Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1890s’ Category

Feast of Blesseds Josef Stepniak and Josef Straszewski (August 12)   3 comments

Above:  Dachau

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JÓZEF STEPNIAK (JANUARY 3, 1912-AUGUST 12, 1942)

BLESSED JÓZEF STRASZEWSKI (JANUARY 18, 1885-AUGUST 12, 1942)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyrs, 1942

Alternative feast day (as some of the 108 Martyrs of World War II) = June 12

The twentieth century, I have heard, was the century of martyrs.  Certainly World War II was a time of the martyrdom of only God knows how many people.  The Roman Catholic Church has recognized hundreds of martyrs of that time as being Venerable, Blessed, or canonized.  Many of those were Polish priests.

Blessed Józef Straszewski was a faithful priest.  He, born in Wloclawek, Russia (now Poland), on January 18, 1885, studied in his hometown from primary school to seminary.  His priestly ordination occurred there on June 18, 1911.  He served a series of parishes faithfully, and was, for a time, prefect of a State School of Commerce, prior to becoming the pastor of the new St. Stanislaw parish, Wloclawek.  Our saint supervised the construction of the buildings, organized retreats, and led a movie series.  Straszewski was a well-read-man, especially in theology.

Blessed Józef Stepniak, born in Zdzary on January 3, 1912, began life as a citizen of one country and died as a Polish citizen.  (Poland was not a country between 1795 and 1918.)  He, son of Paul Stepniak and Anna Misztal, grew up in a pious farm family.  He studied at St. Fidelis College, Lomza, Poland, working hard and earning mediocre grades.  He became a Capuchin novice (as Florian) at Nowe Miasto, Poland, on August 14, 1931.  Stepniak, who made his profession on August 15, 1935, became a priest on June 24, 1938.  Next our saint began studies at the Catholic University of Lublin.

The invasion and partition of Poland in 1939 disrupted the Roman Catholic Church there.  The Gestapo targeted priests, arresting many of them and simply martyring others.  Stepniak chose ministry to his fellow Christians above his safety.  Agents of the Gestapo arrested him on January 25, 1940.  Straszewski and other priests in the Diocese of Wloclawek became prisoners of the Third Reich on November 7, 1939.

Both saints became prisoners at Dachau.  They were faithful to the end.  Straszewski, for example, found in the Passion of Jesus the source of strength he needed.  Stepniak and Straszewski, gassed on August 12, 1942, became martyrs.  Pope John Paul II declared them Venerables then Blesseds in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN AND COFOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Blessed Józef Stepniak and Blessed Józef Straszewski

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 with them the crow 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), 714

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Feast of Mary Sumner (August 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mary Sumner

Image in the Public Domain

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MARY ELIZABETH HEYWOOD SUMNER (DECEMBER 31, 1828-AUGUST 9, 1921)

Foundress of the Mothers’ Union

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All this day, O Lord, let me touch as many lives as possible for thee; and every life I touch, do thou by my spirit quicken, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I breathe, or the life I live.

–Mary Sumner

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August 9 is the feast day of Mary Sumner in The Church of England.

Mary Sumner focused on the application of Christian faith in mothers to their family life.  She lived in circumstances quite different from those of many readers of this post; in her Victorian society respectable women were not supposed to engage in public speaking.  In some ways Sumner was of her times; in others she was ahead of them.

Mary Elizabeth Heywood, born in Swinton, England, on December 31, 1828, came from a cultured and wealthy family.  Her well-read father was a banker.  Her mother came from a family that owned land in two counties.  Mary, educated at home in Hope End, Herefordshire, mastered three foreign languages and sang well.  While studying music in Rome, our saint met George Sumner (1824-1909), son of Charles Sumner, the (Anglican) Bishop of Winchester.  George, recently ordained, married Mary in 1848.  They remained married for 61 years.

Sumner spent the 30 years of her marriage raising her three children–two daughters and a son.  She also managed her home and supported her husband’s ministry.  Our saint had initially felt inadequate as a mother.  When her elder daughter gave birth to Sumner’s first grandchild, our saint founded the Mothers’ Union.

The Mothers’ Union, founded at the rectory at Old Alresford, Hampshire, in 1876, was initially a parochial organization.  I brought together mothers from across social class lines, rooted them in prayer, and shared practical advice for meeting the physical and emotional needs of children.  The speaker at the first meeting, held at the rectory, was the Rector–George Sumner.

