Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1970s’ Category

Feast of Carlo Carretto (April 2)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Carlo Carretto

Image in the Public Domain

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CARLO CARRETTO (APRIL 2, 1910-OCTOBER 4, 1988)

Spiritual Writer

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I feel immersed in God like a drop in the ocean, like a star in the immensity of night, like a lark in the summer sun or a fish in the sea.

–Carlo Carretto

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Carlo Carretto, born into a peasant family in northern Italy on April 2, 1910, eventually became a spiritual writer.  Initially he prepared to become a teacher, but politics prevented that; he was a member of the Fascist Party.  Our saint became involved in the youth wing of the Catholic Action movement instead.  That movement was consistent with his desire to advance the Catholic Church’s social and religious message.  This work occupied Carretto’s time for nearly 20 years.

In 1954 our saint answered God’s call (“Love everything and come with me into the desert.  It is not your acts and deeds that I want; I want your prayer, your love.”) to join the Little Brothers of Jesus, founded by Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) in 1933.  Carretto arrived at El Abiodh, in Algeria, in December 1954.  There he remained for about a decade.  Time in the desert prepared Carretto to return to Europe in 1964.  He settled at Spello, Italy, the following year.  There he built an experimental faith community that involved lay people in prayer and reflection.

Carretto became a respected spiritual writer, especially for Love is for Living, Letters from the Desert, and I, Francis.  He was not, however, without ecclesiastical critics, due to his criticism of certain aspects (such as triumphalism and clericalism) of Roman Catholicism.  The challenge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our saint insisted, was to create an oasis of love in the desert in which one finds oneself.

Who knows what creating such an oasis of love might require to one to do?

Carretto died on October 4, 1988, aged 78 years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, AND IRENAEUS OF LYONS, BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Carlo Carretto,

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 Joseph Bernardin (April 2)   Leave a comment

#!dcdisplay fp\b0\i0\fs10Source~LOCAL/STAFF; Shoot_Date~20.10.1996; Type~COLOR; ÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐ fs12 <> fs10card 1 metro 10/20/96 cardinal joseph bernadin waces to well-wishers as he attends a 75th anniversary celebration at st. margaret mary church in chicago. cincinnati enquirer/michael e. keating mek fp\b0\i0\fs10ÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐ fp\i0\b\fs16Copyright 1996 The Cincinnati Enquirer fp\b0\i0\fs10Copyright=CINCINNATI_ENQUIRER; Person=BERNARDIN_JOSEPH; Aspect=LOCAL; Aspect=STAFF; Aspect=COLOR; Aspect=CINCINNATI_ENQUIRER; Aspect=BERNARDIN_JOSEPH;

Above:  Cardinal Bernardin

Fair Use Image

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JOSEPH LOUIS BERNARDIN (APRIL 2, 1928-NOVEMBER 14, 1996)

Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago

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It has been a great privilege to know a very great man.

–Retired Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, 1996

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Joseph Bernardin was a famous and respected cleric.  Shortly before he died, he spoke with the President of the United States.  The Governor of Illinois and the Vice President of the United States attended his funeral Mass.  Bernardin had made quite an impression.

Bernardin rose from humble origins.  His parents were poor Italian immigrants; his father earned a modest income working in a quarry.  Our saint, born at Columbia, South Carolina, on April 2, 1928, grew up in  a predominantly Protestant culture of that state.  In 1946 his family was still so poor that his mother made the suit he wore to apply to study for the priesthood.  Bernardin studied theology at Baltimore and at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in 1952, served as a priest in Charleston, South Carolina.  During 14 years he rose through the ranks in the diocese, serving in administrative posts.  In 1966, at the age of 38 years, Bernardin became the Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta and the youngest bishop in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

Bernardin’s rise through the ranks continued.  From 1968 to 1972 he served as the General Secretary of the National Council of Catholic Bishops.  Subsequently he was the Archbishop of Cincinnati (1972-1982), the President of the National Council of Catholic Bishops (1974-1977), Archbishop of Chicago (1982-1996), and a member of the College of Cardinals (1983-1996).  Our saint took his faith into the public square.  He, among other actions, opposed President Nixon’s bombing campaign in Vietnam, articulated the theology of the Seamless Garment of Life, and worked on The Challenge of Peace, the National Council of Catholic Bishop’s 1983 pastoral letter declaring  nuclear war morally unjustifiable.

