Archive for the ‘Robert Ellsberg’ Tag

Feast of Alessandro Valignano (January 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Alessandro Valignano

Image in the Public Domain

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ALESSANDRO VALIGNANO (FEBRUARY 15, 1539-JANUARY 20, 1606)

Italian Jesuit Missionary Priest in the Far East

INTRODUCTION

Father Alessandro Valignano comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:   Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).

I, as a Christian, respect properly-done missionary work.  On the other hand, improperly-done missionary work makes me cringe and proves to be counter-productive.  It turns people off.  The historical record of Christianity is replete with examples of missionaries whose cultural and political imperialism hindered their effectiveness for God.  I recall easily, for example, that, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), rejecting Christianity became part of the struggle for political independence.  (Christianity was the religion of the Dutch imperial overlords.)

Some of the many holy people I have added to this Ecumenical Calendar have been culturally-sensitive missionaries.  They respected the people to whom they went.  These missionaries’ effectiveness (or lack thereof) depended largely on how much ecclesiastical support they had.  Their cultural sensitivity aided their effectiveness by not alienating the people they were trying to convert.

Now I add another great missionary, a man ahead of his time.

BIOGRAPHY

Alessandro Valignano, born in Chieti, Kingdom of Naples, on February 15, 1539, came from nobility.  Our saint studied at the University of Padua, from which he graduated with a doctorate in law when only 19 years old.  He spent a few years in Rome then studied theology in Padua.  Valignano, who joined the Society of Jesus in 1566, rose to become the Visitor of Missions in the Indies in 1573.  Macao was his base of operations when he was not traveling.

Valignano had much in common with a more famous missionary and a contemporary, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).  Valignano and Ricci practiced adaptionism, a missionary method that caused much controversy.  As long as nobody violated any matter crucial to Christianity–Roman Catholicism, in particular–adapting to the local culture was necessary and proper.  Adaptionism proved to be controversial; many European purists condemned it.

Valignano became a scholar and a master of Chinese language and culture; he was fluent in both.  This was crucial to the intended success of the Jesuit mission in China, he understood.

Our saint visited Japan (1579-1583, 1590-1592, and 1598-1603).  He brought the message of adaptionism to the Jesuit mission in those islands.  Valignano condemned the racism certain missionaries exhibited.  He also criticized the poor Japanese language skills some Jesuit missionaries had, even after spending years in Japan.  Offending Japanese people was no way to convert any of them, our saint understood.  He imposed strict rules regarding linguistic study for Jesuits in Japan.  Valignano also required that Jesuit missionaries in Japan learn Japanese customs.  Furthermore, he founded seminaries.  Valignano’s reform of the Jesuit mission in Japan coincided with official persecution during the Tokugawa Shogunate.  The government associated Christianity with European imperialism.

Valignano never got to make the mission to China.  Ricci did that.  Ecclesiastical infighting undercut their work.  The Vatican suppressed adaptionism in the 1600s.

Valignano, aged 66 years, died in Macao on January 20, 1606.  At the time, he was planning to visit Ricci in China.

CONCLUSION

The Tokugawa Shogunate martyred hundreds of missionaries and Japanese converts from 1597 to 1639.  Yet Christianity survived underground until the late 1800s, when more missionaries arrived.  Valignano had much to do with the survival of Christianity in Japan.

Eventually, the Vatican realized that Valignano had been wise.

My late grandmother Taylor, a Presbyterian, told me a story about Southern Presbyterian missionaries in a remote part of Peru earlier in the twentieth century.  They were translating the New Testament into the local dialect.  The missionaries encountered a minor difficulty when they got to the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem; nobody in the area had ever seen a donkey.  Remaining consistent with the theme of Jesus riding a beast of burden, the missionaries translated “donkey” as “llama.”

Back in northwestern Georgia, opinion regarding this translation choice was divided.  My grandmother and many others understood and approved of the adaptation to the local culture.  Purists, however, disapproved.  Jesus had to ride a donkey, not a llama.  Period.  End of discussion.

Some people had not learned what Valignano knew well, centuries prior.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 3, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JEDEDIAH WEISS, U.S. MORAVIAN CRAFTSMAN, MERCHANT, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF F. CRAWFORD BURKITT, ANGLICAN SCHOLAR, THEOLOGIAN, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES BOLAN LAWRENCE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSONARY IN SOUTHWESTERN GEORGIA, U.S.A.

