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Feast of John Courtney Murray (August 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Vatican City

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY (SEPTEMBER 12, 1904-AUGUST 16, 1967)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

Robert Ellsberg, in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), lists John Courtney Murray as the saint for August 16.

Murray was perhaps the greatest U.S. Roman Catholic theologian of the twentieth century, for he helped to pave the way to the Second Vatican Council (1959-1965), in which he was involved.  Our saint, born in Queens, New York, New York, on September 12, 1904, became a Jesuit in 1920.  He graduated from Boston College (B.S., 1926; M.A., 1927) then taught Latin and English literature at the Ateneo de Manila, The Philippines, from 1927 to 1930.  Murray, ordained a priest in 1933, graduated from the Gregorian University, Rome, four years later.  In 1940 he joined the faculty of the Jesuit college at Woodstock, Maryland.  The following year Murray became the editor of Theological Studies, a Jesuit journal.

Murray had liberalized by the late 1940s, when his theological writing attracted much attention.  Our saint argued, for example, that there was salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church.  he also contradicted Pope Pius IX, who, in the 1800s, had argued that constitutional government and Roman Catholicism were incompatible.  The Church had contended that

error enjoys no rights,

a justification for the rejection of religious toleration and for the union of church and state.  Murray countered that Roman Catholicism and religious pluralism were indeed compatible.  The Vatican silenced him in 1954, but our saint wrote in private.

Murray’s influence was evident in Vatican II.  Cardinal Francis Spellman took him to the Council.  On November 19, 1963, Murray completed the first draft of the Declaration on Religious Freedom, the final draft of which the Council approved in 1965.  Chapter 1 of the Declaration begins:

This Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom.  This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wist that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a matter contrary to his own beliefs.  Nor is anyone to be forced to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The Synod further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person, as this dignity is known through the revealed Word of God and by reason itself.  This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed.  Thus it is to become a civil right.

–Quoted in Walter M. Abbott, S. J., ed. The Documents of Vatican II (New York:  Guild Press, 1966), 678-679

The Declaration, in its final form, was the result of vigorous debates.  The document was also a profound theological statement and a turning point in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

Murray died of a heart attack in New York City on August 16, 1967.  He was nearly 63 years old.

I have added some other Modernist Roman Catholic theologians to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  They died prior to Vatican II, however, and some spent their final years as excommunicated persons.  Murray, unlike them, not only lived long enough to witness the vindicating revolution, but helped to make it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ADOLPHUS NELSON, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRANCK, HEINRICH HELD, AND SIMON DACH, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MASSIE, HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BINGHAM TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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

and 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 John Courtney Murray,

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 lives 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. Maximilian Kolbe and Jonathan Myrick Daniels (August 14)   6 comments

 

 

Above:  Kolbe and Daniels

Images in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE (JANUARY 7, 1894-AUGUST 14, 1941)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest, and Martyr, 1941

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JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS (MARCH 20, 1939-AUGUST 20, 1965)

Episcopal Seminarian, and Martyr, 1965

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For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more.

–St. Maximilian Kolbe

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…in the only sense that really matters I am dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God.

–Jonathan Myrick Daniels, August 1965

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INTRODUCTION

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By coincidence, on separate calendars, the feasts of Jonathan Myrick Daniels and St. Maximilian Kolbe, martyrs from different times and places, yet with much in common, fall on the same day.  August 14 is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe in the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and much of the Anglican Communion.  The Lutheran calendars pair Kolbe with Kaj Munk (d. 1944), a Danish Lutheran minister, playwright, and martyr.  The Episcopal Church celebrates the life of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a seminarian from New Hampshire who died in Alabama in 1965.  August 14 is the anniversary of his arrest in Lowndes County, Alabama, while picketing whites-only businesses.

Both saints had much in common.  Kolbe was a priest; Daniels was studying for the priesthood.  Each man acted out of his faith, informed by Jesus and St. Mary of Nazareth.  Each saint died resisting institutional racism–in Kolbe’s case, genocidal racism.  Each man died voluntarily so that another person might live.

Merging these feasts on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days makes sense.

Before I proceed with biographies, some housekeeping is in order.  First, this post depends primarily on four books:

  1. Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997);
  2. Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge:  America in the King Years, 1965-68 (2006);
  3. Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010); and
  4. A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).

Second, sometimes historians and biographers quote statements they consider execrable.  Paraphrasing such statements would not flesh out the description of circumstances and settings as well as quoting does.  In the Daniels section of this post I quote some execrable, racist, even profane statements.  I make no excuse for doing so, nor should I have to do so.  Any reader who does not know that I disapprove of those statements and the sentiments behind them should pay closer attention.

