Archive for the ‘Blaise Pascal’ Tag

Feast of Francois Mauriac (September 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Signature of François Mauriac

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FRANÇOIS CHARLES MAURIAC (OCTOBER 11, 1885-SEPTEMBER 1, 1970)

French Roman Catholic Novelist, Christian Humanist, and Social Critic

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Our hidden life with Christ ought to have some bearing on our lives as citizens.  We cannot approve or practice publicly in the name of Caesar what the Lord condemns, disapproves, or curses, whether it be failure to honor our word, exploitation of the poor, police torture, or regimes of terror.

–François Mauriac, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 378

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

François Mauriac joins the ranks at this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), a resource invaluable for my hobby of hagiography.

Mauriac, born in Bordeaux, France, on October 11, 1885, was a giant of French literature.  His father died when he was an infant.  Our saint’s stern, Jansenist mother inculcated a strong sense of sin within Mauriac and his four siblings.  (Jansenism, the Roman Catholic counterpart to Calvinism, is, according to Holy Mother Church, a heresy.  The official Roman Catholic position is Semi-Pelagianism.)  From grandparents Mauriac learned bourgeois values, as respectability, business, and marrying into a good family.  Another strong influence on our saint was Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

The strong senses of sin and grace pervaded Mauriac’s novels.  Sin distorted the lives of his characters, but not one–not even the most villainous one–was beyond redemption.  Grace was never far away, and sainthood will always a possibility.

For Sartre hell is other people; but for us, others are Christ.

–Mauriac, quoted in All Saints, 377

Mauriac, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1952, recognized French capitulation (ubiquitous, not universal) to Nazi rule and willingness to deport Jews as collective moral failures.  This sense informed a later work, The Son of Man, about the humanity of Jesus.  Mauriac wrote,

All tyrannies are founded upon contempt for man.  When this temptation to contempt overcomes us, we must remember that Christ was a man like us.  If He was one of us, then every man, no matter how miserable he is, has a capacity for God.

–Mauriac, quoted in All Saints, 378

Our saint, aged 85 years, died in Paris, France, on September 1, 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring François Mauriac and all those

who with words have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 3:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Blaise Pascal (August 19)   3 comments

Above:  Blaise Pascal

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BLAISE PASCAL (JUNE 19, 1623-AUGUST 19, 1662)

French Roman Catholic Scientist, Mathematician, and Theologian

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

–Blaise Pascal

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blaise Pascal was a brilliant man accustomed to physical suffering; he would have benefited from modern medicine, had he lived in contemporary times.  Pascal was also an influential philosopher who influenced Existentialists.  Our saint was also a faithful Roman Catholic who often found himself stuck between the Church and the truth, as he understood it.

Pascal was a native of Clermont-Ferrand, France.  He, born on June 19, 1623, lost his mother, Antoinette Bégon, to death in 1626.  Our saint’s father, Étienne Pascal, was a mathematician.  Étienne moved the family to Paris in 1631.  He, an attentive father, supervised his children’s education.  In 1639 Étienne the intendant at Rouen.

Young Blaise demonstrated his great mathematical ability.  His Essai pour les coniques (1640) attracted so much positive attention that René Descartes became jealous.  Our saint was also an inventor.  Between 1642 and 1644 he invented and built a sort of calculator for his father to use at work.

The Pascals were devout Roman Catholics.  Nevertheless, they had frequently substituted decency, courtesy, and ethics for inner religion.  Pascal had at least two spiritual turning points–in 1646 and 1654.  The illness of his father (d. 1651) led our saint to perceive the need to turn away from the world and fully toward God.  Meanwhile Pascal built up his scientific reputation by testing theories of Galileo Galilei (in 1646) and conducting experiments regarding vacuums (in 1647-1648).  [Explanatory note:  The existence of vacuums was a theological problem for Roman Catholic orthodoxy.  According to approved theology, there could be no such thing as a vacuum because God is everywhere.  This argument assumed, of course, that God consists of matter.  Bad theology has often been the enemy of good science and engineering.]  Pascal’s weak constitution caused occasional delays in scientific research, but he focused on science intensely until 1654.

A profound religious experience one night in November 1654 led Pascal to do what he perceived he needed to do eight years prior:  turn completely to God.  From the final stage of our saint’s life emerged Les Provinciales (1656-1657) and the Penseés (1657-1658).  Pascal, who struggled with his ego for much of his life, immersed himself in the devotional life and in service to God in the poor–of Paris, in particular.  His writings concerned themes such as grace and the love of God.  Morality, he concluded, was inseparable from spirituality.

