Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1990s’ Category

Feast of Lydia Emilie Gruchy (April 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Lydia Emilie Gruchy and the Ministers who Ordained Her, 1936

Image in the Public Domain

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LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY (SEPTEMBER 5, 1894-APRIL 9, 1992)

First Female Minister in the United Church of Canada

In 1936 Lydia Emilie Gruchy became the first woman ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada.

Gruchy’s journey toward that recognized vocation started at Asnieres, France, where she debuted on September 5, 1894.  Our saint was the eighth of ten children.  Gruchy lost her mother to death when she was eight years old.  From then until 1913 our saint moved from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other in the company of various members of her immediate family.  She and two brothers (Arthur and Victor) were in Saskatchewan together before she and her sisters attended a boarding school in Seaford, England, starting in 1905.  Our saint took a business course in London and worked as a civil servant for a year before she and sisters Florence, Hilda, and Elsie moved to Saskatchewan in 1913.  There Gruchy completed high school, worked as a housekeeper for a year, and trained to become a teacher.  From 1915 to 1923 she taught recent immigrants in one-room schools.  Along the way Gruchy earned her B.A. degree (University of Saskatchewan, 1920), received the Governor-General’s Gold Medal for academic excellence and leadership (1920), and studied theology at Presbyterian College (later St. Andrew’s College), Saskatoon (1920-1923).

Meanwhile, World War I affected Gruchy.  Brothers Arthur and Bert died in the war.  Another brother, Stanley, suffered injuries.

Our saint perceived a vocation to become an ordained minister.  In 1923 she applied to become a Presbyterian minister; the synod turned her down.  For more than a decade Gruchy worked as a lay missionary.  From 1923 to 1927 she served as a missionary to the Doukhobors at Veregin, Saskatchewan.  Meanwhile, in 1926, the Kamsack Presbytery and the Saskatchewan Conference of the new United Church of Canda (created via a merger the previous year) petitioned the denomination to ordain her.  The question of ordaining women was a matter of official study from 1927 to 1931, however.  As the United Church studied Grouchy worked as a lay missionary in Wakaw, Saskatchewan.  Our saint took a sabbatical to Long Beach, California, in 1931-1932; she visited relatives there.  Then she served as a lay missionary to Kelvington, Saskatchewan, from 1932 to 1936.

The United Church of Canada was finally ready to ordain women in 1936.  So, on November 4, 1936, at St. Andrew’s United Church, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Grouchy became a reverend.  At first she assisted the senior minister at St. Andrew’s Church, Moose Jaw (1936-1938).  From 1938 to 1943 she was the secretary for the Committee on the Deaconess Order and Women Workers, Toronto.  Then our saint served as pastor at Simpson (1948-1952), Cupar (1952-1957), and Neville-Vanguard (1957-1962), all in Saskatchewan.  She also received her Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Andrew’s College, Saskatoon, in 1953.

Gruchy retired in 1962.  She and a sister relocated to White Rock, British Columbia, where our saint died, aged 97 years, on April 9, 1992.

Pioneers such as Lydia Emilie Gruchy have enriched the life of the institutional church and paved the way for other women to pursue their vocations from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Lydia Emilie Gruchy,

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 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 Henri de Lubac (February 20)   Leave a comment

henri-de-lubac

Above:  Henri de Lubac

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRI-MARIE JOSEPH DE LUBAC (FEBRUARY 20, 1896-SEPTEMBER 4, 1991)

Roman Catholic Priest, Cardinal, and Theologian

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Take note, theologians; you run the risk of someday having to condemn as heretics those who declare as you do that the earth stands still.

–Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

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Both Henri de Lubac and Galileo Galilei understood the changing nature of orthodoxy, as the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church defines it.

De Lubac, born at Cambrai, France, on February 20, 1896, was a Jesuit.  He joined the Society in Jesus in 1913.  From 1914 to 1919 our saint served in the French Army.  Afterward he studied theology, culminating in his ordination to the priesthood in 1927.

De Lubac’s life and theological standing had their ups and downs.  He joined the faculty of the University of Lyons in 1929.  Our saint, a neo-scholastic theologian, criticized certain aspects of Church teaching in the light of the Church Fathers, as in Catholicism (1938).  In other words, he thought that the Church had, in some aspects, strayed from its foundations.  That which conservatives (from a certain point of view) considered an ill-conceived innovation was actually a return to an older tradition.  Then period of 1940-1944 was difficult for de Lubac, part of the resistance to both the direct Nazi occupation of part of France and the puppet French State, or the Vichy regime.  After the liberation (1944) normal life resumed for our saint.  In Surnaturel (1946) de Lubac argued against the false dichotomy between the natural and the supernatual with regard to human destinies.  He stated that God had created people with inherent and natural openness to and desire for the supernatural.  Simply put, according to our saint, the true human vocation is union with God.

