Archive for the ‘Saints of the 2000s’ Category

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 the Martyrs of the Sudan (May 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map Showing Sudan and South Sudan

Image Source = The World Fact Book, Central Intelligence Agency

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The Episcopal Church added this feast to its calendar at the General Convention of 2009.

The political history of the Sudan has been difficult since independence from the British Empire in 1956.  The vast country with a diverse population was majority Muslim in the north and majority Christian in the south.  Civil War fueled by a number of factors, including authoritarianism and religion, led to the deaths of more than 2,000,000 people from 1983 to 2005.  The conflict also displaced as many as 4,000,000 Christians within the country and made more than another million refugees in neighboring countries.  South Sudan seceded in 2011.  It has not found stability for a set of reasons including its underdeveloped economy (despite its oil wealth) and the civil war of 2013-2015, which formed 2,200,000 people to relocate.

Anglican work in the Sudan started in 1889.  Until 1974 Anglican churches were part of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.  Jurisdiction passed to the Archbishop of Canterbury until 1976, when the Episcopal Church of the Sudan formed.  That province of the Anglican Communion divided in 2017, creating the Episcopal Church of Sudan (in the north) and the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, consistent with the Anglican practice of having national churches.  The new Anglican provinces in the Sudan and South Sudan are actively engaged in the work of peacemaking and of witnessing to Christ in difficult circumstances.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church:

As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death,

and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ;

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

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 116:10-17

Hebrews 10:32-39

Matthew 24:9-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 371

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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 Jaroslav Vajda (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  Jaroslav Vajda

Image Source = hymntime.com

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JAROSLAV JAN VAJDA (APRIL 28, 1919-MAY 10, 2008)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

Jaroslav Vajda was a hymn writer who, in his words, sought to

raise the level of wonder and appreciation of God’s awesome creation, justification, and sanctification.

–Quoted in Paul Westermeyer, With Tongues of Fire:  Profiles in 20th-Century Hymn Writing (St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1995), page 153

Vajda grew up in the old Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church (1902-1971), later renamed the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and , since 1971, the SELC District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.  Our saint, born in Lorain, Ohio, on April 28, 1919, was a son of a minister.  Vajda studied in Racine, Wisconsin; and East Chicago, Indiana; before attending Concordia Junior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Class of 1938); and Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (B.A., 1941; M.Div., 1944).  He interned at Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Central City, Pennsylvania.  Our saint was an intellectually active person interested in Slovak culture and language, as evidenced by his thesis, a history of Jiri Tranovsky‘s Cithara Sanctorum (1636), or Harp of the Saints, a hymnal containing 414 texts.  As a young man he had mastered the Slovak language, completing his first translation from Slovak at the age of 21 years.  He was also a talented poet in the English language.  Vadja began to compose poetry at the age of 18 years.  At that age, when he submitted some poems to The Cresset, a literary magazine of the Missouri Synod, he received positive and encouraging feedback.

Vajda was a minister and a married man.  In 1945 he married Louise Mastaglio of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the couple went on to have four children.  Our saint served on the parish, denominational, and ecumenical levels.  The congregations he served were:

  1. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Cranesville, Pennsylvania (1945-1949), a bilingual Slovak-English congregation, as pastor;
  2. Our Blessed Savior Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Pennsylvania (1949-1953), as pastor;
  3. St. John’s Lutheran Church, Brackenridge, Pennsylvania (1953-1963), a bilingual Slovak-English congregation, as pastor; and
  4. St. Lucas Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Missouri (1963-1976), as assistant pastor.

Beyond the parish level Vadja edited The Lutheran Beacon, of the Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church, from 1959 to 1963; edited This Day, a family magazine of the Missouri Synod, from 1963 to 1971; served on the Missouri Synod’s Commission on Worship from 1960 to 1978; served on the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship from 1967 to 1978, and therefore helped to create the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978); served on the committee that created the Worship Supplement (1969); and edited and developed books for Concordia Publishing House from 1971 until 1986, when he retired.

