Archive for the ‘Donatism’ Tag

Feast of Johann Josef Ignaz von Dollinger (January 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Johann Josef Ignaz von Döllinger

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN JOSEF IGNAZ VON DÖLLINGER (FEBRUARY 28, 1799-JANUARY 10, 1890)

Dissident and Excommunicated Roman Catholic Priest, Theologian, and Historian

INTRODUCTION

Father Johann Josef Ignaz von Dõllinger comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via historical accounts.  He also comes here via a pupil, John Dalberg Acton (1834-1902).

I confess readily to my relationship to authority.  I am neither an anarchist nor an unconditional conformist.  I chafe against all forms of authoritarianism.  With the common good (defined by mutuality) and the Golden Rule as my core principles, I evaluate what authority figures say and do.  Theologically, I feel free to ask any question and to harbor any doubt I choose.  I gladly accept the label “heretic” from people.  In fact, I own and wear a T-shirt with “heretic” printed on the front.  Yet I am, compared to many people I know, orthodox.  According to fundamentalists, however, I am a Hellbound heretic.  So be it.  I call myself an Episcopalian.

Sometimes I poke my proverbial fingers into the equally proverbial eyes of authority figures because they deserve no less.  We are all “but dust.”  Even authority figures are mere mortals.  Somebody has to remind some of them of that.

I follow my own interests and march to the beat of my own drum.  Therefore, I am a default contrarian much of the time.  Many of my interests are outside of the mainstream, or at least of little or no interest to most people around me.  I feel no compulsion to keep up with “watercooler” topics of discussion either.  If I wanted to break the ice, I would have joined the crew of a ship with a reinforced hull long ago.

I grew up a Protestant–a United Methodist, mainly.  The rebelliousness hardwired into Protestantism appealed to my personality.  (It still does.)  Yet my sense of history led me toward Holy Mother Church.  Instead of crossing the Tiber River, I became an Episcopalian.  I have turned into an Anglican-Lutheran-Catholic.  (The Middle Way, indeed!)

Given all that, O reader, you may not be surprised to read that Father Döllinger catches and holds my attention.  I like him.  I disagree with him on certain points.  Of course, if agreeing with me on all points were a criteria for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar, the project would not exist.  I do agree with Döllinger’s rejection of papal infallibility.  I also conclude that anyone who got on the bad side of the reactionary Pope Pius IX could not have been all bad.

The article about Döllinger in The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907-1912) offers a hardline evaluation, not surprisingly:

Seldom has it been so clearly proven that whenever a man turns completely from a glorious and honourable past, however stormy, his fate is irrevocably sealed.

Consider the source, O reader.

HIS LIFE

Johann Josef Ignaz von Döllinger, born in Bamberg, Electorate of Bavaria, Holy Roman Empire, on February 28, 1799, came from a line of physicians and professors of medicine.  His grandfather had founded the medical faculty at the University of Bamberg.  Our saint’s father taught medicine at the University of Bamberg (-1803) then at the University of Würzberg (1803f).  Döllinger, a bookworm from an early age, mastered French, Italian, and Spanish.  At the University of Würzberg, our saint studied science, theology, philosophy, and law.  Seminary followed in Bamberg (1820-1822).

Döllinger became a priest on April 22, 1822.  This displeased his father, who (a) wanted the son to lead an academic career, and (b) considered leading a celibate life to be physically impossible.  Our saint, briefly a chaplain, led an academic career, with the aid of his father.  Döllinger started teaching canon law in Aschaffenburg from November 1823 to 1827.  During this time, he received his Doctor of Theology degree.  Our saint relocated to Munich, the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, in 1827.  He taught canon law and church history.  Döllinger also served as a canon of the royal chapel of St. Cajetan (1839f) and as the provost, or head canon (1847f).

Dollinger’s relatively liberal politics–including support for constitutional government–got him into trouble.  It cost him his professorship in 1847, although he got that position back in 1850.  In 1871, Döllinger’s refusal to accept the new dogma of papal infallibility got him into deep trouble with Rome.  This act of conscience led to excommunication that year and dismissal from the professorship the following year.  Fortunately for our saint, he had the favor of the Kings of Bavaria.  Döllinger held various royal appointments–academic and scientific positions–and continued to research, write, and publish for the rest of his life.

Döllinger was sui generis.  He was too liberal for traditionalists and too traditional for hardcore German Liberals.  Our saint’s church was the ancient Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church with an infallible Supreme Pontiff.  Schism was anathema to Döllinger.  He was unambiguous in criticizing Protestantism (in 1838, 1843, and 1851, in particular).  The excommunicated priest, who influenced the new Old Catholic Church, refused to join it while harboring no hostility toward it.  Our saint’s insistence of academic freedom made him many enemies in ecclesiastical circles, too.

Döllinger, who refused attempts to persuade him to reconcile with Rome, died in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire, on January 10, 1890.  He was 90 years old.

CONCLUSION

Certain issues at play in Döllinger’s life remain pertinent, sadly.

  1. The lack of academic freedom in schools, colleges, and universities in more than one denomination remains problematic.
  2. Dissent has a legitimate role in the Church.  Some limits need to exist, of course; certain standards should apply.  Yet the quest for doctrinal purity is a fool’s errand.  Some of the self-identified pure are purer than others.  The “purer” the tent is, the smaller and more Donatistic it is.
  3. Schism is a matter to approach with extreme caution, and should be a last resort.

Given the ecclesiastical standards that have unfolded and continue to unfold, what did Döllinger do that warranted excommunication?  He apparently honored his vow of celibacy.  He did not disavow the Holy Trinity.  He did not molest anyone.  He did not abuse indigenous children at residential schools in Canada.   Our saint’s alleged offenses seemed to have been asking “too many” questions and refusing to accept a new dogma.