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SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE

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Raymond Kolbe came from a devout family.  He, born at Zdunska Wola, Russian Empire, on January 7, 1894, was a son of Marianne Dabrowska and Julius Kolbe, weavers who worked at home.  Eventually Julius operated a religious bookstore and fought for Polish independence.  Russian authorities executed him as a traitor in 1914.  (Empires disapprove of wars of independence.)  In time Marianne became a Benedictine nun.  Alphonse, Raymond’s brother, became a priest.  Raymond was a wild child for a while.  In 1906, however, the twelve-year-old reported a vision of St. Mary of Nazareth.  In it she offered him the white crown of purity and the red crown of martyrdom.  He accepted both.

Raymond continued his studies.  He matriculated at the Franciscan junior seminary, Lwow, in 1907; there he was an attentive student of physics and mathematics.  He felt a call to military life, but the call of God was stronger.  On September 4, 1910, the sixteen-year-old Raymond Kolbe became a Franciscan novice and took the name Maximilian.  He made his first vows on September 5, 1911, and his final vows on November 1, 1914.  Meanwhile our saint studied philosophy at the Gregorian College, Rome (1912-1915).  Next Kolbe studied theology at the Collegio Serafico, Rome (1915-1919).  He, ordained a priest at Rome in April 1918, received his doctorate in theology on July 22, 1922.

Kolbe and six friends founded the Knights of Mary Immaculate on October 16, 1917, in Rome.  The Knights promoted devotion to St. Mary, the Mother of God, as well as evangelism.  Kolbe took this evangelism as far as India and Japan, founding monasteries, radio stations, newspapers, and a journal.  He did all this despite his consistently poor health; he suffered from tuberculosis occasionally.  Failing health forced our saint to focus on ministry in Poland, starting in 1936.

The invasion and partition of Poland in September 1939 made matters worse for Kolbe.  The Gestapo targeted the Roman Catholic Church, including the Knights of Mary Immaculate.  Nazis dispersed the order in Poland.  Monasteries of the order had sheltered Jews.  Kolbe became a prisoner of the Third Reich in February 1941.  He arrived at Auschwitz in May.

At Auschwitz Kolbe endured much.  He continued to suffer from tuberculosis, the labor was intentionally hard, and guards abused him.  Through it all our saint was a faithful priest, ministering to other prisoners, hearing their confessions, and conducting Masses.

The escape of a prisoner in July 1941 led to Kolbe’s martyrdom.  Policy held that, whenever a prisoner escaped, guards executed ten prisoners.  One of the ten prisoners selected to die that day was Francis Gajowniczek, who protested that he, a husband and a father, did not want to leave his family behind.  Kolbe volunteered to take Gajowniczek’s place.  After three weeks of starvation and dehydration, our saint died of an injection of carbolic acid.

The Church recognized Kolbe.  Pope Paul VI declared him a Venerable in 1969 then a Blessed in 1971.  Pope John Paul II canonized Kolbe as a martyr of charity in 1982.  Gajowniczek was present at the ceremony.

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JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS

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The Episcopal Church added Jonathan Myrick Daniels to its calendar of saints in 1991.  The Church, in doing so, fast tracked him, for the usual waiting time has been at least fifty years or two generations after someone has died.  Other ecclesiastical recognitions of Daniels have occurred at Canterbury Cathedral, where he and Martin Luther King, Jr., are the only Americans recognized in the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time, and at Washington National Cathedral, where he is one of the heroes in the Hall of Heroes.  His alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, has also honored him with the Daniels Courtyard and a plaque bearing a quote from his valedictory address of 1961:

I wish you the decency and the nobility of which you are capable.

For more than twenty years there has been an annual Jonathan Daniels and the Martyrs of Alabama Pilgrimage in Hayneville, Alabama, each August.  The tradition has been to begin at the Lowndes County courthouse, walk to the old jail and the store where Daniels died, and to conclude with Holy Eucharist in the courtroom in which a jury acquitted his murderer.

Daniels, a Yankee, died in Alabama.  He, born in Keene, New Hampshire, on March 20, 1939, was a child of language teacher Constance Weaver Daniels and obstetrician Philip Brock Daniels.  Our saint grew up a Congregationalist, but he converted to The Episcopal Church during high school.  He graduated first in his class from Virginia Military Institute in 1961 then pursued graduate studies in literature at Harvard University.  On Easter Sunday 1962, at the Church of the Advent, Boston, Daniels resolved to study for the priesthood.  He matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the following year.  He was on track to graduate in 1966.  Then came the events at Selma, Alabama, in March 1965.

