Archive for the ‘Monophysitism’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius (December 2)   8 comments

Above:  The Roman Empire in 565

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HORMISDAS (DIED AUGUST 6, 523)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 6

father of

SAINT SILVERIUS (DIED DECEMBER 2, 537)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 537

Alternative feast day = June 20

Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius, father and son, had to contend with imperial and international politics.  The Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, wanted to retake Italy.  The Ostrogothic kings of Italy disagreed.

St. Hormisdas was a reconciler.  He, a married layman prior to ordination, worked closely with Pope St. Symmachus (in office 498-514).  St. Symmachus had a rival, the antipope Lawrence (498-499, 501-506; died 507 or 508).  The schism led to years of violence in the streets of Rome.  St. Symmachus had permitted Lawrence to retire.  St. Hormisdas, elected to succeed St. Symmachus on July 20, 514, completed the healing by welcoming the remaining, hardcore supporters of Lawrence back into the fold.

St. Hormisdas also ended the Acacian Schism (484-519).  In 584, Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, had compromised regarding Chalcedonian Christology.  He had omitted the doctrine that Jesus had two natures–human and divine.  This was a way of assuaging Monophysites, who thought that Jesus had only a divine nature.  Pope St. Felix III (II) (in office 483-492) had excommunicated Acacius.  For decades the church was split, East and West.  The accession of Emperor Justin I (reigned 518-527), a Chalcedonian Christian, created the opportunity for reunion.  That reunion also had a political purpose; Justin I and his nephew, Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565), wanted Italy back.  Ecclesiastical reunification helped imperial reconquest.

St. Hormisdas, who commissioned St. Dionysius Exiguus (circa 500-circa 550) to translate the canons of the Greek Church into Latin, died on August 6, 523.

The next Bishops of Rome were:

  1. St. John I (August 13, 523-May 10, 526),
  2. St. Felix IV (III) (July 12, 526-September 22, 530),
  3. Boniface II (September 22, 530-October 17, 532),
  4. John II (January 2, 533-May 8, 535), and
  5. St. Agapitus I (May 13, 535-April 22, 536).

There was also an antipope, Dioscorus, briefly (September 22-October 14, 530).

St. Agapitus I died in Constantinople on April 22, 536.  He had displeased Empress Theodora, a Monophysite, by deposing Anthimus, the (Monophysite) Patriarch of Constantinople.  Theodora wanted Antimus restored to his office.  She offered a quid pro quo to the nuncio, deacon Vigilius; she would make him the Pope if he, as the Bishop of Rome, would restore Anthimus to office.  Vigilius agreed then returned to Rome.

Vigilius arrived too late.  Theodahad (reigned 534-536), the last Ostrogothic king of Italy, had already forced the election of subdeacon St. Silverius, son of St. Hormisdas, on June 8, 536.  The new Pope never had a chance, for he was a pawn of one leader and the target of another.

Imperial forces occupied Rome on December 10, 536.  St. Silverius and the Roman Senate, seeking to prevent bloodshed, urged the citizens to surrender to the Roman Army.  Meanwhile, the Ostrogothic Army beseiged the city.  St. Silverius, framed via forged documents, was, according to Imperial authorities, cooperating with the Ostrogoths.  Theodora orchestrated the removal of St. Silverius from office on March 11, 537.  Vigilius became the next Pope on March 29.

St. Silverius, a prisoner, became a monk and an exile at Patara, Lycia, Anatolia.  The local bishop interceded on his behalf with Justinian I, who ordered a fair trial and the return of St. Silverius to Rome.  The result of an acquittal would be restoration to the See of Rome; the result of a conviction would be reassignment to a different see.  None of that came to pass, however.  Vigilius sent agents to St. Silverius; they forced his abdication on November 11, 537.  Our saint, having never returned to Rome, died of starvation and other hardships on December 2, 537.

Vigilius engaged in political conflicts with Justinian I and Theodora during his tenure, which ended with death by natural causes (gall stones) on June 7, 555.  He had been unpopular in life.  He remained so in death.

Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius manifested reconciling spirits and concern for people.  St. Silverius did his best, but others had plans for him.  He was faithful to the end, starving in exile.

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God of shalom, we thank you for the reconciling spirit of St. Hormisdas

and the commitment unto death of St. Silverius, Bishops of Rome.

May we also lead conciliatory lives and be willing, if necessary,

to remain faithful unto persecution, ill treatment, and martyrdom,.

May the light of your love shine through us no matter what,

so that we may live and die as agents of divine grace.