Sola Scriptura, in the narrow definition, holds that nothing outside of scripture is necessary for salvation.  I read about Döllinger and conclude that his refusal to accept papal infallibility did not endanger his salvation.  I conclude that, in the mind of God, the excommunication was irrelevant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 26, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PAUL I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM HERZBERGER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEVKADIA HARASYMIV, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC NUN, AND MARTYR, 1952

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUIGI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI AND MARIA CORSINI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC HUMANITARIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, JORNET Y IBARS, CATALAN CATHOLIC NUN AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE ABANDONED ELDERLY

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Johann Josef Ignaz von Döllinger

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent;

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of Henry Irving Louttit, Jr. (December 31)   8 comments

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR. (JUNE 13, 1938-DECEMBER 31, 2020)

Episcopal Bishop of Georgia

Bishop Henry Irving Loutttit, Jr., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my ecclesiastical past.  Within Anglicanism, history makes saints.  I, having known Bishop Louttit, attest that he was a saint.

This post is personal.  Know, therefore, O reader, that I have chosen to refer to this saint on a first-name basis–as Henry.

Henry was a model of Anglican collegiality.  In the last two decades, “Anglican,” in the United States of America, has assumed a Donatistic connotation in my mind.  Henry’s Anglicanism was a big tent, however.  He, to my right in many respects, offered an ecclesiastical setting that made room for heretics such as me.

Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 13, 1938, was a scion of The Episcopal Church.  Henry’s mother was Amy Cleckler Louttit.  His father was Henry Irving Louttit, Sr. (1903-1984), then a priest in the Diocese of South Florida.  Henry, Sr., went on to serve as the Suffragan Bishop of South Florida (1945-1948), the Bishop Coadjutor of South Florida (1948-1951), and the Bishop of South Florida (1951-1969).  In 1969, the Diocese of South Florida broke up into the Dioceses of Southeast Florida, Southwest Florida, and Central Florida.  Henry, Sr., served as the first Bishop of Central Florida (1969-1970) before retiring.

The Louttit family belonged to the Anglo-Catholic wing of The Episcopal Church.  In 2005, Henry recalled:

…we knew that we were right, even though we were not the majority in the Episcopal Church.  There was a fortress mentality that caused us to suspect that everything the national Episcopal Church did was intended to undercut the truths that we held dear.  Most of the young priests who influenced me as a teenager believed that the greater part of the Episcopal Church was heretical–were outside of God’s communion.

The family was progressive on racial justice issues.  The Ku Klux Klan once burned a cross on the front lawn of the family home in Winter Park, Florida.

Henry had a fine Episcopal education.  He studied at Christ School, a boarding school in Arden, North Carolina.  He graduated with honors from The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, too.  Our saint made an unusual choice of seminary, given his Anglo-Catholic heritage; he matriculated at Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia.  In 2005, Henry recalled:

For them anything that Roman Catholics did or said was wrong….In my world, if Rome did it, it was right.  In their world, if Rome did it, it must be wrong.

Henry married Jayne “Jan” Northway Arledge on June 14, 1962.  The couple eventually had three daughters.

While a seminarian, Henry served at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.  It had become the first racially-integrated Episcopal church in the District of Columbia in the 1950s.

Henry, having graduated from VTS in June 1963, embarked on his ministerial career.  His father ordained him a deacon that month.  Our saint became a priest on June 25, 1964.  He served in three congregations in the Diocese of Georgia:

  1. Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro (-1967);
  2. Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta (1967-1994); and
  3. St. James’ Episcopal Church, Quitman (1970-1974).

Henry nearly became a bishop at least twice before winning election as Bishop of Georgia.

  1. Henry was a candidate for Bishop Coadjutor of Georgia in 1983.  Henry was a relatively liberal candidate; he favored the ordination of women.  Harry Woolston Shipps (1926-1916) won that election on a pledge not to ordain women.  Shipps went on to serve as the Bishop Coadjutor (1984-1985) then the Bishop of Georgia (1985-1994).  Before Shipps retired, he ordained women.
  2. Henry was also a candidate for Suffragan Bishop of Ohio in 1994.  Kenneth Lester Price, Jr., won that election and served, starting that year.

Henry won election as Bishop of Georgia in late 1994.  His consecration occurred in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, on January 21, 1995.

Henry was my priest (1993-1994) then my bishop (1995-2005).  Many people knew him longer and better than I did.  I wish I had known him better than I did.

Henry was, among other descriptions:

  1. Beloved,
  2. Pastoral,
  3. Down-to-earth, and
  4. Realistic.

Henry had a healthy sense of humor about himself.  On his last Sunday at Christ Christ, Valdosta (October 30, 1994), Henry noted the proximity of that day to Halloween.  He also recalled that his installation as rector had occurred on April Fool’s Day, 1967.

In the early 2000s, I was a member of another parish in another town in the Diocese of Georgia.  One Sunday, when Henry made his episcopal visit, he diplomatically broke bad news:  He had spoken to recent former rectors of that parish.  Not one missed the parish.  This was an evaluation the congregation needed to hear.

Henry was, like most people, I suppose, a mix of progressivism and conservatism.

  1. Henry was a relative liberal in the Diocese of Georgia, especially with regard to The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and the ordination of women.  His metaphorical fingerprints were all over the “new Prayer Book;” he was part of its creation.  And one daughter became a priest.  In the House of Bishops, Henry voted to insist on the ordination of women in all dioceses.
  2. Henry, however, was relatively conservative regarding homosexuality.  His voting record on this issue in the House of Bishops moderated the longer he served as a bishop, however.  That relative conservatism helped in his effort to maintain diocesan unity in the early 2000s.  He was not entirely successful, though; no Bishop of Georgia could have been.  Henry strove to maintain the big tent.  Some, however, chose to leave that tent and form breakaway congregations.

Henry, as Bishop of Georgia, presided over a rural, far-flung diocese.  He worked on solutions regarding ministry in that context.  Henry also encouraged the vocational diaconate, founded missions and revitalized congregations.

Henry (Doctor of Divinity, Virginia Theological Seminary, 1993) was also a hagiographer.  He wrote Saints of Georgia (1998, 1999, 2004), a mix of national and diocesan saints.  One of these saints–Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (1865?-1947)–eventually received denominational recognition.  The Episcopal Church added her to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) then to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited her old church, Good Shepherd, Pennick, in January 2018.

