Archive for the ‘Dorothy Day’ Tag

Feast of John Harris Burt (October 20)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN HARRIS BURT (APRIL 11, 1918-OCTOBER 20, 2009)

Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and Civil Rights Activist

Bishop John Harris Burt comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his connection to his father, Bates Gilbert Burt (1878-1948), already here.

John Harris Burt was a native of Michigan.  He, born in Marquette on April 11, 1918, was a son of Father Bates Gilbert Burt and Abigail Gilbert Bates Burt.  Burt, Sr., was the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Marquette (1904-1922).  Burt, Sr., was later the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pontiac, Michigan (1922-1947).  Our saint, after graduating from high school in Pontiac, matriculated at Amherst College (B.A., 1940).  Then he studied social work for a year at Columbia University, followed by further studies at Virginia Theological Seminary (Class of 1943).

Then Burt began ordained ministry.  He, ordained to the diaconate (1943) then the priesthood (1944), was the canon of the Cathedral chapter of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis (1943-1944).   He met Martha May Miller at St. Paul’s Church.  Next, Burt served as a chaplain in the United States Navy (1944-1946).  He married Martha on February 16, 1946.  Our saint was also the Episcopal chaplain at The University of Michigan (1946-1950).  He left that post to become the Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown, Ohio (1950-1957).  As the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, California (1957-1967), Burt made that parish a leader in social activism.  He was, for example, a prominent ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.

Above:  The Flag of Ohio

Image in the Public Domain

Burt became a bishop.  He, elected in 1966, became the Bishop Coadjutor of Ohio on February 4, 1967.  He succeeded to become the Bishop of Ohio by the end of the year.  Burt served until he retired in 1983.  Our saint was outspoken and active.  He opposed the Vietnam War.  In 1967, Burt spoke at the International Inter-Religious Symposium of Peace in New Delhi, India.  Following the collapse of the steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio, our saint co-founded the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley.  This earned him the Thomas Merton Award, previously given to luminaries, such as Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan.  Burt, an early advocate for the ordination to women to the priesthood, promised to resign if the General Convention of 1976 did not approve such ordinations.  It did, much to the consternation of many a traditionalist Anglican.

Burt was active in Christian ecumenism and interfaith relations.  He was, for a time, the President of the Southern California Council of Churches, as well as a representative to the National Council of Churches at another time.  Our saint chaired the denominational Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (1974-1979).  He worked on Jewish-Christian relations at The Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel.

Burt understood that loving one’s neighbors had practical applications.  Therefore, for example, he worked on energy independence, as well as solutions to economic problems in Ohio and seven nearby states.

Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Marquette, Michigan, on October 20, 2009.  Martha, their four daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren survived him.

Burt said:

The world alters us as we walk in it.

He worked to alter the world for the better as he walked through it.

May each of us do likewise.

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God of Shalom, we thank you for the ministry, international work,

and community development work of your servant, John Harris Burt.

May we also, in the Name of Jesus, pursue peace with our neighbors near and far away,

and build up each other spiritually, economically, and concretely.

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

Amos 8:1-10

Psalm 1

James 2:14-26

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Feast of Richard McSorley (October 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

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RICHARD T. MCSORLEY, S.J. (OCTOBER 2, 1914-OCTOBER 17, 2002)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Professor, and Peace Activist

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I see my mission in life, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church what it should be, a peace church.  To be Christian means to have respect for life in all its forms, and in today’s nuclear age, that means Christians must become active witnesses for peace and must firmly oppose all forms of war.

–Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 540

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Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The McSorleys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were a large and devout Roman Catholic family.  There were fifteen children, eight of whom entered religious life.  Young Richard entered the Society of Jesus in 1932, at Wernesville, Pennsylvania.  By 19939, our saint completed his degree in philosophy.  That year, the order sent him to Manila, the Philippines, to teach at a Jesuit high school and seminary.

McSorley spent December 13, 1941-February 23, 1945, as a prisoner of the Japanese Empire.  He and other Jesuits and seminarians suffered repeated tortures.  McSorley nearly died of starvation.  He, hauled repeatedly before firing squads, saw fellow prisoners executed.  Japanese soldiers laughed at our saint, and aimed their guns at him without shooting.  They faked him out three times.

After U.S. paratroopers rescued the prisoners.  McSorley returned to the Untied States of America.  Our saint graduated from seminary at Woodstock College in Maryland.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1946, embarked upon a life of ministry and social justice.  He, assigned to St. James’ Church, St. Mary’s City, Maryland, confronted Jim Crow laws, individual racism, and the Ku Klux Klan.  He preached against racism, advocated for the desegregation of church and society, and nearly became the victim of a Klan lynching.  McSorley, not intimidated, refused to be silent.