Bernardin had to endure public humiliation and suffering in the 1990s.  In 1993 Steven J. Cook sued Bernardin for sexual molestation that allegedly occurred 17 years prior.  The following year Cook dropped the lawsuit, citing unreliable memories.  Bernardin, who had always insisted upon his innocence, stated publicly that the matter had proven humiliating but that he harbored no ill feelings toward Cook, who stated that he wished the Cardinal the best.  The following year Bernardin received the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  He followed the advice of Pope John Paul II:

Offer your suffering to the world.

Bernardin ministered to other cancer patients and made himself vulnerable to the public.  He died on November 14, 1996, aged 68 years.

Bernardin was certainly a man of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF ABSALOM JONES, RICHARD ALLEN, AND JARENA LEE, EVANGELISTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREER ANDREWS, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPH CARL LUDWIG VON PFEIL, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL WEISSE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR; AND JAN ROH, BOHEMIAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER

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

including your servant Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 84

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

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Blessed Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador (March 24)   1 comment

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Above:  The Scene Immediately After the Assassination of Archbishop Romero

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO ARNULFO Y GALDEMEZ (AUGUST 15, 1917-MARCH 24, 1980)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador

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I have frequently been threatened with death.  I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death but in the resurrection.  If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.

Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned.  But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life then may my blood be the seed of liberty, and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality….A bishop will die, but the church of God–the people–will never die.

–Archbishop Romero, quoted in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 133

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This feast exists in various denominations.  From Roman Catholic websites I know of the beatification of Romero on May 23, 2015, and of the fact of decades of official suspicion that he was a Marxist.  And, based on my library, I know the following statements to be accurate:

  1. The Episcopal Church observes the feast of “Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, 1980,  and the Martyrs of El Salvador.”
  2. The Church of England keeps the feast of “Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980.”
  3. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada observe the feast of “Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Bishop of El Salvador, 1980.”

Furthermore, Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1979), places Romero’s feast on March 24, the same date of the saint’s feast on the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Church of England calendars.

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Archbishop Oscar Romero became a martyr for challenging the repressive government of El Salvador which had death squads that targeted civilians.  The U.S. Government, for reasons of Cold War politics, provided military aid to this regime during the Carter and Reagan Administrations.  The Cold War provided cover for a multitude of murders, apparently.

Romero, born at Ciudad Barrios, San Miguel, El Salvador, on August 15, 1917, became an apprentice to a carpenter at the age of 13 years.  The following year our saint discerned a vocation to the priesthood; he began to prepare for it.  Romero studied in El Salvador at in Rome.  Our saint, ordained a priest on April 4, 1942, became a parish priest in his homeland.  He also served as the diocesan secretary at San Miguel.

The episcopate summoned.  On April 25, 1970, Romero became the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador.  He left that post on October 15, 1974, to become the Bishop of Santiago de Maria.  There he began to liberalize.  Romero had been suspicious of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and of the call (from 1968) of Archbishop Helder Camara for the Church to advocate for social justice for the poor and the oppressed, not to identify with those who oppress them.  Despite Romero’s gradual shift to the left (in progress), he remained relatively conservative when he became the Archbishop of San Salvador on February 3, 1977.

Romero’s move to the left accelerated soon after he became archbishop.  On March 12, 1977, government gunmen assassinated Father Rutilio Grande, a priest committed to social justice for campesinos.  The following Sunday the archbishop suspended Masses in the capital city and demanded the punishment of the guilty.  Romero became a vocal opponent of the regime, which killed civilians as a matter of policy; he was the “Voice of the Voiceless.”  The junta that seized power in 1979 did not cease the repression.  Early in 1980 our saint wrote President Jimmy Carter and requested that the U.S. Government halt military aid to the government of El Salvador.  This did not endear the archbishop to the Salvadoran regime, of course.

On Sunday, March 23, 1980, in a homily, Romero effectively signed his death warrant.  He said in part:

I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the Police, and the garrisons.  Brothers, you belong to our own people.  You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God should prevail that says:  Do not kill!  No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God.  No one has to comply with an immoral law.  It is time ow that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin.  The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of the dignity of the human person, cannot remain silent before so much abomination.

