Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1950s’ Category

Feast of Jacques Ellul (May 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Bordeaux Harbor, Bordeaux, France, 1890

Publisher and Copyright Holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-04951

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JACQUES ELLUL (JANUARY 6, 1912-MAY 19, 1994)

French Reformed Theologian and Sociologist

Jacques Ellul offered a nuanced critique of modern society.  The central theme of his theology was that

The world is in perpetual contadiction with the will of God.

Ellul also argued that God has never abandoned the world.

Ellul, who was French, was of a mixed ethnic background.  He, born at Bordeaux on January 6, 1912, was the son of Joseph and Martha Ellul.  Joseph, frequently unemployed, came from an Eastern Orthodox background, which he had abandoned in favor of Deism.  He, born in Malta, was an Austrian citizen and a British subject of Serbian and Italian ethnicity.  Martha, a French Protestant, was of French and Portuguese descent.  She taught art at a private school.  Religion was a subject of little discussion in the home.  Our saint did not become a Christian until his early twenties.

At his father’s behest Ellul studied law at the University of Bordeaux.  At the university our saint read Das Kapital.  Thus Karl Marx became an influence on his thought.  The Marxian (separate from Marxist) idea of Conflict Theory, or of historical change via clashing social forces, remained a part of Ellul’s philosophy for the rest of his life.

Ellul offered a social critique prior to World War II.  He and friend Bernard Charbonneau (1910-1996) developed a variation on the Personalism of Emmanuel Mournier (1905-1950).  They published their libertarian-anarchist critique in Mournier’s journal, L’Esprit.  Our saint sought to start a cultural revolution opposed to nationalism and political centralism.  He stood in opposition in particular to modern technological structures.

In 1937, the same year Ellul married his wife Yvette, he became a professor of law.  He taught at Montpelier then at Strasbourg.  The government of the French State, or Vichy France, removed our saint from his position at the University of Strasbourg on the grounds that his father was Maltese.  (The Vichy slogan was “Work, Family, Country.”  Ellul was allegedly a foreigner because of his father.)  During World War II our saint supported himself and his family via farming.  He, active in the Maquis, also helped Jews escape from the Nazis.  For this work he received posthumous recognition as one of the Yad Vashem, or the Righteous Among the Nations.

Partisan politics disagreed with Ellul, but social causes did not.  He, the Deputy Mayor of Bordeaux from October 31, 1944, to April 29, 1945, preferred to work for social transformation via the Reformed Church of France and various non-partisan organizations.  Causes that inspired him included ecology and the prevention of juvenile delinquency.  Ellul, a professor at the University of Bordeaux from 1944 until his retirement in 1980, influenced many people around the world via his more than 35 books in the fields of theology and sociology.

Ellul, whose influences included Karl Marx, John Calvin, and Karl Barth, argued that Christians should be, from the perspective of the state and other social institutions, trouble-makers.  The systems, he insisted, are inherently violent, for, even if they do not commit violence, they depend upon it.  His proposed alternative was the “violence of love,” or the application of one’s energies to social change on behalf of the impoverished, especially the forgotten poor.  Regarding technology, Ellul criticized the deification of it.  He was no luddite, however.  No, his attitude toward technology was ambivalent.

Ellul, not a Biblical literalist, recognized that the sacred anthology contains inaccuracies and contradictions.  He dealt with them not by ignoring them, rationalizing them away, or rejecting the Bible, but by focusing on the messages in the Bible and its books as wholes.  The Church had canonized certain books, not isolated passages, he observed.  The best way to read the Bible, Ellul wrote, was to focus on the forest, not to become lost amid the trees.

Ellul died, aged 82 years, at Pessac (near Bordeaux) on May 19, 1994.

Ellul provides much food for thought for me.  I am not a Biblical literalist either, so his advice on reading and interpreting the scriptures resonates with me.  I also agree with Conflict Theory, an approach useful in history, my discipline.  Furthermore, I identify with Ellul’s ambivalent approach toward technology, with its benefits and its dangers.  I am a blogger, so I cannot be a luddite, but the Internet is not unambiguously good.  I appreciate our saint’s recognition of the violence inherent in social, economic, and political systems, whereby all of us become the beneficiaries of that violence, even if we do not commit it.  I also approve of his call to nonviolent social action in response.  Furthermore, the union of church and state perverts the church, transforming into an arm of the state.  Ellul’s cautious attitude toward the state therefore makes much sense to me.