In some ways Pascal was on the same side as the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church; in other ways, not.  He objected to the Church’s heavy hand in cracking down on Jansenism, the Catholic counterpart to Calvinism.  That Pascal’s sister Jacqueline (d. October 1661), a nun, was a Jansenist, certainly influenced his opinion.  He encouraged Jansenists not to cave into pressure from Rome, until Jacqueline died.  Pascal also condemned the Jesuits in strong terms, pointing to laxism and sophistry.

At the end of his life Pascal was quite ill, as well as spiritually and emotionally distressed.  He spent his last weeks in the home of his sister Gilberte.  Our saint died in Paris on August 19, 1662.  He was 39 years old.

Pascal puts most of us who are older than 39 years old to shame.  He puts me to shame.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Blaise Pascal.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Justin de Jacobis and Blessed Michael Ghebre (July 14)   2 comments

Above:  Map of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in 1850

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT JUSTIN DE JACOBIS (OCTOBER 9, 1800-JULY 31, 1860)

Roman Catholic Missionary Bishop in Ethiopia

Also known as Saint Giustino de Jacobis

His feast transferred from July 31

converted

BLESSED MICHAEL GHEBRE (1788/1791-JULY 30, 1855)

Ethiopian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Also known as Ghébre-Michael

Alternative feast day = September 1

One of my goals in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  July 14, on the Roman Catholic calendar, is the Feast of Blessed Michael Ghebre.  On the same calendar July 31 is the feast of St. Justin (Giustino in Italian) de Jacobis, who converted him.  One can tell their stories separately, of course, but one can tell those stories more effectively together.

St. Justin fame from and worked in southern Italy, prior to national unification on that peninsula.  He, born in Sam Fele, Luciana, south of Naples, came from a once-wealthy family.  He, after having grown up mostly in Naples, joined the Vincentians in on October 17, 1818.  He was 18 years old.  St. Justin took his vows on October 18, 1820.  Then, at Brindisi, he became a priest on June 12, 1824.  St. Justin spent most of fifteen years giving missions and retreats in southern Italy, with some time off for other duties.  By 1834 he had become a much sought-after preacher and confessor also.  From 1834 to 1836 St. Justin was the Vincentian superior in Leece.  Next he directed seminarians in Naples, emphasizing personal prayer.  At Naples, in 1836-1837, our saint ministered to victims of an outbreak of cholera.  In 1838-1839 St. Justin was the superior of the Vincentian Provincial House at Naples.  He was on track to become a bishop in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies when he chose instead to found the Roman Catholic in Ethiopia (Abyssinia).

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, subordinate to the Coptic Church (Egyptian) until 1959, dated to the 300s, when St. Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373) dispatched St. Frumentius (d. circa 380) as a missionary.  St. Frumentius became the first Abuna, or Patriarch, of of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, often called simply the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  Christianity in that region of Africa owed much to St. Philip the Evangelist, one of the earliest Christian deacons, hopefully not confused with St. Philip the Apostle.  Over time the Ethiopian Orthodox Church parted Christological ways with Rome, embracing monophysitism, the heresy that Christ had just one nature–divine.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has long been one of the great, defining cultural institutions in that country.  It has coexisted with strong Jewish elements (due to the presence of one of the ten Lost Tribes of Israel–one descended from the tribe of Dan, to be precise) and varieties of paganism.  Since the Arab conquest of much of northern Africa in the 600s Islam has been a factor in the region.  As if all that were not enough, political struggles between Ethiopia emperors and provincial potentates were contributing to a tense situation by the 1830s.  What was political?  What was religious?  Was there a difference?

St. Justin stepped into this political and religious milieu in 1839.  He pioneered effective missionary tactics that proved controversial in the Roman Catholic Church in general and the Vincentian order in particular.  St. Justin, headquartered in the northern part of the country, adopted Ethiopian attire, mastered the three languages essential to his work, and emphasized the education of indigenous priests.  The Apostolic Vicar was so effective that, despite persecution of the Roman Catholic mission by the government, he converted about 12,000 people.  In January 1849 he became the Titular Bishop of Nilopolis; he became a bishop anyway.  Venerable Guglielmo Massaia (1809-1889) had consecrated St. Justin for this missionary work.

Blessed Michael Ghebre, also known as Ghébre-Michael, was one of St. Justin’s converts.  Blessed Michael, born in Dido, West Gojjam, in 1788 or 1791, had been an Ethiopian Orthodox monk since the age of 19 years.  He, a Roman Catholic since 1844, joined the Vincentians.  In 1851 St. Justin ordained him to the priesthood.

Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia (reigned 1855-1868) continued the persecution of Roman Catholicism.  He, a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, even outlawed Roman Catholicism in 1860.  Authorities had arrested Blessed Michael and four companions in 1854.  For thirteen months the evangelists suffered abuse in prison.  Blessed Michael died in transit between Meccia Coreccia and Molicha Gebaba, Mirab Shewa, on July 30, 1855.  St. Justin died five years later, after having spent several months in prison then having endured a forced march to the Halai region of Eritrea.  He spent the final stage of his life as a missionary in Eritrea.  St. Justin died, aged 60 years, on July 30, 1855.

Pope Pius XI declared Michael Ghebre a Venerable then a Blessed in 1926.

Holy Mother Church recognized de Jacobis as a Venerable (in 1935, by Pope Pius XI), a Blessed (in 1939, by Pope Pius XII), and a full saint (in 1975, by Pope Paul VI).

Often accounts of the persecution of Christians, from antiquity to current events, are of persecution by adherents of other religions.  Sometimes these are stories of persecution by antitheists, to use Reza Aslan‘s term.  (Aslan distinguishes between atheists and antitheists.  Atheism is the rejection of belief in God or any deity; antitheism includes the desire to destroy religion.)  In this post, however, you, O reader, have read of persecution of some Christians by other Christians.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) wrote,

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

The history of organized religion has confirmed this statement, unfortunately.  Frequently adherents of one branch of a faith have persecuted and martyred members of other branches of that faith.  This was true in ancient times.  It has remained true to this day.  So has the reality of inter-religious persecution and martyrdom.  None of it has ever been holy.

May all who commit evil–especially from religious conviction–understand the error of their ways and repent.  Theological differences and arguments will always exist, but they can–and should–exist without the evil in the name of religious conviction accompanying one or more sides.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERMANUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE AND DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND SAINT DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ROGER SCHÜTZ, FOUNDER OF THE TAIZÉ COMMUNITY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

Saint Justin de Jacobis and Blessed Michael Ghebre,

who made the good news known in Ethiopia.

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), 59

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Methodius I of Constantinople and St. Joseph the Hymnographer (June 14)   1 comment

Above:  The Expansion of Islam, 700-900

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (Philadelphia, PA:  The Publishers Agency, Inc., 1957), H-11

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 700S-847)

Defender of Icons and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

++++++++

SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER (LATE 700S-886)

Defender of Icons and the “Sweet-Voiced Nightingale of the Church”

Alternative feast day = April 3

+++++++++++++++++++++

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

–Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées

+++++++++++++++++++++

A DUAL BIOGRAPHY OF ALMOST CERTAINLY THREE MEN

+++++++++++++++++++++

On the Roman Catholic calendar Sts. Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer, contemporaries, share a feast day yet not a feast.  My process of preparing this post reveals that the fact they their stories contain many of the same background characters, however, so merging the feasts is efficient and feasible.

FROM SICILY TO ROME

Above:  St. Methodius I of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

St. Methodius I, born in Syracuse, Sicily, in the late 700s, came from a wealthy family.  He, educated in Syracuse, traveled to Constantinople for the purpose of seeking a position in the Byzantine imperial court.  He founded a monastery on the island of Chinos and supervised construction of that monastery instead.  St. Methodius I left Chinos soon after the the completion of the construction of that monastery, for St. Nicephorus I, from 806 to 815 the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, summoned him to the imperial capital and appointed him the apokrisiares, or church advocate, during the reign (813-820) of the Iconoclastic Emperor Leo V the Armenian.

Above:  St. Joseph the Hymnographer

Image in the Public Domain

St. Joseph the Hymnographer, frequently and perhaps hopelessly confused by many hagiographers with St. Joseph of Thessalonica, brother of St. Theodore Studites, also made his way to Constantinople.  St. Joseph the Hymnographer, born on the island of Sicily in the late 700s, came from a Christian family.  His parents were Plotinos and Agatha.  He moved to Thessalonica, where he became a monk.  There St. Gregory the Dekapolite, also a defender of icons, met our saint, whom he took to the imperial capital during the reign (813-820) of Leo V the Armenian.

IN ROME

St. Nicephorus I sent St. Methodius I on a mission to Rome.  During that time Leo the Armenian dismissed the Ecumenical Patriarch and exiled the absent St. Methodius I.