McSorley, who taught philosophy at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania (1952-1961), completed his doctorate at Ottawa University, Canada, during those years.  Then he taught theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1961f).  He also did all of the following:

  1. He tutored the children of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
  2. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama.
  3. He opposed the Vietnam War.
  4. He became a pacifist in the 1960s.
  5. He tried to abolish all chapters of the R.O.T.C. at Roman Catholic colleges and universities.
  6. He favored the abolition of the R.O.T.C.
  7. He denounced all weapons of mass destruction.
  8. He condemned nuclear weapons as sinful.
  9. He helped to found Pax Christi U.S.A. in the 1970s.
  10. He went to jail for peacefully protesting Apartheid and nuclear weapons.
  11. He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting repressive governments in Latin America.
  12. He wrote books and articles.

McSorley had a well-developed sense of the disparity between the laws of God and the laws of governments.  For our saint, Christian love was nonviolent love.  He considered Just War Theory absurd, especially in the age of nuclear weapons:

Can we serve both God and our government when the government orders us to do what God forbids?  Of course not.

McSorley belonged to the Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton wing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint made enemies, of course.  He made enemies inside the Society of Jesus.  F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover (that paragon of opposition to civil rights and civil liberties) considered McSorley a “disgrace” and searched in vain for a way to smear his reputation.

McSorley, aged 88 years, died in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2002.

Our saint took to heart the commandment of Jesus to love one’s enemies.  In so doing, McSorley became a radical–a radical Christian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MIKEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

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

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Richard T. McSorley] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Chuck Matthei (October 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Chuck Matthei

Image Scanned from Cloud of Witnesses (2005)

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CHARLES LEE MATTHEI (FEBRUARY 14, 1948-OCTOBER 1, 2002)

Founder and Director of the Equity Trust, Inc.

Chuck Matthei comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005).

Matthei’s Roman Catholic faith compelled him to devote most of his life to social justice.  Why not?  He understood that, in the Bible, justice and righteousness are the same.

Matthei, born in Chicago, Illinois, on February 14, 1948, learned the Christian ethic of social justice at home.  He, a son of Robert L. Matthei and Nancy Horne Matthei, had two sisters, Nancy and Patty.  Our saint, active in the Civil Rights Movement as an adolescent, drew inspiration from Jesus and Mohandas Gandhi.  The Hebrew Prophets’ message of economic justice also informed Matthei’s life.

This mission manifested itself in various ways.  Matthei, as the Executive Director of the Institute for Community Economics, Greenfield, Massachusetts (1980-1990), accomplished much.  He created many affordable housing units.  Matthei also increased the number of community land trusts from 12 to more than 100 in 23 states.  Furthermore, our saint helped to organize the National Association of Community Development Loan Funds (now the National Community Capital Association).  He was the founding Chairman (1985-1990).  As if that were not enough, Matthei also sat on the board of the Social Investment Forum from 1983 to 1988.  He affirmed socially responsible investment.

Matthei, associated with the Catholic Worker movement of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), practiced his socially-conscious faith.  He practiced Gandhian nonviolence; our saint was a pacifist.  Matthei also supported the Catholic Worker movement’s shelters and soup kitchens financially.  And he criticized social institutions and systems that harmed poor people.

Matthei founded the Equity Trust, Inc., in 1991, then served as its Director.  In this capacity, he engaged in useful and essential work in the United States of America, Central America, and Kenya.  Our saint, for example, assisted the Gullah/Geechee community on Sapelo, Island, Georgia, in preserving their culture and community.  He also acquired and preserved 140 acres of land in the Hudson Valley, for agricultural use, to feed people.  Matthei, furthermore, traveled, spoke, and consulted on the topics that defined his life’s work.

Matthei, aged 54 years, died in Voluntown, Connecticut, on October 1, 2002.  The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, a complication of thyroid cancer, in our saint’s case.

Robert Ellsberg wrote of his final visit to Matthei, a few days before our saint’s death.  Thyroid cancer had robbed Matthei of the ability to speak; he dictated requests on a laptop computer.  Our saint requested that Ellsberg bring prints by Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), as well as photographs of his (Ellsberg’s) children.  Matthei was at peace, Ellsberg recalled after that meeting with his friend of 28 years.

Matthei, sitting in a wheelchair, typed a wonderful piece of advice on the laptop computer:

Every age has need of a few fools.