People die yet ideas survive.  Ellul’s philosophy continues to influence people to nonviolent social action, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH O’FLAHERTY, “SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF THE VATICAN”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL SHINJI SASAKI, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF TOKYO; AND PHILIP LENDEL TSEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF HONAN

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Jacques Ellul,

and we pray that by his teachings we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth

we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of Mary McLeod Bethune (May 18)   1 comment

Above:  Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-12536

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MARY JANE MCLEOD BETHUNE (JULY 10, 1875-MAY 18, 1955)

African-American Educator and Social Activist

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I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.  They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.

–Mary McLeod Bethune

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Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune left the world better than she found it.

Mary Jane McLeod was the fifteenth of seventeen children in her family.  She, born near Mayesville, South Carolina, on July 10, 1875, was a child of former slaves.  As such our saint learned the value of freedom at an early age.  Her grandmother Sophia, also a former slave, reinforced those lessons.  Young Mary Jane had a great appetite for knowledge in a place and at a time in which many unapologetically racist whites openly questioned the necessity and value of literacy and education for African Americans.

Mission schools of the former “Northern” (actually national) Presbyterian Church in the United States of America shaped our saint.  From the ages of 12 to 18 years she studied at Scotia Seminary for girls, Concord, North Carolina.  The racially integrated faculty impressed McLeod, who took to mathematics, science, Latin, and English with great eagerness.  After graduating from Scotia Seminary she studied at the Mission Training School of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, from which she also graduated.  Then our saint applied to serve as a missionary to Africa, but the Presbyterian Board of Missions rejected her request, citing her youth.

McLeod’s vocation was actually to help African Americans.  She became a teacher at the Haines Institute, Augusta, Georgia.  In 1898 she married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune.  The couple moved to Savannah, Georgia, where they remained for a few years.  Our saint taught at mission schools–the Kendall Institute, Sumter, South Carolina; and the Palatka Mission School, Palatka, Florida–for a year.  Then, in 1904, she founded the Daytona Literary and Training School for Girls with five students and $1.50 ($41.70 in 2016 currency).  Bethune raised funds from the community and from corporate donors, however.  Donors included James Gamble (of Proctor and Gamble) and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  Before 1919 the school had become the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute.  In 1919 it changed its name to the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute.  In 1923-1925 the school merged with the Cookman Institute, Jacksonville, Florida.  The Cookman Institute, founded in 1872 and affiliated with the old “Northern” (actually national) Methodist Episcopal Church, trained African-American teachers and ministers.  The merged institution was Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institution, which changed its name to Bethune-Cookman College in 1931.  Our saint served as the President until 1942 and again in 1946-1947.  She also transferred her membership from the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bethune was a civil rights pioneer.  She resisted the Ku Klux Klan and voted despite threats of violence.  Our saint also advocated for anti-lynching laws and for the termination of poll taxes.  She, who knew the stings of racial segregation well, acted to change her society.  This advocacy brought her to the attention of President Herbert Hoover, who invited her to attend a general session of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1930.

Eleanor Roosevelt was an especially important ally and friend of Bethune.  Through the First Lady our saint gained access to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom she lobbied on behalf of her people.  Bethune held government positions during the Roosevelt Administration.  She was the Director of Negro Administration from 1936 to 1944.  Our saint also served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of War and the Assistant Director of the Woman’s Army Corps.  In that capacity she organized the first woman’s officer candidate school.  Our saint also attended the founding conference of the United Nations.

As if Bethune were not busy enough, she did much more.  In 1935 she founded the National Council of Negro Women, an organization she led until 1939.  Our saint, also active in the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), served as the President of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History from 1936 to 1951.

Bethune, aged 79 years, rested from her labors on May 18, 1955.

Bethune-Cookman College became Bethune-Cookman University in 2007.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

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

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the trouble,

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), page 60

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Feast of Donald Coggan (May 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Canterbury Cathedral, 1910

Image Source = Library of Congress

Publisher and Copyright Holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a24699

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FREDERICK DONALD COGGAN (OCTOBER 9, 1909-MAY 17, 2000)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury and author of more than 20 books, left his mark on The Church of England, his country, and the global church.

Coggan was a priest and an academic.  He, a child of Highgate businessman Cornish Arthur Coggan, entered the world on October 9, 1909.  Our saint, a graduate of St. John’s College, Cambridge, was Assistant Lecturer at Manchester University from 1931 to 1934.  He, ordained to the diaconate in 1934 then the priesthood the following year, served as the Curate of St. Mary’s, Islington, from 1934 to 1937.