Pope Pius XII (reigned 1939-1958) disapproved of the work of de Lubac and other Roman Catholic theologians who critiqued Church teaching in the light of the Church Fathers.  The Supreme Pontiff condemned them in the encyclical Humani Generis (1950) and silenced de Lubac for eight years.  Our saint studied Buddhism and literature instead.  He also defended Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), whom the Vatican had silenced for decades.  Pope John XXIII (reigned 1958-1963) rehabilitated de Lubac and, in 1960, recruited him to help with Vatican II.  Our saint also helped to write the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (1965) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965).

De Lubac, a liberal pre-Vatican II and a conservative post-Vatican II, proved the argument that those labels are relative to the center and that, when the center moves, one’s label changes.  Pope John Paul II (reigned 1978-2005) made our saint a cardinal in 1983.

De Lubac died, aged 95 years, in Paris, France, on September 4, 1991.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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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 Henri de Lubac, and we pray

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 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), page 720

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Feast of Helder Camara (February 7)   1 comment

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Above:  The Grave of Archbishop Camara

Image Source = Monster4711

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HELDER PESSOA CAMARA (FEBRUARY 7, 1909-AUGUST 27, 1999)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife

The “Red Bishop,” Advocate for the Poor, Defender of Human Rights, and Vocal Opponent of Brazil’s Military Dictatorship

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When I feed the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.

–Helder Camara

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Helder Camara was not a Communist or even a Marxist.  No, he was a Socialist and an advocate of Liberation Theology.  He understood the reality of structural economic injustice and the demands of the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon the Church to condemn such inequality and to work for social justice, especially the poor.  This proved controversial in the Church and in Brazilian society.  It also eared him the official disapproval of Brazil’s repressive military dictatorship.

Camara, born at Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, on February 7, 1909, decided at an early age to become a priest.  He, ordained in 1931, was a member of a fascist party for a few years.  (Fascism is conservative tyranny.  Communism is liberal tyranny.  The chief word is tyranny.)  Ministering among the poor of Rio de Janeiro changed our saint’s politics, starting his shift from the right to the left.  In 1952 Camara became the Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro.  He helped to form the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops.  For a decade he, serving as the organization’s secretary-general, led the bishops to address issues of economic injustice, especially that related to the concentration of land ownership into the hands of a relative few.  Our saint also pressured his brother bishops to identify with the poor and the oppressed, not the rich and the powerful.  Camara also asked Pope John XXIII to donate the Vatican and its works of art to UNESCO and to live in a modest building instead.

From 1964 to 1985 Camara was the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, in a poor region of the country.  He refused to live in the Episcopal Palace and to wear expensive vestments and a golden cross.  Our saint, the “red bishop,” wore a scruffy cassock and a simple wooden cross, lived in a humble dwelling, and defended democracy of human rights at a time when a brutal military dictatorship governed Brazil.  He survived assassination attempts, although many people associated with him did not.  The government feared the archbishop.  From 1968 to 1977 that government blacklisted Camara, forbidding the press from reporting on him and barring him from speaking in public.

Camara, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times, was humble.  Once, during a meeting at the Episcopal Palace, invited a peasant to sit in the episcopal chair.  The archbishop also told Mother (now St.) Teresa of Calcutta that, when he struggled with his ego, he imagined himself as the donkey carrying Jesus during the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  Camara did, however, pull rank to embarrass the police into releasing parishioners they had arrested unjustly.

Camara, aged 75 years, retired in 1985.  Pope John Paul II appointed a conservative successor, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, who opposed Liberation Theology, ended our saint’s human rights initiatives, and wore a golden cross and expensive vestments.  Camara was diplomatic in public, but he took the situation hard in private.

Our saint died at Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, on August 27, 1999.  He was 90 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

THE FEAST OF JENNETTE THRELFALL, ENGLISH 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 Blessed Benedict Daswa (February 1)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Blessed Benedict Daswa

Fair Use Image; biographical purpose

Owner or Copyright Owner = The Southern Cross

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BLESSED BENEDICT DASWA (JUNE 16, 1946-FEBRUARY 2, 1990)

Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr

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Superstition is cowardice in face of the divine.