I departed for the Diocese of Atlanta in August 2005.  Before I did, however, I asked Henry to recommend a parish to attend in Athens.  He advised me to join St. Gregory the Great Church.  He was correct.

Henry retired on January 23, 2010.  He remained in Savannah for years.  Eventually, though, he and Jan moved to Tallahassee, Florida, to be close to a daughter.

Henry, aged 82 years, died in Tallahassee on December 23, 2020.  He was a gentleman, a scholar, and a prince of the church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Henry Irving Louttit, Jr.,

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

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature and fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 718

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Human Depravity   6 comments

Human depravity is not an article of faith for me.  No, it is a matter of proven fact.  I do not need faith with regard to any matter I can prove or disprove, objectively.

I come from a particular theological context.  I am a Christian–a Western Christian, not an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  (Original sin is not a doctrine in Eastern Orthodoxy.)  I am, to be precise, a left-of-center Episcopalian.  I am an Anglican in the inclusive, collegial sense of that word, not the recent, Donatistic, homophobic sense of “Anglican.”  I am a fan of the Enlightenment, without being uncritical of its excesses.  I am Neo-Orthodox.   I stand at the conjunction of Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism.  I am too Roman Catholic to consider myself a Protestant and too Protestant to “cross the Tiber.”  I hold that sacred music in Western Christianity achieved its pinnacle in Roman Catholicism during the Counter-Reformation.  I take the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “seamless cloth” to its logical, most inclusive conclusion; hence I support equal protection under the law for anyone with a pulse.  I do not know how best to enact that principle, and suspect that the effectiveness of certain government actions with regard to abortion is extremely limited.  I am, without apology, an intellectual who accepts science.  I consider Evangelicalism and all varieties of fundamentalism too narrow, and universalism too broad.  I describe myself as a liberal, despite the Right Wing’s demonization of that word.  Politically, I stand generally to the left, but sometimes lean to the right.  The Left Wing is, in most respects, consistent with my Judeo-Christian values.  Elements of both the Left and the Right alarm and appall me.  In 2021, in the United States of America, the Right Wing terrifies me, especially with its increasing embrace of authoritarianism and unfounded conspiracy theories.

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the dark side of human nature.  I belong to that throng which looks on in horror and disbelief as widespread denial of objective reality continues to manifest in people.  Enlightenment ideas about human rationality and nobility meet their match in this context.  More than a quarter of the Republican Party accepts aspects of the QAnon movement, according to a recent poll. I do not know how anyone could have continued to deny the reality of the pandemic well into the pandemic last year, or to do so today.  Yet many people have, and do.  Many people and certain governments have shunned–and continue to shun–basic human consideration in public health policy, somehow politicized.

Why do innocent and good people suffer?  Usually, they do so because of their malicious and/or oblivious neighbors and governments.

Evidence for human depravity abounds.  I do not need to have faith to accept the reality of human depravity.  No, I need merely to pay attention.  What else am I supposed to think when members of the United States Congress refer to insurrectionists from January 6, 2021, as tourists and block a bipartisan commission?  What else am I supposed to think when certain state governments, embracing lies, restrict voting rights and, in Orwellian terms, speak of enhancing the security of elections?

May God save us from ourselves and each other.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Twenty-Nine Years an Episcopalian   2 comments

Above:  Some Items on My Writing Desk, December 22, 2022

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I became an Episcopalian 29 years ago today.  At St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, in the Diocese of Georgia, Bishop Harry Woolston Shipps confirmed me.  I had made an important decision as an adult; I had chosen my affiliation.

I had a Low Church Protestant upbringing.  My father, ordained a Southern Baptist in 1975, had switched to The United Methodist Church in 1980.  I, baptized at North Newington Baptist Church, Newington, Georgia, in November 1979, formed theologically in rural United Methodist congregations.  Yet I did not quite fit in.  My attachment to Holy Communion, which I got to take once every three months, marked me as an outlier.  So did my interest in ecclesiastical history, most of which the congregations in which my father served were oblivious.  Furthermore, my inherent attraction to Roman Catholicism stood out in the rural communities and towns in which I lived and worshiped.

When I joined The Episcopal Church, I came home.  I departed The United Methodist Church amicably; I was not angry about anything going on the denomination.

I have changed greatly since December 22, 1991.  Lutheranism has become more prominent in my variation on Anglicanism, which stands between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.  I have given up the United Methodist refusal to acknowledge Single Predestination.  Now, even if I wanted to do so, I could not return to The United Methodist Church and be intellectually and spiritually honest.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has become my denominational Plan B, even though I have not identified as a Protestant for a long time.

Consider the items in the photograph at the top of this post, O reader.  There are three Marian images, two versions of The Book of Common Prayer, a Daily Prayer book from The Church of England, and a devotional book a minister from the United Church of Christ wrote.  I identify as an Anglican.  I identify as an Anglican in the collegial sense of Anglicanism, not the Donatistic sense of that word.  I object strenuously to the use of “Anglican” as a Donatistic label for congregations, dioceses and congregations in the United States of America.  My variety of Anglicanism is open and cordial.  It also has prominent Marian tendencies.  These tendencies spill over into my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, in the Diocese of Atlanta.  I, as the parish librarian, maintain the parish library as a collection of books and as a Marian shrine.

The Protestant boy I used to be has long ceased to exist.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AND WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CHAEREMON AND ISCHYRION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, CIRCA 250

THE FEAST OF CHICO MENDES, “GANDHI OF THE AMAZON”

THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, FIRST ANGLICAN NATIVE PRIEST IN NORTH AMERICA; MISSIONARY TO THE CREE NATION

THE FEAST OF ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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This is post #2150 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of John H. Caldwell (March 12)   2 comments

Above:  First United Methodist Church, Newnan, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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JOHN HOLLIS CALDWELL (JUNE 4, 1820-MARCH 11, 1899)

U.S. Methodist Minister and Social Reformer

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We have sinned, and God has smitten us.

–John H. Caldwell, Newnan, Georgia, June 1865

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INTRODUCTION

The great Galileo Galilei warned many who were conventionally orthodox and sat in judgment on him for making shocking and revolutionary statements (such as that the Earth revolves around the Sun), that they may actually be heretics.  John H. Caldwell, in the middle of his life, concluded that he had been a heretic regarding slavery.  He chose actual orthodoxy.

