Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1880s’ Category

Feast of Edith Cavell (October 12)   2 comments

Above:  A Stamp Depicting the Death of Edith Cavell

Image in the Public Domain

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EDITH LOUISA CAVELL (DECEMBER 4, 1865-OCTOBER 12, 1915)

English Nurse and Martyr, 1915

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I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.

–Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England, where her feast day is October 12.

Cavell, born in Swardeston, Norfolk, England, on December 4, 1865, grew up to become a pioneering nurse and a martyr.  Her father was a priest in The Church of England.  Our saint grew up in a loving home and shared a pleasant childhood with her siblings.  Cavell, a governess in Belgium (1890-1895), returned home and took care of her ailing father.  Next she studied nursing in London (1896-1898) and became a nurse.  After working in various hospitals, Cavell became the matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium, in 1907.  She revolutionized the nursing profession in Belgium and trained other nurses.

Cavell might have led a longer life had she not returned to Belgium in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I.  In the summer of 1914, when the Great War started, our saint was visiting relatives in Norfolk.  She knew she had to return to Belgium and work as a nurse, given the need for her abilities there.  Our saint, committed to saving lives, regardless of wartime politics, provided medical care to both Allied and Central Powers soldiers.  Saving the lives of military personnel of the Central Powers scandalized many on the Allied side.  On the other hand, when Cavell helped to smuggle more than 200 Allied soldiers out of German-occupied Belgium, she became a target for German military “justice.”  Our saint, arrested for treason on August 3, 1915, and later convicted, died via firing squad on the morning of October 12, 1915.  She was 49 years old.

On October 11, 1915, Cavell had told a visiting Anglican priest:

Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough.  I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

Yet the British Government counted on bitterness and hatred toward the German Empire for executing her.  The British Government used her death as part of a military recruitment strategy.

Cavell’s story has become the basis of movies:

  1. Nurse and Martyr (1915),
  2. The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell (1916),
  3. Nurse Cavell (1916),
  4. The Woman the Germans Shot (1918),
  5. Dawn (1928),
  6. Nurse Edith Cavell (1939), and
  7. Nurse Cavell (1948).

Cavell’s legacy stands for the propositions that human life is sacred, and that a state of war does not alter, minimize, or negate this reality.  Nationalism and patriotism have their places, but when they dehumanize the “other,” they become morally destructive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Edith Cavell:

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

that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

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

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Feast of Cecil Frances Alexander (October 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Cecil Frances Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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CECIL FRANCES HUMPHREYS ALEXANDER (1818/1823-OCTOBER 12, 1895)

Irish Anglican Hymn Writer

Cecil Frances Alexander comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody, to which she contributed greatly.  She wrote more than 400 hymns and poems (mostly for children), including “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” “Jesus Calls Us,” “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “Once in Royal David’s City,” and “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” my favorite hymn.

Cecil Frances Humphreys, born in Miltown House, County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1818 or 1823, depending on the source one believes, was daughter of Major John Humphreys, of the Royal Marines.  She demonstrated her literary abilities at a young age, and, in 1848, published her first volume of poetry.  Two years later our saint married William Alexander (1824-1911), then the Anglican Rector of Termonamongan.  He became the Bishop of Derby and Raphoe in 1867 then the Archbishop of Armagh (the primate of The Church of Ireland) in 1896, as a widower.

Our saint was a woman of her Victorian times.  She pursued a literary career, for which she won acclaim.  Her finest poem, according to reputation, was “The Burial of Moses,” which Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), said he wished he had written.  Our saint’s hymns and other poems, volumes of which she published, graced various Anglican hymnals of her time.  She also devoted herself to the tasks of a parson’s wife.  Furthermore, she was a philanthropist, caring actively for the poor and for “fallen women,” as well as supporting a school for deaf children in Londonderry financially.

Alexander died in Londonderry on October 12, 1895.  Her legacy of hymnody has survived her, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Cecil Frances Alexander 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 Harry Emerson Fosdick (October 5)   5 comments

Above:  Harry Emerson Fosdick

Image in the Public Domain

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HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK (MAY 24, 1878-OCTOBER 5, 1969)

U.S. Northern Baptist Minister and Opponent of Fundamentalism

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…we cannot harmonize Christ himself with modern culture.  What Christ does to modern culture is to challenge it.

–Harry Emerson Fosdick, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism” (1935); quoted in Dewitte Holland, ed., Sermons in American History:  Selected Issues in the American Pulpit, 1630-1967 (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1971), 377

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Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the most influential ministers in the United States of America during the twentieth century.  He, controversial in life, has remained so postmortem.