In March 1965 civil rights protests at Selma, Alabama, were prominent in the news.  Martin Luther King, Jr., made a televised appeal for people to travel to Selma to march for the right to vote.  At Evening Prayer at Cambridge the words of the Magnificat confirmed Daniels’s sense to calling to go to Selma.  He and ten other seminarians from Cambridge flew there on March 9, 1965.  Daniels thought he would remain for just a few days, but he changed his mind.  That was the first of three visits.

With permission Daniels took time off from seminary to work for civil rights in Alabama.  He and Judith Upham, another seminarian, returned to Selma late in March.  They, sponsored by the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity, lived with African-American host families at the Carver Homes Apartments.  Daniels and Upham also took residents of these apartments to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Selma, integrating it, thereby causing much controversy.  On Palm Sunday one parishioner confronted the African Americans and called them

You goddamn scum.

County judge (and chief usher at St. Paul’s Church) Bernard Reynolds told Daniels and Upham that they were welcome at the parish, but that their

nigger trash

were not.  Daniels wrote,

There are moments when I’d like to get a high-powered rifle and take to the woods, but more and more I am beginning to feel that ultimately the revolution to which I am committed is the way of the cross.

Daniels, when asked on Easter Sunday 1965 why he was integrating St. Paul’s Church, explained,

We are trying to live the Gospel.

Reality dictated that the seminarians return to Cambridge to complete their academic work for the term.  They had tests to take and papers to submit.  Daniels, after completing those tasks, returned (sans Upham, who was fulfilling a seminary obligation) to Selma on July 8.  By then he was contemplating pursuing ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood instead of the Episcopal priesthood.  In Selma Daniels had found a mentor, Father Maurice Ouellet, a pastor to African Americans.  Soon, however, Archbishop Thomas Toolen banished Ouellet to Vermont.  Daniels’s presence more than irritated Frank Matthews, the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, as well as Charles Carpenter, the Episcopal Bishop of Alabama.  Once Carpenter had had a reputation as being liberal (certainly by Alabama standards) on matters of race, but his public conduct during the Civil Rights Movement tarnished his reputation.  He had been one of the moderate white clergymen to whom King had addressed the seminal Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963).  Carpenter’s public position during the Civil Rights Movement belied his private, pro-civil rights activities, which he kept very quiet for political reasons.  His public statements and activities mattered, though.  Regarding Daniels, Carpenter wrote to Matthews:

If he is hanging around causing trouble, I think I will just have to write his bishop and tell him to take him on back to Seminary.

Daniels, who made no secret of his disapproval of Carpenter, just as Carpenter made no secret of his disapproval of Daniels, called African Americans his friends.  He lived among them and marched with them.  In Hayneville, in August, he marched with a group of African-American parents.  They had applied, under a freedom-of-choice school integration program, for their children to attend Hayneville High School.  Authorities had rejected those applications.  So the parents marched in protest.  When some hostile white people asked Daniels why he was doing this, he replied,

I’m with my friends.

Daniels also emphasized with white segregationists, in his words,

absorbing their guilt as well and suffering the cost which they might not even know was there to be paid.

For Daniels racism was a sin and Christian ethics mandated civil rights.  Segregationists, not evil, needed to repent.

Police arrested a group of 30 protesters, including Daniels, Father Richard Morrisroe (a Roman Catholic priest from Chicago), and Ruby Sales (Daniels’s friend and a 17-year-old African American who had marched at Selma), at Fort Deposit, Alabama, on August 14, 1965.  The protesters had been picketing whites-only businesses.  For six days the prisoners endured substandard conditions.  They had no opportunities to shower, the food was inedible, and the toilets in the cells backed up routinely, spilling their contents onto the floors.  Release came on August 20, when the temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  There was no transportation back to Selma, so they had to walk.

Tom Coleman was a road construction supervisor and a part-time deputy sheriff in Lowndes County, Alabama.  He was standing inside Varner’s Cash Store when Daniels et al, thirsty and unarmed, approached.  Coleman told them,

The store is closed.  Get off this property or I’ll blow your goddamned heads off!