If understanding that justice and righteousness are identical, then acting accordingly, seems foolish, every age needs many fools.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FULBERT OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, U.S. PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

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

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Feast of Venerable Catherine de Hueck Doherty (August 10)   2 comments

Above:  Combermere, Ontario, Canada

Image Source = Google Earth

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EKATERINA FYODOROVNA KOLYSCHKINE DE HUECK DOHERTY (AUGUST 15, 1896-DECEMBER 14, 1985)

Foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate

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The hunger for God can only be satisfied by a love that is face to face, person to person.  It is only in the eyes of another that we can find the Icon of Christ.  We must make the other person aware we love him.  If we do, he will know that God loves him.  He will never hunger again.

–Venerable Catherine de Hueck Doherty, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 352

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Venerable Catherine de Hueck Doherty comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).  In that volume, her feast day is August 15.  On this Ecumenical Calendar, however, I reserve August 15 for St. Mary of Nazareth, Mother of God.  Furthermore, I do not wait until I add “new” saints with December feast days to add Doherty to this calendar.  I have, therefore, moved her feast.

Social justice is a spiritual and divine mandate.  This message runs through the Law of Moses, the teachings of the Hebrew prophets, and the ethics of Jesus in Nazareth.  This message continues to animate many professing, practicing Jews and Christians, frequently to the frustration and consternation of merely professing Jews and Christians.

Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine was originally a subject of the Russian Empire.  She, born on a train in Nizhny, Novgorod, on August 15, came from minor nobility.  Her father was Fyodor Kolyschkine, a Polish-Russian industrialist and diplomat.  Our saint’s mother was Emma Thomson Kolyschkine.  The family religion was Russian Orthodoxy.  Ekaterina spent much of her childhood abroad because of her father’s diplomatic assignments.  The family returned to Russia in 1910; our saint matriculated at the Princess Obolensky Academy, Saint Petersburg.  At the tender age of 15 years, she married a cousin, Baron Boris de Hueck (1889-1947), in 1912.

The revolutionary age of Russia had begun.  The First Russian Revolution (1905) ended Czarist autocracy, to an extent.  That revolution led to the creation of something of a constitutional system.  World War I (1914-1918) hastened the Second Russian Revolution (1917), which ended the monarchy and left power in the hands of the ineffectual Provisional Government.  The Third Russian Revolution (1917) brought the Bolsheviks to power.

The de Huecks spent much of World War I apart.  The Baron, in military service, was on the Eastern Front.  The Baroness worked as a nurse.  The two of them, eventually reunited, fled Russia after the rise of the Bolsheviks to power.  The couple joined the Roman Catholic Church en route to the New World.  They arrived in Canada in 1920.

The de Huecks were nobility, but they were poor in the New World.  Venerable Catherine worked a series of low-paying jobs in Canada and the United States.  The de Hueck family had grown to three people.  The newest member was a son, George.  Eventually, our saint earned real money on the lecture circuit; she described her experiences in Russia and escaping from that country.  As time passed, she regained her economic good fortune yet lost her marriage.  Venerable Catherine began to question her life, with its materialistic plenty.

Our saint, obeying what she perceived as the call of God on her life, radically simplified her life in 1930.  She gave up most of her worldly goods and moved into a slum in Toronto.  She, with the support of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, founded the first Friendship House.  This institution offered Roman Catholic education, fellowship, and a soup kitchen.  Ironically, some conservatives mistook our saint for a communist sympathizer.  Friendship House, Toronto, lost support and had to close in 1936.

Yet Dorothy Day (1897-1980) understood our saint and what she was doing.  Day’s Catholic Worker Movement operated on similar principles as did Friendship House, Toronto.  Father John LaFarge, Jr. (1880-1963) also understood what Venerable Catherine was doing.  In 1937, he invited her to establish a new Friendship House in Harlem.  Friendship House, Harlem, opened the following year.  In Harlem, our saint learned about racial prejudice and injustice.  She continued to travel and lecture.  In Savannah, Georgia, a group of white Roman Catholic women nearly beet Venerable Catherine to death after a lecture.  In 1941, Thomas Merton (1915-1968) heard our saint speak.  He summarized Venerable Catherine’s message:

Catholics are worried about Communism:  and they have a right to be….But few Catholics stop to think that Communism would make very little progress in then world, or none at all, if Catholics really lived up to their obligations, and really did the things Christ came on Earth to teach them to do:  that is, if they really loved one another, and saw Christ in one another, and lived as saints, and did something to win justice for the poor.

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 353

The Baroness, of “the B.,” as her friends referred to her, carried the air of authority naturally and did not suffer fools easily and gladly.  Once, a high-society, racist woman told our saint,

You smell of the Negro.

