Archive for the ‘John Henry Newman’ Tag

Feast of Elizabeth Prout and Venerable Ignatius Spencer (January 10)   1 comment

Above:  The Union Jack

Images in the Public Domain

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VENERABLE IGNATIUS SPENCER (DECEMBER 21, 1799-OCTOBER 1, 1864)

Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest, and Apostle of Ecumenical Prayer

Born George Spencer

Also known as Father Ignatius of Saint Paul

mentor of

ELIZABETH PROUT (SEPTEMBER 2, 1820-JANUARY 11, 1864)

Foundress of the Cross and Passion

Also known as Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus

The Roman Catholic Church is in the process of eventually canonizing Prout and Spencer.  Holy Mother Church has her procedures, which take much time.  So be it.  On this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I canonize them and place their commemorations on the same date. One cannot properly tell the story of one of these saints without recounting the story of the other one.

GEORGE (IGNATIUS) SPENCER

Image in the Public Domain

George Spencer came from a wealthy, prominent, and Anglican family.  He, born in London on December 21, 1799, was a son of Lady Lavinia Bingham and George Spencer, the Second Earl Spencer, the First Lord of the Admiralty.  Our saint, well-educated, studied at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge.  In 1819, when Spencer toured Europe with his parents, he did not find Roman Catholicism impressive.  Our saint, ordained to the diaconate of The Church of England in 1822 then to the priesthood two years later, was an attentive priest at Bringham for six years, until 1830.  Then he resigned to convert to Roman Catholicism.

Spencer, as an Anglican priest, became interested in patristics, which he read closely.  Ambrose Phillipps De Lisle (1809-1878), who had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1823, proved instrumental in Spencer’s conversion, as did various Roman Catholic priests.

Spencer spent 1830-1832 in Rome, where he studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood.  His mentor in the Eternal City was Blessed Dominic Barberi (1792-1849), the Apostle to England.  Barberi went on to be crucial in the conversion of John Henry Newman (1801-1890), scheduled to become a full saint in October 2019, in 1845.  Spencer, ordained a deacon then a priest in 1832, returned to England that year.  His duties over time ranged from being a parish priest to being a chaplain to seminarians, but he eventually became a well-traveled and popular preacher instead.

In 1838 Spencer founded the Crusade of Prayer for the Conversion of England.  This project aroused opposition within the Roman Catholic Church and outside it, as hoped to convert England back to Holy Mother Church.  This work filled much of Spencer’s time for the rest of his life; even after he joined the Passionists in 1847 and became Father Ignatius of Saint Paul.  Spencer worked very hard and maintained a rigorous schedule.

ELIZABETH PROUT

Image in the Public Domain

Elizabeth Prout also grew up an Anglican.  She, born to an Anglican mother and a lapsed Roman Catholic father, entered the world at Coleham, Shrewsbury, on September 2, 1820.  Her parents initially opposed her conversion to Roman Catholicism (by the hand of Blessed Dominic Barberi) in her early twenties.  Later, however, her parents converted, also.

Prout found a spiritual mentor, Father Gaudentius Rossi (1817-1891).  With his encouragement, she joined the Sisters of the Holy Infant in Northampton, in 1848.  When the order proved to be a bad fit for her, he invited Prout to teach in the school attached to his parish, St. Chad’s, Manchester.  She accepted.  Our saint worked with poor people in that industrial setting.  Prout organized a small, informal, community of women to work among the industrial poor of Manchester.  With Rossi’s help, that community became the Institute of the Holy Family on November 21, 1852.  Prout became Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus.  The sisters were poor, too, as they focused on helping impoverished women.

PROUT AND SPENCER

The sisters, who relocated to Sutton, St. Helens, in 1855, did have patrons, tough.  They needed patrons if they were to operate schools, such as the one at Sutton, and to help the poor.  One of these patrons was Father Ignatius Spencer, who took over from Rossi, transferred to the United States in 1855.  Spencer helped Prout reform the Institute of the Holy Family along Passionist lines.  In 1863 he took the new rule (replacing the old rule, which Rossi had written) of the order to Rome and secured the approval of Pope Pius IX.  Prout, who overworked herself and whose health was failing, became the first Mother General.