Then Coleman aimed for Sales.  Daniels, however, pushed her out of the way and took the bullet, dying immediately.  Next Coleman shot Father Morrisroe, wounding him seriously.  Then the shooter drove to the sheriff’s office, from which he called his son, a state trooper.  Coleman told his son and the son’s superior,

I just shot two preachers.  You better get on down here.

Morrisroe survived after a surgery that lasted for 11 hours.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson summoned federal forces to arrange for the delivery of Daniels’s corpse to New Hampshire, where the family held the funeral.  There was no memorial service for our saint at St. Paul’s Church, Selma; that was fine with Matthews and Carpenter.

Coleman went on trial for manslaughter, not murder, and got off, of course.  The bases of his defense were the state stand-your-ground law and the lie that Daniels and Morrisroe had carried weapons.  The all-white jury acquitted him in an hour and a half.

Sales has dedicated her life to human rights activism.  She, a graduate of the successor to Daniels’s seminary, founded The SpiritHouse Project, devoted to racial and social justice.

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CONCLUSION

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There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s brother or sister or friend or neighbor or a complete stranger.  A martyr is one who dies because of one’s faith.  A martyr, out of faith, might choose to offer his or her life so that another may life; that is one form of martyrdom.  The Roman Catholic Church calls it martyrdom of charity.

The process of drafting this post drained me emotionally.  As I sat at my desk in silence and wrote longhand in a composition book, I became sad and pensive.  Tears came to my eyes.  In a better world Kolbe and Daniels would not have had to suffer as they did.

The world is what it is, however.  Society is another word for people.  Society is what the consensus of people make it.  Society also influences value judgments.  By the power of God may enough people change society so that the decency and nobility of which people are capable will transform societies so that good individuals, such as Kolbe and Daniels were, will no longer have to suffer and die for being merely decent human beings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ADOLPHUS NELSON, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRANCK, HEINRICH HELD, AND SIMON DACH, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MASSIE, HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BINGHAM TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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

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

Help us, like your servants Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Jonathan Myrick Daniels,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Dominic (August 8)   1 comment

Above:  Saint Dominic, by Fra Angelico

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DOMINIC DE GUZMÁN (CIRCA 1170-AUGUST 6, 1221)

Founder of the Order of Preachers

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Fight the good fight against our ancient foe, fight him insistently with fasting, because no one will win the crown of victory without engaging in the contest in the proper way.

–St. Dominic, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 339

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St. Dominic was one of four children of Felix de Guzmán (the lord of the manor at Caleruya, Castille) and Blessed Juana de Aza (d. circa 1190; beatified in 1828).  The noble family also included holy siblings of St Dominic.  Venerable Anthony de Guzmán was a priest.  Blessed Mamés de Guzmán (c. 1170-1234; beatified in 1834; feast day = July 30), was a prior of a monstery in Paris, the founder of a convent in that city, and one of the original Dominicans.

St. Dominic, who studied at Palencia and became an Augustinian monk at Osma, became aware of the Albigensian heresy (revived Manicheanism of a sort) while traveling with Diego de Azevedo, the Bishop of Osma, on a royal mission abroad in 1203.  Pope Innocent III (in office 1198-1216) launched a campaign of preaching to combat the heresy in southern France.  This was both political and religious, for some local leaders were siding with the Cathars, and civil strife ensued.  St. Dominic was eager preach orthodoxy.  In 1206 he and the Bishop of Osma established rules for the preachers; they were to live austerely and in poverty.  The following year, at Prouille, our saint foun…ded a convent for nuns converted from heresy.

The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1218), a bloodbath and a land grab, was one of the most notorious scandals in Church history.  It began after the assassination of Peter Castelnau, the papal legate, in 1208.  St. Dominic argued against the crusade; he condemned the violence in the name of Christ and advocated for preaching instead.  From his preaching emerged the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans and the Black Friars, which received papal approval in 1216.

St. Dominic spent his final years technically based in Rome, but actually walking on long journeys, and organizing the Order of Preachers.  In 1221 he set out for Hungary, to preach against heresy, but failing health forced him to turn back.  He died at Bologna on August 6, 1221.  Biographer Jordan of Saxony wrote of our saint,

…he loved everyone, so everyone loved him.

Pope Gregory IX canonized St. Dominic in 1234.

