Archive for the ‘September’ Category

Feast of Jehu Jones (September 28)   1 comment

St. Paul's Church Cornerstone

Above:  The Cornerstone of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Image in the Public Domain

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JEHU JONES, JR. (SEPTEMBER 4, 1786-SEPTEMBER 28, 1852)

African-American Lutheran Minister

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) commemorate the lives of William Passavant (1821-1894; feast day in The Episcopal Church = January 3), Justus Falckner, and Jehu Jones (1786-1852). pioneering Lutheran ministers in North America, on November 24, the anniversary of the ordination of Falckner in 1703. On my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, each man receives his own feast day.

Jehu Jones, Jr., born a slave at Charleston, South Carolina, on September 4, 1786, was a child of slaves.  His mother was Abigail Jones and his father was Jehu Jones, Sr. (1769-1833), a tailor.  Jehu Sr. purchased his freedom and that of his family in 1798.  He joined the ranks of the mulatto elite of Charleston, invested well in real estate, and became the successful proprietor of an inn for White people.  In 1807 he purchased his first slave.  Our saint, trained as a tailor, took over that part of the family business in 1816, allowing his father to focus on the inn.  The family belonged to St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, but Jehu Jr. joined St. John’s Lutheran Church in 1820.  Jones, with the encouragement of his pastor, John Bachman (1790-1874), traveled to New York City in 1832 to receive ordination as a minister and a missionary to Liberia.

Bachman, pastor of St. John’s Church for more than half a century, was a major figure in Southern Lutheranism.  He was, unfortunately, paternalistic and racist toward African Americans, although he was more progressive in those matters than many of his fellow White people, especially Southerners.  He, for example, used science to argue that White people and African Americans belonged to the same species; this was apparently a point of dispute at the time.  Nevertheless, Bachman defended race-based chattel slavery and argued that African Americans were intellectually inferior to White people.  Bachman’s greatest legacy was in the field of liturgical renewal.  In 1870 he prompted the development of the Common Service (1888).

Jones, who abhorred slavery, never got to Liberia.  His ordination occurred on October 24, 1832.  The difficulties began when he returned to South Carolina in 1833.  In the wake of Nat Turner’s rebellion (1831) the state made already-strict racial laws stricter.  One of these statutes outlawed the return of free African Americans to South Carolina.  Authorities arrested our saint, who spent several months in jail.  In 1833 Jehu Sr. died.  The inn passed to a daughter-in-law (a sister-in-law of our saint).  Jehu Jr., freed from jail, received his inheritance and left the state forever.  He went to New York City, where he attempted unsuccessfully to raise funds for the mission to Liberia.

Jones became a domestic missionary instead.  In 1833 he settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and ministered to African Americans.  The following year our saint founded St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, which consisted originally of about 20 poor people.  The congregation was therefore financially dependent upon others, who pledged to pay, among other things, the mortgage for the building, dedicated in 1836.  Unfortunately, some of those who promised to back the church financially failed to keep their pledges, so the bank foreclosed in 1839.  False allegations of financial mismanagement followed Jones, who defended himself in writing, for the rest of his life.

Jones, who was active in politics, advocated for civil rights and improved living conditions for African Americans.  He also founded congregations in Gettysburg and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border.

Our saint’s life after 1839 was full of challenges.  He spent 1839-1842 in Toronto, Upper Canada.  In 1842 Jones returned to the United States, where he worked as a missionary and a cobbler.  The combination of racism and unfounded charges of financial mismanagement relative to the foreclosure of 1839 foiled his attempt to found a church in New York City in 1849.  Jones continued to minister to the small and impoverished congregation of St. Paul’s, Philadelphia, for years.  He died, aged 66 years, at Centreville, New Jersey, on September 28, 1852.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Jehu Jones,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their examples and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, 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 Justus Falckner (September 22)   1 comment

Gloria Dei Church, 1850

Above:  Gloria Dei Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1850

Photographer = Frederick De Bourg Richards

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-39946

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JUSTUS FALCKNER (NOVEMBER 22, 1672-SEPTEMBER 21, 1723)

Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) commemorate the lives of William Passavant (1821-1894; feast day in The Episcopal Church = January 3), Justus Falckner, and Jehu Jones (1786-1852). pioneering Lutheran ministers in North America, on November 24, the anniversary of the ordination of Falckner in 1703. On my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, each man receives his own feast day.

Falckner, born at Crimmitschau, Saxony, on November 22, 1672, was the fourth son of Daniel Falckner (Sr.), a Lutheran pastor, and a brother of Daniel Falckner (Jr.).  [Aside:  The tradition of naming a son after the father without adding a suffix, especially common in Germany and England, is really annoying to many historians and genealogists.  To know which Johannes Doe one is reading about is really helpful.  Sometimes it is relatively easy, but on other occasions it is impossible.]  Our saint, who began his studies at the University of Halle, with the intention of becoming a pastor, felt inadequate for that goal by the time he graduated.  Instead he became a lawyer and a land agent like his brother, Daniel Jr.  In 1700, at Rotterdam, the Falckner brothers acquired the power of attorney for the sale of William Penn‘s lands in Pennsylvania.  The following year the Reverend Andreas Rudman (1668-1708), a pioneering Swedish minister in what became the United States, purchased 10,000 acres along Manatawny Creek for Swedish Lutherans.  The connection with Rudman helped to convince the Falckner brothers to serve as clergymen in North America.  On November 24, 1724, 1703, at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Justus Falckner became the first Lutheran minister ordained in North America.  The service was the first recorded instance of the use of an organ at a worship service in what became the United States.

Our saint served as many as 14 congregations spread out over a territory of 200 miles at one time during nearly 20 years of ordained ministry.  His first assignment was a Dutch congregation near New Hanover, Pennsylvania.  Later he succeeded Rudman (who returned to Sweden) at New York City.  Fortunately, Rudman left the congregation in good condition.  Falckner also served at Albany, where the congregation was in dire shape; he had to start “from scratch” there.  In 1719, after the death of Pastor Joshua Kocherthal, our saint assumed responsibility for the congregations in the Hudson River valley.

Meanwhile, if all that were not enough, Falckner would have been a busy man even without those responsibilities.  In 1704 he published the first Lutheran catechism in North America.  Over the years he lobbied for the use of organs in Lutheran churches in the Delaware River valley.  He succeeded.  And, in 1717, our saint married Gerritje Hardick, with whom he had three children (in 1718, 1720, and 1723).

