Archive for the ‘John Henry Newman’ Tag

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)   5 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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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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Feast of Richard Meux Benson, Charles Chapman Grafton, and Charles Gore (January 16)   1 comment

Anglican Communion

Above:  The Flag of the Anglican Communion

Image in the Public Domain

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Benson

Image in the Public Domain

RICHARD MEUX BENSON (JULY 6, 1824-JANUARY 14, 1915)

Anglican Priest and Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist

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Grafton

Image in the Public Domain

CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON (APRIL 12, 1830-AUGUST 30, 1912)

Episcopal Priest, Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Baptist, and Bishop of Fond du Lac

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Gore

Image in the Public Domain

CHARLES GORE (JANUARY 22, 1853-JANUARY 17, 1932)

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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PROLOGUE

January 16  and 17 seem to be auspicious days for celebrating founders of monastic orders.  So far the list has consisted of St. Antony of Egypt and St. Pachomius the Great.  With this post I remain within the theme yet depart antiquity for the 1800s.  Richard Meux Benson, Charles Chapman Grafton, and Charles Gore join the company of saints at this weblog.  The Church of England celebrates Gore’s life on January 17.  The Episcopal Church celebrates the lives of Gore and Benson on January 16 and the life of Grafton on August 30.  I have decided to follow the Episcopalian practice of joining Benson and Gore on January 16 and to depart from the Episcopalian practice of commemorating Grafton on August 30.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is my project–one of my hobbies–so I have full authority with regard to it.

RICHARD MEUX BENSON, PART I

This composite account begins with Richard Meux Benson, born to a wealthy family in London, England, the United Kingdom, on July 6, 1824.  He, tutored privately at home for years, went on to attend Christ Church, Oxford, where he met to major influences, the Tractarians Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) and John Henry Newman (1801-1890).  Our saint graduated with his B.A. in 1847 and his M.A. two years later.  Benson took Anglican Holy Orders in 1849, served briefly as the Curate of St. Mark’s, Surbiton (1849-1850), then became the Vicar of Cowley, Oxford (1850-1886).  In 1865, at Cowley, he, along with two other priests, founded the Mission Priests of St. John the Evangelist, which became the Society of St. John the Evangelist (S.S.J.E.) the following year.  The S.S.J.E. became the first stable Anglican religious order for men founded since the English Reformation.  Members, who were active in the outside world, lived communally, recited the Divine Office together daily, meditated privately at least one hour daily when possible, and spent designated days on spiritual retreats and in silence.

CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, PART I

The two cofounders of the S.S.J.E. were Father Simeon Wilberforce O’Neill and Father Charles Chapman Grafton.  The latter, a native of the United States, had started his sojourn in England.  Grafton, born to a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 12, 1830, had entered the ordained life after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1853.  He, after studying with the Right Reverend William Rollinson Whittingham, the Bishop of Maryland from 1840 to 1879, entered the Sacred Order of Deacons on December 23, 1855.  Grafton served at Reisterstown, Maryland, for a few years.  He became a priest on May 30, 1858.  Next he served as the Curate of St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, and as the Chaplain of Deaconesses in the Diocese of Maryland.  Our saint lived in England from 1865 to 1872.

RICHARD MEUX BENSON, PART II

Benson served at Cowley until 1886, when he resigned to devote his full attention to the S.S.J.E.  From 1870 to 1883 the order spread to the United States, India, and South Africa.  Our saint wrote the rule for the order, the Superior of which he remained until 1890.  Afterward he traveled the world for a few years.  Benson spent a year in India then eight years in Boston.  He spent the Lent of 1895 preaching and teaching in parishes in Baltimore, despite the fact that his high churchmanship  had prompted critical comments by William Paret, the Bishop of Maryland from 1884 to 1911.  Benson returned to England, where he remained for the last 16 years of his life.  He took communion every morning.  When he could no longer walk to take communion, someone pushed him in a wheelchair.  Benson died on January 14, 1915.

Benson wrote much.  Searches at archive.org yielded the following results:

CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, PART II

Grafton returned to the United States in 1872.  He became the Rector of the Church of the Advent, Boston, Massachusetts, an Anglo-Catholic parish.  Grafton also left the S.S.J.E. due to a jurisdictional dispute regarding Benson.  Grafton did, however, help to found the American Congregation of St. Benedict, now the Benedictine Order of St. John the Beloved.  Then, in 1888, he, with Mother Ruth Margaret, founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity.