We want the government to seriously consider that reforms mean nothing when they come bathed in so much blood.  Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of the longsuffering people, whose laments rise to heaven everyday more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God:  stop the repression!

–Translated by Nena Terrell and Sally Hanlon; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses (2005), pages 278-279

The following day, Monday, March 24, 1980, Romero preached his final homily at a hospital chapel in San Salvador.  He said in part:

“God’s reign is already present on earth in mystery.  When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection.”

That is the hope that inspires Christians.  We know that every effort to better society, especially when so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.

–Translated by James R. Brockman, S.J. and quoted in The Violence of Love:  The Pastoral Wisdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero (San Francisco, CA:  Harper & Row, 1988), page 242

A government gunman assassinated Romero after the completed that homily.

Civil War began later that year and continued until 1992.  The government of El Salvador (the one receiving military aid from the United States Government) killed more than 75,000 civilians as a matter of policy.  Among those murdered by death squads were Roman Catholic priests, members of Roman Catholic orders, and lay people associated with them.

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Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,

If thou wouldst my disciple be;

Deny thyself, the world forsake,

And humbly follow after me.

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Take up thy cross; let not its weight

Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;

My strength shall bear thy spirit up,

And brace thine heart and nerve thine arm.

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Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,

Nor let thy foolish heart rebel;

The Lord for thee the cross endured,

To save thy soul from death and hell.

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Take up thy cross then in his strength;

And calmly every danger brave;

‘Twill guide thee to a better home,

And lead to victory o’er the grave.

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Take up thy cross and follow him,

Nor think till death to lay it down;

For only he who bears the cross

May hope to wear the glorious crown.

Charles William Everest (1814-1877), 1833

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Oscar Romero took up his cross and followed Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIUS THE CENTURION, WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION

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Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor,

and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope:

Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador,

we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life,

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

be praise and glory now and for ever.  Amen.

–Isaiah 2:5-7

Psalm 31:15-24

Revelation 7:13-17

John 12:23-32

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 287

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Feast of Fannie Lou Hamer (March 14)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

Image Source = Library of Congress

Photographer = Warren K. Leffler

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-01267

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FANNIE LOU TOWNSEND HAMER (OCTOBER 6, 1917-MARCH 14, 1977)

Prophet of Freedom

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I’m never sure anymore when I leave home whether I’ll get back or not.  Sometimes it seems like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed.  But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom.  I’m not backing off that and no one will have to cover the ground I walk as far as freedom is concerned.

–Fannie Lou Hamer, quoted by Danny Duncan Collum in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 2005), page 109

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Christianity is being concerned about your fellow man, not building a million-dollar church while people are starving right around the corner.  Christ was a revolutionary person, out there where it is happening.  That’s what God is all about, and that’s where I get my strength.

–Fannie Lou Hamer, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 118

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Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1997), lists Fannie Lou Hamer as the saint for March 14 and describes her as a “Prophet of Freedom.”  That is an accurate description.

Fannie Lou Townsend, born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, on October 6, 1917, was always poor.  She was the youngest of 20 children born to sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, the poorest region of a state (infamous for its open, institutional racism and reactionary politics) that has long been the butt of jokes about poor states.

Thank God for Mississippi!

has long been the exclamation of citizens of other impoverished states grateful that their states are Forty-Ninth or Forty-Eighth–but not Fiftieth–in the prevention of scabies or some other disease, or in certain educational attainment statistics, et cetera.  As an old joke says, we know that the inventor of the toothbrush hailed from Mississippi because, if he had come from any other state, it would be a teethbrush.

1951

Above:  Northwestern Mississippi

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Our saint, who suffered from childhood polio, had a fourth-grade education and also became a sharecropper.  In 1945 she married Perry “Pap” Hamer, a tractor driver on a nearby plantation.  The Hamers adopted two daughters, Dorothy and Virgie, and worked on plantations in Sunflower County, Mississippi.  Our saint knew both hard work and little reward for it:

Sometimes I be working in the fields and I get so tired, I say to the people picking cotton with us, “Hard as we have to work for nothing, there must be some way we can change this.