Falckner died at Newburgh, New York, on September 21, 1723.  He, aged 51 years, had damaged his health via his work load.   Daniel Jr., a pastor in New Jersey since 1708, added the Hudson River valley congregations to his responsibilities, starting that year.

Our saint seems to have written at least two hymns (both from 1697, during his college years) extant in English-language translations.  “Rise, Ye Children of Salvation,” in English since 1858, courtesy of Emma Frances Bevan, is plainly by Falckner.  I am less (yet reasonably) certain about “If Our All on Christ We Venture,” which old North American Moravian hymnals attribute in the original German to Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760).  Both Zinzendorf and Falckner wrote in German, I know.  I also know that some old Moravian hymnals mistakenly attributed certain German hymns to the Count.

Falckner was indeed a pioneer of the faith in North America, and thereby worthy of much respect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Justus Falckner,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their examples and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, 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 Paul Jones and John Nevin Sayre (September 4)   Leave a comment

Apotheosis of War

Above:  The Apotheosis of War, by Vasily Vereschchagin

Image in the Public Domain

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PAUL JONES (NOVEMBER 25, 1880-SEPTEMBER 4, 1941)

Episcopal Bishop of Utah and Peace Activist

colleague of 

JOHN NEVIN SAYRE (FEBRUARY 4, 1884-SEPTEMBER 13, 1977)

Episcopal Priest and Peace Activist

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INTRODUCTION

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The Episcopal Church commemorates the life of Bishop Paul Jones on September 4.  On this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I do the same and add to the feast his colleague and fellow Episcopalian, John Nevin Sayre.

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PAUL JONES (I)

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Jones, born on November 25, 1880, at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was a cradle Episcopalian and a son of a priest.  After graduating from Yale University he attended the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  There, in 1906, Jones heard the Bishop Franklin S. Spalding, of the Missionary District of Utah, speak of the challenges of evangelizing in the Mormon-dominated state.  Our saint volunteered to serve in Utah.  And he did, at St. John’s, Logan.  In 1914 Jones became the archdeacon in the missionary district.  Later that year he succeeded Spalding as bishop.  Our saint built up the diocese well during his tenure (1914-1918).

Jones got into deep trouble for speaking out based on his conscience.  He was a pacifist, for he was convinced that Jesus disapproved of settling conflicts violently.  Jones also argued for recognizing the moral validity of conscientious objection to war.  Both church and society, he insisted, should respect the choice not to engage in violence.  All of this was politically dangerous to advocate for in the United States in 1917 and 1918, a time when much of the population contracted war fever.  In the realm of the ridiculous, Dachshunds became Liberty Hounds, German Shepherds became Alsacian Shepherds, and frankfurters became hot dogs, among other examples of renaming dog breeds and food products.  The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, banned the performance of the music of Ludwig von Beethoven, who had been dead for 90 years.  Besides, given the composer’s political position regarding Emperor Napoleon I (he considered Bonaparte’s self-promotion a betrayal of principles), would Beethoven have supported German imperialism in 1914-1918, had he been alive?  Reason be damned, this was wartime panic and intolerance.  States and the federal government passed laws suspending the freedom of speech and redress of the government.  Certain opponents of U.S. involvement in World War I went to prison for their nonviolent activities, such as giving speeches and distributing leaflets.  (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution be damned also, apparently.)  Jones had to contend with false allegations of being pro-German and anti-American.  He got off relatively lightly, though; the Episcopal House of Bishops forced him to resign from both the Missionary District of Utah and the House of Bishops.  Years later he got to rejoin the House of Bishops yet without a vote therein.

Jones served as the executive secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, devoted to the nonviolent resolution of conflicts, from 1919 to 1929.  A colleague there was John Nevin Sayre.

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JOHN NEVIN SAYRE (I)

With Paul Jones

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Sayre came from a distinguished family.  He, born on February 4, 1884, at South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was a grandson of John Williamson Nevin (1803-1886), the great German Reformed minister and Mercersburg theologian.  Our saint’s aunt was Alice Nevin (1837-1925), who contributed much to the life of the Reformed Church in the United States and to the civil life of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Sayre’s mother was Martha Finley Nevin (1824-1917), daughter of John Williamson Nevin and sister of Alice.  Our saint’s father was Robert Heysham Sayre (1844-1917), the manager of the Bethlehem Iron Works and the founder of the Sayre Mining and Manufacturing Company.  Sayre’s brother was Francis Bowes Sayre, Sr. (1885-1972), an attorney and diplomat.  Francis Sr. was a professor at Harvard Law School (1917-1923), the Advisor in Foreign Affairs to the King of Siam (1923-1925), the U.S. Ambassador to Siam (1925-1932), the Director of the Harvard Institute of Criminal Law (1932-1933), the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (1933-1939), the High Commissioner of the Philippines (1939-1942), and the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Leadership Council (1947-1952).  In 1913 he married Jessie Woodrow Wilson (died in 1933), daughter of President (Thomas) Woodrow Wilson (in office 1913-1921).  Through Francis Sr. our saint was able to gain access to prominent people, such as President Wilson, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (in office 1933-1945), General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), and Emperor Hirohito (reigned 1926-1989).

Our saint was a well-educated man.  He graduated from Princeton University (B.A., 1907) and the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (B.D., 1911).  He also studied at the Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York (1908-1910) and the University of Marburg, Germany (1913-1914).  Sayre also taught at Princeton University (1911-1912) and at Boone University, Wuchang, China (1913).

Sayre became a pacifist in 1914.  He agreed with Jones that warfare was incompatible with the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  Sayre, Assistant Rector (1915-1916) then Rector (1916-1919) of Christ Church, Suffern, New York, found his congregation to be less than fully supportive of his pacifism.  He resigned and helped to found Brookwood School (1919-1921), where he taught nonviolence for two years.  In 1921, when Brookwood School became Brookwood Labor College, an experimental residential two-year institution for workers, he transferred to the U.S. branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  (He had helped to found that branch six years earlier.)  Sayre edited The World Tomorrow from 1922 to 1924 and served as the organization’s associate secretary from 1924 to 1935, serving under Jones during part of that time.  Sayre traveled the world as he sought to resolve conflicts nonviolently.  In 1927, for example, he, via Francis Sr., gained access to U.S. senators and State Department officials and thereby succeeded in halting the planned U.S. bombing of innocent civilians during a conflict in Nicaragua.