Fundamentalism is inherently ahistorical.  This is not an idea original to me.  Consider, O reader, Karen Armstrong:

…fundamentalism is ahistorical:  it believes that Abraham, Moses and the later prophets all experienced their God in exactly the same way as people do today.

A History of God:  The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1994), xx

One might also consider G. E. Mendenhall, author of The Tenth Generation (1973):

Biblical fundamentalism, whether Jewish or Christian, cannot learn from the past because in so many respects the defense of presently accepted ideas about religion is thought to be the only purpose of biblical narrative.  It must, therefore, support ideas of comparatively recent origin–ones that usually have nothing to do with the original meaning or intention of biblical narrative because the context is so radically different.

–Quoted in W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah:  A Modern Commentary, Vol. IV, Numbers (New York:  Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), xiv-xv

Fosdick, born in Buffalo, New York, on May 24, 1878, came from a devout family with a tradition of valuing education.  His father was Frank Sheldon Fosdick.  Our saint’s mother was Amy Inez Weaver.  His brother, Raymond B. Fosdick, grew up to become an esteemed attorney, as well as a friend and associate of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960).  Our saint, baptized at the age of seven years, thought about becoming a missionary before deciding on domestic ministry.  He, having graduated from high school in 1896, matriculated at Colgate University.  He graduated with his A.B. degree four years later, and was the class poet.  Fosdick, ordained a Baptist minister in 1903, graduated from Union Theological Seminary the following year.  He married Florence Allen Whitney (d. 1964) on August 16, 1904.  The couple had two daughters.

Fosdick served in a few congregations and taught at Union Theological Seminary.  He, from 1904 to 1915 the pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, New Jersey, began his 38-year-long stint of teaching practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in 1908.  He was an instructor (1908-1915), a professor (1915-1917, 1919-1934), and a part-time faculty member (1934-1946).  In 1917-1919 our saint worked as a chaplain with the Y.M.C.A. in France.  After World War I he returned to New York City, to begin duties as assistant minister (1919-1925) of First Presbyterian Church.

Fosdick became a central figure in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a denomination to which he did not belong.  In 1922 he preached a seminal sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”  He condemned the intolerance of fundamentalism and criticized minor theological disputes (such as arguments about the Virgin Birth) as distractions

when the world is perishing for the lack of the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 347

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., liked the sermon so much that he paid for the printing and mailing of the text to every Protestant minister in the United States.  Clarence Macartney (1879-1957), conservative pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, replied via a sermon that year.  He asked, “Shall Unbelief Win?” and accused Fosdick of heresy and intolerance.  After much controversy, Fosdick had to resign in 1925.

Above:  Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York, New York

Photographer = Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Rockefeller, Jr., offered Fosdick another position, though.  Our saint accepted the pastorate of Park Avenue Baptist Church on four conditions, which he established:

  1. That baptism by immersion cease to be a requirement for membership;
  2. That the congregation become interdenominational, accepting Christians of all creeds;
  3. That the congregation move to a less swanky neighborhood; and
  4. That the initial salary cap for Fosdick be $5000 ($69,900, adjusted for inflation, to 2017 currency).

Above:  Riverside Church and Grant’s Tomb, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

Rockefeller, Jr., financed the construction of the Gothic edifice of the renamed Riverside Church, located near Columbia University and Grant’s Tomb.  The congregation’s first Sunday in the new building, dedicated in 1931, was October 5, 1930.  Fosdick wrote the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory,” for the occasion.  For 15 years 1931-1946) Fosdick was the most influential Protestant minister in the United States.  For 20 years (1926-1946) he preached on national radio.  He retired from Riverside Church in 1946.

Fosdick was a prolific author of books and articles.  Some of these were volumes of sermons.  Many other books were psychological-theological in nature.  Examples of these included Twelve Tests of Character (1923) and On Being a Real Person (1943).

Fosdick, who preferred modernism to fundamentalism, was critical of modernism, too.  In 1935 he preached a sermon, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism.”  Modernism, he said, was a necessary advance.  However, our saint stated, the church needed to move beyond it, for modernism was imperfect.  It was simultaneously preoccupied with intellectualism and too sentimental, according to Fosdick.  He also argued that modernism had

largely eliminated from its faith the God of moral judgment.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 373

Our saint also asserted that modernism had accommodated too much to the world that it (modernism) had placed people at the center and relegated God to an advisory capacity.  Modernism, Fosdick argued, had also surrendered the moral high ground.  Our saint was arguing for Neo-orthodoxy.