Caldwell came to my attention years ago, when I was a graduate student at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.  I was researching Methodist history regarding slavery; my focus in graduate school was the intersection of race and religion in the U.S. South.  Slavery was the rock upon which the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) split in 1844-1845.  I knew that already, but I wanted to know more details.

I was a United Methodist from 1980 to 1991.  Then I became an Episcopalian.  I have never looked back, for I have concluded that I am on this planet to be an Episcopalian.  Besides, my theological development subsequent to my confirmation (St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, December 22, 1991) has led me to become a Single Predestinarian Anglican-Lutheran, contrary to Methodist theology.  My increasingly liberal and inclusive social views have placed me substantially to the left of where many of the more conservative elements of society are.  So be it.  I affirm that all human beings with both a pulse and brain waves possess unalienable natural rights, including civil rights and civil liberties.  Call me a radical, if you wish, O reader, but there I stand.  I will do no other.

I write this so that you, O reader, will understand that (1) I know whereof I write, and (2) I have no animosity toward The United Methodist Church.

I recall, as early as the middle 1980s, talk of The United Methodist Church being two denominations in one.  If the General Conference 2020 plays out the way I predict it will, 2020 may echo 1844.  Even if the General Conference of 2020 does not play out the way I predict it will, The United Methodist Church will continue to live into the typographical error and Freudian slip “Untied Methodist Church.”  This is an objective statement.  To quote William Butler Yeats in The Second Coming,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The big tent encompasses only those who choose to live within it.  Donatism did not die in norther Africa long ago.  No, it is alive and well, unfortunately.

As The United Methodist Church comes asunder and as the United States of America observes the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday, pondering another schism–that of 1844-1845–as well as the cause of it, should lead us to sober-minded contemplation of orthodoxy and heresy, actual and alleged.

JOHN H. CALDWELL, DEFENDER OF SLAVERY

John Hollis Caldwell as a white Southerner.  He, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on June 4, 1820, was a son of James Caldwell (1768-1825) and Jane Wardlaw (1772-1822).  His family moved to Georgia when our saint was an infant.  He converted to Christianity and to Methodism, in particular, at the age of 16 years.  Six years later, the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) licensed Caldwell as an exhorter.  Our saint joined the Georgia Conference as a full minister in 1844.

The Methodist Episcopal Church concluded its General Conference of 1844 with a divorce agreement.  The cause of the divorce was slavery.  In particular, the question was whether James Osgood Andrew, the bishop assigned to the Georgia Conference, should continue as a bishop, despite owning slaves, in violation of church law.  He had not owned slaves in 1832, when he had become a bishop.  Yet Andrew had received slaves as inheritances over the years.  State law forbade him from freeing his slaves during his lifetime.  Slavery was still morally wrong, of course.  The MEC had been backing away from this moral truth since just a few years after its founding, as slaveholders joined.  The denomination finally issued a firm antislavery message again in 1864, shortly before the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution went to Congress.

One week apart, in May 1845, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) formed, for the same reason:  slavery.  The SBC formed because Northern-controlled missions boards of the Triennial Convention did not permit slaveholders to become missionaries.  Andrew became one of the founding bishops of the MECS, and continued to preach to slaves that they should obey their masters.

Caldwell joined the MECS and rose through the ranks to become a prominent member of the Georgia Conference thereof.  He accepted the conventional wisdom of his culture and the dominant theology thereof.  Caldwell believed that God supported and ordained slavery.  He quoted the Bible chapter-and-verse to defend this position.  He preached to slaves, telling them to obey their masters.  Opponents of slavery were heretics, fanatics, and radicals, according to Caldwell.  He insisted that they sought to destroy not just slavery, but the freedoms of press, speech, religion, and thought, too.  As Mark A. Noll has written in The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006), support for slavery became caught up with the authority of scripture.  Many, if not most, of those who argued for slavery theologically believed they were morally correct.

Above:  Old Main Building, Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

Caldwell also helped to found Andrew Female College (now Andrew College), Cuthbert, Georgia, which opened in 1854.  He taught moral and mental science there.  He, a slaveholder (via inheritances), sold one of his slaves to pay the college’s debts.  Caldwell’s father-in-law, a wealthy planter, insisted that a Methodist minister should not own slaves.  Our saint owned up to four slaves at a time, though.

Caldwell, by 1860 the pastor of Trinity Church, Savannah, had moved to Newnan to by 1864.  During the Civil War he supported slavery and the Confederacy.  He assumed that God was pro-Confederate States of America.

JOHN H. CALDWELL, RELIGIOUS SCALAWAG

Then the proverbial scales fell away from Caldwell’s eyes in early 1865.  Confederate defeat threw many white Christian Southerners into a theological crisis.  They reasoned that surely God had supported slavery and the Confederacy, so how could they make sense of their reality?  Caldwell took a different position.  Over a few Sundays in June 1865 he alienated his congregation and most of the other people in Newnan by condemning slavery, secession, the Confederacy, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  He acknowledged, as he had in 1861, that the cause of the Confederacy had been slavery.  President Jefferson Davis had said as much in his Inaugural Address.  Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, speaking in Savannah in March 1861, had called slavery the cornerstone of the Confederacy.   He was proud of this cornerstone.  Caldwell surveyed the destruction of the Civil War and pronounced the judgment of God.  He also stated that the end of slavery was just.  The Confederacy had been sinful, too, the minister preached, and slavery tainted the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Caldwell’s time left at Newnan was brief.  The Presiding Elder (District Superintendent, in contemporary Methodist terms) removed our saint from the pulpit, at the request of the leaders of the congregation.  U.S. Army General George H. Thomas, who had authority in Georgia, reinstated him in September.  Thomas also ordered local U.S. Army personnel to to protect Caldwell.  Our saint left the Georgia Conference of the MECS in November 1865, after that annual conference voted to condemn the contents of his sermons.