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PAUL JONES (II)

With John Nevin Sayre

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Jones spent his final years as the chaplain of Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio.  He also functioned as a spiritual advisor to students and a member of the faculty, as a well as a traveling speaker.  Other causes for which our saint advocated were economic justice (from a Christian Socialist perspective) and civil rights for African Americans.  In 1939 he and Sayre helped to found the Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship (now the Episcopal Peace Fellowship).  Toward the end of his life Jones helped to resettle European Jews fleeing the Nazis.  He died of multiple myeloma at Yellow Springs on September 4, 1941.  He was 60 years old.

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JOHN NEVIN SAYRE (II)

With Francis Bowes Sayre, Jr.

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Sayre, active in pacifist activism for most of his life, spent most of that life with Kathleen Whitaker, also his partner in activism.  She and her mother, pacifists, had emigrated from England in 1916.  Kathleen became the second Mrs. Sayre in 1922; the marriage ended when Sayre died in 1977.  (Sayre had married his first wife, Helen Augusta Bangs, on June 28, 1910.  She died two years and two days later.)  Other organizations through which the Sayres worked for peace and reconciliation included, of course, the Episcopal Pacifist/Peace Fellowship, the National Peace Conference and the International Fellowship of Witness.  Their pacifism translated, not surprisingly, into opposition to the Vietnam War.

Other favored causes included helping conscientious objectors in Europe and the United States during World War II, sparing the lives and facilitating the release and repatriation of Japanese prisoners of war after that conflict, advocating for civil liberties, and working for civil rights for African Americans.  Sayre died at South Hyack, New York, on September 13, 1977.  He was 93 years old.

A nephew, Francis Bowes Sayre, Jr. (1915-2008), a grandson of Woodrow Wilson, became an Episcopal priest, and from 1951 to 1978, the Dean of Washington National Cathedral.  True to his family heritage, he opposed Jim Crow, McCarthyism, and the Vietnam War.

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CONCLUSION

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As time moved on, so did ecclesiastical institutions.  The Lambeth Conference of 1958 approved the following resolutions:

Resolution 101 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations 

The Church’s Work of Reconciliation The Conference urges all members of the Anglican Communion to further the ministry of reconciliation by: (a) developing deeper understanding and fellowship with churchmen of every land; (b) extending the use of clergy and lay workers in lands other than their own, the exchange of teachers and seminarians, and the participation by lay visitors in the Church life of the countries they visit; (c) the general use of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer to undergird this wider sense of community; (d) participation everywhere in the wider community of all Christian people in the ecumenical opportunities open to them.

Resolution 102 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – Christian Citizenship

The Conference calls upon all Christian people to recognise their duty of exercising to the full their responsibility as citizens in the national and international policies of their governments.

Resolution 103 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – Christian Citizenship

The Conference calls upon all Christian people to strive by the exercise of mutual understanding, calm reason, and constant prayer, to reconcile all those who are involved in racial, political, economic, or other conflicts.

Resolution 104 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – The Rights of Men and Nations

The Conference declares that the Church is not to be identified with any particular political or social system, and calls upon all Christians to encourage their governments to respect the dignity and freedom of people within their own nations and the right of people of other nations to govern themselves.

Resolution 105 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – Sharing Material Resources

The Conference draws attention to the widespread poverty in many parts of the world; it notes with thankfulness the measures taken to help under-developed countries to become self-supporting, and calls upon Christians in more favoured lands to use their influence to encourage their governments in the task of relieving poverty by a generous sharing of their material and technical resources with those in need.

Resolution 106 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – Modern Warfare and Christian Responsibility

The Conference reaffirms that war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and declares that nothing less than the abolition of war itself should be the goal of the nations, their leaders, and all citizens. As an essential step towards achieving this goal the Conference calls upon Christians to press through their governments, as a matter of the utmost urgency, for the abolition by international agreement of nuclear bombs and other weapons of similar indiscriminate destructive power, the use of which is repugnant to the Christian conscience. To this end governments should accept such limitations of their own sovereignty as effective control demands. The Conference further urges the governments of the leading nations of the world to devote their utmost efforts at once to framing a comprehensive international disarmament treaty, which shall also provide for the progressive reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments to the minimum necessary for the maintenance of internal security and the fulfilment of the obligations of states to maintain peace and security in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

Resolution 107 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – Modern Warfare and Christian Responsibility

The Conference calls Christians to subject to intense prayer and study their attitudes to the issues involved in modern warfare, and urges the Church to continue to consult regularly with scientists and political leaders about the many problems of ethics and conscience which arise from advances in nuclear research.

Resolution 108 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – The United Nations

The Conference affirms the need for strengthening the United Nations and to this end: (a) urges that serious consideration be given to the revision of its Charter, the more effective use of, and respect for, the existing processes of international justice, and to the creation of adequate means for enforcing its decisions; (b) commends wholeheartedly the work done under the aegis of the United Nations, whereby the skills and resources of member nations are made available for the benefit of the whole of humanity; (c) recommends that all Church people be asked to pray for God’s blessing upon the officers and declared purposes of the United Nations; (d) urges that all Church people be asked to encourage community study regarding the constitution, the plans, and the needs of the United Nations.

Resolution 109 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – The United Nations

The Conference draws attention to the work of the Committee of the Churches on International Affairs (within the World Council of Churches) and urges Anglicans to support its efforts to bring an informed Christian opinion to bear on international issues.

Resolution 110 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – Condemnation of Racial Discrimination

The Conference affirms its belief in the natural dignity and value of every man, of whatever colour or race, as created in the image of God. In the light of this belief the Conference affirms that neither race nor colour is in itself a barrier to any aspect of that life in family and community for which God created all men. It therefore condemns discrimination of any kind on the grounds of race or colour alone. The Conference would urge that in multi-racial societies members of all races shall be allowed: (a) a fair and just share in the government of their country; (b) a fair and just share in the control, development, and rewards of the natural resources of their country, including advancement to the highest level of attainment; (c) the right to associate freely in worship, in education, in industry, in recreation, and in all other departments of the common life.

Resolution 111 The Reconciling of Conflicts Between and Within Nations – The Church in an Industrial Age

The Conference urges the provinces of the Anglican Communion to give special study to the task, strategy, and ministry of the Church within industrial society, and by the use of bold and imaginative experiments to strengthen the impact of the Christian faith upon the whole life and pattern of industry.