Ironically, Dominicans helped to staff the Inquisition, founded in 1232.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, whose servant Dominic grew in knowledge of your truth

and formed an order of preachers to proclaim the good news of Christ:

Give to all your people a hunger for your Word and an urgent longing to share the Gospel,

that the whole world may come to know you as you are revealed in your Son Jesus Christ;

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

2 Samuel 22:22-29

Psalm 112:4-9

Romans 10:13-17

John 7:16-18

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 515

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Feast of Leo XIII (July 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII

Image in the Public Domain

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GIACCHINO VINCENZO PECCI (MARCH 2, 1810-JULY 20, 1903)

Bishop of Rome

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I want to see the church so far forward that my successor will not be able to turn it back.

–Pope Leo XIII, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 308

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That successor, St. Pius X (1903-1914), turned the Church back for more than half a century, until Popes St. John XXIII (1958-1963) and Blessed Paul VI (1963-1978) presided over the Second Vatican Council (1959-1965).

One of the patterns in organized Christianity since the Enlightenment has been conflict between traditions (especially in theology) and the modern world.  Sometimes, as Leo XIII understood well, conflicts have been unnecessary–even detrimental to the Church, while having their origins in the Church.

Giacchino Vincenzo Pecci, born in Carpinto, near Rome, on March 2, 1810, came from lesser nobility.  At an early age he manifested a keen intellect, which he used throughout his life.  Pecci, studying at Viterbo (1818-1824), the Roman College (1824-1832), and the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics (1832-1837), joined the ranks of priests in 1837.

Father–later Archbishop, Bishop, and Cardinal–Pecci engaged with the realities of industrial Europe.  He, the Titular Archbishop of Damietta in 1843 and simultaneously the nuncio to Belgium (1843-1846), served as the Bishop of Perugia (1846-1878).  Our saint, Cardinal Pecci from 1853, modernized the curriculum of the seminary in his diocese, encouraged Scholastic theology, and, by 1878, had become the Camerlengo of the Church.  In 1878, Blessed Pius IX, a reactionary Supreme Pontiff who preferred Medieval Catholicism, favored the divine right of kings, considered constitutional government incompatible with Christianity, and practiced Anti-Semitism, died.  Pecci, as the Camerlengo, was in charge between Popes. In February 1878 he became the next Pope as Leo XIII.  He was 67 years old and not in the best of health.  The man predicted to be a stop-gap Pope served for a quarter of a century, until 1903, dying at the age of 93.

Leo XIII stood firmly within Roman Catholic tradition, for better and worse.  In some ways he was quite conservative when he should not have been.  He sought the restoration of Papal temporal power, the Index survived, and, in 1896, the Church declared Anglican holy orders invalid, for example.  Yet Leo XIII was also relatively progressive.  In 1879 he elevated Father John Henry Newman (1801-1890), suspected of heterodoxy, to the College of Cardinals.  (How conservative must one have been to call Newman too liberal?)  This decision upset many conservatives in the Church.  When Leo XIII recognized the French Third Republic he scandalized French Roman Catholic monarchists.  Lifting Blessed Pius IX’s ban on Roman Catholics voting in Italian elections was another indication of liberalism.  Roman Catholicism and representative government, Leo XIII declared, contradicting his predecessor.

Economic justice was crucial, Leo XIII.  He condemned Marxism, communism, and laissez-faire capitalism.  The Pope wrote in favor of labor unions, the right of collective bargaining, a living wage, and safe working conditions.  All of this was a matter of ethics and the dignity or work, for the Supreme Pontiff.

Leo XIII was also open to science and scholarship.  He encouraged some critical scholarship of the Bible (St. Pius X did not encourage any.), reopened the Vatican Observatory, opened the Vatican Library to scholars without regard to creed, and encouraged Roman Catholic scholars to do their work objectively.  The author of 86 encyclicals in 25 years stood within the strain of Roman Catholicism that found faith and reason compatible.  That strain included St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), whose theology Leo XIII had long encouraged people to study.

Leo XIII, while affirming his papal authority (of course), engaged the non-Roman Catholic Christian world.  The 1896 decree about the invalidity of Anglican holy orders was a setback, but he did call non-Roman Catholic Christians “separated brothers.”  St. John XXIII (1958-1963) did the same in a more ecumenical age.  Leo XIII also invited “separated brothers” to reunite with Holy Mother Church.

Leo XIII would have made St. Justin de Jacobis (1800-1860) glad.  The Pope encouraged evangelization, especially outside Europe.  Leo XIII also favored educating indigenous priests, an effective strategy in missions.

Leo XIII, aged 93 years, died at the Vatican on July 20, 1903.  He was simultaneously conservative and liberal, by the standards of his time.  He foreshadowed reforms that started decades after his death.