In 1888 the Diocese of Fond du Lac elected Grafton to become its bishop.  The consecration occurred on August 25, 1889.  Bishop Grafton expanded the diocese.  He did this via two financial channels–his wealth and the wealth of people in the East whom he persuaded to contribute.  Nevertheless, perhaps Grafton’s most memorable moment occurred in 1900, at the consecration of Bishop Coadjutor Reginald Heber Weller.  Grafton, an ecumenist with strong interest in ties to Old Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, invited distinguished guests to participate in the consecration of Bishop Weller.  Bishop Antoni Kazlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church and Bishop Tikhon (now St. Tikhon) of the Russian Orthodox Church joined Episcopal bishops in the conscration of Weller.  The ecumenical breadth of bishops offended many Protestant-minded Episcopalians, who also objected to the photograph of all the bishops in full episcopal regalia.  The sight of Episcopal bishops in copes and mitres was a cause of much ecclesiastical controversy.  In time the scandal of the “Fond du Lac Circus” died down.

Grafton died on August 30, 1912.  Two years later Cathedral Editions of his complete works (Volumes I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII) debuted in print.

CHARLES GORE

Charles Gore was sui generis–of his own kind.  He was a liberal–a social radical, even–yet many theological radicals considered him to be too conservative.  Gore valued tradition yet many traditionalists thought he was too liberal.  He was an Anglo-Catholic yet many Anglo-Catholics considered him to be insufficiently Anglo-Catholic.  Others expected him to fit into a round hole, but he was a gloriously square peg.

Gore, a native of Wimbledon, London, the United Kingdom, came from a privileged family.  His privilege continued as he studied at Harrow then at Baillol College, Oxford.  In 1875 he became a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.  He, a deacon in 1876 and a priest in 1878, served as the Vice Principal of the theological school at Cuddesdon from 1880 to 1883.  Next he was the first Principal of Pusey House, Oxford, from 1884 to 1893.

Gore was a popular preacher.  He served as the Incumbent of Radley from 1893 to 1894 before becoming the Canon of Westminster in 1894.  Sundays on which he preached were much-anticipated days for many people.

In 1887 Gore founded the Society of the Resurrection, which became the Community of the Resurrection five years later.  The new order started with six priests, and our saint served as the first Superior (1892-1901).

Gore became a bishop in 1902.  He served as the Bishop of Worcester (1902-1905), the Bishop of Birmingham (1895-1911), and the Bishop of Oxford (1911-1919).  He retired to London in 1919.  Our saint wrote and preached a great deal, lectured at King’s College, and served as the Dean of the theological faculty of London University (1924-1928).  He died of pneumonia on January 17, 1932, after returning from a trip to India.  Gore was 78 years old.

Gore’s theology included much room for ambiguity.  He embraced higher criticism of the Bible, allowing for the realities of science and history, yet he insisted on the veracity of biblical miracles and the truth of the Church’s ancient creeds.  Nevertheless, some traditionalists questioned our saint’s Christology, especially when he argued that Jesus, as God incarnate, had taken on human limitations to his knowledge.

Gore favored a reasoning faith, a synthesis of critical reason and Christian faith.  He called this synthesis liberal Catholicism.  (Note the lowercase “l” in “liberal,” O reader, for that is crucial.  There is such a thing as Liberal Catholicism, with strong Theosophical influences.  Gore was hardly a Theosophist.)  Gore’s liberal Catholicism included defenses of apostolic succession and support for tradition.  It did not, however, follow tradition blindly, for it accommodated reason, science, and history.  As Ross Mackenzie wrote of our saint in the Christian Passages section of The Episcopal Church’s Education for Ministry, Year Three (1991),

Catholicism meant for him the establishment of a visible society that is the home of salvation.  But it must be a liberal Catholicism, appealing to scripture, antiquity, and reason in its concern for liberty, equality, and fraternity, “real expressions,” he said, “of the divine wisdom for today.”

–Page 493

This Social Gospel aspect of Gore’s theology found expression regarding many issues.  Sound theology, he insisted, must translate into positive social action.  In 1889 he helped to found the Christian Social Union, an outgrowth of Tractarian social concern.  Gore criticized imperialism, including that of his own nation-state.  He also advocated for international reconciliation after World War I.  The passage of time has confirmed that Germany suffered due to the ravages of the Great War and to vengeful treaty provisions, leading to high levels of resentment.  Nazis fed off that sense of grievance as well as other factors.  The article of the article on Gore in Volume 10 of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1968) noted our saint’s concern with social issues such as housing, education, world peace, and industrial relations.  That author wrote that this concern flowed from Gore’s

fundamental theological conviction of the unity of grace and nature in the divine purpose.  From this premise he concluded that his pastoral office demanded the broadest concern for human welfare as well as watchful care for the good order of the church.