Prout, who taught in or founded nine schools, died, aged 43 years, on January 11, 1864.

The order became the Sisters of the Cross and Passion in 1874.

Spencer, who worked himself to death, did not survive the year, either.  On October 1, 1864, after returning from a mission trip to Scotland, he was Carstains when he had a heart attack, fell into a ditch.  There he died alone.  He was 64 years old.

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Loving God, we thank you for the holy lives of your servants,

Elizabeth Prout and Venerable Ignatius Spencer.

May we, inspired by their examples,

dedicate our lives to glorifying you and improving the lives of the less fortunate.

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

Leviticus 19:9-18

Luke 1:46-55

Acts 6:1-7

Matthew 28:16-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNADINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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Feast of Edward Bouverie Pusey (September 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Edward Bouverie Pusey

Image in the Public Domain

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EDWARD BOUVERIE PUSEY (AUGUST 22, 1800-SEPTEMBER 16, 1882)

Anglican Priest

Feast day in The Church of England = September 16

Feast day in The Episcopal Church = September 18

Edward Bouverie Pusey, born into a wealthy family, spent most of his adult life at Oxford University.  He, from 1841 the leader of the Oxford Movement, was a priest more influential in the Anglican Communion than most bishops were.

Pusey, born near Oxford on August 22, 1800, took naturally to university life.  He, educated at Eton then Christ Church, Oxford University, became a Fellow of Oriel College in 1824.  He spent 1825-1827, studying in Berlin and Göttingen, where he met leading German Biblical scholars and critics, as well as studying Semitic languages in Germany and at Oxford.  In 1828 and 1830 Pusey published An Historical Enquiry into the Probable Causes of the Rationalist Character Lately Predominant in the Theology of Germany (two parts), a work critical (in the academic sense of that word) of German Rationalistic theology.  He linked it to spiritually dead Protestant orthodoxy.  When certain people mistook the work for a defense of German Rationalistic theology, he withdrew the Historical Enquiry.  Also in 1828, Pusey married Maria Catherine Barker (1801-1839).  The couple had four children.  Our saint, ordained to the diaconate then to the priesthood of The Church of England, accepted appointment as the Regius Professor of Hebrew and Canon, a position he held for the rest of his life.

At Oxford Pusey met John Keble (1792-1866) and John Henry Newman (1801-1890), leader of the Oxford Movement, also known as Tractarianism and Anglo-Catholicism.  The Roman Catholic revival within Anglicanism was controversial.  Some opponents, who thought that Holy Mother Church was the Whore of Babylon and the Pope was the Antichrist, went to the logical and predictable extreme of labeling the Oxford Movement nothing short of Satanic.  For decades priests bowing to altars, candles being present on the altar, and other practices were controversial.

The Tractarians, whom Pusey joined in 1833, took their name from the Tracts of the Times series.  Our saint wrote some of the Tracts, notably #18 on fasting on its spiritual benefits) in 1834 and #67 and #69 (on baptism) in 1836.  The Tractarians, consistent with their priority on classicism, published the Library of the Fathers series.  Pusey translated the first volume, the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo, in 1838.

Pusey became the leader of the Oxford Movement in 1841, as Newman moved toward his conversion to Roman Catholicism, in 1845.  Our saint became so identified with the Tractarian Movement that “Puseyite” became a synonym for Tractarian.  He remained within The Church of England, so many who would otherwise have followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church chose not to cross the Tiber River.

Pusey donated generously to churches for the poor and founded a religious community to minister to impoverished people.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Cross, also known as the Park Village Community, founded in 1845, was the first Anglican religious community founded since the English Reformation.  In 1856 the Sisterhood of the Holy Cross merged into the Society of the Most High Trinity, founded by Priscilla Lydia Sellon (1821-1876) in 1849.

Pusey frequently found himself engaged in controversies.

