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Feast of William Scarlett (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM SCARLETT (OCTOBER 3, 1883-MARCH 28, 1973)

Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

Bishop William Scartlett comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Scarlett, born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 3, 1883, grew up to become a courageous, progressive Christian leader on the vanguard of various moral causes.  He was what certain cynical reactionaries of 2018 would have called a “social justice warrior.”  So were Hebrew prophets.  Our saint, influenced at an early age by Washington Gladden (1836-1918) and Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918), proponents of the Social Gospel, graduated from Harvard University with his A.B. degree in 1905.  Scarlett, unsure about whether to study for ministry or medicine, worked on a ranch in Nebraska for a year.  He matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1906, and graduated three years later.  Our saint, spent the rest of his life in ordained ministry marked by a dedication to social justice dictated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Scarlett cared deeply by outreach to the poor, the rights of industrial workers, civil rights, and other issues germane to human relations.  He was, in order:

  1. Assistant Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York (1909-1911);
  2. Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (1911-1922);
  3. Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri (1922-1930);
  4. Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri (1930-1933); and
  5. Bishop of Missouri (1933-1952).

Friend Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) described our saint as

the conscience of the community.

Scarlett was on the avant-garde of The Episcopal Church with regard to social ethics.  He advocated for the liberalization of the denomination’s stance on remarriage after divorce.  In 1946 our saint edited Christianity Takes a Stand, in which various authors took a stand against societal sins such as racial segregation and the federal government’s recent internment of West Coast Japanese Americans.  Although the House of Deputies, at the General Convention of 1946, consented without debate to sponsor the publication of the book, the majority of Episcopalians were not ready to espouse those positions yet.

Scarlett, a Low Church Episcopalian and self-described Liberal Evangelical who wore a tie in lieu of a clerical collar, was a natural ecumenist.  He cooperated with members of other Christian denominations as easily as he did with Jews.  At Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, our saint scandalized many Anglo-Catholics by encouraging interdenominational Eucharists.  He also scrapped plans for a new Episcopal hospital in the city when he learned of a similar Presbyterian plan.  The result was cooperation, not competition, in the form of St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospital.  He also favored the merger of The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in the 1940s.  The proposal did not survive the late 1940s.  It would probably have been impractical anyway.

(Aside:  I mean no disrespect to any Presbyterians, but the denominational cultures and certain theological-liturgical factors are too different for merger to be practical.  I suppose that many Presbyterians agree with that assessment.  Cooperation of many issues is feasible and desirable, however.)

Scarlett retired in late 1952.  His successor as Bishop of Missouri was Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1900-1968), later the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

In retirement Scarlett wrote the exposition on the Book of Jonah for The Interpreter’s Bible.  He wrote, in part:

If God has a controversy with his people, it is because there has been in our world too little concern for our brother, too little recognition that his fate is bound up in ours, and ours in his, even to the least, too much forgetting that word of old, “We are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25) and if one member suffers, “all the members suffer with it” (I Cor. 12:26).  A plain fact of the nineteen-thirties is that Hitler climbed to power on the backs of the unemployed in Germany, and it was this frustration, this sense of uselessness, in millions of lives that made his way easy.

The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VI (1956), 877

That is a chilling text in 2018.

The resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general has been current reality in the world, from the Philippines to Europe to Brazil to Turkey to Europe for a few years now.  Many of the enablers of fascist and other authoritarian leaders have been professing Christians.  The call to “Make America Great Again” has echoed pre-World War II movements to make Italy and Germany great again.  The rhetoric of “America First,” originated before World War II in an openly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement to keep the United States out of that war, has returned, still with racist overtones.  Calls for U.S. society and government to practice the Golden Rule have become subversive as many professing Christians have chosen to ignore the demands of that great commandment and embraced xenophobia and nativism, largely out of fear.

I encourage you, O reader, to read Scarlett’s exposition on the Book of Jonah and to oppose–resist–the deplorable resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general.