Source = link

I am not a pacifist.  I have tried to become one, but I have not been able to, pardon the term, reconcile certain uncomfortable realities with idealism.  Sometimes the best choice is a bad one, albeit the least or lesser bad choice.  I write this post on the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb in 1945.  As much as I deplore the human costs (including to innocent civilians) inherent in that act, I also know that the human costs (including to innocent civilians) would have been far worse had an invasion of the Japanese home islands occurred.  Forcing Japanese surrender also kept Soviet troops out of Japan.  President Harry Truman made the decision he had to make; he chose the lesser of two evils when no good option was available.  I also recognize the fact that reconciling with, not antagonizing, Japan after World War II made the world a better place for Allies and Japanese alike.  I wonder world history would have been different had the victorious Allies been kind to Germany and nicer to Japan at Versailles Palace in 1919.

Although I am not a pacifist, I refuse to condemn those who are.  They remind the rest of us of the importance of seeking peace–not just the absence of conflict, but the reality of reconciliation.  “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” may have been originally a moral step forward, insofar as its purpose was to curtail violence, but reconciliation is superior.  As Delenn, the Minbari Ambassador to Babylon 5, said in Passing Through Gethsemane (1995), one of my favorite episodes of Babylon 5 (1994-1998), “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” leaves many people blind and toothless.  Is it not better for all of us to retain our eyes and teeth and to strive for peace, or at least the absence of conflict?  Some violence is necessary, sadly, but most of it is morally unjustifiable.  Frequently the motivation for violence is revenge or pride, not self-defense.  Even when violence is in self-defense, it might damage the one who commits it.  Wildred Owen (who died a week before the armistice in 1918, wrote a poem in the voice of two soldiers.  One soldiers tells the other:

I am the enemy you killed, my friend.

I knew you in the dark; for so you frowned

Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.

Let us sleep now….

Also, given the long tradition of people from various religions (including, unfortunately, Christianity, named after the executed Prince of Peace) engaging in violence at the proverbial drop of a hat, from antiquity to the present day, I derive comfort from the fact many faithful people seek to incite nonviolence in the name of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near:

Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the examples of your servants

Paul Jones and John Nevin Sayre,

will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace,

our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you

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

Malachi 2:17-3:5

Psalm 76

1 Peter 3:8-14a

John 8:31-32

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 561

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Feast of George Henry Trabert (September 18)   1 comment

Trabert

Above:  George Henry Trabert

Image Source = http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/t/r/a/trabert_gh.htm

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GEORGE HENRY TRABERT (OCTOBER 16, 1843-SEPTEMBER 15, 1931)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Translator and Author

How often have you, O reader, read the names of authors and translators of hymns and wondered who those people were?  How often have you wanted to learn their stories?  Such inquisitiveness prompted me to learn and write about George Henry Trabert.

Trabert wrote hymns, translated 40 Swedish hymns into English, served as the first English-language missionary for the Augustana Synod in Minnesota, wrote works of church history, and founded then led a social services agency.  He left a great legacy, to the glory of God.

Our saint’s story began with two German immigrants, Christopher A. Trabert and Fredericka Stappf Trabert.  They settled in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  There our saint entered the world on October 16, 1843.  At the time of the U.S. Census of 1850 the Trabert household consisted of the parents, our saint, John William Trabert (aged four years), and Anna S. Trabert (aged two years).  The family remained intact for the next decade; a new brother, Christian E. Trabert, was present at the time of the U.S. Census of 1860.

Our saint grew up and left the nest.  In 1867 he graduated from Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Three years later he completed his studies at and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  By then he was a married man, having wed Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Minnigh (June 5, 1842-January 15, 1930), of Gettysburg, at St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church there on June 23, 1869.  The German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States ordained Trabert in 1870.

The first stage of Trabert’s career occurred in Pennsylvania.  His first pastorate was Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ephrata, where he served until 1873.  From 1873 to 1877 Trabert was the pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Elizabethtown, and Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mount Joy.  Then, from 1877 to the end of 1882, he served as pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lebanon.

Meanwhile, on the home front, our saint’s household was growing in number.  Children born were:

  1. Charles Luther Trabert (1871-1945);
  2. Ernest E. Trabert (born circa 1873);
  3. George Christopher Trabert (1874-1886), who died of diptheria;
  4. Elizabeth F. Trabert (born circa 1876);
  5. Paul Melancthon Trabert (1878-1886), who died of diptheria;
  6. Elsie Amelia Trabert (1879-1886), who died of diptheria; and
  7. Ruth E. Trabert (born circa 1881), who became Ruth E. Smith.

Augustana Synod Logo

Above:  Logo of the Augustana Synod

Effective January 1, 1883, Trabert became a missionary for the Augustana Synod, which was of Swedish immigrant origin.  Both the Ministerium of Pennyslvania and the Augustana Synod belonged to the same umbrella organization, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  The Augustana Synod, which retained the use of the Swedish language into the twentieth century, undertook some missionary work in the English language.  Trabert became their first English-language missionary in Minnesota.  His tenure in the Augustana Synod lasted until 1892.  Trabert, supported also by St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, organized four churches in Minneapolis, one in St. Paul, one in Red Wing, and one in Duluth.  The first two congregations were St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (organized June 8, 1883), and Memorial English Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paul (organized July 24, 1883).  These churches became the cradle of the General Synod’s English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest (1891).  Other congregations Trabert organized included St. Paul English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Redwing (1884); Elim English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Duluth (1890); and Salem English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (1890).  There were also, of course, other English-language Lutheran missionaries organizing and leading congregations in Minnesota and neighboring territories and states, as well as southern Canada.

The legacy of Memorial English Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paul, has survived via a series of mergers.  In 1910 the congregation consolidated with St. James English Evangelical Lutheran Church to form Reformation Lutheran Church.  In 1977 that congregation consolidated with St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (founded in 1917) to create St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church.

On the home front joy and sorrow marked the Traberts’ life together.  Three children died of diptheria in November 1886, but five new members joined the family from 1883 to 1892:

  1. William Henry Trabert (1883-1906),
  2. Allen Trabert (born circa 1884),
  3. Maude Trabert (born circa 1886),
  4. Arthur Trabert (born circa 1889), and
  5. Earl Trabert (born circa 1892).