  1. In 1843 his sermon before Oxford University entitled “The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent,” in which he favored Transubstantiation, led to his suspension from the Oxford pulpit for two years.
  2. Another sermon, “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent” (1846), was a defense of the proposition that The Church of England had the priestly power to absolve sins.  This was the beginning of private confession in Anglicanism, a practice still too Catholic for many Anglicans.
  3. In 1862 Pusey accused Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), the Regius Professor of Greek of heresy.  Jowett, a Hegelian, had written “On the Interpretation of Scripture” for Essays and Reviews in 1860.  Pusey found Jowett’s conclusions theologically erroneous.  The Chancellor’s Court acquitted Jowett, who remained at Oxford and received promotions.
  4. In 1865 Pusey wrote that barriers to Anglican reunion with the Roman Catholic Church included purgatory, indulgences, and Marian devotion.  During the next few years Newman and Pusey engaged in a long-form, written debate, topics of which also included Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.
  5. One of the controversies in The Church of England in the late 1800s was whether to remove the Athanasian Creed from Morning Prayer.  Pusey argued for retaining it.  Although that creed remained in the form for Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer (1662), the practice of congregational recitation of that creed declined within Anglicanism.

Pusey, aged 82 years, died at Ascot Priory, Berkshire, of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity, on September 16, 1882.  He was a transformational figure and a positive influence within Anglicanism.

Pusey House, a religious institution at St. Giles, Oxford, constitutes a tangible part of our saint’s legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Grant, O God, that in all time of testing we may know your presence and obey your will;

that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey,

we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to bear;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Ezekiel 36:24-28

Psalm 106:1-5

1 Peter 2:19-23

Luke 3:10-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 591

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Feast of Blessed Dominic Barberi (August 27)   1 comment

Above:  The Tomb of Blessed Dominic Barberi

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED DOMINIC BARBERI (JUNE 22, 1792-AUGUST 27, 1849)

Roman Catholic Apostle to England

Also known as Dominic of the Mother of God

Blessed Dominic Barberi was an important figure in nineteenth-century English Roman Catholic evangelism.  He, born in Viterbo, Italy, on June 22, 1792, came from a poor farming family.  Our saint, an orphan at the age of eight years, spent the rest of his youth in the household of an aunt and uncle, also farmers, in Merlano.  As a youth Barberi met and prayed with Passionist priests in exile from Napoleon Bonaparte’s regime.  In that context our saint discerned a missionary vocation.  Thus, in 1814, Barberi avoided an arranged marriage by one day when he ran away and joined the Passionists (in full the Congregation of Discaled Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ), as Dominic of the Mother of God.

This was Barberi’s vocation.  He, a quick student of theology and philosophy, joined the ranks of priests in Rome on March 1, 1821.  Some of our saint’s theological writings proved controversial.  He, for example, favored melding science and philosophy in such a way as to affirm the value of science.  Barberi, who learned English, helped to found the first Passionist presence outside Italy–in Belgium–in 1833.

Barberi arrived in England in 1842.  There, in 1845, he received Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890) into the Roman Catholic Church.  Two years later Barberi received former Anglican priest George Spencer (1799-1864) into the Passionist order as Father Ignatius of Saint Paul.  In Rome, in 1832, Barberi had mentored Spencer, who had converted to Roman Catholicism two years earlier.

Barberi died of a heart attack in Reading, Berkshire, England, on August 27, 1849.  He was 57 years old.

Pope Pius XI declared Barberi a Venerable in 1937.  Pope Paul VI beatified our saint in 1963.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Blessed Dominic Barberi,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of England.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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Feast of George Tyrrell (July 16)   1 comment

Above:  The Union Jack

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE TYRRELL (FEBRUARY 6, 1861-JULY 15, 1909)

Irish Roman Catholic Modernist Theologian and Alleged Heretic

Anyone who was on the wrong side of Pope St. Pius X (in office 1903-1914) had a high statistical probability of being closer to God than the Supreme Pontiff.

The tension between tradition and modernity has long been a controversial subject in organized religion.  Some have converted tradition into an idol.  Others have thrown it out like a proverbial baby with the equally proverbial bathwater.  Some have made modernity into an idol.  Others have thrown it out with the bathwater too.  There have always been many shades between the polar opposite.