Scarlett, aged 89 years, died in Castine, Maine, on March 28, 1973.  His wife, Leah Oliver Van Riper (b. 1889), had predeceased him in 1965.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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

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

Help us, like your servant William Scarlett, 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), 60

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Feast of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (July 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI (APRIL 6, 1901-JULY 4, 1925)

Italian Roman Catholic Servant of the Poor and Opponent of Fascism

Also known as the “Man of the Eight Beatitudes”

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who came from a wealthy and influential family, gave his life in service to the poor–of Turin, Italy, to be precise.  His mother, Adelaide Ametis, was a painter.  Our saint’s father, Alfredo Frassati, was an agnostic, the founder of the newspaper La Stampa, a member of the Italian Senate, and an Italian Ambassador to Germany.  Pier, born in Turin on April 6, 1901, was pious from an early age.  He took communion daily when doing so was unusual.  Our saint, a member of the Marian Sodality and the Apostleship of Prayer, channeled his piety into helping the poor and others who needed assistance.

This was, was Frassati’s perspective, a privilege.  In 1918 he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and began to spend much of his free time helping orphans, the poor, and veterans of World War I.  As a student of mining engineering at the Royal Polytechnic University of Turin, Frassati prepared to, in his words,

serve Christ better among the miners.

In 1919 our saint joined the Catholic Student Foundation and Catholic Action.  Although he had little money, he shared with the poor, sometimes donating his bus fare then running home.

Our saint shared his faith with his friends.  He, enriched by opera, the theater, poetry, and art, enjoyed mountain climbing with friends.  He also read scripture and prayed the rosary with them.

Frassati joined the Third Order of St. Dominic in 1922 and took the name Girolamo, after Girolamo Savonarola, the friar burned at the stake in Florence in 1498.

Our saint was also politically active.  He opposed the Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini.  The Fascists, one might recall, had a platform of making Italy great again.  Frassati, active in the People’s Party (1919-1926), which promoted Roman Catholic social teaching, participated in rallies and resisted police violence.

Our saint never got to become a mining engineer, for he died shortly before he would have graduated.  While helping the poor Frassati contracted poliomyelitis.  One of his final acts was to ask a fried to take medicine to a sick man he (Frassati) had been visiting for years.  Frassati, aged 24 years, died in Turin on July 4, 1925.  Pope John Paul II, who declared him a Venerable in 1987 then a Blessed in 1990, called our saint the “Man of the Eight Beatitudes.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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

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

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Blessed Rolando Rivi (April 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Rolando Rivi

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ROLANDO RIVI (JANUARY 7, 1931-APRIL 13, 1945)

Roman Catholic Seminarian and Martyr

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I study to be a priest, and these vestments are the sign that I belong to Jesus.

–Blessed Rolando Rivi

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Rolando Rivi came from a devout farming family of San Valentino di Castallarano, Reggio Emilia, Italy.  He, born on January 7, 1931, discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  At the age of 11 he entered seminary with the intention of becoming a priest.  Our saint, as did the other seminarians, wore a cassock.

The Italian Fascist Party, which had come to power via elections a few years after World War I on a platform of making Italy great again, fell from power in 1943.  At the end of that revolution the new government established an armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943.  Shortly thereafter Nazi forces occupied northern Italy and made former dictator Benito Mussolini their puppet ruler in the region.  Across northern Italy bands of partisans of various political stripes organized to support the Allied war effort.

The Roman Catholic Church found itself in a difficult position.  Since it had collaborated with the Fascist government, certain partisans (notably the Socialists and the Communists in the area of San Valentino) targeted priests for assassination.  On the other hand, Nazi forces occupied Rivi’s seminary in June 1944, thereby effectively closing that institution.  (Nazis were also fascists, by the way.)  The church was stuck between fascists and anti-fascists.

In that difficult context our saint continued his studies at home and insisted on wearing a cassock.  His parents, concerned for his safety, suggested that he wear other garb, but he refused.  That refusal led to Rivi’s martyrdom.  On April 10, 1945, after serving Mass at the parish (whose priest had moved on for safety’s sake, after an attack by partisans), Rivi headed for woods, where he meant to study.  He never returned home.  Partisans kidnapped and tortured him.  On April 13 they forced our saint to kneel at the edge of his grave.  As he prayed, partisans shot him in the head and the heart.  He was 14 years old.

This murder was politically sensitive for a long time.  The murderers were, after all, enemies of the Nazis and the Italian Fascists, as well as allies of the Allies.  On the other hand, they also killed a young man for no reason other than his faith.

Pope Francis declared Rivi a Venerable on March 27, 2013, and a Blessed on October 5 later that year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Rolando Rivi

triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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