Vajda translated hymns of Jiri Tranovsky (1592-1637), the Luther of the Slavs and the Father of Slovak Hymnody, from Slovak and composed many original hymns.  The oldest translation by our saint of a text from Tranovsky I have found dates to 1960.  Vajda, by his own accounts, wrote his first hymn in 1968, at the age of 49 years, and composed most of his texts after he retired, at the age of 67 years, in 1986.  Our saint’s contributions to hymnody were numerous and impressive, numbering 225.  (Aside:  Concordia Publishing House sells Sing Peace, Sing Gift of Peace:  The Comprehensive Hymnary of Jaroslav J. Vajda.)  Paul Westermeyer, in With Tongues of Fire (1995), listed 179 hymn titles alphabetically.  Not surprisingly, the greatest concentrations of Vajda’s hymns, apart from dedicated volumes, have been in Lutheran hymnals, given the confessional Lutheran theology in the texts.  My survey of hymnals and hymnal supplements of the main two Lutheran denominations in the United States has yielded the following counts of hymns by our saint:

  1. Worship Supplement (1969)–4,
  2. Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)–9,
  3. Lutheran Worship (1982)-5,
  4. With One Voice (1995)–3,
  5. Hymnal Supplement 98 (1998)–7,
  6. Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006)–6, and
  7. Lutheran Service Book (2006)–10.

Vajda, a longtime member of the Hymn Society of America, became a fellow of that organization in 1988.

Vajda, the recipient of many honorary doctorates, was a cultured man.  He studied Slovak Lutheran hymnody extensively.  He even wrote the article “Slovak Hymnody” for the excellent Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1981), a fine reference work and one of the best of the hymnal companion volumes.  Our saint also played the violin and translated works from Slovak into English.  Aside from hymns by Tranovksy, Vajda translated Bloody Sonnets (1950), Slovak Christmas (1960), Janko Kral (1972), An Anthology of Slovak Literature (1976), and an operatic libretto, Zuzanka Hraskovia (1978).  Original writings, aside from hymns, included They Followed the King (1963), Follow the King (1977), and Men and Women of the Bible:  45 Meditations on Biblical Heroes of the Faith (1996).

Vajda died, aged 89 years, at Webster Groves, Ohio, on May 10, 2008.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT; ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Jaroslav Jan Vajda and others, who have composed and translated hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (April 12)   4 comments

Above:  Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, 1910

Photograph copyrighted by Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-74646

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HENRY SLOANE COFFIN (JANUARY 5, 1877-NOVEMBER 25, 1954)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Translator

uncle of

WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, JR. (JUNE 1, 1924-APRIL 12, 2006)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Social Activist

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A FAMILY STORY

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If there is one characteristic more than others that contemporary public worship needs to recapture, it is the awe before the surpassing great and gracious God.

–Henry Sloane Coffin

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God is to me that creative force, behind and in the universal, who manifests Himself as energy, as life, as order, as beauty, as thought, as conscience, as love.

–Henry Sloane Coffin

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There are three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good.  The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics.  Good patriots carry on a lover’s quarrel with their country, a reflection of God’s lover’s quarrel with all the world.

–William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

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It is one thing to say with the prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like mighty waters,” and quite another to work out the irrigation system.

–William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

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With this post I replace two former posts with which I had become dissatisfied.  By telling the stories of Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr., together I also emphasize connections and relationships, one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  The Coffins, uncle and nephew, were prophetic figures who incurred much condemnation by fundamentalist Christians during their lifetimes.

Both Coffins continue to incur much condemnation by fundamentalist Christians, as a simple Internet search reveals.

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Above:  Henry Sloane Coffin

Image in the Public Domain

Henry Sloane Coffin, born in New York City on January 5, 1877, came from a prominent family.  The family firm, W. & J. Sloane, sold upscale furniture and rugs.  It also became involved in real estate development and in low-income housing.  Attorney Edmund Coffin, Jr., and Euphemia Coffin had two especially noteworthy sons–Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Sr.  The latter of these men worked in the family firm, joined the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in 1924, and became the board’s president seven years later.