George Tyrrell strove to find the balance of tradition and modernity.  He, born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 6, 1861, grew up an Anglican.  At the age of 18 years he converted to Roman Catholicism.  He joined the Society of Jesus in 1880 and a priest in 1891.  As a Jesuit Tyrrell took the mandatory course in Scholastic theology.  That theology he found unsatisfactory and inadequate.  Tyrrell’s reading of Church Fathers and Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) led him to conclude that the Roman Catholic Church needed to teach the faith differently in the modern age.  Our saint accused Holy Mother Church of mistaking divine revelation for theology, resulting in the teaching of “truths” without connecting them to human experience.  Tyrrell also accused the Roman Catholic Church of committing the “dogmatic fallacy,” that is, turning prophetic mysteries into

principles of exactly determinable intellectual value.

Tyrrell, a friend of fellow Roman Catholic Modernists Baron Friedrich von Hügel (1852-1925) and Maude Dominica Petre (1863-1942), identified himself as a faithful Roman Catholic.  Pope St. Pius X and the Society of Jesus disagreed.  The Jesuits expelled Tyrrell in 1906.  The following year St. Pius X, a reactionary who cast a pall over Roman Catholic intellectual life for more than half a century, issued the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis.  He condemned Modernism as

the synthesis of all heresies

and required all priests to take an oath condemning Modernism.

Tyrrell, much like Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), another one of my favorite heretics who was not actually a heretic, was too caustic and sarcastic for his own good.  (In Tyrrell’s defense, how was he supposed not to be caustic and sarcastic when dealing with St. Pius X and his ilk?)  Tyrrell, a priest without a bishop and therefore lacking a ministry since 1906, was living and writing in a cottage that belonged to Maude Dominica Petre.  Our saint criticized the encyclical in strong terms.  He, alluding to the absolutist French King Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715), summarized the Pope’s position as,

The church, c’est moi.

St. Pius promptly excommunicated Tyrrell in 1908.  The excommunicated priest was defiant:

If, however, my offense lies in having protested publicly, in the name of Catholicism, against a document destructive of the only possible defense of Catholicism and of every reason for submitting, within due limits, to ecclesiastical authority–a document which constitutes the greatest scandal for thousands who, like myself, have been brought into, and kept in, the Church by the influence of Cardinal Newman and of the mystical theology of the Fathers and the Saints–for such a protest I am absolutely and finally impenitent.

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 305

Tyrrell, aged 48 years, died of Bright’s Disease in Storrington, England, on July 15, 1909.  A sympathetic priest had administered the last rites, heard Tyrrell’s confession, and granted absolution.  The Church refused to bury our saint in hallowed ground, so his corpse went to repose in an Anglican cemetery instead.

His grave marker reads:

Of your charity

pray for the soul of

GEORGE TYRRELL

Catholic Priest who died

July 15, 1909, Aged 48 years

Fortified by the Rites

of the Church

R. I. P.

Tyrrell was one of the Roman Catholic theologians who, had he lived long enough to witness the Second Vatican Council (1959-1965), would have found vindication during his lifetime.

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Loving God of timeless truth, we praise and thank you for George Tyrrell and all others who,

standing within tradition, have not idolized it.

May we faithfully engage the outside world,

regarding it as our neighborhood, not as the enemy camp,

and shining the light of Christ into it in effective and reverent ways, to the glory of your Name;

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

Job 12:1-6

Psalm 84

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Matthew 5:13-16

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Feast of Gerard Manley Hopkins (June 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gerard Manley Hopkins

Image in the Public Domain

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GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS (JULY 28, 1844-JUNE 8, 1889)

English Roman Catholic Poet and Jesuit Priest

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The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shoot foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed.  Why do men then not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

All is seared with trade, bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell:  the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

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And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs–

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Gerard Manley Hopkins comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Company, 1997).

Gerard Manley Hopkins, scholar and priest, was a giant of Victorian English literature, but only after his death.  He was one of those authors whose work entered the literary canon post mortem.