–Page 583

Many works by Gore and some about him came to my attention when I searched at archive.org, my favorite website.  I have divided these works into categories, the first of which is original works by Gore:

The second category is works to which Gore contributed:

The third category is books Gore edited:

The fourth category is works in which another person edited Gore’s words:

Finally, in its own category is a response to Gore:

EPILOGUE

The Synoptic Gospels tell a story about a wealthy young man.  In Mark 10:17-3, Matthew 19:16-30, and Luke 18:18-30, a rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  According to our Lord and Savior, this young man, who has kept certain commandments religiously, lacks one thing:

Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.

–Luke 18:22b, Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition (1966)

The young man leaves a sorrowful person, for he trusts in his wealth, not in God.

Richard Meux Benson, Charles Chapman Grafton, and Charles Gore came from backgrounds of economic privilege, but did not trust in that privilege.  No, they trusted in God.  They cared about the problems of the less fortunate and of those near and far, and acted accordingly.  They built up the Church, for the glory of God.  They were trees which produced good fruit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNA, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Gracious God, you have inspired a rich variety of ministries in your Church:

We give you thanks for Richard Meux Benson, Charles Chapman Grafton, and Charles Gore,

instruments in the revival of Anglican monasticism.

Grant that we, following their example,

may call for perennial renewal in your Church through conscious union with Christ,

witnessing to the social justice that is a mark of the reign of our Savior Jesus,

who is the light of the world; and who lives and reigns with you

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

1 Kings 19:9-12

Psalm 27:5-11

1 John 4:7-12

John 17:6-11

–Altered from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 171

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Feast of William John Copeland (August 25)   Leave a comment

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM JOHN COPELAND (SEPTEMBER 1, 1804-AUGUST 25, 1885)

Anglican Priest and Hymn Translator

O Christ, who art the Light and Day,

Thou drivest night and gloom away;

O Light of light, whose Word doth show

The light of heav’n to us below.

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All holy Lord, in humble prayer,

We ask tonight Thy watchful care.

O grant us calm repose in Thee,

A quiet night, from perils free.

–Quoted in Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), Hymn #571

The translator of those stanzas (and five more) from an anonymous Latin text was William John Copeland (1804-1885).  He, son of William Copeland, a surgeon, entered the world at Chigwell, on September 1, 1804.  Our saint won the English Verse Prize at St. Paul’s School, London, in 1823, and the prize for the best Latin essay at the same institution the following year.  Copeland also studied at Trinity College, Oxford (B.A., 1829; M.A., 1831), of which he became a fellow then a dean.  Our saint took Holy Orders in The Church of England in 1829.  From 1829 to 1832 he was the Curate of Hackney.  1832 found him back at Oxford.  Then, from 1849 to 1885, Copeland served as the Rector of Farnham, Essex, and the Rural Dean of Newport.  He also served for a time as the Chaplain to the Bishop of St. Albans.

Copeland’s literary efforts consisted mostly of translating Latin hymns and of editing the sermons of John Henry Newman, for our saint was a High Church Anglican.  His Hymns for the Week, and Hymns for the Seasons, Translated from the Latin (1848) is available at archive.org, as are Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons (1868; Volumes I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII), Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (1869), and Selection Adapted to the Seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year; from the Parochial and Plain Sermons (1878), which Copeland edited.

Copeland died at Farnham, England, on August 25, 1885.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 16, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NORBERT OF XANTEN, FOUNDER OF THE PREMONSTRATENSIANS; SAINT HUGH OF FOSSES, SECOND FOUNDER OF THE PREMONSTRATENSIANS; AND SAINT EVERMOD, BISHOP OF RATZEBURG

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FREDERICK MARTIN, SR., AND CHARLES AUGUSTUS ZOEBISCH, GERMAN-AMERICAN INSTRUMENT MAKERS

THE FEAST OF JANANI LUWUM, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF UGANDA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SILVIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

William John Copeland and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

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Feast of Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin (October 19)   3 comments

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Above:  Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1921

J247993–U.S. Copyright Office

Image Source = Library of Congress

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PHILIP SCHAFF (JANUARY 1, 1819-OCTOBER 20, 1893)

and

JOHN WILLIAMSON NEVIN (FEBRUARY 20, 1803-JUNE 6, 1886)

U.S. German Reformed Historians, Theologians, and Liturgists

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Cardinal John Henry Newman, a famous convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, said that to understand church history is to cease to be a Protestant.  I understand why Cardinal Newman thought that, given his spiritual biography and the widespread neglect of Christian history among many Protestants during his lifetime, but that statement did not reflect the reality of Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin, who called the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A. (the Reformed Church in the United States from 1863 to 1934) away from its historical amnesia and indifference, Puritanism, Pietism, Revivalism, and Zwinglianism.  These men worked to take their denomination back to its roots in the Protestant Reformation, recovering its Reformed Eucharistic and liturgical heritage while renouncing anti-Roman Catholicism.