Then Caldwell rejoined the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to begin rebuilding it in the former Confederacy.  He became a charter member of the new Georgia Conference of the MEC in January 1866.  He ministered to former slaves, helping them build churches, not telling them they should have obeyed their masters.  Predictably, the new Georgia Conference of the MEC was mostly African-American; it was politically and theologically suspect, according to most Southern Methodist neighbors.  Caldwell remained in Georgia until 1871, shortly after “redemption,” of the return of the antebellum ruling class to power.  He helped to found schools for former slaves.  Our saint, a religious scalawag, favored the Radical Republicans’ ambitious civil rights platform and worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to help his flock.  Caldwell attended the state constitutional convention (December 1867-March 1868) and served in the state legislature.  He opposed the expulsion of all his African-American colleagues from that body.  Caldwell and his fellow religious scalawags were, according to Edward H. Myers, the editor of the Southern Christian Advocate,

miserable traitors to their brethren, their church, and their country.

–Quoted in Daniel W. Stowell, Rebuilding Zion:  The Religious Reconstruction of the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 133

JOHN H. CALDWELL OF DELAWARE

Caldwell and his family to Delaware in 1871.  He had married Elizabeth Thurston Hodnett (1826-1902) on January 2, 1849.  The couple had had five sons and four daughters from 1849 to 1869.  Our saint joined the local conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and served as a pastor, a presiding elder, and a college president.

From 1885 to 1888 Caldwell served as the President of Delaware College (now the University of Delaware), then a men’s institution.  His time as a college president was unhappy for everybody involved.  Personality clashes abounded, and his inexperience created more problems.  Our saint perceived that people were conspiring around him.  They may have been, perhaps justifiably.  Caldwell was simultaneously of his time and ahead of it.  His antiquated moral disapproval of dancing led to some conflicts; he forbade it on campus.  Yet he favored admitting women to the student body; that was progressive.

Caldwell returned to parish ministry in 1888.

He, aged 78 years, died in Dover, Delaware, on Mach 11, 1899.

EVALUATING JOHN H. CALDWELL

Caldwell may have been, as one of his adversaries at Delaware College claimed, “cranky,” but he possessed courage, too.  Our saint had enough courage to change his mind on a central issue of his time and to contradict conventional wisdom, as well as to speak up at great risk to himself and his livelihood.  He had the courage of his convictions.  History has rendered its verdict in Caldwell’s case; it has ruled in his favor.

As one should know, presenting evidence is frequently the least successful method of changing a person’s mind, especially in matters that pertain to one’s self-image.  Facts should matter, but ego protection often overrules objective reality.  Human beings are usually more irrational than rational, sadly.

By grace, Caldwell found the moral courage, starting in June 1865, to admit that he had been wrong–horribly, sinfully wrong.  Then he repented, paid the price, and made the world a better place for many of the “least of these.”

That is sufficient reason to honor him.

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God of justice, we thank you for the example of your servant, John H. Caldwell,

who turned his back on the sins of slavery and, in the face of hostility,

labored for the civil rights of former slaves, his neighbors.

May we, by grace, confront our prejudices and, when necessary and proper to do so,

expose the foolishness of “received wisdom” and other ubiquitous assumptions,

for your glory and for the benefit of all people.

May the Church be on the vanguard of the struggle for social justice,

never on the side of the oppressors,

regardless of the price she will pay for standing with the “least of these.”

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

Amos 2:6-8

Psalm 71:1-6

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2020 COMMON ERA 

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD ROLLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Feast of John Hines (July 19)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN ELBRIDGE HINES (OCTOBER 10, 1910-JULY 19, 1997)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

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Justice is the corporate face of love.

John Hines, 1981

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John Elbridge Hines will probably receive his pledge on The Episcopal Church’s calendar eventually.  The appendix to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) lists him as one of those

people worthy of commemoration who do not qualify under the “reasonable passage of time” guideline.

–Page A3

That makes sense as a denominational policy.  Nevertheless, more than a reasonable amount of time has passed for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

John Elbridge Hines was a prophet, in the highest sense of that word.  He, born in Seneca, South Carolina, on October 10, 1910, graduated from The University of the South then from Virginia Theological Seminary.  Our saint, ordained during the Great Depression, served in the Diocese of Missouri for a few years, during which he imbibed deeply of Social Christianity.  He also married Helen Orwig (1910-1996).  The couple had five children.  As the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia, from 1937 to 1941, Hines was an outspoken critic of racial segregation.  Our saint’s final parish (from 1941 to 1945) was Christ Church, Houston, Texas.

Hines was a bishop most of his life.  From 1945 to 1955 he was the Bishop Coadjutor of Texas; then he was the Bishop of Texas for another nine years.  In Texas Hines helped to found the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the West, in Austin, in 1953.  He also integrated schools.  Then, in 1965, at the age of 54 years, Hines became the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

Change was in the air, and much of that change was morally correct yet no less jarring and offensive to many.  Civil rights for African Americans were difficult for many white Americans to accept, for racism ran deeply.  Likewise, feminism was challenging patriarchy, which also ran deeply.  The Episcopal Church, long known as “the Republican Party at prayer,” was engaging the winds of change.  Many of the leaders were liberal–pro-civil rights, pro-equal rights for women.  Elements of the church resisted these changes, however.  Hines, with his social conscience fully engaged with regard to race, gender, and economics, had to contend with much strong opposition within The Episcopal Church.  He built on the legacies of his two immediate predecessors–Henry Knox Sherrill (1947-1958) and Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1958-1964).