Venerable Catherine replied,

And you stink of hell!

The marriage to Baron de Hueck formally ended via annulment in 1943.  That year, Venerable Catherine married journalist Edward J. “Eddie” Doherty (1890-1975).  They had met when he was on an assignment to write a story about her.

Leadership-related tensions at Friendship House, Harlem, led our saint to resign from that organization in 1947.  The Dohertys moved to Combermere, in rural Ontario, Canada.  There they helped the local poor and sick.  And there they founded the Madonna House Apostolate in 1947.  The Madonna House was a place of prayer and spiritual retreat.  Our saint emphasized withdrawing from worldly compulsions and listening to God.  The place of retreat, she wrote, could be anywhere, really, and varied according to circumstances.  Yet retreating and listening remained crucial.

Eddie, ordained a priest in the Melkite Rite in 1969, died in 1975.

Venerable Catherine, aged 89 years, died in Combermere on December 14, 1985.

Our saint’s Madonna House Apostolate has continued.  So has the message, apart from the Apostolate.  For example, Venerable Catherine wrote and spoke of the “duty of the moment.”  She emphasized the moral imperative of doing at any given moment what God would have one to do at that moment.

What, O reader, is God telling you is imperative for you to do at this moment?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SHABBAZ BHATTI AND OTHER CHRISTIAN MARTYRS OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD

THE FEAST OF SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE, CELTIC MISSIONARY BISHOP; SAINT CAELIN, CELTIC PRIEST; SAINT CEDD OF LASTINGHAM, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BISHOP OF ESSEX, AND ABBOT OF LASTINGHAM; SAINT CYNIBIL OF LASTINGHAM, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK; SAINT CHAD OF MERCIA, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, ABBOT OF LASTINGHAM, BISHOP OF YORK/THE NORTHUMBRIANS AND OF LICHFIELD/THE MERCIANS AND THE LINDSEY PEOPLE; SAINT VITALIAN, BISHOP OF ROME; SAINT ADRIAN OF CANTERBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, CANTERBURY; SAINT THEODORE OF TARSUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY; AND SAINT CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, HERMIT, PRIEST, AND BISHOP OF LINDISFARNE

THE FEAST OF DANIEL MARCH, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN STUART BLACKIE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN SCHOLAR, LINGUIST, POET, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA OF BOHEMIA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA AND MARTYR, 921; HER GRANDSON, SAINT WENCESLAUS I, DUKE OF BOHEMIA, AND MARTYR, 929; SAINT AGNES OF PRAGUE, BOHEMIAN PRINCESS AND NUN; HER PEN PAL, SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI, FOUNDRESS OF THE POOR CLARES; HER SISTER, SAINT AGNES OF ASSISI, ABBESS OF ASSISI; AND HER MOTHER, SAINT HORTULANA OF ASSISI, POOR CLARE NUN

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

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

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Paul Hanly Furfey (June 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Vincent’s Chapel, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

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PAUL HANLY FURFEY (JUNE 30, 1897-JUNE 8, 1992)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Sociologist, and Social Radical

Apostle for Social Justice

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Men are not won over to our faith by logic but by seeing the Church in action.

–Paul Hanly Furfey

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Father Paul Hanly Furfey comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Furfey favored responding to social ills through a combination of collective and personal action.  He argued that the best collective action was faith-based, not secular and bourgeois.  Hence targets of his criticism included capitalism, Marxism, the New Deal, government interventionism, and Hull House.  Yet, later in life, he critiqued Liberation Theology from its left; it did not go far enough, he insisted.

Furfey was a priest and a sociologist.  He, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 30, 1896, studied in parochial schools in that city.  Then he studied at Boston College (A.B.).  Our saint continued his education at The Catholic University of America in 1917 and 1918.  A M.A. from St. Mary’s University, Baltimore, Maryland, followed.  Seminary followed.  Furfey, ordained in 1922, earned his Ph.D. in sociology from The Catholic University of America (1926) then studied medicine in Germany (1931-1932).  Early in his career, Furfey advocated for openly religious, scientific radicalism.  He was, therefore, critical of the New Deal while he affirmed the Catholic Worker Movement of Dorothy Day (1897-1980).  He also went on to associate himself with Personalism, the philosophy of Emmanuel Mournier (1905-1950).  Furthermore, Furfey rejected racism.  Our saint, who rote his doctoral dissertation on street gangs, taught sociology at The Catholic University of America.  He also helped to found Il Poverello (“the Poor One”), a settlement house, in Washington, D.C.  Il Poverello was a Roman Catholic counterpart to Hull House and Toynbee Hall.

