Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1860s’ Category

Feast of Joseph and Mary Gomer (September 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sierra Leone, 1951

Image Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951), 94

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JOSEPH GOMER (JULY 20, 1834-SEPTEMBER 6, 1892)

husband of

MARY GREEN GOMER (DIED DECEMBER 1, 1896)

U.S. United Brethren in Christ Missionaries in Sierra Leone

This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Orlo Strunk, Jr., In Faith and Love (1968), a U.S. Methodist Sunday School resource for adults.  The volume profiles 11 people, including the then-recently deceased St. John XXIII, listed under this other name, Angelo Roncalli.  The book contains a biography of Joseph Gomer, but I extend this feast to include Mary Green Gomer, whose story comes bound up with that of her husband.  Unfortunately, little information about her is available.

The Gomers were the first African-American missionaries the former Church of the United Brethren in Christ (one of the predecessors of The United Methodist Church) commissioned.  For more than two decades the Gomers worked as missionaries in Sierra Leone, building the first successful relationship between Christianity and the people of Shenge, Sherbro Island, and laying the foundation for faith in members of generations alive today.

Joseph Gomer seemed like an unlikely choice for missionary work.  He, born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on July 20, 1834, grew up on a farm near Battle Creek, Michigan.  He attended school with white youth, but had to endure racist insults daily.  At the age of 16 years Gomer left home and moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he found a job in a furniture store.  In the Windy City our saint also joined the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.  During the Civil War he served as a cook in the U.S. Army.  After the war, on a steamboat from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Dayton, Ohio, Gomer met Mary Green, a widow traveling with her adolescent daughter to home in Chillicothe, Ohio.  The couple had become engaged to marry before the steamboat docked in Dayton.  That year they married in Third United Brethren Church, Dayton.  Joseph worked as a foreman in a large mercantile house.  His responsibilities were in the purview of measuring and fitting carpets.  The Gomers were active in Third Church, holding formal and informal leadership positions.  Joseph, for example, often had more than one title simultaneously.

The Gomers’ lives changed in 1870.  The denomination had established a mission on Sherbro Island, Sierra Leone, in the late 1850s.  The mission grew coffee and rubber trees.  After the missionary assigned there died in 1870, the Gomers applied to fill the vacancy.  They were lay members.  They were relatively uneducated and lacked missionary training.  Furthermore, the denomination had not yet commissioned any African-American missionaries.  The United Brethren commissioned the Gomers and sent them to Sherbro Island, however.  The Gomers sailed on November 8, 1870, and arrived in January 1871.

The challenges facing the Gomers were daunting, and their frustrations were also numerous and great.  For starters, they arrived at a mission post consisting of rundown buildings and few people who cared about the mission.  After all, there had been no missionary there most of a year.  Many of the local people thought of Christianity as a religion just for white people.  Competition among missionaries of various denominations was a drawback, and local feuding chiefs created civil strife.

Nevertheless, the Gomers accomplished much.  They introduced more efficient farming techniques, built a thriving industrial school, fought superstition and ignorance, eschewed denominational competition, convinced many locals that Christianity was a religion for Africans, converted many people, inspired people to repair buildings and construct new ones, and reconciled mutually hostile chiefs.  Mary focused on working with women and children.  Joseph became an ordained minister during his years as a missionary.  The Gomers cared about the people among whom they labored for the glory of God.  The couple’s skin color helped them to build relationships with people on Sherbro Island.  The Gomers served three terms in Sierra Leone, with breaks in the United States from November 1875 to November 1876 and from April 1889 to November 1889.

During the third term of service Joseph was planning to retire, given his failing health.  He never retired, for he died in Freetown on September 6, 1892.  He was 58 years old.

Mary retired from missionary service in May 1894.  Then she returned to Dayton, Ohio, where she died on December 1, 1896.

Men and women such as Joseph and Mary Gomer have been essential to the building up of the Church.

One lesson from the story of the Gomers is that sometimes the people best suited for a particular role are the ones who seem most unlikely.  As the Bible teaches, God qualifies the called.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF LEO XIII, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGISUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL HANSON COX, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND ABOLITIONIST; AND HIS SON, ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servants Joseph Gomer and Mary Green Gomer,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Sherbro Island, Sierra Leone.

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.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-7

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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Feast of St. Jeanne Jugan (August 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Portrait of St. Jeanne Jugan, by Leon Brune

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JEANNE JUGAN (OCTOBER 25, 1792-AUGUST 29, 1879)

Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor

Also known as Sister Marie of the Cross

Her feast transferred from August 29

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Little Sisters, take good care of the aged, for in them you are caring for Christ Himself.