In 1892 Trabert resigned as the pastor of St. John’s, Minneapolis, and returned to Pennsylvania, where he remained for a few years.  He served at St. Paul’s, Warren, from 1892 to 1896 before transferring to St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wilkes-Barre, which he left in 1897.  Minnesota beckoned again.

Salem Lutheran Church

Source = The Minneapolis Journal, Saturday, June 25, 1904, page 10

Accessed via newspapers.com

From 1897 to 1920 Trabert served as the pastor of Salem English Evangelical Lutheran  Church, Minneapolis.  (He had organized that congregation seven years prior.)  While there our saint served beyond the local church.  He was, for example, the President of the Synod of the Northwest from 1901 to 1905.  Furthermore, Trabert became involved in providing social services.

Trabert founded the Lutheran Inner Mission Society of Minneapolis in 1905 and served as its president until 1915.  This organization merged with The Colony of Mercy (founded in 1919) to become the Inner Mission Society in 1922.  Five years later the Inner Mission Society changed its name to The Lutheran Welfare Society, which, in 1963, merged with the Board of Christian Service (late of the Minnesota Conference of the Augustana Synod) to create Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.  The Inner Mission Society named the Hospice (more of a hotel) for Young Women, capable of housing 78 residents in the original structure and 92 more in the annex), acquired in 1919, Trabert Hall in honor of our saint.

Trabert retired in 1920, having lived for 76 years and served as an active minister for half a century.  He remained in Minneapolis.  At the time of the U.S. Census of 1920 his household included his beloved Lizzie (77); a daughter, Ruth (38); her husband, Rolland A. Smith (40); and their children, Charles P. Smith (6) and Priscilla E. Smith (newborn).  Lizzie died on January 15, 1930, after 60 years of marriage.  Trabert continued to live with Ruth and her family until he died, aged 87 years, on September 15, 1931.

Trabert left a written legacy also.  He translated 40 Swedish hymns into English and wrote at least two original hymns.  (I have located four of these texts and added them to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.)  He also translated The Life of Luther in Picture and Verse, by J. A. Darmstedter, from German into English in 1879.  Furthermore, Trabert wrote the following published works:

  1. Genuine vs. Spurious Revivals:  A Tract (1876);
  2. The Mode of Baptism as Taught in God’s Word:  A Sermon Preached in the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Elizabethtown and Mount Joy, Pa. (1876);
  3. Ebenezer:  An Address Delivered in St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minn. (1890);
  4. Historical Sketch of the Mission of the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Among the Telugus of India (1890);
  5. Church History for the People (1897);
  6. Questions and Answers on Luther’s Small Catechism:  For the Use of the Church, School and Family (1911); and
  7. English Lutheranism in the Northwest (1914).

Dorris A. Flesner wrote a biography, George Henry Trabert:  Pioneer English Lutheran Home Missionary in Minnesota (1985).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant George Henry Trabert,

who made the good news known in Minnesota.

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

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

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

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

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

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Feast of St. Francis de Sales, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and Charles Fuge Lowder (September 27)   Leave a comment

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Above:  The Parable of the Good Samaritan, by Jan Winjants

Image in the Public Domain

But a Samaritan, as he journey, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

–Luke 10:33-34, Revised Standard Version (1946/1952)

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SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES (AUGUST 21, 1567-DECEMBER 28, 1622)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Geneva

His feast transferred from January 24

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SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (APRIL 24, 1581-SEPTEMBER 27, 1660)

“The Apostle of Charity”

confessor of

SAINT LOUISE DE MARILLAC (AUGUST 12, 1591-MARCH 15, 1660)

Cofounder of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul

Her feast transferred from March 15

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CHARLES FUGE LOWDER (JUNE 22, 1820-SEPTEMBER 9, 1880)

Founder of the Society of the Holy Cross

His feast transferred from September 9

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INTRODUCTION

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This is a post about how people, living or dead, can influence each other positively.  The central figure is St. Francis de Sales, who spent much of his life tending to the spiritual and physical needs of others.

What good is it, my friends, for someone to say he has faith when his actions do nothing to show it?  Can his faith save him?  Suppose a fellow-Christian, whether man or woman, is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, “Goodbye, keep warm, and have a good meal,” but does nothing to supply his or her bodily needs, what good is that?  So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is by itself a lifeless thing.

–James 2:14-17, The Revised English Bible (1989), corrected to avoid the singular “their,” which offends my sense of making the distinction between singular and plural clear

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SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES

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Nothing makes us so prosperous in this world as giving alms.

–St. Francis de Sales

St. Frances de Sales, born to nobility at Chateau de Thorens, Savoy, on August 21, 1567, became a major figure in French literature and the Roman Catholic Church.  He, educated by Jesuits at the College of Clermont in Paris, went on to study law in Padua from 1588 to 1592 then to become a lawyer briefly before entering the priesthood on December 18, 1593.  Father Francis de Sales was active in the Counter-Reformation, restoring entire districts to Holy Mother Church, hence his nickname, the “Apostle of the Chablais.”  The saint became the Bishop Coadjutor of Geneva in 1599.  Three years later he succeeded the Bishop of Geneva.  In 1610 St. Francis and St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) founded the Congregation of the Visitation, to provide social services to children, the poor, the sick, and the dying.  The Bishop of Geneva supported good works as a spiritual principle.  As he wrote,

There is nothing which edifies others so much as charity and kindness, by which, as by the oil in our lamp, the flame of good example is kept alive.

St. Francis, who was a charming, well-mannered, poised mystic, ascetic, and Christian humanist strong in character, left a written legacy.  His complete works in the original French filled 21 volumes (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, and XXI).  Highlights of his writing included Introduction to the Devout Life (1609; in English translation since 1613), Treatise on the Love of God, Defense of the Standard of the Holy Cross, Controversies, and The Rule of Faith.

English-language compilations of the saint’s wisdom available at archive.org include the following:

  1. Practical Piety Set Forth by St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Prince of Geneva (1851) and
  2. The Mystical Flora of St. Francis de Sales:  or, the Christian Life Under the Emblem of Plants (1877).

Toward the end of his life St. Francis provided counseling to St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660), who was caring for her husband and raising her son while undergoing a spiritual crisis at the time.

St. Francis died at Lyon, France, on December 28, 1622.  Pope Alexander VII beatified him on January 8, 1662, and canonized him on April 19, 1665.