Furfey, a recipient of many academic and ecclesiastical honors, was a leader in sociological discipline.  He led the Department of Sociology at The Catholic University of America, starting in the 1940s.  He also helmed the university’s Center for Research in Child Development.  Furthermore, our saint served as the President of the American Catholic Sociological Society.

Furfey became more radical as he aged.  Furfey, who had argued for obedience to the federal government during World War II, opposed the Vietnam War.  He helped to found the International Committee on Conscience on Vietnam in 1973.  His critique of the Great Society was that it was insufficient.  Wherever Furfey stood on an issue, he thought of the love of Christ, a revolutionary for the love of neighbors, as the role model.  Our saint was, as Nicholas Karl Rademacher called him in a his doctoral dissertation (2006) at The Catholic University of America, the “Apostle of Social Justice.”

Furfey, nearly 95 years old, died on June 8, 1992.

Looking up titles of Furfey’s books at Worldcat reveals the range of his output.  One finds titles about urban gangs, child development, morality, psychology, and the deaf, among other subjects.  Some titles are punchy.  How to Go to Hell (1937) sounds interesting, and The Respectable Murderers:  Social Evil and Christian Conscience (1966) is direct.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DE CHARGÉ AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF TIBHIRINE, ALGERIA, 1996

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUGENE DE MAZENOD, BISHOP OF MARSEILLES, AND FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MISSIONARIES, OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANZ JÄGGERSTÄTTER, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ADDISON AND ALEXANDER POPE, ENGLISH POETS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MANUEL GÓMEZ GONZÁLEZ, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1924; AND SAINT ADILO DARONCH, BRAZILIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC ALTAR BOY AND MARTYR, 1924

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

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

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Jean-Pierre de Caussade (March 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Nancy, France, August 24, 1914

Image Creator = Bain News Service

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-16805

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JEAN-PIERRE DE CAUSSADE (MARCH 7, 1675-MARCH 6, 1751)

French Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Director

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The Holy Spirit writes no more Gospels except in our hearts.  All we do from moment to moment is live this new gospel of the Holy Spirit.  We, if we are holy, are the paper, our sufferings and our actions are the ink.  The workings of the Holy Spirit are his pen, and with it he writes a living gospel.

–Jean-Pierre de Caussade, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 104

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Little documentation of the life of Jean-Pierre de Caussade has survived.  His now-classic work, translated into English as The Abandonment to Divine Providence or as The Sacrament of the Present Moment, was a book he wrote for the Sisters of the Visitation at Nancy, France, whom he served as their spiritual director from 1733-1740.  Father de Caussade also wrote to the Sisters after he ceased to be their spiritual director.  His book remained unpublished until 1861.

For the record, I know that at least one scholar has questioned de Caussade’s authorship of this work.  However, the assumption in this post is that our saint wrote it.

We can be certain of some biographical dates.  De Caussade, born in Cahors, France, on March 7, 1675, died in Toulouse, France, on March 6, 1751, one day prior to what would have been his seventy-sixth birthday.

Theological controversy surrounded The Abandonment to Divine Providence.  Although de Caussade was not a Quietist, some ecclesiastical officials misinterpreted his book as being a Quietist text.  Quietism, which influenced some varieties of Protestantism, was a form of mysticism that minimized the role of the Church and its sacraments.  According to Quietism, if one were sufficiently quiet, blocking out distractions both internal and external, one could hear just one voice.  The assumption of Quietism was that this voice was that of the Holy Spirit.

De Caussade was an orthodox Roman Catholic and a mystic; his counsel fit in neatly with Roman Catholic monastic spirituality and mysticism.  He wrote that God was present in the ordinary details of daily life.  Our saint wrote of the “sacrament of the present moment” and encouraged the Sisters to progress spiritually until their lives became living sacred texts, contemporary gospels the Holy Spirit was writing.

De Caussade influenced certain notable saints, including St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) and Dorothy Day (1897-1980).

De Caussade’s counsel is consistent with advice from St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430).  The bumper sticker-length reduction of a portion of one of the sermons of the Bishop of Hippo Regius is,

Love God and do what you will.

The full germane text is longer, of course.  The core of the issue is:

Once for all, then, a short precept is given to you: Love, and do what you will: whether you hold your peace, through love hold your peace; whether you cry out, through love cry out; whether you correct, through love correct; whether you spare, through love do you spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.

In other words, if one is “in the zone” of divine love, one can do whatever one wants and honor God, for one will act out of love for God, by grace.  If one’s life has become a gospel the Holy Spirit is writing, one can love God and do what one will, by grace.  “If” is a crucial word in this scenario.