Above:  William Sloane Coffin, Sr. (1879-1933)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-25374

Henry grew up in New York City, in the lap of privilege and a corresponding sense of social responsibility.  He studied at Yale, became a Bonesman, and graduated in 1897.  Next our saint studied theology at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland, for two years before returning to the United States and working successfully on two concurrent degree programs–Bachelor of Divinity (Union Theological Seminary, 1900) and Master of Arts (Yale, 1900).

Above:  Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, New York

Image creator and copyright holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a11085

Henry was a Presbyterian minister.  He, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1900, served as pastor of Bedford Park Presbyterian Church, the Bronx, until 1905, when he transferred to Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City.  Our saint, a conscientious pastor and visitor in parishioners’ homes, built up Madison Avenue Church from a struggling congregation to one of the largest in the city during his tenure, which ended in 1926.  Starting in 1904 Henry doubled as a part-time Associate Professor of Homiletics and Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary.  Finally he accepted an offer to become the President of the seminary in 1926.  “Uncle Harry,” as students called him, guided the seminary financially through the Great Depression and hired Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.  Among Henry’s greatest accomplishments was helping to avoid a schism (related to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy) in his denomination in the middle 1920s.  A minor schism, creating what became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, occurred in 1936, but no major split occurred in the 1920s.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., born in New York City on June 1, 1924, was a son of William Sloane Coffin, Sr., and Catherine Butterfield Coffin.  Our saint, known informally as Bill, lost his father in 1933.  The family fortune had declined, and William Sr. had refused to evict low-income tenants who could not afford rent.  Catherine took her family into exile in Carmel, California, where they moved into a bungalow and the children attended public schools.  In 1937 Uncle Harry began to finance the educations of Bill and his younger sister.  Bill began to study at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Catherine left California.  The following year Catherine took Bill to Europe, where he studied classical piano–first in Paris, with Nadia Boulanger, then in Geneva–until June 1940, when World War II forced their return to the United States.

Henry, who received many honorary degrees, was prominent on the Christian and world stage.  His image graced the cover of the November 15, 1926, issue of Time magazine.  Our saint was also active in ecumenism, working successfully for the creation of the World Council of Churches (1948) and unsuccessfully in the 1940s for the merger of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and The Episcopal Church, then officially the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.   Uncle Harry also worked with former U.S. President Herbert Hoover to send provisions to the United Kingdom prior to December 8, 1941, and supported U.S. involvement in World War II.

Bill Coffin went to war.  He graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, in 1942, began studies at Yale Music School, then received his military draft notice in 1943.  For fur years he served in the U.S. Army, ending up in military intelligence.  Next our saint returned to Yale, joined the Skull and Bones Society (of which friend and classmate George Herbert Walker Bush was also a member), and graduated in 1949.  The Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) recruited Coffin at Yale, but he initially chose theology instead.  In 1949 he matriculated at Union Theological Seminary yet left for the C.I.A. the following year, shortly after the beginning of the Korean War.  At the C.I.A. Coffin taught Soviet émigrés the arts of spycraft.  Our saint left the agency over Eisenhower-era C.I.A. coups against democratically elected governments, however.  He graduated from Yale Divinity School, became a Presbyterian minister, and married actress Eva Rubenstein in 1956.

Uncle Harry retired from Union Theological Seminary in 1945 then toured the Orient and studied missionary work there.  He died, aged 77 years, on November 25, 1954, at Salisbury, Connecticut.  His wife, Dorothy Prentice Eells (married in 1906; died in 1983) and two children (Ruth and David) survived him.

Henry translated hymn stanzas and wrote books.  In 1916 he translated the following stanza of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, Desire of nations, bind

All peoples in one heart and mind;

Bid envy, strife, and discord cease;

Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

In 1910, in Hymns of the Kingdom of God, which Henry co-edited, he included the following stanza of “God Himself is With Us”:

Thou pervadest all things:

Let thy radiant beauty

Light mine eyes to see my duty.

