1830 Pusey published An Historical Enquiry into the Probable Causes of the Rationalist Character Lately Predominant in the Theology of Germany (two parts), a work critical (in the academic sense of that word) of German Rationalistic theology.  He linked it to spiritually dead Protestant orthodoxy.  When certain people mistook the work for a defense of German Rationalistic theology, he withdrew the Historical Enquiry.  Also in 1828, Pusey married Maria Catherine Barker (1801-1839).  The couple had four children.  Our saint, ordained to the diaconate then to the priesthood of The Church of England, accepted appointment as the Regius Professor of Hebrew and Canon, a position he held for the rest of his life.

At Oxford Pusey met John Keble (1792-1866) and John Henry Newman (1801-1890), leader of the Oxford Movement, also known as Tractarianism and Anglo-Catholicism.  The Roman Catholic revival within Anglicanism was controversial.  Some opponents, who thought that Holy Mother Church was the Whore of Babylon and the Pope was the Antichrist, went to the logical and predictable extreme of labeling the Oxford Movement nothing short of Satanic.  For decades priests bowing to altars, candles being present on the altar, and other practices were controversial.

The Tractarians, whom Pusey joined in 1833, took their name from the Tracts of the Times series.  Our saint wrote some of the Tracts, notably #18 on fasting on its spiritual benefits) in 1834 and #67 and #69 (on baptism) in 1836.  The Tractarians, consistent with their priority on classicism, published the Library of the Fathers series.  Pusey translated the first volume, the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo, in 1838.

Pusey became the leader of the Oxford Movement in 1841, as Newman moved toward his conversion to Roman Catholicism, in 1845.  Our saint became so identified with the Tractarian Movement that “Puseyite” became a synonym for Tractarian.  He remained within The Church of England, so many who would otherwise have followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church chose not to cross the Tiber River.

Pusey donated generously to churches for the poor and founded a religious community to minister to impoverished people.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Cross, also known as the Park Village Community, founded in 1845, was the first Anglican religious community founded since the English Reformation.  In 1856 the Sisterhood of the Holy Cross merged into the Society of the Most High Trinity, founded by Priscilla Lydia Sellon (1821-1876) in 1849.

Pusey frequently found himself engaged in controversies.

  1. In 1843 his sermon before Oxford University entitled “The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent,” in which he favored Transubstantiation, led to his suspension from the Oxford pulpit for two years.
  2. Another sermon, “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent” (1846), was a defense of the proposition that The Church of England had the priestly power to absolve sins.  This was the beginning of private confession in Anglicanism, a practice still too Catholic for many Anglicans.
  3. In 1862 Pusey accused Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), the Regius Professor of Greek of heresy.  Jowett, a Hegelian, had written “On the Interpretation of Scripture” for Essays and Reviews in 1860.  Pusey found Jowett’s conclusions theologically erroneous.  The Chancellor’s Court acquitted Jowett, who remained at Oxford and received promotions.
  4. In 1865 Pusey wrote that barriers to Anglican reunion with the Roman Catholic Church included purgatory, indulgences, and Marian devotion.  During the next few years Newman and Pusey engaged in a long-form, written debate, topics of which also included Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.
  5. One of the controversies in The Church of England in the late 1800s was whether to remove the Athanasian Creed from Morning Prayer.  Pusey argued for retaining it.  Although that creed remained in the form for Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer (1662), the practice of congregational recitation of that creed declined within Anglicanism.

Pusey, aged 82 years, died at Ascot Priory, Berkshire, of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity, on September 16, 1882.  He was a transformational figure and a positive influence within Anglicanism.

Pusey House, a religious institution at St. Giles, Oxford, constitutes a tangible part of our saint’s legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Grant, O God, that in all time of testing we may know your presence and obey your will;

that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey,

we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to bear;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Ezekiel 36:24-28

Psalm 106:1-5

1 Peter 2:19-23

Luke 3:10-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 591

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Feast of St. Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski (September 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZYGMUNT SZCESNY FELINSKI (NOVEMBER 1, 1822-SEPTEMBER 17, 1895)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Warsaw, Titular Bishop of Tarsus, and Founder of Recovery for the Poor and the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary

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I am convinced that by keeping my heart uncontaminated, living in faith and in fraternal love towards my neighbor, I will not go off the path.  These are my only treasures and are without price.

–St. Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski

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Polish nationalism was a defining feature of the life of St. Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski.  Poland did not exist as a nation-state, so Polish nationalism ran afoul of various governments.

Felinski was a subject of the Russian Empire.  He, born in Voyutin (now Wojutyn, Ukraine) on November 1, 1822, was one of six children of Gerard Felinski and Eva Wendorff, proud Poles.  Gerard died when our saint was 11 years old.  Eva was active in efforts to improve farmers’ economic conditions as well as in the realm of Polish nationalism.  For her trouble she became an involuntary resident of Siberia in 1838.  St. Zygmunt had numerous reasons to distrust the Russian imperial government.

Felinski’s early adulthood was a time of education and nationalist activism.  He studied at the University of Moscow, specializing in mathematics, from 1840 to 1844.  Studies in French literature followed in Paris in 1877.  In the “City of Lights” he gathered with other Poles.  Our saint participated in the failed Polish uprising against the Prussian government at Poznán.  In 1848-1850 Felinski worked as the tutor to the Brozowski family in Munich and Paris.