St. Gregory also sent St. Joseph to Rome, to deliver a message to Pope Leo III (in office 795-816).  St. Joseph remained in Rome for years.

BACK TO CONSTANTINOPLE

Both of our featured saints returned to Constantinople after Leo the Armenian died in 820 and during the reign (820-829) of Emperor Michael II the Stammerer.  Although Michael II initially halted the Iconclastic persecution and freed the political prisoners, he eventually resumed the persecution and imprisoned St. Methodius I, who had continued to resist Iconoclasm.  St. Joseph, a priest by this time, was back in the imperial capital also.  There he founded a church and an associated monastery.  In his absence St. Gregory had died.  St. Joseph transferred relics of his mentor to the new church.

THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR THEOPHILUS (829-842)

The next ruler was Theophilus (reigned 829-842), an Iconclast.  The Emperor freed St. Methodius I, who persisted in resisting Iconoclasm.  Theophilus tolerated this until he became convinced that leniency toward St. Methodius I angered God, who supposedly punished the empire with defeats to Arab armies.  So, in 835, the Emperor ordered the arrest and torture of St. Methodius I, who had retorted that God was angry not over the veneration of icons but the destruction of them.  Byzantine guards broke St. Methodius I’s jaw and permanently scarred his face.  They also kept him incarcerated with two robbers in a cave on the island of Antigonus for seven years.

St. Joseph also resisted the Iconclastic policy of Theophilus.  Our saint therefore spent eleven years in exile in the Cheronese, in Crimea.

EXIT SAINT METHODIUS I

The reign of Emperor Michael III the Drunkard spanned from 842 to 867.  Until 856, however, the regent was his mother, the Empress Theodora.  She ordered defenders of icons freed.  The Empress also elevated St. Methodius I to the office of Ecumenical Patriarch.  In that capacity he presided over the church council that restored the veneration of icons.  He lived peacefully during his final years, dying in 847.

St. Methodius I also wrote some hymns.

EXIT SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER

St. Joseph’s fortunes under Theodora were mixed.  In 842 she made him the keeper of the sacred vessels at the Church of Hagia Sophia, Constantinople.  He had to go into exiles again, however, due to the political consequences of his condemnation of the cohabitation of Bardas, brother of Theodora.  St. Joseph returned from exile in 867, after the death of Bardas.

St. Joseph, back in Constantinople, ended his days as the Father-confessor for all priests in the city.  He died in 886.

St. Joseph wrote about 1000 hymns and liturgical poems of the Orthodox Church.  Some of them have come to exist in English-language translations, in hymnals of various denominations, usually Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, and Presbyterian.

THE MATTER OF CHRONOLOGY; OR, PEOPLE LEAD THEIR LIVES FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD

I have endeavored to write as accurately as possible.  As I have mentioned, hagiographers have long confused St. Joseph the Hymnographer with St. Joseph of Thessalonica.  This fact has complicated my task.  Even Orthodox Church resources I have consulted have offered untrustworthy information.  I have discerned some of this via simple mathematics.  According to some sources, the birth of St. Joseph the Hymnographer occurred in 816 and his family fled Sicily when he was 15 years old (in 831), due to the Arab invasion.  Also according to these sources, some years later St. Joseph arrived in Constantinople and carried a message to the Pope during the reign of Emperor Leo V the Armenian.  The reign of Leo the Armenian was 813-820, however.  ST. JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER DID NOT MOVE BACKWARD IN TIME.  I have also read of mutually exclusive exiles of St. Joseph during the reign of the Emperor Theophilus.  I have utilized Ockham’s Razor when making decisions about what to write.

I acknowledge readily, O reader, that my biography of St. Joseph the Hymnographer almost certainly contains elements of the life of St. Joseph of Thessalonica instead, due to the sources available to me.

CONCLUSION

Sts. Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer were faithful servants of God who suffered for their faith, due to imperial politics.  Their legacies have survived, fortunately.  The Orthodox Church has continued to venerate icons.  Also, many Christians, in their successive generations, to the present day, have sung hymns by St. Joseph.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIACH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CASPAR NEUMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Saints Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our won 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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Roger Schutz (May 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Brother Roger

Image Source = Vatican Radio

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ROGER LOUIS SCHÜTZ-MARSAUCHE (MAY 12, 1915-AUGUST 16, 2005)

Founder and First Prior of the Taizé Community

Also known as Brother Roger

++++++++++

I discovered my Christian identity by reconciling within myself my Protestant origins and my faith in the Catholic Church.

–Brother Roger

++++++++++

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”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++