May you, O reader, live in such a manner as to be aware of the “sacrament of the present moment” in your daily life.  And may your life be another contemporary gospel the Holy Spirit is writing.  If your life is such a gospel, may it continue to be one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERTO DE NOBOLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERARD AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN MOROCCO, 1220

THE FEAST OF EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS, U.S. UNITARIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GUSTAVE WEIGEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MEUX BENSON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST; CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST, AND BISHOP OF FOND DU LAC; AND CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WORCESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND OXFORD; FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE RESURRECTION; THEOLOGIAN; AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND WORLD PEACE

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

We bless your name for inspiring Jean-Pierre de Caussade

and all those who with words have filled us with desire and longing 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 21:15-17, 24-25

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

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Feast of John LaFarge, Jr. (November 25)   4 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN LAFARGE, JR. (DECEMBER 13, 1880-NOVEMBER 25, 1963)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society

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The Negro brings to the Church something that is in danger of disappearing from its life in this country, and thereby putting American Catholicism out of touch with the rest of the great universal suffering world–a keen sense of social justice.

–Father John LaFarge, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 512

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Father John LaFarge, Jr., comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Ellsberg’s All Saints and G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

LaFarge, from a background of privilege, dedicated most of his adult life to resisting bigotry.  His mother was Margaret Mason Perry (1839-1925).  She, a convert to Roman Catholicism, had Isaiah Hecker (1819-1888) for a spiritual mentor.  Our saint’s father was John LaFarge, Sr. (1835-1910), a prominent painter and stained glass window maker.  Our saint, the youngest of eight children, entered the world at Newport, Rhode Island, on February 13, 1880.  John, Jr., a member of the Harvard University Class of 1901, studied for the priesthood in Europe.  There he joined the Society of Jesus (much to his mother’s dismay) and became a priest (ordained at Innsbruck, Austria) on July 26, 1905.

LaFarge understood the relationship between the gospel of Jesus Christ and social justice.  Early assignments included teaching at Jesuit colleges and assisting in parishes.  One assignment was as chaplain at the prison and hospital on Blackwell Island, New York, New York.  Later, our saint served in a mostly African-American parish in Leonardville, Maryland.  In 1924 he founded an industrial school for African Americans at Ridge, Maryland.  From 1926 to 1963 LaFarge worked at America magazine, a Jesuit publication.  In 1963, he, Dorothy Day, and others founded the Catholic Layman’s Union, which became the first Catholic Interracial Council of New York.  He traveled across the United States, speaking about social justice and encouraging the formation of similar organizations.  In 1938, Pope Pius XI asked LaFarge to draft an encyclical on racism.  Our saint completed the draft document, but Pius XI died in 1939, and Pope Pius XII shelved it, just in time for the Holocaust and World War II.

LaFarge, a pioneer for racial justice and opposition to anti-Semitism in U.S. Roman Catholicism prior to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), understood that one one divine purpose for the human race was unity.  He, therefore, condemned anti-Semitism and racial segregation laws.  That concern for unity also led LaFarge to become a pioneer in the ecumenical movement.  Related to his concern for unity was support for constitutional government; our saint criticized his Church for hostility to constitutional governments and support for dictatorships and therefore for a dubious record on human rights.  He, an advocate for freedom of religion as a human right, lived long enough to learn of the introduction of the draft Declaration on Religious Freedom at Vatican II.

LaFarge, aged 83 years, died in his sleep in New York, New York, early in the morning of November 25, 1963.

Theological orthodoxy and social justice need not be at odds with each other.  Despite the long and shameful record of self-proclaimed orthodox Christians propping up sins such as Jim Crow laws, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, nativism, and the subordination of women, actual orthodoxy, with the Golden Rule as a constituent part, facilitates social justice and confronts institutions and proponents of oppression and hatred.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2019 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John LaFarge, Jr.,

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

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

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

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

you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

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

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

Help us, like your servant John LaFarge, Jr., to work for justice among people and nations,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Leon Bloy, Jacques Maritain, and Raissa Maritain (November 4)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of the French Republic

Image in the Public Domain

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LÉON BLOY (JULY 11, 1846-NOVEMBER 3, 1917)

French Roman Catholic Novelist and Social Critic

godfather of

JACQUES MARITAIN (NOVEMBER 18, 1882-APRIL 28, 1973)

French Roman Catholic Philosopher

husband of

RAÏSSA OUMANSOV MARITAIN (1883-NOVEMBER 4, 1960)

Russian-French Roman Catholic Contemplative

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The worst evil is not to commit crimes, but to have failed to do the good one might have done.