–Saint Jeanne Jugan

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On the Roman Catholic calendar of saints August 29 is the feast of St. Jeanne Jugan.  August 29, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is the day reserved fr the Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, a Biblical figure.  I therefore transfer Jugan’s feast one day.  Incidentally, August 30 is her feast day in All Saints (1997), by Robert Ellsberg.

There is a certain kind of hagiography I like to write.  It is an account of a determined, industrious person pursuing his or her vocation from God and receiving help from influential people at critical junctures.  Thus the saint succeeds in glorifying God and bringing benefits to many people via the combination of talent, effort, and patronage.  We humans are supposed to help each other become the best people we can be in God, after all.

This is a succinct summary of the life of Michael Faraday (1791-1867), who would not have been a great scientist without help.  He was brilliant and hard-working, but he needed someone to open a proverbial door for him at a crucial moment; he needed for someone to give him his big break.

It is not a summary of the life of St. Jeanne Jugan, however.  No, the story of her life is an account of a saint whom others–one priest, in particular–held back for selfish reasons.

St. Jeanne Jugan knew poverty and menial labor well.  She, born in Cancale, Brittany, France, on October 25, 1792, grew up in a pious, poor family.  Her father, Joseph, was a fisherman who was often at sea.  He died when St. Jeanne was four years old.  Her mother was Marie, a farmer.  Our saint, at the age of 16 years, became a maid.  She accompanied her employer, a Christian woman, on regular visits to poor and sick people.  This inspired St. Jeanne to dedicate her life to God and not to marry.  She resolved to help poor, sick people also.

The 25-year-old St. Jeanne, filled with a sense of mission, gave away her possessions, such as they were, and spent six years serving Christ in the poor at the hospital in Saint Servan.  It was a pious undertaking.  It was also an exhausting commitment.  St. Jeanne returned to life as a domestic servant.  Years passed.

In 1837 the 45-year-old St. Jeanne went to work as a spinner.  She gave her disposable income to the less fortunate.  Our saint also began to go door-to-door, collecting money for the support of impoverished widows.  This led to the founding of the Little Sisters of the Poor in 1843, with St. Jeanne as the superior.  The order expanded its work and increased in membership under her leadership.

The local bishop appointed a new superior general, Father Auguste Le Pailleur.  By 1852 he had seized complete control, rewriting history to depict himself as the actual founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Le Pailler sidelined St. Jeanne, known as Sister Marie of the Cross, who spent the last 27 years of her life as a marginal figure, performing menial labor, in the order she had founded.  She died, aged 88 years, in Saint-Pern, France, on August 29, 1879.  To the end St. Jeanne maintained proper perspective; the mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor was more important than she was.

The Church acknowledged St. Jeanne’s proper place in history posthumously.  Pope John Paul II declared her a Venerable in 1979 then a Blessed in 1982.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized St. Jeanne in 2009.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NIEBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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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 and 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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle (August 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle

Images in the Public Domain

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THOMAS GALLAUDET (JUNE 3, 1822-AUGUST 27, 1902)

Episcopal Priest and Educator of the Deaf

mentor of

HENRY WINTER SYLE (NOVEMBER 9, 1846-JANUARY 6, 1890)

Episcopal Priest and Educator of the Deaf

First Deaf Man Ordained in The Episcopal Church

August 27 is the joint feast of Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle in The Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851) and his wife, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet (1798-1877) were pioneers in the education of deaf people in the United States of America.  In 1817 he helped to found and became the principal of the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons, now the American School for the Deaf, West Hartford, Connecticut.  He was the Gallaudet of Gallaudet University, founded in 1856 as the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind, Washington, D.C., in 1856, and renamed the National Deaf-Mute College eight years later then Gallaudet College in 1894.  Sophia was one of the leading advocates for the college charter; she served as the first matron of the college.  One of their sons, Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837-1917), was the superintendent (1856-1864) and president (1864-1910).

Thomas Gallaudet was another child of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Sophia Fowler Gallaudet.  Our saint, born in Hartford Connecticut, on June 3, 1822, became a teacher of deaf-mutes.  He, after graduating from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, in 1842, taught in a rural school for a year.  Next Gallaudet taught at the New York Institution for Deaf-Mutes.  He cared deeply about the spiritual lives of deaf-mutes.