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

Tobit 3:1-6

Psalm 2

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AUGUSTUS SEISS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES COFFIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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Feast of St. Peter Chrysologus (July 30)   2 comments

Above:  The Roman Empire in 450 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS (406-DECEMBER 2, 450)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Ravenna and Defender of Orthodoxy

Alternative feast day = July 31

Former feast day = December 4

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Anyone who wishes to dance with the devil cannot rejoice with Christ.

–St. Peter Chrysologus

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St. Peter Chrysologus, or the “Golden-Worded,” was a renowned preacher and an opponent of the Arian and Monophysite heresies.  He, born in Imola, Italy, in 406, was a protégé of Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, who baptized, educated, and ordained him.  St. Peter became the Bishop of Ravenna in 433.  (Ravenna was the capital of the Roman Empire at the time.)  Immediately he won the favor and patronage of the Empress Aelia Galla Placidia (c. 390-450), half-sister of Emperor Honorius (reigned 395-423), wife of the Emperor Constantius III (reigned 421), and the mother of the Emperor Valentinian III (reigned 425-455), and the Regent from 425 to 437.  The Empress Regent financed the construction of several beautiful churches in Ravenna.  St. Peter, known for his piety, defended the doctrine of the Incarnation against Arians and Monophysites.  He died on December 2, 450.

Many of the homilies bearing our saint’s name came from other people.

Pope Benedict XIII declared St. Peter a Doctor of the Church in 1729.  Thus our saint joined the elite club among Roman Catholic saints, receiving recognition as a great theologian defined by sanctity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Saint Peter Chrysologus,

and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge

of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus,

our Savior and Lord, who lies and reigns with you and

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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

Above:  Map of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in 1850

Image in the Public Domain

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

Roman Catholic Missionary Bishop in Ethiopia

Also known as Saint Giustino de Jacobis

His feast transferred from July 31

converted

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

Ethiopian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Also known as Ghébre-Michael

Alternative feast day = September 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) wrote,

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF ROGER SCHÜTZ, FOUNDER OF THE TAIZÉ COMMUNITY

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

Saint Justin de Jacobis and Blessed Michael Ghebre,

who made the good news known in Ethiopia.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Feast of Sts. Flavian and Anatolius of Constantiople, St. Agatho, St. Leo II, and St. Benedict II (July 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT FLAVIAN OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED AUGUST 449)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast transferred from February 17

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SAINT ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 300S-458)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast = July 3

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SAINT AGATHO (DIED JANUARY 10, 681)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT LEO II (DIED JULY 3, 683)

Bishop of Rome

His feast = July 3

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SAINT BENEDICT II (DIED MAY 8, 685)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from May 7

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DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

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INTRODUCTION

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Sometimes the most effective way to tell the story of a saint’s life or a portion thereof is to include other saints.  This generalization applies to St. Anatolius of Constantinople and St. Leo II, who have separate feasts on this day, according to the Roman Catholic calendar.

These five saints lived in times when theological debates were political.  Christological disputes were matters of imperial policy, frequently with negative consequences for those who opposed the Emperor at Constantinople.

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PATRIARCHS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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St. Flavian of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople from 446 to 449, opposed monophysitism, the heresy that Jesus had just one nature–divine.  The Patriarch excommunicated Eutyches, the founder of that heresy.  Eutyches had political allies, though.  He managed to turn Dioscorus, the Bishop of Alexandria, to his side.  Thus Dioscorus presided over the “Robber Council,” which acquitted Eutyches, condemned St. Flavian, and ended with Dioscorus and monks physically abusing St. Flavian, binding him in chains, and sending him into exile.  St. Flavian died in August 449.

St. Anatolius of Constantinople presided over the posthumous exoneration of St. Flavian.  St. Anatolius, born in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 300s, was a man who lived simply and aided the poor.  He also stood on the side of Christological orthodoxy.  In 431 he and his mentor, St. Cyril of Alexandria, who had ordained him to the diaconate, attended the Council of Ephesus, which affirmed that Christ had two natures, called St. Mary of Nazareth the Mother of God (not just the Mother of Christ), and therefore condemned the Nestorian heresy.  As the Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458) St. Anatolius attended the Council of Chalcedon (451), convened by Pope St. Leo I “the Great” (in office 440-461), which refuted the monophysite heresy.  That council also canonized St. Flavian of Constantinople.  St. Anatolius, who also composed liturgical hymns, experienced much political difficulty due to his orthodoxy.  He might even have been a martyr at the hands of heretics.