–Léon Bloy, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 477

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If Christians were to renounce…the desire for sanctity, this would be an ultimate betrayal against God and against the world.

–Jacques Maritain, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 503

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It is an error to isolate oneself from men….If God does not call one to solitude, one must live with God in the multitude, must make him known there and make him loved.

–Raïssa Maritain, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 480

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Alors il leva les yeux sur ses disciples et dit:

Heureux vous les pauvres, car le royaume de Dieu à vous!…

Mais malheur à vous, les riches, car vous avez votre consolation.

Luc 6: 20 et 24, La Sainte Bible, Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée (1976)

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As Léon Bloy understood, Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor

and

Woe to you who are rich.

The novelist, who internalized that value system, railed against the dominant social value that says

Woe to you who are poor

and

Blessed are the rich.

Bloy, born in Notre-Dame-de-Sanihac, France, on July 11, 1846, grew up an agnostic hostile to Roman Catholicism.  His father was Jean-Baptiste Bloy; our saint’s mother was Anne-Marie Carreau.  In 1869 Bloy converted to Roman Catholicism, however.  He was a frequently controversial figure with a temper, which he brought to bear on social ills, including greed, injustice, materialism, and anti-Semitism.  Our saint also led a difficult, impoverished life.  His writings did not sell well, and poverty contributed to the deaths of two of his children.  The self-critical novelist died at the age of 71 years on November 3, 1917, in Bourg-la-Reine, France.

Bloy did, despite his self-recriminations for having done too little for God, help to bring the Maritains to faith.

Jacques Maritan, born in Paris, France, on November 11, 1882, became a prominent philosopher.  He, raised in a Protestant family, had lost his faith by the time he matriculated at the Sorbonne in 1899.  Yet the search for the truth still mattered to Maritain.  At the Sorbonne he met and fell in love with another troubled seeker, Raïssa Oumansov.

The Oumansov family, formerly of Rostov and Mariupol, the Russian Empire, was Jewish.  The family, with daughters Raïssa and Vera, had moved to Paris in 1893, to escape official anti-Semitism and to provide better educational opportunities for the daughters.  Raïssa, as an adolescent, lost her faith.  She sought the truth in vain at the Sorbonne (1900f).  She did, however, meet Jacques Maritain when he asked her to sign a petition protesting the Czarist government’s treatment of socialist students.

The Maritains, married in 1904, eventually became despondent over having not found the truth that they made a suicide pact.  They agreed that they would take their lives if, within a year, they did discover the meaning of life.  Bloy befriended them, though, and led them, as well as Vera Oumansov, into the Roman Catholic Church.  He stood as their godfather in 1906.  Jacques, Raïssa, and Vera eventually chose to become Oblates of St. Benedict, and to make vows of perpetual chastity.

Jacques immersed himself in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and spent much of his life applying Thomism to the modern world.  He, a professor at the Institut Catholique, Paris, from 1914 to 1939, offended many conservative Roman Catholics by favoring constitutional government and opposing the Spanish fascist leader Francisco Franco.  Jacques, with Raïssa acquainted with Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, also favored what he called “Integral Humanism,” or the infusion of Christian values into the world via what he called “Lay Spirituality.”  Jacques, an opponent of the Vichy government, taught in the United States and Canada from 1940 to 1945.  After World War II he served as the French Ambassador to the Vatican.  During that period (1945-1948), he befriended Angelo Roncalli, the Nuncio to France.  Roncalli went on to become St. John XXIII, Bishop of Rome, in 1958.  Jacques taught at Princeton University from 1948 to 1960.

Raïssa became a poet and a contemplative.  She understood that God was calling her to share in divine suffering, and kept a spiritual journal.  She died on November 4, 1960.  Jacques had her spiritual journal published posthumously.

Jacques, as a widower, joined the Little Brothers of Jesus, the order Blessed Charles de Foucauld founded in the Algerian desert in 1933.  Jacques became a notice at Toulousse in 1961; he made his vows nine years later.  Pope St. Paul VI recognized our saint in person at the Vatican in 1965.  The Supreme Pontiff presented our saint with a copy of the Vatican II document on the Church and the Modern World.  Jacques, aged 90 years, died in Toulousse on April 28, 1973.

Part of the meaning of life is to help each other live faithfully, to glorify God, to enjoy God, and to show the light of Christ in our lives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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

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

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Fritz Eichenberg (October 24)   1 comment

FRITZ EICHENBERG (OCTOBER 24, 1901-NOVEMBER 30, 1990)

German-American Quaker Wood Engraver

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It is my hope that in a small way I have been able to contribute to peace through compassion and also to the recognition, as George Fox has said…”That there is that of God in everyone,” a conception of the sanctity of human life which precludes all wars and violence.”

