Above: Superman on Diversity, 1949
Confirmed here: http://www.snopes.com/superman-1950-poster-diversity/
I tend not to be shy about expressing myself on my weblogs. Usually I make comments in the context of a particular saint, some passage of scripture, or a theological or ethical principle that comes to mind because of that saint or scripture. This post belongs to a different category–thoughts that simply occupy my mind.
Xenophobia, nativism, racism, and homophobia are sins. They violate the highest principles of ethical monotheism and the ideals of the United States, as well as mere human decency. These four sins are also endemic in human history and current events. Holding up ideals is far easier than living according to them, after all. Fear–not the variety that prevents one from touching a hot stove, but the sort that leads to hatred and flows from misunderstanding–is ever with us. It leads us to deny our fellow human beings the civil rights God has granted them. Even worse, we frequently engage in these sins while justifying them with religion.
May we respect the image of God in each other. May we love one another as we love ourselves. May we eschew bigotry.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
APRIL 18, 2017 COMMON ERA
Above: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI (JULY 15, 1850-DECEMBER 22, 1917)
Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Her feast transferred from November 13
Francesca Savierio Cabrini, born at Sant’Angelo, Lodigiano, Italy, on July 15, 1850, became a great champion of emigrants and immigrants. She, the youngest of thirteen children, grew up on a farm and trained at a convent to become a teacher. At the age of 18 years she tried to become a nun, but her health prevented that effort from succeeding. Our saint taught at the House of Providence Orphanage for girls (closed in 1880) at Cadogono, Italy, for six years. Finally, in 1877, she was able to take her monastic vows. Three years later Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, dedicated to the care of poor children in schools and hospitals.
Our saint aspired to become a missionary to Asia, as St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) had done. Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) had another idea, however. He sent her and six other members of the order to the United States, where an influx of Italian immigrants had led U.S. Roman Catholic bishops to request priests and religious from Italy. Italian immigrants were a despised population for a set of reasons:
- Most of them were Roman Catholics. The United States was a predominantly Protestant nation-state in which anti-Roman Catholicism was endemic and accepted. In various states in the late 1800s Blaine Amendments to constitutions prohibited the granting of public funds to parochial schools. The real target was Catholic schools, although the wording of the amendments applied to institutions of other denominations, ironically. And in 1884, at a rally for James G. Blaine, the Republican presidential nominee, a Presbyterian minister stated that Blaine would save the United States from the Democrats, the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” a reference to, in order, alcohol, Roman Catholicism, and the Civil War. Blaine was almost certainly unaware of that remark in real time, but his support for the failed federal constitutional Blaine Amendment that inspired state constitutional amendments made criticisms of him for being anti-Roman Catholic seem not unreasonable.
- Most of Italian immigrants were also poor. They competed with others, including many native-born Americans, for low-paying jobs. Economic insecurity has frequently contributed to opposition to immigration.
- They spoke Italian and needed to learn English. This was easier for some than it was for others. With the issue of language came the related issue of the culture the tongue from the old country carried. This was a point of controversy with regard to more than one ethnic group (i.e, Danes, Norwegians, Germans, Swedes) in the United States in previous generations. [Aside: It remains one today, mostly with regard to Hispanics. The other groups assimilated, as many Hispanics are doing. This year, for example, I have heard news stories about politicians having to appeal to Hispanic voters who do not speak Spanish.]
- Nativism and xenophobia have never ceased to exist in the United States, a country of immigrants and descendants thereof, since the founding of the republic. They have fed off the fact that immigration alters the country’s demographics, a reality that has proven frightening in the U.S.A. since the late 1700s. This has been evident in, for example, the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), the existence of the American Party (1843-1856), and the federal immigration law of 1924. [Aside: One can find evidence of nativism and xenophobia in contemporary social media and politics in many nation-states quite easily in 2016.]
Cabrini and her six companions arrived in New York City in 1889. Their first convent, if one could call it that, was a tenement unfit for human habitation. Archbishop Michael Corrigan, who initially thought this mission to slum-dwelling immigrants unsafe for the women, ordered them to return to Italy. Cabrini replied that Pope Leo XIII outranked him. In time the archbishop an advocate for and benefactor of the sisters’ work among the slum-dwelling immigrants. Cabrini remained in the United States for the rest of her life and became a naturalized citizen. She died of malaria at Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917. She was 67 years old. Our saint was responsible for the existence of 67 institutions–schools, hospitals, and orphanages–in Europe, North America, and South America.
The Roman Catholic Church moved relatively rapidly to recognize Cabrini formally. Pope Pius XI declared her a Venerable in 1937 and a Blessed the following year. Then, in 1946, Pope Pius XII canonized her.
Cabrini is the patron of emigrants, immigrants, orphans, hospital administrators, and victims of malaria. Her life invites to consider those who are vulnerable and those who are foreign to us. They bear the image of God also, her life reminds us. Will we act accordingly?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
AUGUST 14, 2016 COMMON ERA
PROPER 15: THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER
THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR
THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR
O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.
Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.
Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
—Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60
God our Father,
you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy
to serve the immigrants of America.
By her example teach us concern for the stranger,
the sick, and the frustrated.
By her prayers help us to see Christ
in all the men and women we meet.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), page 1318