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BISHOPS OF ROME

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The monothysite heresy remained an issue into the seventh century.  Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV (reigned 668-685) had used the monothelitist heresy (that Jesus had just one will–divine) to maintain peace with the monophysites in his realm.  He decided to abandon that strategy.

Pope Donus (in office November 2, 676-April 11, 678) died.  His successor was St. Agatho, in office from June 27, 678, to January 10, 681.  St. Agatho, once a monk, was a Sicilian who knew Latin and Greek well.  In 678 St. Agatho received a letter (addressed to Donus) proposing a conference to discuss how many wills Jesus had and whether the churches should reunite.  The Pope agreed to the conference, but held synods in the West prior to the Third Council Constantinople (680-681).  The papal delegation carried a condemnation of monothelitism signed by 150 bishops, as well as a document affirming Rome as the custodian of the Christian faith.  The Third Council of Constantinople, with Constantine IV presiding, affirmed that Jesus had two wills and anathematized monothelitist leaders.

St. Agatho, a kind and cheerful man, died on January 10, 681, while the council was in progress.  His successor was St. Leo II, elected in January 681 yet not installed until August 17, 682, due to imperial politics.  Emperor Constantine IV delayed the ratification of St. Leo II’s election due to the process of ratifying the decrees of the council.  St. Leo II, during his brief papacy, ratified the decrees of the council and ordered their translation from Greek into Latin.  He also readmitted repentant former monothelitists to the Church.

St. Leo II, also a Sicilian, like his predecessor, was a cultured and eloquent man with a fine singing voice.  He, a patron of the poor, asserted papal control over the bishops of Ravenna, autonomous since 666.  St. Leo II died on July 3, 683, after less than a year as the Pope.

St. Benedict II was a gentle and humble man who cared for the poor also.  He, elected Pope in July 683, did not enter into that office until June 26, 684, due to Constantine IV delaying the ratification of the election.  St. Benedict II, a Roman, not a Sicilian, secured an agreement by which the Exarch of Ravenna ratified papal elections, thereby preventing such long delays between papal elections and installations.  The Pope died on May 8, 685, after less than a year in office.

The spirit of cooperation with Constantinople broke down during the reign of Emperor Justinian II (reigned 685-695, 705-711).

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CONCLUSION

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The challenges faithful Christians face vary, depending on who, when, and where one is.  One can study the lives of one’s ancient predecessors in the faith, ponder the challenges they confronted, and take comfort in the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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Almighty God, you have raise up faithful bishops of your church, including

Saint Flavian of Constantinople,

Saint Anatolius of Constantinople,

Saint Agatho,

Saint Leo II, and

Saint Benedict II,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their example and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Sts. Sylvia of Rome, Emiliana of Rome, Trasilla, and Gregory the Great (March 12)   4 comments

st-gregory-the-great

Above:  St. Gregory the Great

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SYLVIA OF ROME (CIRCA 515-CIRCA 592)

Ascetic

Also known as Saint Silvia of Rome

Her feast transferred from November 3

mother of

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

Bishop of Rome

His feast day = March 12

Alternative feast day = September 3

nephew of

SAINT EMILIANA OF ROME

Ascetic

Her feast transferred from September 3

sister of

SAINT TRASILLA 

Ascetic

Her feast transferred from December 24

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

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

565

Above:  The Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 565

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

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

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

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

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

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

that your people, being fruitful in every good work,

may receive the crown of glory that never fades away;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

1 Chronicles 25:1a, 6-8

Psalm 57:6-11

Colossians 1:28-2:3

Mark 10:42-45

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

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Feast of St. Simplicius (March 10)   Leave a comment

st-simplicius

Above:  St. Simplicius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SIMPLICIUS (DIED MARCH 10, 483)

Bishop of Rome

St. Simplicius and his immediate successors in the papacy had to contend with diplomatic difficulties and the overlapping monophysite heresy.  The native of Tivoli became the Bishop of Rome in 468.  He rejected an attempt by Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople from 472 to 489, to grant the See of Constantinople equivalency with the See of Rome.  St. Simplicius also refused to make peace with monophysitism (the heresy that Jesus had only a divine nature), as in the compromise Henoticon (482), which Acacius and the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno supported.  The Patriarch and the Emperor were also installing monophysite bishops in the East.  St. Simplicius resisted Acacius and Zeno, with little success.