Therefore he pioneered church accessibility for deaf people in the United States of America.  Gallaudet, married to Elizabeth Budd, who was deaf, became an Episcopal deacon in 1850.  He, assigned to St. Stephen’s Church, New York City, founded a Bible class for deaf-mutes.  As a priest (from 1851) and as the assistant at St. Ann’s Church, New York City, our saint continued to work with deaf people.  He founded St. Ann’s Church for Deaf-Mutes in 1852.  Two decades later Gallaudet founded The Church Mission to Deaf-Mutes, an aid society.  That year he also helped to found the Home for Aged and Infirm Deaf-Mutes, New York City.  The Gallaudet Home moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1886.  He, aged 80 years, died in New York City on August 27, 1902.

I refer you, O reader, to Gallaudet’s memorial at anglicanhistory.org.

Henry Winter Syle made history.  He, born in Shanghai, China, on November 9, 1846, was a son of the Reverend Edward W. Syle, an Episcopal missionary.  Our saint, who moved to the United States at the age of four years, went deaf at the age of six years due to scarlet fever.  For the rest of his life Syle suffered from ill health.  In 1853 Syle matriculated at Bartlett’s School, New York City.  He moved to Hartford, Connecticut, with the school.  Syle matriculated at Trinity College, Hartford, in 1863, but could not complete his studies there because of ill health.  He wanted to attend the National Deaf-Mute College (now Gallaudet University), but President Edward Miner Gallaudet persuaded him to study at St. John’s College, Cambridge, instead.  Failing health forced our saint to leave that institution also.  Syle finally graduated from an institution of higher learning–Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut (B.A., 1869; M.A., 1872).  He became the first deaf man to graduate from a college not founded for deaf people.

Syle became a teacher and the librarian at the New York Institution for the Deaf.  He also started a night school for deaf people.  He did this while working on his M.A. from Yale College.  In New York City Syle was one of Gallaudet’s parishioners.   In 1872 Syle married Margaret Flannery, also deaf.  Syle left the deaf school to become an employee of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile Syle, active in Syle’s missionary program to the deaf, undertook theological studies.  In 1876 he became the first deaf man ordained in The Episcopal Church.  Syle, a deacon until 1884, when he joined the ranks of priests, founded the first Episcopal church built for deaf people–All Souls’ Church, Philadelphia.

Syle died of pneumonia in Philadelphia on January 6, 1890.  He was 43 years old.

Gallaudet and Syle worked to include deaf people in the Church.  They pioneered much of what has become mainstream.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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O Loving God, whose will it is that everyone should come to you and be saved:

We bless your holy Name for your servants Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle,

whose labors with and for those who are deaf we commemorate today,

and we pray that you will continually move your Church to respond in love to the needs of all people;

through Jesus Christ, who opened the ears of the deaf,

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

Isaiah 35:3-6a

Psalm 25:7-14

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

Mark 7:32-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 543

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Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus, Jornet y Ibars (August 26)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Teresa of Jesus, Jornet y Ibars

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, JORNET Y IBARS (JANUARY 9, 1843-AUGUST 26, 1897)

Catalan Roman Catholic Nun, and Cofoundress of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly

Also known as Saint Teresa Jornet Ibars

St. Teresa of Jesus, Jornet y Ibars, dedicated much of her life to caring for vulnerable elderly people.  She, born in Aytona, Lleida, Spain, on January 9, 1843, was a daughter of Francisco José Jornet and Antoineta Ibars, farmers.  St. Teresa, as a girl, cared actively for local poor people.  At the age of 19 years she began to teach in Barcelona.  In 1868, at the age of 25 years, our saint applied to join the Poor Clares, but political turmoil in Spain led to the rejection of that request.  St. Teresa joined the Secular Carmelites instead in 1870.  Two years later she and her sister Maria founded their first home for the care of abandoned elderly people in Barbastro.  In 1873, with help from her spiritual advisor, Father (now Venerable) Saturnino Lopez Novoa (1830-1905), she founded the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly.  St. Teresa became Teresa of Jesus and the first superior of the order.  Our saint persevered in the good work for the rest of her life.  In 1897 she ministered to victims of an outbreak of cholera.  St. Teresa died of tuberculosis in Liva, Valencia, Spain, on August 26, 1897.  She was 54 years old.

Pope Pius XII declared our saint a Venerable in 1957 then a Blessed the following year.  Pope Paul VI canonized her in 1974.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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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 and 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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of William James Early Bennett (August 17)   10 comments

Above:  William James Early Bennett

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM JAMES EARLY BENNETT (NOVEMBER 15, 1804-AUGUST 17, 1886)

Anglican Priest

Sometimes, while preparing a post about a saint or saints, I read a name.  I remain focused on my task, but take a moment to write that name on a list for future addition to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  That is why I know of the existence of William James Early Bennett, the most recent addition to my Ecumenical Calendar.