Much of what was revolutionary in 1965-1974 became mainstream subsequently.  The new Presiding Bishop marched at Selma, Alabama, in 1965; that was a controversial decision.  In 1971 Hines led a campaign to divest from South Africa, a proposition that aroused much opposition in much of U.S. Right Wing as late as the early 1990s.  In the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan, who told Archbishop Desmond Tutu that the dark-skinned majority of South Africa would have to wait for their rights, Reagan opposed divestment.  Yet, according to Tutu, divestment was crucial to ending Apartheid.  Hines also favored expanding roles for women in the church–including as lectors, as delegates to the General Convention, and as deacons, priests, and bishops.  He retired in 1974, just as the dispute over the ordination of women as priests became more of an issue.  Also, there were no female bishops in The Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion until 1989.  for a few years after that the election and consecration of a female bishop was a major story in the ecclesiastical press.  As of 2018, however, it has become routine.  Hines also presided over the early stages of liturgical revision, early steps toward The Book of Common Prayer (1979), a volume objectionable to many conservatives at the time, as now.  Some of them found all or much of this change so offensive that they committed schism from The Episcopal Church.  Then many of them committed schism from each other, hence the confusing organizational mess that is Continuing Anglicanism in the United States.  Many of the allegedly theologically pure were apparently purer than others of their number.  Donatism ran amok and became cannibalistic.  (I, an ecclesiastical geek, have a long attention span and a tendency to pay attention to minor details, but even I find divisions in Continuing Anglicanism confusing.  Most of the divisions are over minor theological points, actually.  Collegiality, one of the great traditions of Anglicanism, is in short supply.)

Hines, invoking hindsight, was honest about the lofty goals and mixed legacy of the General Convention Special Program (GCSP), created in 1967.  The GCSP awarded grants, with the purpose of fostering racial justice, economic justice, and self-determination.  One of the conditions for a grant was not to advocate for violence.  The initial lack (in 1967-1970) of veto power by the local bishop was an especially controversial point.  In 1970 the establishment of that veto power, with a mechanism for overriding it, meant that no grants led to embarrassing headlines, as during the first three years of the program.  The GCSP, cut back in 1973, did not survive the 1970s.  After 1973, however, funding for work among Hispanics and Native Americans increased.  Nevertheless, the damage from 1967-1970 was done.  Many people had left The Episcopal Church in protest, and many parishes and some dioceses had, for a few years, withheld funding from the national church.

Hines, who understood that the institutional quest for justice was important than complacent, oblivious tranquility and internal reconciliation, retired three years early, in 1974.  He and Helen moved to North Carolina before relocating to Texas in 1993.  She, aged 85 years, died on May 17, 1996.  Our saint, aged 86 years, died in Austin on July 19, 1997.

The legacy of John Elbridge Hines should remind us of the moral necessity of applying Christian principles to pressing social issues, of creating justice, and of recognizing our individual, collective, and institutional complicity in injustice.  His legacy should also remind us that strong opposition to confronting injustice exists even within the church, and that doing the right thing will often come at a high cost.  We must still do the right thing, though.  The legacy of Bishop Hines should teach us these lessons.  Whether it does is up to us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS COLUMBA OF RIETI AND OSANNA ANDREASI, DOMINICAN MYSTICS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, “THE APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP, FOUNDRESS OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF HAWTHORNE

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John Elbridge Hines,

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), 60

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Gratitude for Athens, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  The Dome of the City Hall, Athens, Georgia, August 5, 2009

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-04138

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Seeking reasons for gratitude to God is a daily activity; it is an easy one, fortunately.

During the last few days I have been thinking deeply about a subset of those reasons; I have been pondering reasons I am blessed to live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.  Many such reasons–too many to enumerate in a succinct blog post–have come to mind.

A few follow.

A visit to relatives in Americus, Georgia, followed shortly by a lecture at The University of Georgia (UGA), started me down this path.  Last Tuesday night I attended a lecture by Dr. Richard B. Miller, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Religious Ethics at The University of Chicago Divinity School.  Miller spoke about St. Augustine of Hippo‘s concept of the common good and of its implications for today.  The full explanation of St. Augustine’s definition of sin as disordered love proved especially helpful.  As I listened and learned, I also thought about how fortunate I was to live in the town in which that event happened.  UGA, my relationship with which has been both positive and tumultuous, at different times, since 2005, made that lecture possible.

Indeed, I have may reasons to be grateful for and to UGA.  It creates a wonderful intellectual environment in Athens.  I care nothing about the athletics of a university, for the purpose of such an institution is supposed to be primarily educational, is it not?  The presence of UGA in Athens not only makes Athens what it is, but also makes me feel at home in this town, a colony of members of the intelligentsia.

I grew up in a series of United Methodist parsonages in small towns and communities in southern Georgia.  The intellectual atmosphere (not in the parsonage, of course) was generally lackluster, even anti-intellectual.  (Nevertheless, I do recall that sometimes even my father angrily rebuffed some of my attempts at academic discussions, especially of the Bible.  There was no good reason to fear Higher Criticism.  No philosophical meat grinder will grind up the truth, after all; the truth will break the meat grinder.)  I usually felt like an intellectual outcast and the resident heretic.  (Today I wear the label “heretic” with pride.  As churchy as I am, given the option of avoiding church or facing allegations of heresy in a congregation, I would choose the former.)  Politically and socially most of the neighbors were or seemed to be beyond conservative–reactionary, actually.  Many were openly and unapologetically racist.

Of course I gravitated toward the left side of the spectrum.  I have remained a man of the left, although I have, with greater frequency, found myself in rooms with people to my left–sometimes far to my left.  I have shifted slightly to the right in some ways, and far to the left (relative to my former position) in others.  Overall, I have continued to occupy a center-left position.  (I tend to be center-right in liturgical matters and to the left politically, socially, and theologically.  My unapologetic Western Classicism in music is prominent in my daily life.)  I have ceased to be the resident heretic, for (1) I worship with people, many of whom are to my left, and (2) I worship in a faith community where nobody accuses me of heresy.  Charges of heresy have usually come from the right, not the left, after all.  (This is why most ecclesiastical schisms occur to the right and the majority of church mergers happen on the left.  Tolerance and acceptance are antidotes to Donatism.)

St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church has been my spiritual home since August 2005.  The parish has saved my life (in 2007) and become a means by which I offer gifts and talents to God.  I have, for years, curated a movie series, functioned as the librarian, and taught adult Sunday School, for example.  For nearly a decade I sang in the choir.  (I have many fond memories of that time.)  Although some people roll their eyes when I obsess over the proper arrangement of chairs, hymnals, and prayer books in the worship space, tending to that matter has long been something I have offered to God.  (I have come to long wistfully for pews.)  Also, the music has long been mostly excellent in the parish.  Last Sunday, for example, a string quartet performed at the 10:30 service and accompanied the choir during a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s Ave Verum Corpus.