As the tender flowers

Eagerly unfold them,

To the sunlight calmly hold them,

So let me quietly

In thy rays imbue me;

Let thy light shine through me.

Our saint’s books included the following:

  1. The Creed of Jesus and Other Sermons (1907),
  2. Social Aspects of the Cross (1911),
  3. University Sermons (1911),
  4. The Christian and the Church (1912),
  5. Some Christian Convictions:  A Practical Restatement in Terms of Present-Day Thinking (1915),
  6. The Ten Commandments:  With a Christian Application to the Present Conditions (1915),
  7. In a Day of Social Rebuilding:  Lectures on the Ministry of the Church (1918),
  8. A More Christian Industrial Order (1920),
  9. Portraits of Jesus Christ (1926),
  10. What is There in Religion? (1926),
  11. What to Preach (1926),
  12. The Meaning of the Cross (1931),
  13. What Men Are Asking (1933),
  14. God’s Turn:  A Collection of Sermons (1934),
  15. Religion Yesterday and Today (1940), and
  16. A Half-Century of Union Theological Seminary, 1896-1945 (1954).

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., became a social activist. Unfortunately, stresses associated with his quest for social justice ended his first two marriages (in 1968 and 1975).  In 1956-1957 our saint filled the one-year appointment as chaplain at Phillips Academy. In 1957 he became the chaplain at Williams College.  There our saint’s support for civil rights (especially in relation to the events in Little Rock, Arkansas) and criticism of fraternities created controversy.  One fraternity brother went so far as to shoot out Coffin’s living room window in anger.  From 1958 to 1975 our saint served as the chaplain at Yale University.  At Yale Coffin became involved in the Freedom Rides in the South, opposed the Vietnam War, and supported young men who refused to cooperate with the military draft.  For his nonviolent anti-draft activities Coffin faced federal charges, went on trial, and became a convict.  Later an appeals court overturned the conviction and the government dropped the charges.

To oppose government-sponsored violence nonviolently can place one is legal jeopardy, unfortunately.

Coffin served as the senior pastor of The Riverside Church, New York City, from 1977 to 1987.  He opposed Apartheid, lobbied for nuclear disarmament, and spoke out in favor of gay rights–when the latter was a marginal position, even on the Left.  He resigned in 1987 to work on the nuclear disarmament issue full-time.

Our saint was quite active during much of this retirement.  From 1989 to 1992 he led SANE/FREEZE, dedicated to disarmament and a freeze on atomic weapons.  Then he and third wife Virginia Randolph Wilson (married in 1984) moved to Vermont.  Coffin continued to travel and speak on a variety of topics, including his opposition to the Iraq War.  At the end of his life our saint suffered a series of strokes.  He died, surrounded by family, on April 12, 2006.  He was 81 years old.

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Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin faced different challenges.  Both of them responded to those issues in front of them in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the prophets’ call to social justice, as they understood those high standards.  They were controversial in their times.  They were probably correct more often than not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, APOSTLE TO THE PYGMIES

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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

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

Help us, like your servants Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr.,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory f 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 Miep Gies (January 11)   Leave a comment

Presentatie boek "Herinneringen aan Anne Frank" van Miep Gies in het Anne Frankhuis in Amsterdam; Miep Gies  *5 mei 1987

Presentatie boek “Herinneringen aan Anne Frank” van Miep Gies in het Anne Frankhuis in Amsterdam; Miep Gies
*5 mei 1987

Above:  Miep Gies, 1987

Image Source = Nationaal Archief

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MIEP GIES (FEBRUARY 15, 1909-JANUARY 11, 2010)

Righteous Gentile

I refer you, O reader, to this biography of Miep Gies.

My reflection on the legacy of Miep Gies is simple yet challenging:  Would I have been in her place?  I like to think that I would have done so, but I do not really know.  Perhaps the only way to know for sure is to in the position to have to make a decision in the matter.  The call of the Gospel entails loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself, with the understanding that this might be dangerous–even deadly.