Hopkins grew up in a devout High Anglican family in which various art forms–visual and written–were common.  His father was Manley Hopkins, a former British consul general to the Kingdom of Hawai’i and the founder of a marine insurance company.  Manley was also a Sunday School teacher and a churchwarden at St. John’s Church, Hampstead.  The father was also a punster, fortunately.  Our saint’s mother, Kate Smith Hopkins, encouraged her children’s piety.  At her urging our young Gerard grew up reading from the New Testament daily.

Hopkins, born in Stratford, London, on July 28, 1844, was a fine student.  After studying at Cholmondley Grammar School, Highgate, he matriculated at Baillol College, Oxford University, in 1863.  According to Baillol College lecturer Benjamin Jowett, Hopkins was “the star of Baillol.”  Hopkins, influenced by the Oxford Movement, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1866; John Henry Newman received him into Holy Mother Church.

Hopkins became a Jesuit then a priest.  He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1868.  At that point he burned the poetry he had written until then.  In 1875, in Wales, however, he resumed the composition of verse.  Unfortunately, he could never get any of it published.  Even literary friends who read Hopkins’s poetry commented that it was unreadable, due to its rhythms and odd syntax.  Hopkins, ordained a priest in 1877, served in parishes in London, Oxford, Liverpool, and Glasgow before teaching classics at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire.  From 1884 to 1889 he was Professor of Classics at University College, Dublin, Ireland.  Life in Ireland did not agree with our saint; his health failed and he worked too hard.  Hopkins died of typhoid fever in Dublin on June 8, 1889.  He was 44 years old.

Hopkins expressed himself eloquently in his poetry.  He delighted in nature, in which he recognized the presence of God.  His joys and sorrows were also evident in verse, not published until 1918.  Hopkins’s collected works have enriched the lives of many people since then, fortunately.

Hopkins, who spent much of his time in Ireland in emotional anguish and physical illness, found peace at the end.  His final words were

I am so happy!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE

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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 Gerard Manley Hopkins and all those

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

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

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

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

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Feast of St. Francis de Sales, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and Charles Fuge Lowder (September 27)   1 comment

Parable of the Good Samaritan

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

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

Roman Catholic Bishop of Geneva

His feast transferred from January 24

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

“The Apostle of Charity”

confessor of

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

Cofounder of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul

Her feast transferred from March 15

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

Founder of the Society of the Holy Cross

His feast transferred from September 9

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INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES

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

–St. Francis de Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (I)

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

–St. Vincent de Paul

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

–St. Vincent de Paul

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

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

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

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

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SAINT LOUISE DE MARILLAC

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

–St. Louise de Marillac

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

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

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

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

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

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SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (II)

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

–St. Vincent de Paul

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

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

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

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

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CHARLES FUGE LOWDER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

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

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

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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Feast of John Henry Newman (February 21)   8 comments

John Henry Newman--Sir John Everett Millais

Above:  John Henry Newman, by Sir John Everett Millais

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN (FEBRUARY 21, 1801-AUGUST 11, 1890)

Cardinal

John Henry Newman left The Church of England, his native denomination, in 1845 for Roman Catholicism.  Holy Mother Church, in the person of Pope Benedict XVI, beatified Newman on September 19, 2010.  He will certainly be St. John Henry Newman one day.  That is a technicality, however.  Newman is already on the calendars of saints of The Church of England (on August 11) and The Episcopal Church (on February 21).  I wonder what he would have thought of that.  His feast on the Roman Catholic calendar falls on October 9.

One should celebrate the life of Cardinal Newman without necessarily agreeing with him on any given point of doctrine.  Intellectual concurrence is not a requirement when recognizing a person’s sanctity.  One man who needed to learn that lesson was one of our saint’s younger siblings, Francis William Newman (1805-1897), also an intellectual.  Francis William who became a prominent Unitarian with few kind words for Roman Catholicism, was, according to the article about him in Volume 20 of The Encyclopedia Americana (1962), “versatile,” for he wrote about matters as diverse as religion, theology, history, mathematics, economics, social reform and the necessity of it, health, and northern African languages.  On the other hand, he was, according to that article a “humorless, crotchety man” who wrote a “trenchant” book about his famous brother in 1891.  Contributions Chiefly to the Early History of the Late Cardinal Newman was unkind.  I, as an Episcopalian of the Anglican-Lutheran-Catholic (in that order) school, recognize much in Newman’s theology I affirm while finding much with which to disagree.  The disagreement is within the spiritual family, so to speak.  C’est la vie.