Academia beckoned, however.  From 1937 to 1944 Coggan was Professor of New Testament at Wycliffe College, Ontario, Canada.  After that he worked at the London College of Divinity as Principal (1944-1956) and Macneil Professor of Biblical Exegesis (1952-1956).  Coggan also served as the Examining Chaplain to the Bishops of Lincoln (1946-1956), Manchester (1951-1956), Southwark (1954-1956), and Chester (1955-1956), and as Proctor in Convocation of the Diocese of London (1950-1956).

Then Coggan joined the ranks of the bishops.  He, the Bishop of Bradford (1956-1961) then the Archbishop of York (1961-1974), joined other capacities simultaneously.  He was, for example, the following;

  • Select Preacher at Oxford University (1960-1961),
  • Chairman of the Liturgical Commission of The Church of England (1960-1964),
  • Chairman of the College of Preachers (1960-1980),
  • Pro-Chancellor of York University (1962-1974),
  • Pro-Chancellor of Hull University (1968-1974),
  • President of the Society for Old Testament Studies (1967-1968),
  • Prelate of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (1967-1990), and
  • Shaftesbury Lecturer (1973).

In 1974 Coggan became one of the oldest men appointed to the office of Archbishop of Canterbury.  As such he served briefly–not quite six years–the second shortest tenure in modern times.  (William Temple served for the briefest period of time.)  Coggan, an ardent evangelist, was an early supporter of the ordination of women in The Church of England.  He was also an ecumenist.  Our saint made history by attending the consecration of Pope John Paul II in 1978, thereby becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a papal consecration in centuries.  Coggan also supported the Council of Christians and Jews.

Coggan remained active after retiring at the age of 70 years, consistent with canons.  In 1980 he became the Baron Coggan of Canterbury and Sissinghurst.  Our saint continued to write.  He also became Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Canterbury, serving until 1988.  Coggan also played a role in the translation of The Revised English Bible (1989), successor of The New English Bible (1961-1970), which he had also helped to translate.

Coggan, aged 90 years, died of natural causes at Winchester, where he had been an assistant bishop, on May 17, 2000.  His wife, Jean Braithwaite Strain Coffin (1909-2005), whom he had married in 1935, and two daughters survived him.

The legacy Coggan left the larger church also survives him, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Donald Coggan 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 Roger Schutz (May 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Brother Roger

Image Source = Vatican Radio

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ROGER LOUIS SCHÜTZ-MARSAUCHE (MAY 12, 1915-AUGUST 16, 2005)

Founder and First Prior of the Taizé Community

Also known as Brother Roger

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I discovered my Christian identity by reconciling within myself my Protestant origins and my faith in the Catholic Church.

–Brother Roger

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Roger Schütz was an ecumenical pioneer who, even after his death, has continued to arouse the theological ire of both diehard anti-Roman Catholic Protestant and traditionalist Catholic camps while winning the approval of both the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.

Our saint had Protestant origins.  He, born in Provence, Switzerland, on May 12, 1915, was a son of Karl Ulrich Schütz, a Lutheran minister, and Amélie Henriette Marsauche, a French Calvinist.  From a young age, however, Roger had an interest in Roman Catholic spiritual writers, such as Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).  When our saint studied theology at Lausanne he wrote his thesis on the topic, “Is Saint Benedict’s ideal of the monastic life in conformity with the Gospel?”

The origins of the ecumenical monastery went back to 1940, when Schütz arrived in Taizé, Burgundy, France, on the border of the Nazi-occupation zone and the French State, or Vichy France.  He founded a community that sheltered Jews, orphans, and members of the Maquis.  Schütz, forced to flee from the Gestapo in 1942, returned two years later.  Then he began in earnest to set up the Taizé community.

Brother Roger wrote the community rule, the summary of which was:

Preserve at all times an interior silence to live in Christ’s presence and cultivate the spirit of the Beatitudes:  joy, simplicity, mercy.

On Easter Day 1949 the first brothers took their vows of celibacy, the sharing of possessions, and the acceptance of authority.  The ecumenical community was immediately a target of suspicion from both the Roman Catholic Church and mainstream Protestantism, although both of those camps lightened up over time.  In 1969, for example, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in France permitted Catholics to join the ecumenical monastery.  That community had 12 brothers in 1950, 50 brothers in 1965, and more than 100 brothers (most of them Catholics) in 2005.