Grace is free at all times yet never cheap.  No, it makes demands upon the lives of those who accept it.  “Take up your cross and follow Jesus,” grace tells us.

Miep Gies was fortunate enough to live long enough to survive the Third Reich.  Many other rescuers were less fortunate, become martyrs.  She took that risk, however.

For what cause would I be willing to risk martyrdom?  For what cause would you, O reader, be willing to risk martyrdom?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 736

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Feast of Philip and Daniel Berrigan (December 7)   Leave a comment

philip-berrigan

Above:  Icon of Philip Berrigan

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIP FRANCIS BERRIGAN (OCTOBER 5, 1923-DECEMBER 6, 2002)

Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

brother of

DANIEL JOSEPH BERRIGAN (MAY 9, 1921-APRIL 30, 2016)

Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

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When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them are winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

–Doris Plenn, 1950s

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Thus He will judge among the nations

And arbitrate for the many peoples,

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks:

Nation shall not take up

Sword against nation;

They shall never again know war.

–Isaiah 2:4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

–Matthew 5:9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal.  But the word of God is not fettered.

–2 Timothy 2:8-9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Blessed are you, when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

–Matthew 5:11-12, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

–Luke 6:26, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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The Bible is replete with stories of prophets who spoke truth to power.  One reads in that sacred anthology that some of these prophets suffered imprisonment and/or death.  Those accounts are ancient and, due to the passage of so much time, generally non-controversial, at least in the circles in which I move.  More contemporary figures, such as the Berrigan brothers, remain controversial, however.  Although I do not agree with them entirely, I admire them and deplore the harsh treatment of them by authorities.  I also respect the faith that compelled them to take up their crosses, follow Christ, and suffer for the sake of righteousness.

The Berrigan brothers’ lives, being as intertwined as they were, require writing of them in one post.  Their lives stand as testimonies for peace and social justice.  For their evil disobedience they spent years in federal prisons–eleven years for Philip and more than seven years for Daniel.  Sometimes they engaged in civil disobedience together.  They also found themselves on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list.

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The Berrigans were a devout Roman Catholic family living in the vicinity of Duluth, Minnesota, in the early 1920s.  Freida Fromhart Berrigan and Thomas Berrigan raised six children–five sons and one daughter.  Thomas, a trade unionist, was a railroad engineer who raised his family on a farm.  Daniel debuted at Virginia, Minnesota, on May 9, 1921.  Philip entered the world at Two Harbors, Minnesota, on October 5, 1923.  The family moved to New York in 1926 after Thomas lost his job.  At Syracuse he, who hailed from the left wing of Roman Catholicism, founded the Electrical Workers Union and a Roman Catholic interracial council.

Daniel was a longtime Jesuit, for he joined the order immediately after graduating from high school in 1939.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson, Hyde Park, in 1946.  From 1946 to 1949 Daniel taught at St. Peter’s Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey.  He received his M.A. degree from Woodstock College, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952, the same year he became a priest.  From 1954 to 1957 Daniel taught theology at LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York.  In 1957 he won the Lamont Prize for Time Without Number, a volume of poetry.  From 1966 to 1970 Daniel served as the Assistant Director of University United Religious Work, an umbrella organization of campus chaplaincies at Cornell University.  He also served as the pastor of the Newman Club there.  Daniel also had professional roles at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York; Loyola University of the South, New Orleans, Louisiana; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; and Fordham University, New York, New York.

Philip entered the Society of St. Joseph (the Josephite Fathers) instead.  After graduating from high school at Syracuse he cleaned trains for the New York Central Railroad, played semi-professional baseball, and studied for a semester at St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Ontario.  Then the U.S. Army drafted him in 1943.  Philip’s proximity to institutional racism in the U.S. Army (especially during basic training in Georgia) and what he learned about the lives of sharecroppers disturbed him.  Combat also affected Philip deeply; he had his fill of violence and killing.  After the war Philip attended and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts.  In 1950 he joined the Josephite Fathers, an order dedicated to working with African Americans.  Philip also graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary, Washington, D.C., becoming a priest in 1955.  He graduated from Loyola University of the South with a degree in secondary education in 1957 and from Xavier University with a Master’s degree three years later.  Then Philip became a teacher.