The Newman family was of the moderate school of Anglicanism.  The father, John Newman, was a banker in London.  The mother was Jemima Fourdrinier, a descendant of Huguenots.  John Henry Newman, the eldest of six children, encountered Calvinism while attending the Ealing School.  There, in August 1816, at the age of fifteen years, our saint had a conversion experience under Calvinist influence.  Newman matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, in December 1816.  Calvinism faded from his theology as time passed.  In 1821 Newman abandoned Plan A–the pursuit of a career in law.  From 1822 to 1843 he was a fellow of Oriel College.  In 1824 our saint joined the ranks of Anglican deacons.  From 1824 to 1826 he was the Curate at St. Clement’s Church, Oxford.  In 1825, the same year he became a priest, Newman began to serve as Vice Principal of St. Alban Hall.  Excessive work and study caused a severe illness in 1826 and 1827.  In 1827 and 1828 Newman served as the public examiner in classics.  Then, from 1828 to 1843 he was the Vicar of the college church, St. Mary’s, Oxford.  He also helped Richard Whately write Elements of Logic (1845).

Newman was a Tractarian, one of those who wrote tracts supporting the Oxford Movement, the Roman Catholic revival in The Church of England an in Anglicanism in general.  He was, in fact, one of the original Tractarians.  Many of the Tractarians remained within Anglicanism, which they transformed.  Our saint, however, moved toward Roman Catholicism.  On September 18, 1843, Newman resigned as Vicar of St. Mary’s.  During the next two years he wrote An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845).  On October 9, 1845, Newman joined the Roman Catholic Church.  He studied in Rome in 1846 and 1847.  On March 30, 1847, he became a Roman Catholic priest.

Newman spent most of the rest of his life at Birmingham, England.  There he founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri and the boys’ school attached to it.  For a while our saint suffered from vicious rumors and even a libel lawsuit.  In 1864, in response to the Reverend Charles Kingsley’s attack on his credibility, Newman composed Apologia pro Vita Sua, an account of why he converted to Roman Catholicism.  That volume marked a turning point in our saint’s reputation; afterward he enjoyed more respect.  Newman was a skilled orator, great intellectual, and capable writer.  He was, like his brother, versatile.  Our saint wrote influential volumes of poetry, prayer, history, prayers, fiction, philosophy, and educational theory.  In 1877 he became an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.

Newman considered the timing of the declaration of the doctrine of Papal infallibility (in 1870, in the context of the loss of the Papal States and the unification of Italy) inopportune.  He recognized what the article about him in Volume 16 of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1955) called “acknowledged historical difficulties” and feared that the newly proclaimed doctrine might interfere with many conversions to Roman Catholicism.  Nevertheless, he affirmed the doctrine itself.  Despite Newman’s difficulties with the Church hierarchy, frequently in context to his position on Papal infallibility and issues related to its timing, Pope Leo XIII created our saint a cardinal in 1879.

Throughout his life, regardless of his theology at any given moment, Newman stood for the primacy of the spiritual in life.  He was correct on that point.  Our saint died at Birmingham on August 11, 1890.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 27:  THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF JOHN CASPAR MATTES, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JOHANN VON STAUPITZ, MARTIN LUTHER’S SPIRITUAL MENTOR

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God of all wisdom, we thank you for John Henry Newman,

whose eloquence bore witness that your Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,

and who made his own life a pilgrimage towards your truth.

Grant that, inspired by his words and example,

we may ever follow your kindly light till we rest in your bosom,

with your dear Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit,

whose heart speaks to heart eternally;

for you live and reign, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Solomon 3:1-4

Psalm 48

1 John 4:13-21

John 8:12-19

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 235

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