Fosdick stood up for a range of controversial positions.  His adopted pacifism, evident in his hymn, “The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930), was more popular at certain times than others.  Our saint also advocated for the civil rights of African Americans when doing so was often unpopular.  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968) thought of Fosdick as a prophetic figure.  Fosdick, eschewing anti-Semitism, also sympathized with displaced Palestinians.  He, not a Zionist, opposed the creation of the State of Israel.

Fosdick wrote four hymns, all of which have remained germane:

  1. God of Grace and God of Glory” (1930),
  2. The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930),
  3. O God, in Restless Living” (1931), and
  4. O God, Who to a Loyal Home” (1956).

Fosdick, aged 91 years, died in Bronxville, New York, on October 5, 1969.

Perhaps the précis of Fodick’s life was the following excerpt from “God of Grace and God of Glory”:

Save us from weak resignation

To the evils we deplore;….

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM SCARLETT, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSOURI, AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Harry Emerson Fosdick,

and we ray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

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

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

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 720

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Feast of John Raleigh Mott (October 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  John Raleigh Mott

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-22746

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JOHN RALEIGH MOTT (MAY 25, 1865-JANUARY 31, 1955)

U.S. Methodist Lay Evangelist, and Ecumenical Pioneer

It is a startling and solemnizing fact that even as late as the twentieth century, the Great Command of Jesus Christ to carry the Gospel to all mankind is still so largely unfulfilled….The church is confronted today, as in no preceding generation, to make Christ known.

–John Raleigh Mott, at the International Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1910

John Raleigh Mott comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church, which has set his feast day as October 3.

The Episcopal Church added Mot to the then-new Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (published in 2010) at the General Convention of 2009.  His feast transferred to the successor volume, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  The General Convention of 2018 approved the addition of Mott’s feast to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, the first revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts since 2006.

Mott, born in Livingston Manor, New York, on May 25, 1865, devoted most of his adult life to missions.  Our saint, the third of four children, was the only son of Elmira Dodge and John Mott.  The family moved to Pottsville, Iowa, in September 1865.  There our saint’s father, a lumber merchant, served as mayor.  At the age of 16 years Mott matriculated at Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa.  He transferred from the Methodist preparatory school and college to Cornell University in 1885.  In the summer of 1886 Mott represented the Cornell chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) at the first international conference of the Y.M.C.A.  Our saint, chapter president in 1886-1888, graduated in 1888, having majored in philosophy and history.  In 1891 he married Leila Ada White of Worster, Ohio.  The couple had four children–two daughters and two sons.

Meanwhile, Mott had commenced his career with the Y.M.C.A.  In September 1888 he began to serve as the National Secretary of the Intercollegiate Y.M.C.A. of the U.S.A. and Canada; he held that post for 27 years.  Concurrent portfolios included the following:

  1. General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation (1895f);
  2. Assistant General Secretary, Y.M.C.A. (1901f);
  3. Presiding officer, International Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland (1910);
  4. General Secretary of the International Committee, Y.M.C.A. (1915-1928); and
  5. President of the World Committee, Y.M.C.A. (1926-1937).

Mott was an ecumenical pioneer.  The International Missionary Conference, held at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910, began the modern ecumenical movement, in which Mott remained active.  He also attended the Faith and Order Conference (Lausanne, Switzerland, 1927), served as the Vice President of the Second World Conference on Faith and Order (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1937), and was the Chairman of the Life and Work Conference (Oxford, England, 1937).  In 1948 our saint became the honorary lifelong Honorary President (1948f) of the new World Council of Churches.

Mott also engaged in civil services.  After he declined President Woodrow Wilson’s offer to become the Ambassador to China, our saint joined the Mexican Commission in 1916 and the Special Diplomatic Mission to Russia the following year.  During World War I Mott served as the General Secretary of the National War Work Council.  After the war our saint received the Distinguished Service Medal.

Mott, author of 16 books about missions, traveled widely on missions tours.  He received honors in foreign nations as well as the United States, and earned the trust of many people, including St Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925), the Patriarch of Moscow.

Late in life, Mott received more honors.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.  He eventually became an honorary canon of Washington National Cathedral, also.