Brother Roger was open about his Roman Catholic sympathies, although he never converted to Catholicism.  He defended the celibacy of the clergy and accepted the “universal ministry of the Pope,” for example.  Pope St. John XXIII invited our saint to observe Vatican II.  In 1974, at the Youth Council, which more than 40,000 people attended, an Orthodox bishop and five Cardinals were present.  Pope St. John Paul II visited Taizé in 1986.  Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey led a group of 100 young Anglicans there six years later.  Also, in 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, soon to become Pope Benedict XVI, gave Brother Roger communion at the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II.

Brother Roger, at the age of 90 years, was planning to retire when he died in 2005.  He had already designated a successor, Brother Alois.  On August 16, 2005, at a prayer service with 2,500 young people present, Luminita Ruxandra Solcan, a mentally ill woman from Romania, stabbed the prior fatally three times.  Those who issued their condolences included Pope Benedict XVI; Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; the Roman Catholic prelates of France and Germany; Nigel McCullough, the (Anglican) Bishop of Manchester; Geneviève Jacques, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; and Bob Edgar, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.  At Brother Roger’s funeral Brother Alois prayed for divine forgiveness of Solcan.

I have written about many saints at this weblog since 2009.  They have been quite a varied group; many of them have been quite different from me.  (Vive a différence!)  Brother Roger has been one of the saints closest to my heart, especially given his zeal for ecumenism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Roger Schütz,

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), page 60

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Feast of Henry Knox Sherrill (May 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRY KNOX SHERRILL (NOVEMBER 6, 1890-MAY 11, 1980)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Henry Knox Sherrill made his mark on The Episcopal Church, the United States of America, and the global church.

Our saint grew up in a devout family and became an Episcopal priest.  His parents were Henry Williams Sherrill (1853-1900) and Maria Knox Mills Sherrill (1855-1932).  His brother was Franklin Goldthwaite Sherrill (1883-1933).  Our saint, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 6, 1890, graduated from Yale University with his Bachelor’s degree in 1911.  At Yale his mentor had been Henry Sloane Coffin (1877-1954).  Then he attended the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1914.

The young priest opposed intolerance and favored progressive causes throughout his life.  He began his ministerial career as the Assistant Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1914-1917).  Next he served as a Red Cross chaplain, assigned first to a hospital in Boston (1917) then in Talence, France (1917-1919).  Our saint, discharged from the U.S. Army after World War I, served as the Rector of the Church of Our Saviour, Brookline, Massachusetts (1919-1923), then as the Rector of Trinity Church, Boston (1923-1930).  During his time in Boston in the 1920s Sherrill also taught pastoral care and homiletics at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, and pastoral care at the Boston University School of University.

Sherrill became a bishop in 1930.  He, the Ninth Bishop of Massachusetts from October 14, 1930, to June 1, 1947, served as the chairman of The Episcopal Church’s Army/Navy Commission and the General Commission of Army/Navy Chaplains.  In the latter capacity our saint traveled widely in combat zones.  For this work he received the Medal of Merit, the U.S.A.’s highest award for a civilian.  Sherrill, Presiding Bishop from January 1, 1947, resigned as Bishop of Massachusetts on June 1, 1947, in accordance with national church canons.  As the Presiding Bishop our saint oversaw the organization of the Episcopal Church Foundation, the creation of the Seabury Press, and the progress of civil rights in the denomination.

That commitment to civil rights ran deeply with Sherrill.  In 1946 President Harry S Truman had appointed our saint to serve on the Civil Rights Advisory Committee, which produced the signal report “To Secure These Rights” (October 1947).  Sherrill also presided over the decision to change the location of the denominational General Convention of 1955 from Houston, Texas, where African-American delegates would not have received equal housing arrangements, to Honolulu, Hawai’i.  That was a controversial decision.  Under Sherrill’s leadership the General Convention of 1955 issued a strong statement decrying racial segregation and discrimination as being contrary to the will of God.  Our saint also supported ecclesiastical integration openly:

Integration in the whole church is inevitable; it is fundamental to the heart of the Gospel.

–Sherrill, September 18, 1956; quoted in David E. Summer, The Episcopal Church’s History:  1945-1985 (Wilton, CT:  Morehouse-Barlow, 1987), page 37

Sherrill was also an ecumenical leader.  He served as the first President of the National Council of Churches from 1950 to 1952 then as the President of the World Council of Churches from 1954 to 1961.

Our saint, who resigned as the Presiding Bishop on November 14, 1958, for health-related reasons, received 21 honorary degrees from universities such as Columbia, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton.  He retired to the Boston area, where he died on May 11, 1980, aged 89 years.