The Mothers’ Union began to grow and spread in 1885.  That year, despite social norms forbidding women from addressing public meetings, Sumner spoke to the 1000 women gathered for the Portsmouth Church Congress.  She called for national transformation via Christian women devoted to prayer and holy living.  Then the Bishop of Winchester made the Mothers’ Union a diocesan organization.  It was an international organization by 1896, when Sumner became the president.  She remained active in the Mothers’ Union until death in Winchester on August 9, 1921.  She was 92 years old.  Meanwhile, George Sumner (d. 1909) served as the Bishop of Guildford from 1888 to 1909.

Parenting is a great responsibility, one I hear, best exercised in community, not social isolation.  (I have no desire to become a parent, for I dislike children.)  Comparative studies of parenting styles around the world affirm the truth of the African proverb that it takes a village to raise one child.  May that village be a faithful and loving one.

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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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Mary Sumner,

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006)

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Feast of Blessed Frederic Jansoone (August 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Frédéric Jansoone 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRÉDÉRIC JANSOONE (NOVEMBER 19, 1838-AUGUST 4, 1916)

French-Canadian Roman Catholic Priest and Friar

Blessed Frédéric Jansoone, born into a cultured, Flemish-speaking family at Ghyvelde, Nord, France, on November 19, 1838, was on the Earth to be a priest.  Our saint’s father was farmer Pierre-Antoine Jansoone; his mother was Marie-Isabelle Bollengier.  Pierre-Antoine died when our saint was nine years old.  Although Frédéric had discerned his vocation at a young age, he had to delay pursuing it, for he had to work to help support the family.  After working as a traveling salesman for a few years, he pursued his vocation.

Jansoone joined the Franciscans in his early twenties.  He, ordained a priest in 1870, served as a chaplain in the French army during the Franco-Prussian War.  Later, in the Holy Land, Jansoone rebuilt the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Jerusalem.  He also built a church in Bethlehem and negotiated the arrangements for the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic sharing of sacred spaces in Jerusalem.

From 1888 to 1916 Jansoone lived in Canada.  He helped to develop the Shrine of Our Lady at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec.  Our saint also wrote hagiographies and sold his Manual for the Third Order door-to-door, thereby reestablishing the Franciscans in Canada.  Experience as a traveling salesman proved useful.

Jansoone died at Montreal on August 4, 1916.  He was 77 years old.  Pope John Paul II declared him a Venerable in 1985 then a Blessed in 1988.

Sometimes detours in life prepare one for tasks in later years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWIN PAXTON HOOD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, PHILANTHROPIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID JAESCHKE, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND HIS GRANDSON, HENRI MARC VOLDEMAR VOULLAIRE, MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF ENMEGAHBOWN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO THE OJIBWA NATION

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH DACRE CARLYLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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

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

inspired by the devotion of your servant Blessed Frédéric Jansoone,

may serve you with singleness of heart,

and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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

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

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

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

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

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Feast of Lambert Beauduin (August 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Lambert Beauduin

Image in the Public Domain

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LAMBERT BEAUDUIN (AUGUST 4, 1873-JANUARY 11, 1960)

Belgian Roman Catholic Priest and Pioneer of Liturgical Renewal

Octave Beauduin, born near Liêge, Belgium, on August 4, 1873, came from a wealthy, liberal, and devout family.  Every evening the family and servants gathered for devotions.  Beauduin, ordained a priest in 1897, carried that devout. progressive spirit into his adult life.  After teaching at a minor seminary for two years, our saint joined the Labor Chaplain movement in 1899.  He, as part of that movement, one controversial with much of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, ministered to industrial workers who might otherwise be alienated from the Church.

Eventually Beauduin left the Labor Chaplain movement for the Order of Saint Benedict, becoming Lambert in 1907.  At the monastery at Mount César our saint, influenced by the prior, Columba Marmion (1858-1923), developed a deep appreciation for the liturgy.

This was controversial.  (What was not controversial?)  From 1909 to 1921 Beauduin was at the center of the Belgian liturgical movement.  He argued against individualism, secularism, the neglect of prayer, and other ills, classifying them as explanations for the neglect of liturgy as the center of Christian piety.  This was the crux of Liturgy, the Life of the Church (1914; English-language translation, 1926).  He favored, among other things, High Masses, Vespers and Compline as parish services, and the participation of all present at Masses.