St. Francis is the patron of authors, confessors, the Roman Catholic press, deaf people, educators, writers, journalists, the Diocese of Annecy (in France), the Diocese of Baker (in Oregon), the Diocese of Columbus (in Ohio), the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (in Ohio), the Diocese of Houma-Theibodaux (in Louisiana), the Diocese of Oakland (in California), the Diocese of Wilmington (in Delaware), the Diocese of Keimoes-Upington (in South Africa), and the town of Champdepraz (in Italy).

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SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (I)

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We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.

–St. Vincent de Paul

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Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor. Although in his passion he almost lost the appearance of a man and was considered a fool by the Gentiles and a stumbling block by the Jews, he showed them that his mission was to preach to the poor: “He sent me to preach the good news to the poor.” We also ought to have this same spirit and imitate Christ’s actions, that is, we must take care of the poor, console them, help them, support their cause. Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also love whose who love the poor. For when on person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to be understanding where they are concerned. We sympathize with them so fully that we can echo Paul’s words: “I have become all things to all men.” Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbors’ worries and distress. It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.

–St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul was the “Apostle of Charity.”  Whereas St. Francis de Sales, his contemporary, was of noble origin, St. Vincent came from the peasant class.  He, born at Pouy (now Saint-Vincent-de-Paul), near Dax, in southwestern France, on April 24, 1581, grew up on a small farm.  St. Vincent received his initial education at Dax.  Then he studied at the University of Toulouse.  The saint, ordained a priest in 1600, earned his Bachelor of Theology degree from the same university four years later.

While traveling from Toulouse to Narbonne St. Vincent became a captive of Barbary pirates, who sold him into slavery at Tunis.  For about two years the saint was a slave.  In June 1607 he escaped to freedom, along with his third master (an Italian), whom he had converted.  That phase of St. Vincent’s life informed his subsequent actions.

By 1611 St. Vincent had arrived in Paris, where he became the Curate of Clichy and associated with members of the royal court.  For a time he served as the chaplain to Queen Margaret of Valois then as tutor to Pierre, the eldest son of Philippe Emmanuel de Gondi, the Count of Joigny and the Admiral of France and the General of the Galleys.  IN 1617, during a preaching mission in Picardy, St. Vincent became aware of and alarmed at the unmet spiritual needs of many rural people.  Later that year he began a brief tenure as the Curate of Chatillon-les-Dombes.  With financial support from the Count of Joigny and his wife, Marguerite de Silly, the Countess of Joigny, the saint established the Confraternity of Charity.  The new order, consisting of women, most of them married, ministered to the poor and the sick.  In 1617 St. Vincent also founded the Ladies of Charity, a group of wealthy women who financed charitable work.  (Many of them were, however, unwilling to work directly with the poor.)  He also founded the Sons of Charity for the purpose of supplementing the work of the Confraternity of Charity.

St. Vincent, back in Paris from 1619, became the royal chaplain to the galleys.  He worked on behalf of convicts and founded a hospital for galley slaves at Marseilles.  The saint also recruited St. Louise de Marillac to supervise workers in the Confraternity of Charity.  And, in 1625, with the assistance of the Count and Countess of Joigny, St. Vincent founded the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (the Lazarites), to fulfill the spiritual side of the mission to the peasants.

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SAINT LOUISE DE MARILLAC

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Be diligent in serving the poor.  Love the poor, honor them, my children, as you would honor Christ Himself.

–St. Louise de Marillac

St. Louise de Marillac came from nobility and moved in those social circles, but not without certain familial difficulties.  She, born in Meux, France, on August 12, 1591, was a daughter of Louis de Marillac.  Her mother was not his wife.  Louis recognized his daughter yet did not make her his legal heir.  The saint grew up among aristocrats, so she enjoyed certain advantages, but her stepmother rejected her.  St. Louise received an elite education at the convent of Poissy, where an aunt was a nun.  The young saint discerned a vocation to monastic life, but her first attempt to become a nun ended in rejection.

The 23-year-old saint married Antoine Le Gras, secretary to the Queen, in 1613.  The couple had one child, Michel, who, in the polite language of 2016, had special needs.  St. Louise was active in her parish and in the Ladies of Charity.  Due to her family situation she experienced profound doubts and deep depression in the early 1620s.  There was Michel, of course.  Two uncles found themselves on the wrong side of the law during a time of civil unrest; the state imprisoned both and executed one.  Furthermore, Antoine became an invalid.  At this time St. Francis de Sales counseled her.  St. Louise had an epiphany on the Feast of Pentecost, 1623; her doubts subsided.

Antoine died in 1626.  The widow, still her son’s caregiver, found a way to organize her days to focus on spiritual development.  She wrote her “Rule of Life in the World.”  She also met St. Vincent de Paul, who became her confessor.  He convinced her to supervise the work of members of the Confraternity of Charity, financed by the Ladies of Charity.  More hands were necessary, so Sts. Vincent and Louise founded the Daughters of Charity in 1633.  Members of the order worked in orphanages, homes for the elderly, shelters for the homeless and the mentally ill, schools for poor children, and battlefield hospitals.  St. Louise functioned as the leader of the order until she died at Paris on March 15, 1660.

Pope Benedict XV beatified St. Louise on May 9, 1920.  Pope Pius XI canonized her on March 11, 1934.

St. Louise is the patron of disappointing children, people who have lost parents, people rejected by religious orders, those who are sick, the Vincentian Service Corps, widows, and social workers.

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SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (II)

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The Church teaches us that mercy belongs to God. Let us implore Him to bestow on us the spirit of mercy and compassion, so that we are filled with it and may never lose it. Only consider how much we ourselves are in need of mercy

–St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul performed many charitable deeds.  Aside from those I have written about already he collected alms for civilians devastated by war and purchased the freedom of Christian slaves in northern Africa, among other works of mercy.

Grace was a major theme in St. Vincent’s theology.  He understood grace well, for, by it, he had overcome his natural irascibility and became a kind and humble man.  He also cited grace when arguing against Jansenism, the Roman Catholic counterpart to Calvinism.  (The Roman Catholic Church condemned Jansenism as a heresy.)

St. Vincent died at Paris on September 27, 1660.  Pope Benedict XIII beatified him on August 13, 1729.  Pope Clement XII canonized him on June 16, 1737.

St. Vincent is the patron of the Brothers of Charity, the Sisters of Charity, the Saint Vincent de Paul Societies, the Vincentian Service Corps, charitable societies, charitable workers, volunteers, charities, hospitals, hospital workers, lepers, prisoners, horses, lost articles, Madagascar, and the Diocese of Richmond (in Virginia).