Mott, aged 89 years, died at home, in Orlando, Florida, on January 31, 1955.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT-NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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O God, the shepherd of all, we give you thanks for the lifelong commitment of your servant

John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world;

and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples

in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ,

in whom alone is our peace; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 60:1-5

Psalm 71:17-24

1 John 2:12-14

Luke 7:11-17

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 621

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Give us grace, O merciful God, to seek and serve you in all nations and peoples,

following the example of your servant John Raleigh Mott,

that all the peoples of the earth, who divided and enslaved by sin,

might be led into that glorious liberty that you desire for all your children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit

be all honor and glory, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 60:1-5

Psalm 71:17-24

Luke 7:11-17

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (October 1)   3 comments

Above:  St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX (JANUARY 2, 1873-SEPTEMBER 30, 1897)

Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

Also known as Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, and the Little Flower of the Child Jesus

Alternative feast day = September 20

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, born Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin at Alençon, Normandy, France, on January 2, 1873, came from a devout family.  Her parents were saints–literally.  Louis Martin (1823-1894), a watchmaker, and his wife, Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin (1831-1877), had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  The Roman Catholic Church declared them Venerables in 1994, beatified them in 2008, canonized them in 2015, and set July 12, their wedding day, as their feast day.

St. Thérèse led a brief and pious life.  Her mother, known informally as Zelie, died when St. Thérèse was just four years old.  The widower father raised his five daughters.  St. Thérèse, the youngest of the children, was the baby of the family; her father and sisters were very attentive to her, to the point of spoiling her.

St. Thérèse had a conversion experience at the age of 14 years and became Carmelite novice at the age of 15 years.  On Christmas Eve 1886 the 14-year-old saint, who had played a nun as a girl, had a vision of the infant Jesus.  Her vocation, she realized, was to pray for priests.  Our saint, seeking to give her whole life to God, gained the necessary special permission to enter the Carmelite convent (the same one where two of her sisters were nuns) in Lisieux.  She became Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

In the convent St. Thérèse obeyed the order’s rule to the letter, felt intimacy with God, and suffered failing health and spiritual difficulties with outward good cheer.  Our saint was, by nature and conditioning, neurotic.  St. Thérèse’s determination to be love and

to make Love loved

compelled her as she offered to God her devotion and suffering in the hope that God would credit them to souls in greater name than she.  The author of The Story of a Soul understood herself to be a

little flower of Jesus

who glorified God in her metaphysical garden.

St. Thérèse, aged 24 years, died of tuberculosis at the convent on September 30, 1897.  She had, for a time, felt abandoned by God as she struggled with despairs.  She had lost all certainty.  At the end, however, faith remained.  Her last words were,

Oh, I love Him!…My God,…I love you.

The Church recognized St. Thérèse.  Pope Benedict XV declared her a Venerable in 1921.  Pope Pius XI beatified her in 1923 and canonized her in 1925.  Pope John Paul II declared St. Thérèse a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

At the end of her life St. Thérèse had faith, not certainty.

Faith, when it is what it should be, is never about objective, historical-scientific certainty, in the style of Enlightenment Modernism.  Much knowledge of that variety exists and is valid; intellectually honest people should embrace it.  Enlightenment Modernism does have limits, though.  At that point faith takes over; a different form of certainty is present.

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, LORD SHAFTESBURY, BRITISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF COMPASSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST, DEACON AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MYSTIC

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Gracious Father, who called your servant Thérèse to a life of fervent prayer,

give to us the spirit of prayer and zeal for the ministry of the Gospel,

that the love of Christ may be known throughout the world;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Judith 8:1-8

Psalm 119:1-8

Luke 21:1-4

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Marie-Joseph Aubert (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert

Image in the Public Domain

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MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT (JUNE 19, 1835-OCTOBER 1, 1926)

Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion

Also known as Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert and Meri

Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  There is also a cause for her canonization in the Roman Catholic Church.  The irony of that is wonderful, given how often Aubert was at odds with the hierarchy of her Church, especially in New Zealand.

(Marie Henriette) Suzanne Aubert, born in Saint-Symphorien-de-Lay, Loire, near Lyons, France, on June 19, 1835, was devout from an early age.  Her father was Louis Aubert, a bailiff.  Our saint’s mother was Henriette Catherine Clarice Périer.  Suzanne, disabled for a long time due to a childhood accident, recovered.  The experience contributed to her decision to spend her life helping the disabled, the deformed, and the seriously ill.  So did contact with Marists in Lyons.  St. Jean Baptiste Vianney (1746-1859) mentored Suzanne spiritually from her teens into her early twenties.  She became a nurse and served during the Crimean War.  Our saint also studied piano under the tutelage of Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  In September 1860 the 25-year-old saint, resisting family opposition to her intention to become a nun, joined the missionary expedition of Bishop François Pompallier to New Zealand.

Our saint spent most of the rest of her life in New Zealand.