Sherrill’s legacy has continued not only via institutions, but also via his family.  He married Barbara Harris.  The couple had four children, who had their own families and other direct and indirect influences.

Edmund K. Sherrill became a priest.  He was the Bishop of Central Brazil in 1975 and the Bishop of Northern Brazil five years later.

Barbara Prue Sherrill married Mason Wilson, Jr.

Henry Williams Sherrill (1922-2001) became an Episcopal priest.

Franklin Goldthwaite Sherrill II, or F. Goldthwaite Sherrill, served as the Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, New York, New York, from 1967 until his retirement in 1993.  He died, aged 87 years, in late July 2017.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Henry Knox Sherrill,

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), page 60

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Feast of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (May 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Dorothy Day, 1934

Image in the Public Domain

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DOROTHY DAY (NOVEMBER 8, 1897-NOVEMBER 29, 1980)

ARISTODE PIERRE MAURIN (MAY 9, 1877-MAY 15, 1949)

Cofounders of the Catholic Worker Movement

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Don’t call me a saint.  I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.

–Dorothy Day

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People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness’ sake.  Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush.  But the Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods.  Although you may be called bums and panhandlers, yo are in fact the ambassadors of God.  As God’s ambassadors you should be given good, clothing, and shelter by those who are able to give it.

–Peter Maurin on Christian hospitality

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Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin were radicals, even according to the standards of many other radicals.  Their radicalism was consistent with their Christian faith.

Peter Maurin lived according the reality that all of us depend entirely on God.  Aristode Pierre Maurin, born in Oultet, in the Lanquedoc region of France, on May 9, 1877, joined the Christian Brothers when he was 16 years old.  Mandatory military service in 1898 and 1899 highlighted sense of the conflict between civil and religious duties.

Maurin preferred his religious responsibilities.  The government of the French Third Republic closed many religious schools in 1902.  At that time our saint left the Christian Brothers and joined Sillon, a left-wing Roman Catholic movement.  He departed that movement in 1908, for he disagreed with Sillon’s increasingly political nature.  Maurin emigrated to Canada in 1909.  After two unsuccessful years as a homesteader in Saskatchewan, our saint worked a series of jobs in the United States and Canada.  He was, for example, a wheat harvester, a track layer, and a coal miner.  In 1932 Maurin, who never married, was working as a handyman at a Roman Catholic boys’ school in upstate New York.  When time permitted he travelled to New York City, where he spent time in branches of the public library and spoke on street corners.  He met Dorothy Day in the city in December 1932.

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other.  We know Him in the breaking of the bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore.  Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

–Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 8, 1897, made a roundabout journey to faith.  She, baptized in The Episcopal Church when young, had rejected the Christian faith by the time she was a college student.  Day dropped out of college to become a journalist for radical publications in New York City.  In 1926 our saint, in a common-law marriage on Staten Island, gave birth to a daughter, Tamar Teresa Day (Batterham Hennessy), who lived until 2008.  Day had her daughter baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.  The following year our saint converted to Roman Catholic Church, thereby ending her common-law marriage.

Day became dissatisfied with the church’s support for the status quo.  She channeled this attitude into The Catholic Worker, the first issue of which debuted on May 1, 1933.  The publication, which Maurin suggested calling The Catholic Radical, was pro-labor and critical of both Marxism and capitalism.  The Catholic Worker, rooted in the Gospels, advocated not for reform, but for school revolution of a nonviolent variety.  She preferred an agricultural and decentralized society grounded in faith.  Toward this end the movement founded farms.  Also, the newspaper offices became a “house of hospitality” for providing food and shelter.

Maurin suffered a stroke in 1944.  He spent his final years, during which he struggled with memory loss, at the retreat center near Newburgh, New York.  There he died on May 15, 1949, aged 72 years.  His corpse, buried in a borrowed grave, wore a secondhand suit.

Day, radical politically–to the point of being a professing anarchist–was conservative in her piety.  Our saint, a pacifist–even during World War II–opposed wars consistently and argued against nuclear proliferation.  She also committed acts of civil disobedience, for which authorities arrested her repeatedly.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated her, as if she were a threat or a criminal.  Director J. Edgar Hoover was a reactionary and an unrepentant racist who opposed social change (especially the Civil Rights Movement any antiwar movement), kept his job as long as he did by blackmailing politicians, trampled civil liberties, and presided over an agency that attempted to blackmail the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., into committing suicide.  Of course Day had an F.B.I. file.  If Jesus of Nazareth had lived in the U.S.A. at the time, Hoover would have labeled him a subversive and ordered surveillance of him.  Our Lord and Savior’s F.B.I. file would have been thicker than a large-print Bible.