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CHARLES FUGE LOWDER

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Charles Fuge Lowder derived inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul nearly two centuries after the elder saint’s death.

Lowder’s spiritual journey began in Bath, England, where he entered the world on June 22, 1820.  His mother was the former Susan Fuge.  His father was Charles Lowder, a banker.  The saint studied at Kings College School, London, before matriculating at Exeter College, Oxford (B.A., 1843; M.A., 1845).  At Oxford Lowder came under the influence of John Henry Newman (1801-1890), who was still an Anglican at the time.  Lowder became an Anglo-Catholic and set his course for ordination.  He became a deacon in The Church of England on August 29, 1843, a.k.a. Michaelmas.  The date of his ordination to the priesthood was December 22, 1844.

As a deacon Lowder contemplated becoming a missionary to New Zealand.  That was, of course, a godly goal, but it was not where the saint’s destiny lay.  No, Lowder’s destiny was to be a slum priest.  His first assignment as a priest was chaplain to the workhouse at Axbridge.  From 1845 to 1851 he served as the Curate of Tetbury, Gloucestershire.  Starting in 1851 the saint found himself where he wanted to be–in a hub of ritualism.  He became one of two Assistant Curates at St. Barnabas, Pimlico.  There he continued to work among slum dwellers.

At the time ritualism was quite controversial in Anglicanism.  The Church had two opposite wings–the Anglo-Catholics (or Tractarians), who favored smells and bells, candles, eucharistic vestments, et cetera, in the style of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Evangelicals.  Some Evangelical Anglicans were adamant to the point of accusing Anglo-Catholics of being in league with Satan.  The controversy raged for a long time.  In some ways it has never ended, for, among Continuing Anglican denominations in 2016, for example, one can identify both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical bodies that cannot stand each other yet agree that those of us in the Anglican Communion are heretics.

At. St. Barnabas, Pimlico, support for ritualism was not universal.  One Mr. Westerton, a candidate for church warden in 1854, opposed that style of worship.  He went so far as to hire a man to wear a sandwich board and campaign for him on sidewalks.  This was too much for Lowder, who gave eggs to choirboys, who threw them at the campaigner.  Westerton sued Lowder, who received a fine from a court and a six-weeks-long suspension from the Bishop of London.

Lowder visited France in May 1854.  There he cleared his head and studied the life of St. Vincent de Paul.  Lowder concluded that The Church of England needed an order of priests modeled after the Lazarites.  On February 28, 1855, Lowder and five other Anglo-Catholic priests founded the Society of the Holy Cross, devoted to missions and to charitable work among the poor.  The saint was so Catholic in his orientation that he, as a priest, committed himself to lead a celibate life.

Lowder left St. Barnabas, Pimlico, in August 1856, and accepted an offer to become the priest in charge of St. George’s-in-the-East to the London Docks.  The mission thrived, leading to the establishment of St. Peter’s Church at the London Docks in 1866, with Lowder as the Perpetual Curate from 1866 to 1873 and as the Vicar from 1873 until his death.  In 1857 Lowder invited Elizabeth Neale (1822-1901), sister of John Mason Neale (1818-1866), priest, hymn writer, and hymn translator, to join the mission at the London Docks.  The mission offered a wide range of social services, and the presence of Elizabeth Neale and her new order, the Community of the Holy Cross, of which she was the first Reverend Mother (1857-1896), expanded the range of social services among women.

Ritualism continue to prove to be controversial at Lowder’s new cure.  Some Evangelical Anglicans and other opponents of Anglo-Catholicism rioted outside the church, disrupted services, and threw rocks at the building.

Lowder was the first priest in The Church of England to receive the title “Father”  He was “Father Lowder” and “the Father of Wapping.”

The published works of Lowder available at archive.org are:

  1. S. Katharine’s Hospital:  Its History and Revenues, and Their Application to Missionary Purposes in the East of London:  Considered in a Letter to the Right Hon. and Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London (1867);
  2. Ten Years in S. George’s Mission:  Being an Account Origin, Progress, and Works of Charity (1867); and
  3. Twenty-One Years in S. George’s Mission:  An Account of Its Origin, Progress and Works of Charity (1877).

Archive.org also offers a biography of Father Lowder from the early 1880s.

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CONCLUSION

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Opposing and attempting to overthrow an unjust system is a legitimate spiritual calling.  So is working within such a system to effect the maximum possible good at the moment.

The poor will always be with us.  That statement is a recognition of objective reality.  A companion to that simple statement is the divine mandate to work for economic justice and to provide relief to the poor.  Changing institutionalized inequality–artificial scarcity, which is alien to the Kingdom of God–is a daunting task.  So is helping people effectively in the here and now.

Our four saints worked within extant social institutions to help as many poor people as effectively as possible at the moment.  They also founded new religious institutions to work for the same goal.  Both strategies were important for, had they waited to change socio-economic-political structures, they would have done nothing to help the poor they assisted.  Yes, ancien regime France was economically exploitative of the majority of the population.  It deserved to fall.  Its collapse was inevitable, even though the French Revolution of 1789-1799 had pronounced excesses.  Yes, the Industrial Revolution in England gave rise to the reference to “those dark Satanic mills” in Jerusalem.  Political reform was necessary and morally proper.

One should not permit the perfect to become the enemy of the good.  This is a timeless principle that applies to the lives and labors of our four saints, whose vocation was to help the least among them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

St. Francis de Sales, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and Charles Fuge Lowder,

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 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 James Chisholm (September 15)   Leave a comment

Chisholm Grave

Above:  The Grave Marker of James and Jane Page Chisholm

Image Source = Jweaver28

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JAMES CHISHOLM (SEPTEMBER 30, 1815-SEPTEMBER 15, 1855)

Episcopal Priest

James Chisholm devoted his life to Christ and gave that life while being a pastor during an epidemic.  He exemplified the truth that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters.

Chisholm, a native of Salem, Massachusetts, entered the world on September 30, 1815.  He grew up a Baptist.  His father was William Chisholm, a Scottish immigrant and a member of a family with Jacobite sympathies.  Our saint’s mother was Martha Vincent, of Italian ancestry as well as a native of Salem.  William died when our saint, as a youth, was 12 years old.