Consider ecclesiastical politics, O reader.  The reactionary Pius IX is a Blessed, on the path to canonization.  Leo XIII is not even a Venerable.  Pius X, slightly less reactionary than Pius IX, is a full saint.  The less one says and writes about Pius XII, a Venerable, the better.  John XXIII, who opened Vatican II, is a full saint.  (How can Pius X and John XXIII both be full saints?)  Paul VI, who concluded the Second Vatican Council, is a Blessed.  The very nice John Paul I, who forgot to take his medicine and therefore had a brief Pontifficate, is a Venerable.  And John Paul II is a full saint, due to a fast-tracked canonization process.  To some extent one can identify the legacy of Leo XIII in each of his successors.  The legacy of Leo XIII is especially strong in Pope Francis.

I, as an Episcopalian, a member of a church with valid holy orders, belong to a tradition that teaches that history makes saints.  I count legacies, not miracles.  I, one of those “separated brothers” of whom Leo XIII and St. John XXIII wrote and spoke, hereby enroll Leo XIII, Servant of the Servants of God, in my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ADDISON AND ALEXANDER POPE, ENGLISH POETS

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Pope Leo XIII.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through 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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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 Augustus Tolton (July 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Father Augustus Tolton

Image in the Public Domain

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AUGUSTUS TOLTON (1854-JULY 9, 1897)

Pioneering African-American Roman Catholic Priest in the United States of America

Father Augustus Tolton 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 (1997), where the priest’s feast day is July 9.

Tolton, born a slave in Ralls County, Missiouri, in 1854, was a cradle Catholic.  His parents were Martha and Peter Paul Tolton, slaves on neighboring plantations.  The couple had three children (of which Augustus was the middle one), all baptized in the faith.  The parents escaped from slavery during the Civil War, in which Peter Paul fought and died as a soldier in the U.S. Army.  Martha and the children settled at Quincy, Illinois.

Our saint was on this earth to be a priest.  He was fine and capable one, too.  Tolton discerned his vocation while a boy.  The family’s parish priest arranged for tutoring for Tolton, for finding a seminary willing to accept him was difficult.  Our saint studied formally at Quincy College (1878-1880) then at Urban College, Rome, before becoming a priest in 1886, at the age of 32 years.  Tolton left Italy and returned to the United States.  He had expected the Church to send him to Africa as a missionary.

Tolton was the fourth African-American Roman Catholic priest in the United States of America.  The first three were the Georgia-born Healy brothers (James Augustine, Patrick Francis, and Alexander Sherwood), sons of an Irish immigrant slave owner and his slave mistress.  James Augustine Healy (1830-1900), ordained in 1854, rose to the post of Bishop of Portland, Maine.  The Healy brothers, being light-skinned, passed as white men.  Their mixed-race heritage was a closely-guarded secret in the Roman Catholic Church.  Tolton was unmistakably African-American, though.

Tolton’s eleven-year-long ministry was historic and difficult.  He struggled against racism in American society and in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S.A., for he favored racial integration, a radical idea in the late 1800s.  Tolton was an effective and popular priest–first at St. Joseph’s Church, Quincy, Illinois, with its integrated yet majority African-American membership.  In 1889 Tolton transferred to St. Augustine’s Church (later renamed St. Monica’s Church), Chicago, Illinois.  St. Katharine Drexel and others contributed to the fund for the construction of the new building of St. Monica’s Church, completed in 1893.  Tolton also struggled with poverty, failing health, a sense of futility, and apathy from much of the U.S. Roman Catholic establishment.

Tolton died in Chicago on July 9, 1897.  He was about 43 years old.

The cause for the eventual canonization of Tolton has been open since 2011.  In 2012 the Roman Catholic Church declared our saint to be a Servant of God.

Holy Mother Church will move at her pace.  I move at mine.  Tolton is a saint.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ENRICO RUBUSCHINI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SERVANT OF THE SICK; AND HIS MENTOR, SAINT LUIGI GUANELLA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF SAINT MARY OF PROVIDENCE, THE SERVANTS OF CHARITY, AND THE CONFRATERNITY OF SAINT JOSEPH

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVAN MERZ, CROATIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL

THE FEAST OF JOHN GOSS, ANGLICAN CHURCH COMPOSER AND ORGANIST; AND WILLIAM MERCER, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Augustus Tolton,

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

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus (July 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Dawn with Mountain Landscape

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN WYCLIFFE (CIRCA 1320-DECEMBER 31, 1384)

English Theologian and Church Reformer

“Morning Star of the Reformation”

Also known as John Wiclif, John Wickliffe, and John Wyclif

Episcopal feast day = October 30

Church of England feast day = December 31

influenced

JAN HUS (1371-JULY 6, 1415)

Czech Theologian, Church Reformer, and Martyr

Also known as John Huss and John Hus

Moravian, Episcopal, and Lutheran feast day = July 6

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It is better to die well than to live wickedly.  One should not sin in order to avoid the punishment of death.  Truth conquers all things.