Philip Schaff, born on January 1, 1819, at Chur, Switzerland, attended the Universities of Tubingen, Halle, and Berlin.  He immigrated to the United States in 1843 to teach at the German Reformed Seminary at Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  He, a church historian, championed the subject at a time when many U.S. Evangelicals had little use for it.  Nevertheless, Schaff argued that Protestantism stood in continuity with Medieval Roman Catholicism, not Pauline Christianity.  He advocated taking the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A. back to the liturgical and Eucharistic theology of John Calvin.  In contrast, the dominant influences in the denomination at the time were Puritanism, Pietism, Revivalism, and Zwinglianism, the latter with its memorial meal theology of the Lord’s Supper.  For his trouble Schaff faced a heresy trial in 1845.  The tribunal dismissed all charges unanimously.

Schaff’s theological partner in the Mercersburg Theology was John Williamson Nevin, born on February 20, 1803, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  Nevin, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, was originally a Presbyterian.  He, graduated from Union College in 1821 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1828, received his license to preach in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. that year.  From 1830 to 1840 he taught Biblical literature at the former Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  Then Nevin, dissatisfied with the Puritanical influences in the Presbyterian Church, left for the German Reformed Church and became a Professor of Theology at the Mercersburg seminary (1840-1851) and President of the former Marshall College (1841-1853).

A mighty dragon Schaff and Nevin had to combat as part of their effort to recover historical awareness and renew liturgical life in the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A. was anti-Roman Catholicism.  As Frank C. Senn wrote:

In America, Protestant liturgical recovery in the nineteenth century not only went up against Puritanism, Pietism, and Revivalism, but also against that cultural-political expression of anti-Catholic bigotry known as “Know-Nothingism.”

Christian Liturgy:  Catholic and Evangelical (Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 1997), page 581

There was, in the middle of the 1800s, a political party known variously as the Native American Party, American Republican Party, or simply the American Party, but informally as the “Know-Nothing Party,” devoted to xenophobia and opposition to Roman Catholicism, notably Roman Catholic immigrants.  The list of people they liked consisted of other bigoted Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

Our saints sought to revive not only the Continental European Reformed liturgical tradition (that of service books) in the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A., but the Calvinistic Eucharistic theology of the non-localized mystical presence of Christ in the sacrament.  Toward that end Nevin wrote The Mystical Presence:  A Vindication of the Calvinistic Doctrine of the Eucharist (1846).  Nevin, who considered the Lord’s Supper to be “the very heart of the whole Christian worship,” was, like Schaff, more traditional than those who considered them heretics and innovators.  Nevin and Schaff were closer to the Reformed traditions than were Pietists, Revivalists, and Puritans.

Ironically, as late as 1861, Schaff, who was busy resisting anti-Roman Catholic bigotry, had yet to slay racism inside himself.  That year he wrote Slavery and the Bible, the contents of which were–and remain–indefensible.  He was ahead of his time in some ways yet sadly of it in others.  I include this detail for the sake of thoroughness and honesty.

Schaff and Nevin belonged to the committee which produced A Liturgy:  or, Order of Christian Worship (1857), for provisional use in the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A.  In 1866 it became official as An Order of Worship for the Reformed Church.  Nevin wrote the Vindication of of the Revised Liturgy, Historical and Theological (1867) to defend against charges of “Romanizing tendencies”  Such allegations prompted the (Dutch) Reformed Church in America to terminate (for a time) relations with the German Reformed Church/Reformed Church in the United States in the late 180os.

Schaff’s career from 1863 to 1893 was as follows:

  1. Chairman of the Sabbath Committee, New York City, 1863-1870;
  2. Chair of Christian Encyclopedia and Symbolism, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, 1870-1873;
  3. Professor of Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary, 1874-1887; and
  4. Professor of Church History, Union Theological Seminary, 1887-1893.