–Quoted by Danny Duncan Collum in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (2005), page 103

Hamer also knew the injustice of forced sterilization.  In 1961, while she was having surgery for the removal of a tumor, the surgeon sterilized her as part of a state program targeting poor African-American women.

In August 1962, at the age of 44 years, Hamer became politically active.  She attended a voter registration rally sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Immediately she began to attempt to register to vote–a right the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States theoretically prevented anyone from denying her on the basis of her race.  She succeeded in January 1963.  By then, however, the Hamers’ landlord had evicted the family and confiscated their possessions in repayment for alleged debts.  These were acts in retaliation for her registering to vote.  Our saint became a field secretary for SNCC.  Her work was to encourage African Americans to register to vote and to communicate the plight of Southern African Americans to Northern whites.  There were consequences.  She received death threats.  The State Sovereignty Commission kept the family under surveillance.  Also, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizens’ Council (now the Conservative Citizens’ Council), and J. Edgar Hoover‘s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) harassed the Hamers.

In 1963, when Hamer and some other civil rights workers were returning from Charleston, South Carolina, police in Winona, Montgomery County, Mississippi, arrested them and incarcerated them for several days.  Officers presided over beatings of these activists.  Our saint suffered the effects of the beatings for the rest of her life; a blood clot in her left eye impaired her vision.  She also suffered kidney damage.  Hamer might have died shortly, for she overheard officers plotting to kill the activists and dispose of their bodies.  Fortunately, local activists and the federal Department of Justice arranged for their release.

From 1964 to 1968 Hamer was active the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which she helped to form and in which she exercised leadership.  She sought unsuccessfully to unseat the state Democratic Party’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1964.  She also ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965.  Hamer did succeed, however, in influencing the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  She also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and opposed the Vietnam War, which she understood in the context of human rights for poor people.  In addition, she helped to organize the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.  All of her actions stemmed from her Christian faith.

Other actions that stemmed from Hamer’s Christian faith were local in nature; she sought to improve conditions in Ruleville and Sunflower County.  Our saint helped to bring the Head Start program to the area, raised funds for building 200 low-income housing units, helped to found a day care center, and was instrumental in bringing a garment factory to town.  Our saint also organized the Freedom Farm Cooperative (ultimately 680 acres), to acquire land for agricultural workers forced off the land they had been farming due to the mechanization of agriculture.

Hamer suffered from a variety of health issues at the end of her life.  She had diabetes.  Also, the effects of juvenile polio and the beatings in Winona in 1963 remained with her.  Furthermore, she had breast cancer.  Hamer died at Mound Bayou Community Hospital, Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on March 14, 1977.  She was 59 years old.

Hamer understood herself to be engaged in a struggle against forces of spiritual darkness.  She was correct.  How else should one categorize Jim Crow laws, a state program of forced sterilization, government surveillance of peaceful activists, and official and unofficial intimidation of them?  And how else should one label consent of these foul deeds?  It has happened here.  Much has changed, but much has also remained the same.  Certain state governments have, in recent years, instituted programs to suppress minority voting.  They have been careful to avoid using openly racist language while doing so, but their actions have targeted minorities.  If Hamer were alive today, she would have much work to do and much opposition to overcome.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT SAINT GALLEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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

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

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Yves Congar (March 13)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Yves Congar

Image in the Public Domain

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YVES MARIE-JOSEPH CONGAR (MARCH 13, 1904-JUNE 22, 1995)

Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

Father Yves Congar comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  Ellsberg lists Congar’s birth month as March and assigns his feast to March 13.  Some other sources, however, list Congar’s birth date as April 13.  Either way, his feast day on my Ecumenical Calendar is March 13.

To add Congar to an ecumenical calendar of saints is appropriate, for he was an ecumenist.  Our saint, the author of more than 15,000 articles and books, entered the world at Sedan, France, in 1904.  At the age of 17 years he decided to become a priest.  Congar went on to join the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans.  He took holy orders in 1930.  From the 1930s forward he was an active ecumenist, presaging Vatican II’s definition of non-Roman Catholic Christians as “separated brethren,” not as heretics.  For his ecumenical activity Congar received much criticism from traditional Roman Catholics.