Beauduin was also a student of Eastern Christianity.  He, from 1921 a professor of theology at the Pontifical Atheneum of Sant’Anselmo, Rome, opened a biritual monastery at Amay in 1926.  That year he began to publish Irénikon, a journal of studies of Eastern Christianity.  All this was, of course, controversial, as was his openness to dialogue with Anglicans.

Thus, from 1931 to 1951, Beuduin was in involuntary exile from Belgium.  He served as the chaplain to two French convents, influenced Virgil Michel (1890-1938), helped to found the Centre de Pastorale Liturgique in Paris in 1943, and, the following year, renewed a friendship with Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope St. John XXIII (1881-1963).

Beauduin returned to Belgium in 1951.  He settled at the monastery he had founded, relocated to Chevetogne.  There, after years of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, our saint died on January 11, 1960.  He was 86 years old.

Much of what Beauduin recommended became reality.  Nevertheless, the necessity of heeding his sage counsel, especially in ways churches have not followed it, remains.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWIN PAXTON HOOD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, PHILANTHROPIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID JAESCHKE, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND HIS GRANDSON, HENRI MARC VOLDEMAR VOULLAIRE, MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF ENMEGAHBOWN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO THE OJIBWA NATION

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH DACRE CARLYLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Within the hour, while seeking a good proper for liturgists in official volumes from various denominations, I found no such thing.  So I wrote a prayer and selected the readings.

Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Lambert Beauduin.)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Blessed Vicenta Chavez Orozco (July 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Vicenta Chávez Orozco 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED VICENTA CHÁVEZ OROZCO (FEBRUARY 6, 1867-JULY 30, 1949)

Foundress of the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor

Also known as Blessed Maria Vicenta of Saint Dorothy

Blessed Vicenta Chávez Orozco, born on February 6, 1867, at Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico, devoted most of her life to serving Christ in the poor and the sick.  Our saint, the youngest of four children, made altars as a girl.  Her parish priest, Father Agustin Beas, hosted Holy Trinity Hospital (actually six beds, with sisters of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society working as nurses) in the rectory of the parish, set in a poor neighborhood.  On February 20, 1892, our saint went to Holy Trinity Hospital; she had pleurisy.  On July 10, 1892, having recovered, Blessed Vicenta returned–as a servant of the poor and the sick.  She made private vows in 1895.

Blessed Vicenta founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Poor (renamed the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor) on May 12, 1905.  From 1913 to 1943 she served as the Superior General of the order.  Many of those years were difficult for the Roman Catholic Church, due to the revolutionary politics.  The seizing of the cathedral at Guadalajara in 1914 led to imprisonment for our saint, sister Servants, and some priests.  And, in 1926, after the government turned St. Vincent’s Hospital into a military headquarters, Blessed Vicenta and the Servants there risked their lives to care for the wounded and to ensure that they could say their confessions, receive absolution, and take communion.

Blessed Vicenta, aged 82 years, died at Guadalajara on July 30, 1949.  For a few years her health had been failing.  Our saint gave up the ghost during Mass, as Cardinal José Giribi Rivera elevated the host.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 1991 then a Blessed in 1997.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give up 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 William Reed Huntington and William Reed Huntington (July 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Huntington Family Tree

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON (SEPTEMBER 20, 1838-JULY 26, 1909)

Episcopal Priest and Renewer of the Church

grandfather of

WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON (1907-FEBRUARY 18, 1990)

U.S. Architect and Quaker Peace Activist

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INTRODUCTION

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One of the occasional happy accidents of writing hagiographies is starting with one saint and learning about another one.

July 27, in The Episcopal Church, is the Feast of William Reed Huntington (1838-1909).  The official collect for the occasion is:

O Lord our God, we thank you for instilling in the heart of your servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for your Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in your promises, we may make known to all people your blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 489

The assigned readings for the feast in that volume are Job 22:21-28, Psalm 133, Ephesians 1:3-10, and John 17:20-26.

To that commemoration I add this saint’s grandson William Reed Huntington (1907-1990), a Quaker peace activist.

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THE EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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William Reed Huntington was a pioneer and an influential priest in The Episcopal Church.  Our saint, born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on September 20, 1838, was a son of Elisha Huntington (1796-1865) and Hannah Hinckley Freeman (1800-1859).  He, an 1859 graduate of Harvard College, taught chemistry at Harvard in 1859-1860, before studying for the Episcopal priesthood.  Huntington, ordained in 1862, was the Rector of All Saints Church, Worcester, Massachusetts (1862-1883) then Grace Church, New York, New York (1883f).