As much as I enjoy visits to relatives in Americus, Athens is my place.  As much as I visit Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, occasionally, and find my spot in a pew there comfortably, St. Gregory the Great Church is my place.  As much as I enjoy visiting Americus, I also enjoy returning to Athens.

I am also grateful for friends and acquaintances. all of whose privacy I respect in this post by preserving in this post by naming none of them.  Some of them have saved my life and seen me through difficult times.  I have also performed my sacred duty and helped one friend to the point of self-sacrifice.  If necessary, I would do it again, without hesitation.

I hope to reside in Athens for long time.  The possibility of leaving eventually remains, of course; I admit that doing so might be proper one day.  That hypothetical day is one I hope is far off, if it is extant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC”

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Feast of Joachim Neander (May 30)   1 comment

Above:  Joachim Neander

Image in the Public Domain

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JOACHIM NEANDER (1650-MAY 31, 1680)

German Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

“First Poet of the Reformed Church in Germany”

A hymnal can be a wonderful source of names for a calendar of saints.  Thus Joachim Neander finds a place on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

The Ecumenical Calendar has a few rules, including the following one:  With few exceptions, whenever a Bible-related feast falls on a day, I reserve that day for that feast, instead of following my usual custom of stacking commemorations on top of each other.  (As of the writing of this post, the maximum number of feasts per day is four.)  Thus December 25 is just the First Day (of twelve) of Christmas, January 6 is only the Feast of the Epiphany, and May 31 (on which Neander died) is exclusively the Feast of the Visitation.  However, January 1 is both the Feast of the Holy Name and the World Day of Peace and March 25 is both the Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of St. Dismas, a Biblical figure.  Since May 31 is the Feast of the Visitation, the commemoration of Neander moves to an adjacent day.

Joachim Neander began his life in Bremen, where his father, Johann Joachim Neander, served on the faculty of the Gymnasium Illustre.  Our saint, born in 1650, converted in 1670.  He had once been a rowdy student who attended church to make fun of it.  Pastor Theodore Under-Eyck of St. Martin’s Church, Bremen, presided over Neander’s conversion, however.

Neander spent part of his life as an educator.  For several years (1671-1674) he was a tutor, first in Heidelberg then in Frankfurt.  During this stage of life our saint plunged into his newfound Pietism.  In 1674 he became the Rector of the Reformed grammar school at Duesselforf.  Our saint’s responsibilities included teaching and serving as assistant minister.  Three years later local politics led to his suspension from all those duties.  Neander had offended too many people for his own good by (1) altering the academic schedule unilaterally, (2) making other education-related decisions the same way, and (3) persistently refusing to take the Eucharist with allegedly unconverted people.  After a two weeks’ suspension he promised to change his ways and found himself restored as Rector of the school yet not as assistant minister.  The experience of suspension, followed by demotion, humiliated him.

Neander returned to Bremen in 1679.  There he became an assistant to Pastor Under-Eyck at St. Martin’s Church.  Again our saint proved controversial.  Under-Eyck had plans, however; he intended to arrange a pastorate for Neander.  That never came to pass because our saint died of tuberculosis at the age of 29 or 30 on May 31, 1680.

Regardless of any errors (such as Donatism) Neander manifested, he left a fine legacy in the realm of hymnody.  He composed many hymn tunes and 60 hymn texts, some of which exist in English-language translations.  I have added some of them to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Other texts included those translated as “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and “All My Hope on God is Founded.”  Neander, whose love of nature was evident in many of his hymns, earned his reputation as the greatest Reformed hymn writer in Germany.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Joachim Neander and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

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Feast of Charles Henry Brent (March 27)   Leave a comment

charles-henry-brent

Above:  Charles Henry Brent 

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARLES HENRY BRENT (APRIL 9, 1862-MARCH 27, 1929)

Episcopal Bishop and Ecumenist

The Feast of Charles Henry Brent falls on March 27 in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Brent was a native of New Castle, Ontario.  He, born on April 9, 1862, studied at Trinity College, Toronto.  Our saint, ordained an Anglican priest in Canada in 1887, served first as the assistant at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Buffalo, New York.  From 1888 to 1901 he lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts.  There, as the Assistant Rector of St. John the Evangelist Church, with the responsibility for the African-American congregation of St. Stephen’s Church, our saint worked in the slums and came under the influence of the Social Gospel movement.

In 1901 the Episcopal House of Bishops selected Brent to become the Missionary Bishop of the Philippines, a position he held from 1902 to 1919.  There he built up The Episcopal Church, not by “stealing sheep,” but by focusing on evangelism.  He famously refused to compete with the Roman Catholic Church; he would not, in his words, “set up one altar against another.”  Brent did, however, seek to convert people to Christianity.  He also established ecumenical relations with the new Philippine Independent Church, founded by a former Roman Catholic priest.  In the Philippines Brent also became involved in the movement to oppose opium trafficking.  He served as the President of the Opium Conference at Shanghai in 1909 and represented the United States on the Narcotics Committee of the League of Nations in 1923.

From 1917 to 1919 Brent doubled as the Senior Chaplain of the American Expeditionary Forces.  At the request of General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing, he organized and supervised the chaplaincy.

In 1918 Brent accepted election as the Bishop of Western New York, with Buffalo as his see city.  He began his duties the following year and remained the bishop of that diocese for the rest of his life.

Brent was an ecumenical leader in The Episcopal Church and one of the founders of the modern ecumenical movement.  In 1910 he attended the World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh, Scotland.  The pioneering ecumenical conference increased cooperation among missionary societies.  Our saint, a convinced ecumenist, became a leader of the cause in his denomination.  Later that year the General Convention of The Episcopal Church proposed what became the First World Conference on Faith and Order (1927) at Lausanne, Switzerland.  At that gathering, over which Brent presided, representatives of about 90 denominations–from the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox to Quakers and some Baptists–discussed doctrine.  The purpose of the conference was to promote doctrinal unity.  Nevertheless, doctrinal differences became apparent quickly, but the gathering did encourage subsequent ecumenism.