Both brothers were active in the civil rights movement.  They participated in sit-ins, marches (such as at Selma, Alabama, in 1965), and bus boycotts.  Philip, in particular, identified with the urban poor.  For civil disobedience he went to prison for the first time in 1962-1963.  Philip ministered to other inmates while there.  Nevertheless, his activism earned him the disapproval of his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Berrigan brothers also protested the Vietnam War.  In 1964, at New York City, they founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship.  Later, at Baltimore, Philip founded the Baltimore Interfaith Peace Fellowship.  On October 27, 1967, he was one of the Baltimore Four, two Roman Catholics and two Protestants.  They poured their own blood on draft records.  Philip, out of jail on bail prior to sentencing for that act, recruited Daniel to join him and to become part of the Cantonsville Nine.  On May 17, 1968, at Cantonsville, Maryland, they doused draft records in homemade napalm and burned them.  All involved received prison sentences, delayed by an appeals period of sixteen months.  After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeals, Daniel and Philip went into hiding.  F.B.I. agents caught up with Philip after twelve days.  Daniel remained holed up in the block house of William Stringfellow (1928-1985), an Episcopalian, social activist, and lay theologian, for four months.  The prison terms expired in 1972.

While in prison Philip secretly married Elizabeth McAlister, a nun and one of the Cantonsville Nine, in 1969.  He was also among those charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and to bomb steam tunnels.  The trial (1972) ended in an acquittal.  The marriage of Philip and Elizabeth became public in 1973.  Then Pope Paul VI excommunicated him.  The couple had three children.  Philip and Elizabeth continued their antiwar activism.  In 1973, at Baltimore, they founded Jonah House, to support war resisters.

In 1980 the Berrigan brothers founded the anti-nuclear war and weapons Plowshares Movement.  On September 9, 1980, the Plowshares Eight, who included both brothers, trespassed at the General Electric nuclear missile facility at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  There they damaged cones of Mark 12A missiles and poured blood on documents and files.  The Plowshares Eight, convicted the following year, appealed their sentences until 1990, when a judge reduced them to time served and 23 months of probation.

At his trial in 1981 Daniel said, in part:

Our act is all I have to say.  The only message I have to the world is this:  We are not allowed to kill innocent people.  We are not allowed to be complicit in murder.  We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money, secretly.

I have nothing else to say in the world.  At other times one could talk about family life and divorce and birth control and abortion and many other questions.  But this Mark 12A is here.  And it renders all other questions null and void.  Nothing, nothing can be settled until this is settled.  Or this will settle us, once and for all.

It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, “Stop killing.”  There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.  There are other projects I could be very useful at.  And I can’t do them.  I cannot.

Because everything is endangered.  Everything is up for grabs.  Ours is a kind of primitive situation, even though we would call ourselves sophisticated.  Our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view.  We are back where we started.  Thou shalt not kill:  we are not allowed to kill.  Everything today comes down to that–everything.

–Quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005), page 230

Philip’s final prison sentence resulted from his participation in the hammering of A-10 Warthog war planes at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Maryland, in December 1999.  He was in prison until December 2001.  He died a year later, on December 6, 2002, at Baltimore.  He was 79 years old.

In his later years Daniel continued in the good fight.  He opposed U.S. wars and military interventions in Central America, Iraq (both times), Kosovo, and Afghanistan.  He also tended to AIDS patients and spoke out against abortion and capital punishment and supported the Occupy Movement and equal rights for homosexuals.  Daniel died in New York City on April 30, 2016.  He was 94 years old.

The witness of the lives of the Berrigan brothers teaches us to love one another, especially when doing so is dangerous to oneself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CYRIACUS SCHNEEGASS, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EMILY HUNTINGTON MILLER, U.S. METHODIST AUTHOR AND 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.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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