During his career Schaff added many other impressive accomplishments to this already mostly auspicious list.  A partial enumeration follows:

  1. He edited the twenty-five volumes of the English-language translation of Johann Peter Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (1865-1880), available at archive.org.
  2. Schaff published a hymnal, Christ in Song:  Songs of Immanuel (1869) and co-edited a second hymnal, Hymns and Songs of Praise for Public and Social Worship (1874).
  3. He edited German and Latin hymns into English.  Among these was “O Bread of Life from Heaven.”
  4. Schaff edited Volumes I, II, and III of The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1882-1884).
  5. He wrote the eight-volume History of the Christian Church (1882-1892).  His son, Presbyterian minister and scholar David Schley Schaff (1852-1941), revised those volumes and added two more.
  6. Schaff published Volumes I, II, and III of The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes (1877).
  7. He published the fourteen volumes of A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (1886-1890), available at archive.org.
  8. Schaff founded the American Society of Church History in 1884.
  9. He served as President of the American Revision Committee, thereby contributing to the American Standard Version of the Bible (1901), from which other translations have sprung directly and indirectly.  These include the Revised Standard Version (1946/1952), its 1971 revision, its two Catholic editions (1965 and 2002), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), its Roman Catholic edition (1993), the New American Standard Bible (1971/1977) and its updated edition (1995), the Living Bible (1969/1971), its Roman Catholic edition (1972), the New Living Translation (1996/2004), and the English Standard Version (2001).

Schaff, who died at New York City on October 20, 1893, worked for church unity.  His Reformed theology of ecumenism led him to oppose both Papal Infallibility and the Anglican/Episcopalian Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.  The inclusion of Apostolic Succession in the latter troubled him.  He was correct, however, that Papal Infallibility functions as an obstacle to Christian unity.

Schaff left an impressive literary and scholarly legacy.  Among its other components were:

  1. The Principle of Protestantism as Related to the Present State of the Church (1845);
  2. The Life and Labors of St. Augustine:  A Historical Sketch (1854);
  3. The Oldest Manual Called the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles:  The Didache and Kindred Documents in the Original (1855);
  4. The Moral Character of Christ; or the Perfection of Christ’s Humanity, a Proof of His Divinity (1861);
  5. A Catechism for Sunday Schools and Families in Fifty-Two Lessons, with Proof-Texts and Notes (1862; revised in 1880);
  6. The Harmony of the Reformed Confessions as Related to the Present State of Evangelical Theology (1877);
  7. Through Bible Lands:  Notes on Travel in Egypt, the Desert, and Palestine (1878);
  8. A Dictionary of the Bible (First Edition, 1880; Second Edition, 1881; Third Edition, 1885, Fourth Edition, 1887);
  9. A Library of Religious Poetry (1881);
  10. A Companion to the Greek New Testament and the English Version (1883);
  11. Church and State in the United States, or the American Idea of Religious Liberty and Its Practical Effects, with Official Documents (1888);
  12. The Progress of Religion as Shown in the History of Toleration Acts (1889); and
  13. The Renaissance:  The Revival of Learning and Art in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1891).

Nevin taught history at the merged Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1861 to 1866 then served as the President for a decade.  He died at Lancaster on June 6, 1886.  He also left a written legacy, which included, apart from The Mystical Presence (1846), the 1857/1866 German Reformed Liturgy, and the Vindication (1867) thereof, the following:

  1. A Summary of Biblical Antiquities:  Compiled for the Use of Sunday-School Teachers, and for the Benefit of Families, Volumes I and II (1829);
  2. The Scourge of God (1832);
  3. The Anxious Bench (First Edition, 1843; Second Edition, 1844); in German here;
  4. History and Genius of the Heidelberg Catechism (1847);
  5. A Summary of Biblical Antiquities; for the Use of Schools, Bible-Classes, and Families (1849);
  6. Man’s True Destiny (1853); and
  7. Christian Hymnology (1856);
  8. Life and Character of Frederick Augustus Rauch, First President of Marshall College (1859).

Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin were giants in the Church.  Those of us who pursue interests in ecclesiastical history and/or liturgy stand on their shoulders.  Certainly those from the Reformed tradition who encourage proper Eucharistic practice and better liturgy stand on their broad shoulders.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEASTS OF PHILIP EVANS AND JOHN LLOYD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE TEAGUE CASE, PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLAF II OF SWEDEN, KING AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SUSANNA WESLEY, MOTHER OF METHODISM

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Philip SchaffJohn Williamson Nevin, and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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