–Fritz Eichenberg, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 463

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Fritz Eichenberg comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via All Saints (1997).

Eichenberg expressed his Quaker faith in his art.  He, born in Cologne, Germany, on October 24, 1901, grew up in a secular Jewish family.  He studied graphic arts in Cologne and Leipzig before working as an artist in Berlin (1923-1933).  World War I and its aftermath influenced Eichenberg’s pacifism.  The rise of Nazism forced Eichenberg and his family to emigrate.  He arrived in the United States of America in 1933.  Subsequently he worked in the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, taught at the New School for Social Research and at the Pratt Institute, and chaired the Department of Art of The University of Rhode Island.  His wife’s death in 1938 preceded an emotional breakdown.  Eichenberg, after resorting to Zen meditation, converted to Quakerism in 1940.

Eichenberg created wood engravings of both secular and sacred subjects.  He illustrated classic works of literature and depicted Christ and saints.  Subjects included Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas Merton, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Cesar Chavez, as well as Eichenberg’s favorite saint, Francis of Assisi.  Images of Jesus included Christ of the Breadlines (1953) and Christ of the Homeless (1982).  In Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men (1954), our saint depicted an angel with a dove on one side of a the cross and gas-masked soldier holding a bomb on the other.  Our saint, who met Dorothy Day in 1949, created images for the Catholic Worker newspaper.

Eichenberg died of complications of Parkinson’s Disease at Peace Dale, Rhode Island, on November 30, 1990.  He was 89 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C:  THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS WINDOW MAKER

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

We bless your name for inspiring Fritz Eichenberg and all those

who with images 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 21:15-17, 24-25

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

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Feast of John Leary (August 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Boston, Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN TIMOTHY LEARY (FEBRUARY 22, 1958-AUGUST 31, 1982)

U.S. Roman Catholic Social Activist and Advocate for the Marginalized

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All his spiritual efforts, and there were many, were not however primarily focused on himself, on his own righteousness, on his own salvation, etc.  His life was intensely ordered toward others.  The prayers, the choices, the daily Masses and Communions, the repentance, the study, the retreats, etc., had one aim, namely to make possible the deeds of Christ-like love, mercy, service and kindness here and now, in the particular concrete moment.  John believed he could not genuinely serve people except by loving them in the way God revealed they should be served in the person of Jesus.

Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, on John Leary, September 4, 1982

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John had a sensitivity, an awareness of the pain of others that was relentless.  Compassion for others had become the dominant experience of his life.

–Sister Evelyn Ronan on John Leary; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 375

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The difference with John was that he discovered that life had no purpose, no meaning, no direction, and no focus apart from the purpose and focus on God….He became in his short life the complete and total man for others, and those who knew him and loved him testify to the face of Christ that shone in and through him.

–The Reverend Peter Gomes on John Leary; quoted in All Saints (1997), 376

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This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).  Ellsberg’s assigned date is August 31, but, given that I have reserved that date for St. Nicodemus, a Biblical figure, I transfer Leary’s feast to August 30.

John Timothy Leary, born into a New England Roman Catholic working class family with Irish roots on February 22, 1958, spent his 24 years well.  He, inspired by Thomas Merton (1915-1968) and Dorothy Day (1897-1980), took his Catholicism seriously.  Leary was a pacifist–a member of Pax Christi.  He also affiliated with the Catholic Worker Movement.  Leary’s eulogist, Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, described our saint as a “Magna Cum Laude Harvard Graduate” and “Summa Cum Laude Catholic Worker.”  Leary, committed to the “seamless garment” doctrine of life, protested against the death penalty, abortion, and the military draft.  He allowed street people to live in his apartment.  Leary worked with the elderly, the homeless, and the incarcerated.  The major in religious studies (Harvard University Class of 1980) attended Mass daily, usually at Our Lady of the Annunciation Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral, Boston, Massachusetts.  Leary also read the Bible, prayed the rosary, and attended retreats at a Trappist monastery.

Leary, who enjoyed running, died in Boston on August 31, 1982.  That afternoon he was running from work to his room at the Catholic Worker house when he had a heart attack.

What might Leary have done for God and many of his fellow human beings–especially vulnerable ones–had he lived longer?

The answers to that question occupy the realm of the counterfactual, but the holy example of his life can and should inspire us to use our time wisely, to the glory of God and the benefit of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR., AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 726

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