William James Early Bennett was an influential and controversial priest in The Church of England.  He, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on November 15, 1804, was a child of Mary Early and of William Bennett, a major in the Royal Engineers, the Royal Army.  Our saint, a graduate of the Westminster School, London; and of Christ Church, Oxford (B.A., 1827; M.A., 1829); married Mary Concetta Franklin in 1828.

Bennett, ordained to the priesthood in 1830, transitioned from being an Evangelical, Low Churchman into becoming a Tractarian and, in the process, a center of controversy.  Anglo-Catholicism was, according to many Low Churchmen, evil it worst.  It smelled of Popery.  The sight of candles burning on an altar proved sufficient to prompt an ecclesiastical proceeding sometimes.  Bennett served various congregations in London through 1851; by 1842 he pronounced High Church tendencies.  Our saint had gone so far as to refer to sacraments as vehicles of grace.

In the early 1840s Bennett began to serve at St. Paul’s, Knightbridge.  He had already come to object publicly to the practice of renting pews, for it gave undue prominence to the wealthy and excluded the poor from churches.  He said:

How constantly we see in our churches the servant attending upon his master or mistress, carrying with him their Prayer Books and Bibles, and waiting upon them to their pew-doors; and then quietly, and in the face of God and of the congregation, retiring from the walls of the church, as if he had no part or lot in the matter of Christian worship.

St. Paul’s, Knightbridge, rented pews, but Bennett persuaded the parish to finance St. Barnabas, Pimlico, in a slum, dedicated in 1850.  Bennett served as the priest of both congregations and, in 1849, ministered to victims of a cholera epidemic in Pimlico.  When Bennett dared to pray for the deceased victims of the disease, the Bishop of London objected on theological grounds.  Bennett replied by citing Anglican precedents for praying for the dead, but the bishop did not relent.  Bennett, under pressure, resigned in 1851.

From 1852 to 1886 Bennett was the Vicar of St. John the Baptist, Frome, Somerset.  When he arrived the church was in terrible condition, numerically and physically.  He revived the congregation, and ended the practice of renting pews, rearranged pews so that the chancel was more visible.  Our saint also changed the schedule of services, adding daily communion services and enabling members of the working class to attend church before going to work.  Attendance increased.  The introduction of vestments and incense also raised some eyebrows.

Overt ritualism was one matter, but advocacy for transubstantiation was, for much of the Evangelical wing of The Church of England, a bridge too far.  Bennett’s pamphlet, A Plea for Toleration in the Church of England (1867), became historically significant.  It led to an ecclesiastical trial, which concluded with the ruling that transubstantiation is not incompatible with Anglican doctrine.  The Privy Council heard an appeal and upheld the decision.

Bennett, an attentive parish priest, died in Frome, Somerset, on August 17, 1886.  He was 81 years old.

Bennett’s published works included the following:

  1. The Eucharist:  Its History, Doctrine, and Practice, with Meditations and Prayers (1837);
  2. A Guide to the Holy Eucharist (1842);
  3. Lecture-Sermons on the Distinctive Errors of Romanism; Preached in Portman Chapel, Marylebone (1842);
  4. A Pastoral Letter to His Parishioners (1846);
  5. Crime and Education:  The Duty of the State Therein (1846);
  6. Lives of the Fathers of the Church in the Fourth Century; for the Instruction of the Young (1847), Volumes I, II, and III;
  7. The Principles of the Book of Common Prayer Considered:  A Series of Lecture Sermons (1848);
  8. A First Letter to the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, M.P.:  On the Present Persecution of a Certain Portion of the English Church; with a Sermon, Preached at S. Paul’s, Knightbridge, on Sunday Morning and Evening, November 17, 1850 (1850);
  9. A Farewell Letter to His Parishioners (1851);
  10. The Last Sermons Preached at Saint Paul’s, Knightbridge, and Saint Barnabas’, Pimlico (1851);
  11. On Anabaptism, the Independents, and Quakerism (1867);
  12. On Presbyterianism and Irvingism (1867);
  13. On Romanism (I) (1867);
  14. Lent Readings from the Fathers (1872); and
  15. Foreign Churches, in Relation to the Anglican:  An Essay Towards Re-Union (1882).

Bennett was a trail blazer.  Much of what was controversial in his time has become commonplace and accepted practice.  The Anglo-Catholic revolution made its mark on the Anglican Communion.

Now we argue about other matters.  I predict that members of subsequent generations of the Church will look back on our time much as we of 2018 regard nineteenth-century controversies about daily communion services and prayers for the dead.

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, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant William James Early Bennett

to be a 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 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 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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