–Jan Hus, 1415, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 292

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INTRODUCTION

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One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Therefore I, citing the latter, merge the Feasts of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus.

The Moravian Church, founded by Hussites, has long commemorated Hus, who has been a saint in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and their predecessors since the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).  The Episcopal Church added Hus and Wycliffe to its calendar in 2009.  Meanwhile, Wycliffe, with separate feast days in The Church of England and The Episcopal Church, has remained absent from all Lutheran calendars I have consulted.

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THE “MORNING STAR OF THE REFORMATION”

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Above:  John Wycliffe

Image in the Public Domain

The fourteenth century was a difficult time for much of Europe.  During five years in the late 1340s and early 1350s the Black Death killed no less than two-fifths (and probably more) of the population of Western Europe, upending civilization there and helping to give rise to the modern world.  The tumult of that time called authorities and institutions into question as, for example, many peasants revolted, many urban workers asserted their rights, and the Church restaffed with substandard personnel.  The devastating death toll called the legitimacy of the Church into doubt in the minds of many people, some of whom favored apocalyptic understandings of recent events.

Meanwhile, the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377) at Avignon, France, a great scandal, was a self-inflicted wound for Holy Mother Church.  Another great scandal and self-inflicted wound, the Great Schism of the Papacy (1378-1417), ensued promptly.

John Wycliffe lived during those times.  He, born near Richmond, Yorkshire, England, circa 1320, was a priest.  Wycliffe was also an academic at Oxford University.  He matriculated at Baillol College in 1344, became master of that college by 1360, and resigned in 1361.  He held overlapping portfolios:

  1. Rector of Fillingham (1361-1368);
  2. Prebend of Aust, Bristol (1362-1384);
  3. Warden of Canterbury Hall, Oxford (1365-1367); and
  4. Rector of Lutterworth (1374-1384).

Meanwhile, Wycliffe was also a lecturer at Oxford until his forced retirement in 1381.

Wycliffe, a popular lecturer and preacher, became a radical.  He, interested in science, theology, local history, canon law, and philosophy, earned various degrees, culminating in his Doctor of Theology degree in 1372.  His move away from affirming the status quo began in 1374, at the start of the last decade of his life.  (Not everyone grows more conservative with age.)  Wycliffe served as a royal envoy to a conference with papal representative at Bruges.  The topic was provisions, or papal appointments to posts not yet vacant.

By 1376 Wycliffe became a committed reformer of the Church.  He criticized papal taxation, fees, and appointments, perhaps more out of political considerations than theological ones.  Our saint, who affirmed the Divine Right of Kings, became convinced that in terms of both doctrine and life the Church had strayed from its apostolic roots.  He argued that the clergy should not hold secular power, so no Pope should exercise power over the English Church.  Furthermore, Wycliffe wrote, Christ is the sole Head of the Universal Church, the Bible is the Law of God, and the true Church consists solely of the predestined Elect.  Wycliffe also affirmed the priesthood of all believers, questioned the theology of purgatory and transubstantiation, opposed the veneration of relics and statues, inveighed against the invocation of saints, criticized the celibacy of the clergy, and insisted that the state (with the monarch as the head of the state church) had an obligation to seize church lands for the benefit of the poor.  Certainly the Great Schism of the Papacy (1378-1417), a time of competing Supreme Pontiffs, influenced and reinforced Wycliffe’s criticism of the Papacy.

Wycliffe alarmed Popes, bishops, and leaders of religious orders, but had protectors in the royal family and among the nobility.  Nevertheless, after he became a scapegoat for a peasant revolt and Oxford authorities declared him a heretic in 1381, forced retirement became his fate.

Wycliffe was fortunate; he got to live and to retain his church positions.  He died three days after a stroke at Lutterworth on December 31, 1384.  Wycliffe was about 64 years old.

Wycliffe’s legacy continued, however.  The translation of the Bible into English was a project in which he was deeply involved, with help from others.  Wycliffe’s theology influenced Jan Hus, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.  The man had died, but his ideas lived.