–Theophrastus (circa 371-circa 287 B.C.E.)

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Blessed Benedict Daswa is a recent addition to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.

Tshimangaszo Daswa, born to Tshililo Petrus Daswa and Thidziambi Ida Gundala Daswa at Mbahe, Limpopo, South Africa, on June 16, 1946, belonged to the Lemba tribe, the Black Jews.  He took the name “Samuel” in school.  Our saint converted to Roman Catholicism in 1963, taking the name “Benedict” after St. Benedict of Nursia.  Daswa trained as a teacher and eventually became a principal.  In 1974 our saint married Shadi Eveline Monyai (died in 2008); the couple had eight children.  He was also a catechist who helped to build the first Roman Catholic parish church in his immediate area.  Furthermore, Daswa was active in civil matters.

In January 1990 a series of storms affected Mbahe.  Local elders declared that magic was the cause of these storms and that villagers would have to pay taxes to finance witchcraft, to resolve the situation.  Daswa objected to this superstition and refused to pay the tax.  A mob ambushed our saint on February 2, 1990, then beat him, stabbed him, and poured boiling water over his face before leaving him for dead.  Daswa’s last words were:

God, into your hands receive my spirit.

Our saint was 43 years old when he died.

Pope Francis declared Daswa a Venerable then a Blessed in 2015.

Our saints family lives in the same village, alongside the murderers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK COOK ATKINSON, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Everloving God, by your grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Benedict Daswa

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death; strengthen us with your grace

that we may faithfully witness to Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21

Psalm 3 or Psalm 116

Hebrews 11:32-40

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 680

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Feast of Lesslie Newbigin (January 30)   4 comments

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin

Above:  Lesslie Newbigin

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES EDWARD LESSLIE NEWBIGIN (DECEMBER 8, 1909-JANUARY 30, 1998)

Missionary and Theologian

I refer you, O reader, to the following links:

  1. An interview with Newbigin in 1991 (YouTube),
  2. Newbigin on Nihilism (YouTube),
  3. Paul Weston of Newbigin (YouTube),
  4. John H. Armstrong on Newbigin (YouTube),
  5. An obituary of Newbigin, and
  6. Another obituary of Newbigin.

Newbigin has challenged some of my foundational assumptions.  Our most basic assumptions, an expert on critical thinking has said, are those we do not think of as being assumptions.  We all carry these in our heads, of course, and we find identifying them in others easier than identifying them in ourselves.  Reading Newbigin has helped me to think critically about some of my Enlightenment-based assumptions.  One reason for this reassessment has been our saint’s gentle approach; he did not “raise his voice” on the page.  Friendly persuasion is frequently more effective than shouting.

Newbigin argued for certain propositions, including the following:

  1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
  2. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not depend upon any human philosophy.  The Gospel is, in fact, to quote St. Paul the Apostle, “foolishness to the Greeks” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
  3. Religious toleration is part and parcel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  4. Certainty cannot exist apart from faith.  Each of us has faith that x, y, and z, are true and that reality functions in a certain way.

He was openly yet gently critical of elements of both liberal and conservative Christianity for seeking some certainty apart from faith.  Both, he said, commit errors rooted in a negative aspect of the Enlightenment.  For the same reason Newbigin was openly and gently critical of Christian apologetics that seek to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ reasonable, according to a human point of view.  To do so, he insisted, is to make a given human philosophy more important than the Gospel itself.  He concluded one book with the following paragraph:

The confidence proper to a Christian is not the confidence of one who claims possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge.  It is the confidence of one who has heard and answered the call that comes from the God through whom and for all things were made:  “Follow me.”

Proper Confidence:  Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 105

In other words, the Christian’s only proper basis of confidence is Jesus Christ.

Newbigin continues to inform and challenge my theology via his books.  If he is correct that certainty cannot exit apart from faith, what am I to do with Thomistic theology, of which I am fond?  St. Thomas Aquinas assumed that faith and reason were separate and compatible.  But what if they are not separate?  Such thoughts occupy my attention sometimes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HILEY BATHHURST, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF PETRUS NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN EDUCATOR AND COMPOSER; AND GEORG NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Grant, we beseech you, Almighty God, that following the teaching of Lesslie Newbigin,

we may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent,

that we may be counted worthy ever to be numbered among the sheep who hear his voice;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:1-8 or Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Matthew 13:51-52

–Adapted from The Book of Common Worship (The Church of South India, 1963), page 67

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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