The priesthood beckoned.  He studied for the priesthood in 1851-1855, first in Zytomierz (now Zhytomyr, Ukraine) then at St. Petersburg.  Our saint, ordained on September 8, 1855, served first in St. Petersburg.  He was the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church, from 1855 to 1857.  He also founded a charitable organization, Recovery for the Poor, in 1856, then the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary the following year.  Felinski was also Professor of Philosophy at the Ecclesiastical Academy, as well as a spiritual advisor.

Felinski was the Archbishop of Warsaw from 1862 to 1883, politically treacherous times in that city.  When our saint arrived in January 1862, Warsaw was under siege by Russian forces, and all the churches were closed.  He reopened the churches in February 1862.  Felinski also reformed the seminary curriculum, founded an orphanage and parochial schools, and worked to free incarcerated priests.  Agents of the Russian government sought to undermine our saint; they claimed he was a spy.  After Russian forces brutally crushed the January Revolt of 1863, Felinski resigned from the Council of State in protest.  He also wrote to Czar Alexander II, requesting an end to the violence.  On June 14, 1883, Russian authorities deported our saint to Jaroslavl, Siberia.  He lived his vocation as a priest and a bishop as a partner.

Protracted negotiations between the Vatican and the Russian government paid off in 1883.  Felinski was a free man again.  On March 15 Pope Leo XIII assigned our saint to Galicia (in modern-day Turkey), as the Titular Bishop of Tarsus.  Felinski ministered to Polish and Ukrainian exiles, built a church, founded a parochial school, and started a convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.

Felinski died in Krakow (then in Austria-Hungary; now in Poland) on September 17, 1895.  He was 72 years old.

The Church recognized Felinski’s sanctity.  Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 2001 then beatified him the following year.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized Felinski in 2009.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Saint Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski

to be a bishop and pastor in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of Alexander Crummell (September 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Alexander Crummell

Image in the Public Domain

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ALEXANDER CRUMMELL (MARCH 3, 1819-SEPTEMBER 10, 1898)

U.S. African-American Episcopal Priest, Missionary, and Moral Philosopher

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The hand of God is on the black man, in all the lands of his distant sojourn, for the good of Africa.

–Alexander Crummell

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September 10 is the Feast of Alexander Crummell in The Episcopal Church.

Crummell, who lived during a time of slavery then de jure segregation, contended with racism throughout his life.  He, born in New York, New York, on March 3, 1819, was a child of abolitionists Charity Hicks (born free) and Boston Crummell (a former slave).  Our saint, a well-educated person and a recognized intellectual by 1840, when he was 21 years old, could not matriculate at The General Theological Seminary, Manhattan, because of the color of his skin.  Nevertheless, he successfully prepared for the priesthood and, in 1844, became a priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts.  Yet, due to official racism, Crummell could not participate in diocesan conventions.

Crummell spent 1848-1853 in England, studying moral philosophy at Queen’s College, Cambridge, and earning a B.A. degree.  Our saint, well grounded in Western philosophy, incorporated the concepts of natural rights and intergenerational responsibility into his moral philosophy.  Stephen Thompson has written a summary of that moral philosophy at The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Except for visits to the United States of America, mainly to encourage African-American immigration to Africa, Crummell lived and worked in Liberia from 1853 to 1872.  There he was Professor of Moral Philosophy at Liberia College.  He hoped to build a Christian republic, with The Episcopal Church as the national church.  Liberian politics dashed Crummell’s hopes, though, and he returned to the United States.

Crummell, back in the United States, had much work to do.  He became the Rector of St. Mary’s Chapel for Colored People, Washington, D.C.  In 1875 he founded St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C., the oldest African-American Episcopal parish in the national capital city.  Our saint retired in 1894.

Crummell founded the Convocation of Colored Clergy, a predecessor of the Union of Black Episcopalians, to oppose the proposed “Sewanee Canon” at the General Convention of 1883.  Some Southern bishops and other churchmen wanted to segregate the Church further by creating a non-geographical diocese for African Americans.  This was not a unique idea; other denominations took similar actions.  The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, spun off the Colored (now Christian) Methodist Episcopal Church in 1870.  The Methodist Church (1939-1968) had its non-geographical Central Jurisdiction, as well as five geographical jurisdictions.  The (Southern) Presbyterian Church in the United States (1861-1983) spun off the African-American Presbyterian Church in 1898 then reabsorbed it as the Snedecor Memorial Synod, separate from the other synods, usually defined by state boundaries, in 1917.  Although the General Convention defeated the “Sewanee Canon,” many Southern dioceses acted on their own, subsequently curtailing African-American involvement in diocesan conventions.  The usual practice was to create a racially defined convocation, which sent a handful of delegates to the diocesan convention.  In other dioceses, there were no African-American delegates at the diocesan convention.  The Diocese of Georgia, for example, was segregated at the convention level from 1907 to 1947.  The priest and hymn writer F. Bland Tucker (1895-1984), Rector of Christ Church, Savannah, proposed the canon that readmitted African-American delegates to the diocesan convention.

Crummell remained active in retirement.  He taught at Howard University, Washington, D.C., in 1895-1897.  In 1897 he founded and became the first president of the American Negro Academy, Washington, D.C., with W. E. B. DuBois (1868-1963) as one of the vice presidents.  The American Negro Academy disbanded in 1924.

Crummell married twice.  His first wife, whom he wed in 1841, was Sarah Mabitt Elston, who died in 1878.  Our saint married Jennie Simpson in 1880.

Crummell, aged 77 years, died in Red Bank, New Jersey, on September 10, 1898.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH PAYSON PRENTISS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JEREMY TAYLOR, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near.

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

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

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11, 17-18

Psalm 19:7-11

James 1:2-5

Mark 4:1-10, 13-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 573

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