She taught Maori girls in Auckland from 1860 to 1869.  During this period Suzanne Aubert became Sister Marie-Joseph of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, in June 1861.  The French-Irish order divided in 1862; the French nuns formed the Congregation of the Holy Family.  Bishop Pompallier left New Zealand in 1868 and resigned in March 1869.  His financial troubles caused the school to close and the Congregation of the Holy Family to disband.  Bishop T. W. Cooke, the next bishop to whom Aubert answered, ordered her to return to France.  Our saint disobeyed, replying,

I have come here for the Maoris, I shall die in their midst.  I will do what I like.

Aubert moved to Napier in February 1871; there she served in a lay capacity in the Marist Order’s Hawke’s Bay Mission, at the invitation of Father Euloge Reignier.  At that time our saint was a sister of the Third Order Regular of Mary.  At the Hawke’s Bay Mission she worked as a nurse, a catechist, and a teacher.  She, fluent in Maori, prepared and published a Maori-language catechism and prayer-book in 1879 and a Maori grammar in 1885.  She, known to the Maori as “Meri,” studied Maori herbal remedies and used them to supplement Western medicines.  Our saint also proved vital to the revival of the Marist mission in the Diocese of Wellington.  The mission, devastated by war during the 1860s, was short on priests.  Aubert’s persistence in lobbying Archbishop Francis Redwood and the leaders of the Marist Order led to the presence of more priests, including Father Christophe Soulas.

Aubert, Soulas, and three Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth arrived at the Jerusalem Mission on the Wanganui River on July 8, 1883.  Personality and philosophical differences became evident quickly, leading to the departure of the Sisters of Saint Joseph the following year.  Soulas and Aubert, allies, eventually received permission to found a new diocesan order, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (1892).  Aubert served as the first Superior of the order.  The members of the order initially focused on education and health care for Maori.  The nuns operated schools, dispensed medicine, and cared for disabled people and the chronically ill.  Aubert raised funds for the order by marketing herbal remedies.

At the Jerusalem Mission, starting in 1891, Aubert’s work also involved taking in abandoned and neglected children.  In the space of a decade she accepted responsibility for 70 children.  In the context of politics in New Zealand, European-style founding institutions were controversial.  Aubert, partially dependent on yet distrustful of civil authorities, refused to open the books for government inspectors.  Also, the geographically isolated mission was not the best place for the foundling institution.

Thus, it came to pass that, in January 1899, Aubert and three sisters did arrive in Wellington.  While the Jerusalem Mission continued our saint opened a new front in her work–helping urban poor people–invalids, the hungry, the unemployed, the incurably ill, et cetera.  The soup kitchen was controversial because, according to the colonial Department of Labour, it allegedly discouraged people from seeking employment.  Aubert’s rebuttal was that she was meeting a need.  The affordable daycare was popular with mothers.  Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington, opened in 1907, accepted the unwanted, handicapped, and seriously ill children, as well as chronically and terminally ill women.

Aubert founded St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in Auckland in 1910.  This institution attracted the ire of the government and of certain Protestants alike.  Why was the order so secretive, protecting the privacy of children?  Yet Aubert and her defenders replied that the policy was necessary, to reduce the likelihood of infanticide.

Aubert also had enemies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in New Zealand.  Certainly diplomacy was not her defining characteristic.  Neither was obedience.  (Nor should they have been.)  Aubert had, for example, ignored Archbishop Redwood’s order that she help only Roman Catholics.  As she told donors, her work was

salvation of souls, not the sanctification of Catholics.

Furthermore, Henry Cleary, the Bishop of Auckland, thought that our saint should have restricted her work to efforts to help women.  He arranged for the closing of St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in 1916.

Aubert spent 1913-1919 in Europe.  She went there to seek papal approval for her order, but stayed until after the end of World War I.  Our saint, who worked as a nurse during the Great War, obtained the desired papal approval and became the Superior General of her order in April 1917.

Aubert spent her final years in her adopted country.  She, aged 91 years, died at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington.  Mourners at her funeral included many politicians and leaders of a variety of denominations.  It was the largest funeral for a woman in New Zealand.

Aubert loved her neighbors as she loved herself.  The Golden Rule, seemingly simple and inoffensive, has proven to be neither simple nor inoffensive.  That has been unfortunate, reflecting the immorality and amorality of those who have found it offensive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

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God of love, we remember with thanksgiving Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert,

whose devotion to the needs of others transcended race or religion;

touch us deeply with your love,

enlarge the boundaries of our compassion,

and keep us in the way of Jesus, for your name’s sake.  Amen.

or 

Jesus of Jerusalem, in your compassion, Marie-Joseph visited and fed

the taurekareka, the unwanted, the desperate and the criminal;

give to your whole church, we pray, your caring, pioneering spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 107:1-22

James 2:14-18

Mark 6:34-44

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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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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