Nevertheless, the Council of Constance condemned Wycliffe as a heretic posthumously in 1415.  Thirteen years later Richard Fleming, the Bishop of Lincoln, ordered the exhumation and burning of the old priest’s remains.

Some of Wycliffe’s followers were more radical than he was.  The Lollard movement began in 1380 and continued into the 1500s, influencing the English Reformation.  “Lollard” came from the Middle Dutch word for “mumbler” or “mutterer.”  The term, already applied to Flemish heretics prior to Wycliffe’s time, stuck to his followers by 1382.  It was a persecuted minority movement, some of whose members dared to plot to overthrow the government and disendow the English Church in 1431.

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THE CZECH REFORMER

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Above:  Jan Hus

Image in the Public Domain

Lord Jesus Christ, it is for the sake of the gospel and the preaching of the word that I undergo, with patience and humility, this terrifying, ignominious, cruel death.

–Jan Hus, July 6, 1415; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 291

Jan Hus, born in Husinec, Bohemia, in 1371, was 17 years old when Wycliffe died.  Hus, influenced by Wycliffe’s writings, became a reformer in Bohemia and walked the road to martyrdom.

Hus, educated at the University of Prague (starting in 1390) was a Roman Catholic priest, as Wycliffe had been.  Hus, based in Prague, was, from 1392, chaplain of the Bethlehem Chapel, where he preached in the Czech language.  Our saint, the dean of the philosophical faculty of the University of Prague from 1401, served also as the Rector of the university in 1403 and 1409.  The following year, however, Archbishop Zbynek Zajic of Hasenberg excommunicated Hus.

Hus had been reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting writings of Wycliffe, as well as translating some of them into Czech.  Wycliffe’s ideas had already begun to influence politics in Bohemia, where the Church owned about half of the land, and many people, including a large number of priests, were poor.  Many peasants resented the Church, for obvious reasons.  Also, simony was rife.

Although Hus was radical in his setting, he was less radical than Wycliffe.  Hus, for example, affirmed transubstantiation consistently.  Yet, like Wycliffe, Hus condemned ecclesiastical abuses and defined the true Church as the assembly of the predestined Elect.

Hus managed to survive as long as he did because of protectors.  In 1410  King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia attained a bull from (Antipope) Alexander V (in office 1409-1410) ordering the burning of Wycliffe’s works, forbidding the preaching of their contents at Bethlehem Chapel, and allowing no appeal.  Archbishop Zajic burned those writings that year.  The following year (Antipope) John XXIII, one of three competing Popes, placed an interdict on Prague, but Wenceslaus IV ignored it and ordered others to do the same.  Meanwhile, (Antipope) John XXIII was waging a war against King Ladislaus of Naples and selling indulgences to finance that war.  After Hus, technically excommunicated yet living as though there were no excommunication order, condemned the sale of those indulgences and accused (Antipope) John XXIII of being the Antichrist.  Wenceslaus IV had been protecting Hus, but ceased to do that in 1412, after (Antipope) John XXIII threatened the Bohemian monarch with a crusade on the charge of protecting heretics and heresy.  So, from 1412 to 1414, Hus lived, wrote, and preached in southern Bohemia for two years.

Hus died as a heretic at Constance, Baden, on July 6, 1415.  He had traveled there under a promise of safe conduct, for the Council of Constance, in 1414, but found himself a prisoner instead.  Hus, after having refused to recant, burned at the stake as a heretic.  He was 43 or 44 years old.

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CONCLUSION

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Much of the history of ecclesiastical reactions (as opposed to responses) to heresies, alleged and actual, is an account of behavior contrary to the spirit of Christ.  What in the Gospels might give one the idea that Jesus would approve of burning accused heretics?

One might disagree with Wycliffe and Hus on certain political and/or theological points, but one should recognize and respect their courage in risking their lives by resisting authority nonviolently in the knowledge that the authorities they objected to had the power to torture and execute them.

The Church has silenced and killed prophets, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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O God, your justice continually challenges your Church to live according to its calling:

Grant us who now remember the work of John Wyclif

contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on your Church,

and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body;

through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:26-33

Psalm 33:4-11

Hebrews 4:12-16

Mark 4:13-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 659

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Faithful God, you gave John Hus the courage to confess your truth

and recall your Church to the image of Christ.

Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear witness against corruption

and never cease to pray for our enemies,

that we may prove faithful followers of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Job 22:21-30

Psalm 119:113-120

Revelation 3:1-6

Matthew 23:34-39

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 455

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