Brent died at Lausanne on March 27, 1929, while traveling in Europe.  He was 66 years old.

In 1907 Brent published a certain prayer, one included in his original language in Daily Morning Prayer, Rite One, in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst stretch out thine arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of thy saving embrace:  So clothe us in thy Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know thee to the knowledge and love of thee; for the honor of thy Name.  Amen.

–Page 58

Morning Prayer, Rite Two, in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a modern-language version of that prayer.  So does Daily Morning Prayer in Texts for Common Prayer (2013), of the Donatist (in the broad definition of that term) Anglican Church in North America.  Any form of the prayer is absent from the corresponding ritual in The Book of Common Prayer (1928).

Brent’s legacy includes not only a meaningful prayer in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) but the World Council of Churches (founded in 1948) and The Episcopal Church in the Philippines (an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion since 1988).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 5, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN, 1597-1639

THE FEAST OF SAINT AVITUS OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE (JOAN) OF VALOIS, COFOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF THE ANNUNCIATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILEAS AND PHILOROMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Heavenly Father, whose Son prayed that we all might be one:

Deliver us from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance,

that, following your servant Charles Henry Brent,

we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of your Son Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 56:6-8

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

Matthew 9:35-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 293

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Feast of Sts. Sylvia of Rome, Emiliana of Rome, Trasilla, and Gregory the Great (March 12)   5 comments

st-gregory-the-great

Above:  St. Gregory the Great

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SYLVIA OF ROME (CIRCA 515-CIRCA 592)

Ascetic

Also known as Saint Silvia of Rome

Her feast transferred from November 3

mother of

SAINT GREGORY I “THE GREAT” (CIRCA 540-MARCH 12, 604)

Bishop of Rome

His feast day = March 12

Alternative feast day = September 3

nephew of

SAINT EMILIANA OF ROME

Ascetic

Her feast transferred from September 3

sister of

SAINT TRASILLA 

Ascetic

Her feast transferred from December 24

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Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” was a pious man and a major saint whose vocation overlapped with difficult times in Italy.  His piety, which served him and many others well, grew out of his family.

His great-grandfather (through his father’s side of the family tree) was Pope St. Felix II (sometimes listed as St. Felix III), who reigned from 483 to 492.  St. Felix had to contend with the monophysite heresy (that Jesus had only a divine nature), intertwined with the politics of the (Eastern) Roman Empire shortly after the gradual demise of the Western Roman Empire, complete in 476.  According to J. N. D. Kelly, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986), St. Felix was intransient, harsh, and authoritarian (page 47).

565

Above:  The Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 565

Image Source = Florida Center for Educational Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida

Image used in accordance with licensing rules at the website of FCIT, which requests that I include this link

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St. Gregory I’s father was Gordianus, a Roman senator.  (Emperor Justinian I “the Great” had presided over the temporary reconquest of portions of the former Western Roman Empire.)  St. Gregory I’s mother was St. Sylvia of Rome (circa 515-circa 592).  The family resided in a mansion in Rome.  Then household included the future Pope’s aunts–sisters of Gordianus–St. Trasilla, and St. Emiliana of Rome at least.  According to some sources, there was a third sister, Gordiana.  The holy sisters/aunts had devoted their lives to God and chosen to live as ascetics in their brother’s household.  St. Gregory I also had a brother, whose name has not survived.  St. Sylvia, as a widow, joined her sisters-in-law in the ascetic life at the estate.

St. Gregory I, who served as the Prefect of Rome in 573 and 574, sold his property, donated the proceeds to the poor, lived ascetically, and became a monk at the estate in 574.  He also founded seven monasteries.  Pope Pelagius II removed St. Gregory I from the monastery in 578 and ordained him to the diaconate.  The following year the Supreme Pontiff dispatched him to Constantinople, the imperial capital, to request military aid in defending against incursions of the Lombards, who were building a kingdom in Italy.  Emperor Tiberius II (reigned 574-582) offered little help in defending his own territory in Italy, for he had other borders to defend too.  He recommended that the Italians seek help from the Franks and bribe the Lombards.  Our saint knew that he could not expect much help from Constantinople in the present time and in the future.  He returned to Rome and his monastery/estate in 585.  There he served as abbot while functioning as an advisor to Pope Pelagius II.

Pope Pelagius II died on February 7, 590.  Much to his chagrin St. Gregory I won election–unanimously, too–to the papal office.  The deacon would have preferred to continue as an abbot.  Despite all his attempts to evade the papacy, St. Gregory I became the Bishop of Rome on September 3, 590.  The 50-year-old saint, who was not in the best of health for much of the ensuing nearly 14 years, tended to his duties.  He, for example, enforced the celibacy of priests, established new rules for electing bishops, upheld papal supremacy, encouraged the veneration of authentic relics, established a school for singers, resisted Donatism in northern Africa, and wrote sermons and biblical commentaries.  Also, in 596, he sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and his retinue to England.  St. Gregory also found himself forced to perform civil functions, due to the breakdown of government and the negligence of imperial officials.  He, for example, negotiated treaties, appointed generals, paid soldiers, and coordinated the feeding of starving masses in war zones.  He was the de facto ruler of much of Italy.  St. Gregory I, unable to walk at the end of his life, died on March 12, 604, during a siege of Rome.  His canonization was immediate and a matter of public acclamation.

What might St. Gregory I have been without the influence of his family?  And, had he not accepted his responsibilities, how might the lives of many others been worse?  Perhaps another person would have stepped forward and acted at least as capably.  Perhaps not.

Sometimes one’s duty includes dealing with a bad situation and improving it, without making it good.  That description certainly applies to the circumstances with which St. Gregory I had to contend.  May we, like this great saint, rise to the occasion whenever presents itself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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Almighty and merciful God, you raised up Gregory the Great to be a servant of the servants of God,

and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people:

Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught,

that your people, being fruitful in every good work,

may receive the crown of glory that never fades away;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

1 Chronicles 25:1a, 6-8

Psalm 57:6-11

Colossians 1:28-2:3

Mark 10:42-45

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 269

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