Huntington was active in denominational affairs in various capacities.  He attended the General Conventions of 1871-1907 as a member of the House of Deputies.  In 1871 Huntington made the first motion for the Church to investigate creating the order of deaconesses.  Evangelical opposition contributed greatly to the 18-year-long delay in establishing that order in The Episcopal Church.  Our saint also prompted the adoption of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1888), with roots in The Church-Idea:  An Essay Towards Unity (1870).  At the General Convention of 1880 Huntington made the motion that led eventually to The Book of Common Prayer (1892), a volume he helped to edit.  One of our saint’s liturgical revisions was making the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) a holy day in The Episcopal Church.  Huntington also composed the collect for the occasion:

O God, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine only-begotten wonderfully transfigured in raiment white and glistening; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty,who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

–Quoted in James Thayer Addison, The Episcopal Church in the United States, 1789-1931 (1951), 227

Huntington also perceived no conflict between good science and good religion, especially in the context of debates over Evolution, which he affirmed.  In 1875 he told the Church Congress:

…the theologians must learn to look upon the naturalists as their allies rather than their antagonists….Truth is truth, however, and whencesoever obtained, and we can never have occasion to be either afraid of it or unthankful for it.

–Quoted in Addison, 249

Huntington, aged 70 years, died at Nahant, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1909.  His lifespan barely overlapped with that of the next saint, his grandson.

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THE QUAKER PEACE ACTIVIST

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The Huntington family produced some distinguished contributors to society.  In the generation of the first saint’s grandchildren, for example, were a state assemblyman (Prescott Butler Huntington, 1905-1988), a monsignor (Christopher Huntington, 1918-2007),  and a Quaker peace activist.

William Reed Huntington (1907-1990), a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Virginia, was an architect by profession.  He was also a Quaker and a peace activist long active in the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  During World War II he directed a camp for conscientious objectors at Big Flats, New York.  After the war he was a co-commissioner of relief efforts for the AFSC in Europe.  In 1958 Huntington and other Quakers, the crew of the Golden Rule, sailed the vessel to the site of a U.S. nuclear weapons test at an island in the Pacific Ocean; their intention was to disrupt the test.  Caesar’s loyal men, in the name of law and order, obeyed their lord and master, sending the noble, non-violent resisters, who served Christ, the Prince of Peace, their lord and master, instead, to jail for 60 days.  In 1961-1963, during the Algerian War for Independence, our saint was the director of refugee assistance in Algeria and Tunisia.  Then, from 1963 to 1970, he was the representative of the AFSC to the United Nations.  Later Huntington directed the Quaker program at the U.N.

Huntington retired as an architect in 1982.  He died in Norwich, Vermont, on February 18, 1990.  He was 83 years old.

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CONCLUSION

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The William Reed Huntingtons were great men who made their positive marks on human events.  Both of them earned places on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

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, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 726

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Feast of Leo XIII (July 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII

Image in the Public Domain

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GIACCHINO VINCENZO PECCI (MARCH 2, 1810-JULY 20, 1903)

Bishop of Rome

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I want to see the church so far forward that my successor will not be able to turn it back.

–Pope Leo XIII, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 308

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That successor, St. Pius X (1903-1914), turned the Church back for more than half a century, until Popes St. John XXIII (1958-1963) and Blessed Paul VI (1963-1978) presided over the Second Vatican Council (1959-1965).

One of the patterns in organized Christianity since the Enlightenment has been conflict between traditions (especially in theology) and the modern world.  Sometimes, as Leo XIII understood well, conflicts have been unnecessary–even detrimental to the Church, while having their origins in the Church.

Giacchino Vincenzo Pecci, born in Carpinto, near Rome, on March 2, 1810, came from lesser nobility.  At an early age he manifested a keen intellect, which he used throughout his life.  Pecci, studying at Viterbo (1818-1824), the Roman College (1824-1832), and the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics (1832-1837), joined the ranks of priests in 1837.