Our saint, as a youth, established certain life-long patterns.  He was a bookish youth with a gift for languages.   By the time Chisholm graduated from Harvard College in 1836 he had mastered the written and oral forms of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, German, and Italian.  He was also fond of singing sacred music and attending church and Sunday school regularly.  The serious-minded young man was able to obtain an education because of the financial support of his siblings.  Chisholm understood the principle of interdependence, by which he lived until the end.

Chisholm taught for a few years after graduating from Harvard College.  For less than a year, starting in 1836, our saint taught at the Academy in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia).  In Charles Town our saint became enamored of worship according to The Book of Common Prayer (1789) and attended Episcopal services regularly.   David Holmes Conrad, Chisholm’s biographer, wrote:

The beautiful simplicity of the ancient ritual spoke to his taste; the subdued and chastened emotions of the communicants, to his better feelings; the deep import of the whole, to his heart.  It was the first direct appeal of the Spirit, and was not unheeded.

Memoir of the Rev. James Chisholm (1856), page 25

For a year and half, starting in 1837, our saint lived in Washington, D.C., where he taught at a classical school.  In Washington, on February 24, 1839, he became an Episcopalian.  He studied at the Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, graduating in 1840.  Chisholm became a deacon on October 4, 1840.

Chisholm was a clergyman for about 15 years.  For about two years he worked among the slaves of U.S. Senator William Cabell Rives of Virginia.  In 1842 our saint, as a priest, began to serve at Norborne Parish, Berkeley County, Virginia.  The parish consisted of two rural congregations–Trinity Church, Martinsburg, and Mount Zion Church, Hedgesville.  Chisholm attended to the needs of his flock faithfully and revitalized the congregations.  He remained there until 1850, when he left for financial reasons.  Chisholm, having married Jane Page of Clarke County, Virginia, in 1847 and became the father of William Byrd “Willy” Chisholm in September 1848, had a family to support.

St. John’s Church, Portsmouth, founded as a High Church congregation at a time when that was a subject of heated controversy in The Episcopal Church, called Chisholm to be their first rector.  He accepted.  During the next few years our saint’s family life continued.  The Chisholm’s welcomed their second son, Johnny.  Then, on February 28, 1855, Jane died of natural causes, leaving our saint a widower with two young sons.

Matters turned for the worse in late July 1855, when the outbreak of yellow fever in the tidewater region of Virginia began.  By the time the epidemic was over, thousands of people had died during several months.  Many people, especially the wealthy and many physicians and pastors, escaped to safety.  This reality made matters worse for those who could not leave and those who chose to remain.  Chisholm, who chose to remain, sent his two sons away, to live with their aunt, Mary Page, of Cumberland County, Virginia.  Nevertheless, Johnny died of measles on August 31, 1855.  The priest, who had to contend with personal grief, helped many in their times of desperation.  He, for example, functioned as a pastor, delivered food, served as a medic, and dug graves, often to the point of exhaustion day after day.  He died of yellow fever on September 15, 1855, 15 days short of his fortieth birthday.

Although Chisholm, as a youth, was capable of long walks without difficulty as a youth, had a delicate constitution by the 1850s.  He was also an introvert, so many of his duties, even during the best of times, must have proved difficult.  (Aside:  My experience is that many, if not most, church members prefer extroverted ministers.  I have also known holy, capable, and introverted priests need to undertake long retreats occasionally.)  Chisholm was definitely compassionate, however, and he died because he insisted on living compassionately.

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Merciful God, you called your priest James Chisholm to sacrifice his life in working

to relieve his parishioners and the people of his city during a yellow fever epidemic:

Help us remember that in giving up our lives to your service,

we win the eternal crown that never fades away in that heavenly kingdom where,

with Jesus Christ our Savior and the Holy Spirit, you reign, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 38:9-17

Psalm 116:5-9

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Matthew 24:1-8

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 585

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Feast of Dag Hammarskjold (September 18)   Leave a comment

1953 - Dag Hammarskjöld, generalsekreterare FN Foto: Pressens Bild  Kod: 190 COPYRIGHT PRESSENS BILD

1953 – Dag Hammarskjöld, generalsekreterare FN
Foto: Pressens Bild Kod: 190
COPYRIGHT PRESSENS BILD

Above:  Dag Hammarskjold

Image in the Public Domain

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DAG HJALMAR AGNE CARL HAMMARSKJOLD (JULY 29, 1905-SEPTEMBER 18, 1961)

Secretary-General of the United Nations

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Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee,

A humble heart that I may hear Thee,

A heart of love that I may serve Thee,

A heart of faith that I may abide in Thee.

–Dag Hammarskjold in Markings (published in 1963)

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In this post I do something I seldom do.  I refer you, O reader, to a biography of the saint at another website and proceed directly to reflections.

Dag Hammarskjold operated based on Christian values he learned in his Lutheran family in Sweden.  He internalized the importance of building up “the least among us” and of seeking peace.  He even died while on a peace mission.

Such people tend to attract both admirers and detractors, both for their goals and their methods.  The question of methods is a procedural one, but such goals should win universal acclaim.  Yet they do not.

Greatness is never appreciated in youth, called pride in middle age, dismissed in old age, and reconsidered in death.  Because we cannot tolerate greatness in our midst we do all we can to destroy it.

–Lady Morella in Point of No Return (1996), an episode of Babylon 5

The purpose of politics should be to unify diverse groups of people and seek the common good, not to pit groups against each other and propagate prejudice and ignorance, often in the name of making one’s country great again.  One can consider the legacy of Hammarskjold and recognize an example of constructive politics, not, as an unfortunately accurate joke indicates, many bloodsucking creatures.  One can learn from our saint the value and imperative of love, not hatred, and of faith, not fear.

Every day and at home, we are warned about the enemy.  Is it the alien?  Well, we are all alien to one another.  Is it the one who believes differently than we do?  No, oh no, my friends.  The enemy is fear.  The enemy is ignorance.  The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different.  Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you.  And that same hate will destroy you.

–The Reverend Will Dexter in And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place (1996), an episode of Babylon 5

The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, encourages us in the Diocese of Atlanta to

love as Jesus loves.

I detect that ethic in the life of Hammarskjold, who had both admirers and detractors in life and retains both in death.  Critics will always be present among us.  When–not if–someone criticizes you, O reader, may it be for works of righteousness that benefit people and glorify God.  May the criticism reflect badly on the critic, not you.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

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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 Dag Hammarskjold, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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