Congar, a military chaplain in 1939 and a prisoner of war for most of World War II, was ahead of his time theologically prior to Vatican II.  He respected tradition yet was not a traditionalist.  Tradition, for him, was living and flexible, but traditionalism was an inflexible commitment to the past.  Our saint favored returning to the sources of traditions and evaluating traditions in the context of these sources.  Thus he supported ecclesiastical reform, which he understood as both necessary and proper to allow the Church to resist the tendency toward institutionalism.  Congar also opposed hyper-clericism.  He understood the role of the laity not to be to obey, but to help to transform the world into something closer to the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Office (an ironically named institution) had been concerned about Congar since the 1930s.  Another red flag regarding our saint was his involvement in the worker-priest movement, in which priests worked in factories and led the lives of industrial workers.  In the 1950s it forbade him to teach and write.

Congar’s reputation vis-a-vis the Vatican improved in the 1960s.  Pope John XXIII invited him to serve on the committee that planned the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).  Congar did that and more.  He influenced the proceedings of Vatican II, shaping the documents on ecumenism, mission, revelation, the Church, and the Church in the world.  The definitions of the Church as “the people of God” and of non-Roman Catholic Christians not as heretics but as “separated brethren” owed much to him.  Furthermore, his influence was evident in the statement that the Church was “at once holy and always in need of reformation.”

Pope John Paul II elevated Congar to the College of Cardinals in 1985.

Congar died at Paris, France, on June 22, 1995.  He was 91 years old.  Our saint’s health had been failing since the 1980s.

One can recognize the influence of Congar in modern Roman Catholicism.  Whenever one finds “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in a Roman Catholic hymnal or reads of Pope Francis making positive statements about Martin Luther, one encounters evidence of the thawing of old interdenominational tensions.  Other evidence includes ecumenical dialogues involving the Roman Catholic Church.

Congar helped to shape his times for the better.  His influence persists, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Yves Congar,

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 Rutilio Grande (March 12)   1 comment

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Above:  Father Rutilio Grande Garcia

Image in the Public Domain

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RUTILIO GRANDE GARCIA (JULY 5, 1928-MARCH 12, 1977)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in El Salvador

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It is a dangerous thing to be a Christian in our world.

–Father Grande, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 113

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Father Rutilio Grande Garica, born into an impoverished family at El Paisanal, El Salvador, on July 5, 1928, identified with and worked among the poor and the oppressed, who were numerous in El Salvador, a nation-state with a long history of repressive military rule and a veneer of representative government.  His activism cost him his life.

Grande knew when he was an adolescent that he had a vocation to the priesthood.  At the age of 17 years he joined the Society of Jesus.  Our saint, ordained a priest in 1959, thought at first that his priestly vocation was to model perfection.  During the 1960s, however, he changed his mind.  His priestly vocation, he concluded, was actually to model loving service and self-sacrifice.

Grande became a leftist priest unpopular with the conservative Roman Catholic establishment that supported the repressive governments of El Salvador.  In 1965 he began to serve as the director of social action projects at the seminary in San Salvador, the capital.  Our saint, who held that position for nine years, used it to encourage future priests to not to seek prestige but instead to spend time with the rural poor and to identify with them.  This alarmed enough prominent people to lead to our saint’s reassignment as parish priest in the small town of Aguilares.  There he trained catechists and preached against social injustice, such as that of the variety that was government policy.  This angered local elites, who sought to have him silenced.

Grande preached a crucial sermon at a Mass in honor of Father Mario Bernal, a Colombian-born priest whom the government had recently arrested and deported without charges.  On February 13, 1977, our saint condemned the government of El Salvador, the feudal conditions under which it condemned the majority of the people to live, and the hypocrisy of professing Christians who tolerated these realities.  He said, in part:

I’m quite aware that very soon the Bible and the gospel won’t be allowed to cross our borders.  We’ll get only the bindings, because all the pages are subversive.  And I think that if Jesus himself came across the border at Chalatenango, they wouldn’t let him in.  They would accuse the Man-God, the prototype of man, of being a rabble-rouser, a foreign Jew, one who confused the people with exotic and foreign ideas, ideas against democracy–that is, against the wealthy minority, the clan of Cains!  Brothers, without any doubt, they would crucify him again.  And God forbid that I be one of the crucifiers!