Day died, aged 93 years, in New York City on November 29, 1980.  The Roman Catholic Church, having begun to consider her for recognition as a saint, has labeled her a Servant of God.

Day and Maurin were indeed subversives–for Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

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

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

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), page 60

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Feast of James E. Walsh (April 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Father Walsh, 1918

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES EDWARD WALSH (APRIL 30, 1891-JULY 29, 1981)

Roman Catholic Missionary Bishop in China, and Political Prisoner

Also known as Wha Lee Son, Chinese for “Pillar of Truth”

Bishop James Edward Walsh spent about twelve years of a twenty-year sentence in a Chinese prison for Christ.  After a year and a half of daily interrogations, Chinese officials got Walsh to confess to being what he was not–a spy.  He was, however, guilty of being a Western missionary; that was his actual offense, in the eyes of Chinese Communist officialdom.

Walsh, born in Cumberland, Maryland, on April 30, 1891, came from a devout Roman Catholic family.  He, the second of nine children of William E. Walsh and Mary Concannon Walsh, was a mischievous parochial school student who grew up to become a missionary priest.  Our saint, after spending two years working as a timekeeper in a steel mill, found spiritual fulfillment at age 21 by accepting his vocation to the priesthood.  The family supported his decision enthusiastically.

Walsh’s vocation was to be a missionary priest.  In 1912 he joined the new Maryknoll Fathers, properly the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, and began to prepare for the priesthood.  On December 7, 1915, our saint became the second Maryknoll priest.  Not quite three years later, on September 8, 1918, Walsh and a few other priests sailed for Kwong Tung, China.  There he remained until 1936.  After about a year our saint became the Maryknoll Superior in China.  On May 22, 1927, Walsh, or as many Chinese Roman Catholics called him, Wha Lee Son (“Pillar of Truth”), became a bishop, assigned to the Vicariate of Kongmoon.  He told his missioners:

I am the least among you.  Look upon me as your servant.  I am made bishop chiefly to help you.  If my help takes the form of direction, I hope you will realize it is intended to help you just the same.  But I think we understand each other; we are a happy family.

From 1936 to 1946 Walsh served as the second Superior General of the Maryknoll order.  During those years our saint, back at Maryknoll headquarters at Ossining, New York, supervised the beginning of Maryknoll missions in Africa and Latin America.

Then Walsh returned to China, where he remained until 1970.  Until 1951, when the People’s Republic (an oxymoron) closed it, he led the Catholic Central Bureau (in Shanghai), which coordinated all Roman Catholic missions in the nation-state.  Life became more complicated for all Western missionaries in China after the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949.  Communist hostility to missionaries was one issue; official Chinese hostility to Westerners (especially considering the history of China during the build up to 1949) was another factor.  The central government harassed Western missionaries and pressured them to leave.  Walsh became the last one to go, at the age of 79.  For years he refused to go, despite the harassment, including surveillance.  Before his arrest and incarceration he said:

To put up with a little inconvenience at my age is nothing.  Besides, I am a little sick and tired of being pushed around on account of my religion.

Authorities arrested Walsh on October 18, 1958.  The verdict was never is doubt.  The sentence was 20 years.  He served about 12 of those, studying a Chinese dictionary and praying the rosary.  This, our saint understood, was as much of a witness to Christ as he could make at that time.  Walsh, who was fond of the Chinese people, managed to survive his incarceration without nursing resentment; he was actually quite forgiving.  During those years his only non-Chinese visitor was a brother, William C. Walsh, the Attorney General of Maryland from 1938 to 1945.  In a diplomatic gesture building up President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, the People’s Republic freed Walsh on July 10, 1970.  On that day he walked into freedom and Hong Kong.

After an audience with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican, Walsh returned to Maryknoll headquarters at Ossining, New York.  There he was a revered figure and a humble and prayerful man who insisted that he had done nothing worthy of any special recognition.  Walsh stated that he had simply been a servant of Christ and a missionary priest who had done his job faithfully.  Missionaries, he said, should remain with the people to whom God had sent them as long as that is possible.  He was not the first missionary to suffer for following that ethic.  Indeed, others, including some whom Walsh knew, had died doing so.  And Walsh was not the last Christian missionary to suffer for remaining with the people to whom God had sent him.

Walsh died, aged 90 years, of natural causes on July 29, 1981.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant James Edward Walsh,

who made the good news known in China, and who spent time in prison for doing so.

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

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

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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