Father–later Archbishop, Bishop, and Cardinal–Pecci engaged with the realities of industrial Europe.  He, the Titular Archbishop of Damietta in 1843 and simultaneously the nuncio to Belgium (1843-1846), served as the Bishop of Perugia (1846-1878).  Our saint, Cardinal Pecci from 1853, modernized the curriculum of the seminary in his diocese, encouraged Scholastic theology, and, by 1878, had become the Camerlengo of the Church.  In 1878, Blessed Pius IX, a reactionary Supreme Pontiff who preferred Medieval Catholicism, favored the divine right of kings, considered constitutional government incompatible with Christianity, and practiced Anti-Semitism, died.  Pecci, as the Camerlengo, was in charge between Popes. In February 1878 he became the next Pope as Leo XIII.  He was 67 years old and not in the best of health.  The man predicted to be a stop-gap Pope served for a quarter of a century, until 1903, dying at the age of 93.

Leo XIII stood firmly within Roman Catholic tradition, for better and worse.  In some ways he was quite conservative when he should not have been.  He sought the restoration of Papal temporal power, the Index survived, and, in 1896, the Church declared Anglican holy orders invalid, for example.  Yet Leo XIII was also relatively progressive.  In 1879 he elevated Father John Henry Newman (1801-1890), suspected of heterodoxy, to the College of Cardinals.  (How conservative must one have been to call Newman too liberal?)  This decision upset many conservatives in the Church.  When Leo XIII recognized the French Third Republic he scandalized French Roman Catholic monarchists.  Lifting Blessed Pius IX’s ban on Roman Catholics voting in Italian elections was another indication of liberalism.  Roman Catholicism and representative government, Leo XIII declared, contradicting his predecessor.

Economic justice was crucial, Leo XIII.  He condemned Marxism, communism, and laissez-faire capitalism.  The Pope wrote in favor of labor unions, the right of collective bargaining, a living wage, and safe working conditions.  All of this was a matter of ethics and the dignity or work, for the Supreme Pontiff.

Leo XIII was also open to science and scholarship.  He encouraged some critical scholarship of the Bible (St. Pius X did not encourage any.), reopened the Vatican Observatory, opened the Vatican Library to scholars without regard to creed, and encouraged Roman Catholic scholars to do their work objectively.  The author of 86 encyclicals in 25 years stood within the strain of Roman Catholicism that found faith and reason compatible.  That strain included St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), whose theology Leo XIII had long encouraged people to study.

Leo XIII, while affirming his papal authority (of course), engaged the non-Roman Catholic Christian world.  The 1896 decree about the invalidity of Anglican holy orders was a setback, but he did call non-Roman Catholic Christians “separated brothers.”  St. John XXIII (1958-1963) did the same in a more ecumenical age.  Leo XIII also invited “separated brothers” to reunite with Holy Mother Church.

Leo XIII would have made St. Justin de Jacobis (1800-1860) glad.  The Pope encouraged evangelization, especially outside Europe.  Leo XIII also favored educating indigenous priests, an effective strategy in missions.

Leo XIII, aged 93 years, died at the Vatican on July 20, 1903.  He was simultaneously conservative and liberal, by the standards of his time.  He foreshadowed reforms that started decades after his death.

Consider ecclesiastical politics, O reader.  The reactionary Pius IX is a Blessed, on the path to canonization.  Leo XIII is not even a Venerable.  Pius X, slightly less reactionary than Pius IX, is a full saint.  The less one says and writes about Pius XII, a Venerable, the better.  John XXIII, who opened Vatican II, is a full saint.  (How can Pius X and John XXIII both be full saints?)  Paul VI, who concluded the Second Vatican Council, is a Blessed.  The very nice John Paul I, who forgot to take his medicine and therefore had a brief Pontifficate, is a Venerable.  And John Paul II is a full saint, due to a fast-tracked canonization process.  To some extent one can identify the legacy of Leo XIII in each of his successors.  The legacy of Leo XIII is especially strong in Pope Francis.

I, as an Episcopalian, a member of a church with valid holy orders, belong to a tradition that teaches that history makes saints.  I count legacies, not miracles.  I, one of those “separated brothers” of whom Leo XIII and St. John XXIII wrote and spoke, hereby enroll Leo XIII, Servant of the Servants of God, in my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DE CHERGÉ AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF TIBHIRINE, ALGERIA, 1996

THE FEAST OF EUGENE DE MAZENOD, BISHOP OF MARSEILLES AND FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MISSIONARIES, OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANZ JÄGGERSTÄTTER, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ADDISON AND ALEXANDER POPE, ENGLISH POETS

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Pope Leo XIII.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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