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), page 114

Within a month Grande was dead.  He was driving a campesino and an adolescent boy in his van when government gunmen used machine guns to kill them.  This was the first time the El Salvadoran government had murdered a priest; it was certainly not the last.  Grande’s death prompted his friend, Oscar Romero, the new Archbishop of San Salvador, to speak out against government brutality toward the people.  Romero followed our saint in martyrdom three years later.

Our Lord and Savior commanded his followers to take up their crosses and follow him.  Rutilio Grande Garcia took up his cross and followed Christ to his own Golgotha, one with bullets, not nails.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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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 servant Rutilio Grande Garcia,

to work for justice among people and nations,

for 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 Martin Niemoller (March 6)   Leave a comment

martin-niemoller

Above:  Martin Niemoller

Image in the Public Domain

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FRIEDRICH GUSTAV EMIL MARTIN NIEMOLLER (JANUARY 14, 1892-MARCH 6, 1984)

German Lutheran Minister and Peace Activist

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

–Martin Niemoller

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That text, sadly, never ceases to be relevant.

If one seeks to read about a man who repented–turned around, literally–one can find such material in this post.

Martin Niemoller, born in Lippstadt, German Empire, on January 14, 1892, changed greatly during his lifetime.  He, once an officer in the imperial German navy, became a pacifist later in life.  And our saint, once a Nazi sympathizer, became an outspoken opponent of the Third Reich and a prisoner thereof.  His pilgrimage with Jesus changed his mind and made him politically unacceptable in diverse quarters.  This was because Niemoller did what he thought Jesus would do, not what he knew others wanted him to do.

Our saint was a son of Paula Muller and Heinrich Niemoller, a Lutheran minister.  Martin, educated at Lippstadt and Elberfeld, joined the imperial German navy at the age of 18 years, in 1910.  He intended to become a career officer.  Niemoller was a u-boat commander during World War I.  He, as the “scourge of Malta,” raided Allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.  Then Germany lost the war.

Niemoller studied theology after World War I and became an ordained minister in 1924.  Seven years later he began to serve at a parish in Berlin.  At first Niemoller welcomed the rise of Nazism.  By 1934, however, he recognized the depth of that error and denounced Ludwig Muller, the newly installed pro-Nazi Reich bishop of the German Evangelical Church.  Muller was, according to our saint, the “scourge of the church of Christ.”  Niemoller, a founder of the anti-Nazi Confessing Church, lost his position at the Berlin parish in 1934.  Nevertheless, he continued to preach there for three years.  Nazi authorities arrested him 1937.  Niemoller was a prisoner until 1945.

Our saint’s wartime experiences changed him.  He, aware of his share of guilt for the rise of the Third Reich, insisted upon collective German guilt for World War II.  News of atomic weapons horrified him.  The detonation of the hydrogen bomb a few years later completed the process of turning Niemoller into a pacifist.  The ethics of the Sermon on the Mount were incompatible with modern warfare, he concluded.

After World War II Niemoller helped to rebuild the Lutheran Church in Germany and became involved in the ecumenical movement.  From 1947 1961 he served as the President of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau.  After that, for seven years, he was President of the World Council of Churches.

Controversy followed Niemoller as he opposed war in general and modern warfare, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War in particular.  He offended not only conservative Cold Warriors but also many Cold War liberals.

Niemoller married twice.  In 1919 he became the husband of Else Bremer, who died in an automobile accident (in which he suffered injuries) in 1961.  The couple had four sons and three daughters.  He married his second wife, Sibylle von Zell, in 1971.

Our saint died at Weisbaden, West Virginia, on March 6, 1984.  He was 92 years old.

One might disagree with some of Niemoller’s answers to the question of what Jesus would do in certain circumstances.  I do.  I have, in fact, attempted to be a pacifist, without success.  I have, however, chosen to refrain from condemning pacifists and pacifism.  I do agree, however, that Jesus would not drop a hydrogen bomb on an enemy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PEPIN OF LANDEN, ITTA OF METZ, THEIR RELATIONS, AMAND, AUSTREGISILUS, AND SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ACROSS GENERATIONAL LINES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JULIA CHESTER EMERY, UPHOLDER OF MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP II OF MOSCOW, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Martin Niemoller,

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 19:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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