The next Supreme Pontiff was St. Felix II (sometimes listed as St. Felix III), who reigned from 483 to 492 and great-grandfather of Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (reigned 590-604).  Felix was, according to J. N. D. Kelly, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 1986), intransient, harsh, and authoritarian.  In 484 St. Felix excommunicated Acacius, thereby causing the Acacian Schism (484-519).

Pope St. Gelasius I (reigned 492-496) defended the excommunication of Acacius and insisted on papal supremacy.

Pope Anastasius II (reigned 496-498) was somewhat conciliatory toward Acacius and his successor as the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Pope St. Symmachus (reigned 498-514) was, according to Emperor Anastasius I (reigned 491-519), an “illegally ordained” pontiff and a heretic–allegedly a Manichean, to be precise.  Anastasius eventually attempted reconciliation, but his letter arrived in Rome after St. Symmachus died.

Pope St. Hormisdas (reigned 514-523) presided over the end of the Acacian Schism.  The new emperor, Justin I (reigned 519-527), rejected monophysitism.  Also related to the end of the Acacian Schism were imperial designs to recover Italy.

These chapters in ecclesiastical history demonstrate the folly of uniting church and state.  The former suffers from that union more than the latter does.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS, “ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST,” AND HYMN WRITER; MENTOR OF SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENTIGERN, A.K.A. MUNGO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Saint Simplicius

to be a bishop in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister in your household

as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 719

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Feast of Blesseds Antonio Francesco Marzorati, Johannes Laurentius Weiss, and Michele Pro Fasoli (March 3)   Leave a comment

flag-of-ethiopia-1700s

Above:  Flag of Ethiopia, 1700s

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ANTONIO FRANCESCO MARZORATI (SEPTEMBER 10, 1670-MARCH 3, 1716)

BLESSED JOHANNES LAURENTIUS WEISS (JANUARY 4, 1675-MARCH 3, 1716)

BLESSED MICHELE PRO FASOLI (MAY 3, 1676-MARCH 3, 1716)

Franciscan Missionary Priests and Martyrs in Ethiopia

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Religious persecution comes in two varieties:  that of adherents of a faith by people outside of it and that of adherents of a faith by other adherents of it.  This post concerns the latter variety.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church stands apart from much of the rest of Christianity in certain regards, perhaps most notably with regard to its canon of scripture, which includes the books of Enoch and Jubilees, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 1 and 2 Esdras (as 3 and 4 Ezra), and 3 Maccabees.  The Ethiopian Orthodox canon also divides Proverbs into two books, with Proverbs 25-31 being Tasgas.  The Ethiopian Church also stands with certain other ancient denominations in its Monophysitism, the idea that Christ had only a divine nature. Although Vatican II changed the relationship of the Roman Catholic Church to the rest of Christianity, Holy Mother Church retains her definition of herself as the repository of the “fullness of faith” and the rest of us in Christianity have become “separated brethren.”  Although this is better than declaring that we are hellbound heretics, it is patronizing.  I, as an Episcopalian, do not lack the fullness of Christian faith.  Neither did I lack the fullness of Christian faith when I was a United Methodist, the context for the formation of my faith.

Monophysitism is a heresy, however.  Nevertheless, I have no reluctance in recognizing my Ethiopian Orthodox brethren as Christians.

In 1712 three Franciscan missionary priests–the Italian Antonio Francesco Marzorati and Michele Pro Fasoli, as well as the Bavarian Johannes Laurentius Weiss–arrived in Ethiopia.  Emperor Yostos (reigned 1711-1716) allowed them to teach, travel, and operate a small hospital, but not to preach.  The newly installed Emperor Dawit III (reigned 1716-1721) was openly hostile to the missionaries in his realm.  An ecclesiastical court declared our saints to be heretics and sentenced them to die by stoning at Gondar.  Marzorati, Fasoli, and Weiss could have saved their lives by renouncing their faith, but they chose not to do so.  They became martyrs, with a boy (whose name I have not found), who accompanied them, on March 3, 1716.

Pope John Paul II declared these three priests to be Venerables then Blesseds in 1988.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN KONRAD WILHELM LOEHE, BAVARIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND COORDINATOR OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS NARCISSUS, ARGEUS, AND MARCELLINUS OF TOMI, ROMAN MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ODILO OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SABINE BARING-GOULD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants

Blessed Antonio Francesco Marzorati,

Blessed Johannes Laurentius Weiss,

and Blessed Michele Pro Fasoli,

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ

before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason  for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 713

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