THE FEAST OF SUNDAR SINGH, INDIAN CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST

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Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints,

and who raised up your servant Alessandro Valignano to be a light in the world:

Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise,

who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 98 or 98:1-4

Acts 17:22-31

Matthew 28:16-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 717

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Feast of Thomas Merton (December 9)   7 comments

Above:  Abbey of Gethsemani

Image Source = Google Earth

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THOMAS MERTON (JANUARY 31, 1915-DECEMBER 10, 1968)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Monk, and Spiritual Writer

Also known as Father Louis Merton

His feast transferred from December 10

Thomas Merton comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via three sources:  Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997); G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year With American Saints (2006); and The Episcopal Church.

Instead of composing a brief biography of Merton, I refer you, O reader, to the biography available at the website of the Merton Center at Bellarmine University.  I choose to spend most of this post pondering one defining principle in our saint’s life.

One day, Merton, a monk, stood on the corner of South Fourth Street and East Walnut Street in Louisville, Kentucky.  He had an epiphany there.  Later, our saint wrote:

I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.  It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.

How much better would the world be if more people loved as Merton did?  He grasped mutuality, a principle embedded in the Law of Moses and the New Testament.  Our saint understood that all people bore the image of God, as he did.  So, he loved them.  This love compelled him to follow a radical path, one that entailed embracing interfaith dialogue and opposing the Vietnam War.

I do not pretend to be a spiritual giant.  Compared to Merton, I am a spiritual dust mite, actually.  I grasp certain high spiritual principles more in the intellectual sense than in the visceral sense.  I accept, for example, that all people bear the image of God.  I do not, however, love all people.  I know that I should love all people.  I struggle to approach Merton’s spiritual peak.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people–some of them professing Christians–reject responsible, morally defensible measures (such as wearing face masks and getting fully vaccinated), in violation of mutuality and love of neighbors.  They need a dose of Mertonian ethics.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF COLBERT S. CARTWRIGHT, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUGLIELMO MASSAIA, ITALIAN CARDINAL, MISSIONARY, AND CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SCRIMGER, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, ECUMENIST, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIM SANDOVICH, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1914

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Gracious God, you called your monk Thomas Merton to proclaim your justice out of silence,

and moved him in his contemplative writings

to perceive and value Christ at work in the faiths of others:

Keep us, like him, steadfast in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ,

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

Isaiah 57:14-19

Psalm 62

Colossians 2:2-10

John 12:27-36

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 113

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Feast of the Jesuit Martyrs of Paraguay (November 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Province of Paraguay, 1600

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ROQUE GONZÂLEZ DE LA CRUZ (NOVEMBER 17, 1576-NOVEMBER 15, 1628)

Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1628

Alternative feast day = November 15

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SAINT ALPHONSUS RODRÍGUEZ OLMEDO (MARCH 10, 1595-NOVEMBER 15, 1628)

Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1628

Alternative feast day = November 15

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SAINT JUAN DE CASTILLO (SEPTEMBER 14, 1595-NOVEMBER 17, 1628)

Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1628

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Collective alternative feast day = November 17

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God does not command the Gospel of Our Lord to be preached with the noise of arms and with pillage.  What He rather commands is the example of a good life and teaching.

–St. Roque González de la Cruz, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 497

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The Jesuit Martyrs of Paraguay come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Elllsberg, All Saints (1997).

The Jesuit missions in South American proclaimed the Gospel of Christ and shielded part of the indigenous population from slavery.  Many European colonists enjoyed exploiting the native people of South America for financial gain.  Therefore, powerful political forces in Europe in the Spanish colonies in the New World pushed back against the Jesuits’ missionary efforts.  Also, some indigenous people did not differentiate between the Jesuits shielding them from slavers and the European slavers.

These three saints lived, worked, and died in this perilous context.

St. Roque González, a son of Spanish colonists, entered the world at Asunción, Paraguay, on November 17, 1576.  His parents, Bartholomé González y de Villaverde and María de Santa Cruz, were from noble families.  Our saint grew up bilingual in Spanish and Guariní.  He, ordained a priest in 1598, became a Jesuit in 1609.  The Jesuits sent him to serve as a missionary in what is now Brazil, but was then within the borders of the Spanish Province of Paraguay.  González was the first person of European ancestry to enter what is now the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.  He founded the missions of San Ignacio Mani (1613), Itapúa (1615). Concepción de la Siena Candelaria (1619), San Javier, San Nicolás, Asunción del Ijui, and Todos los Santos de Caaró (1628).

Above:  The Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

González worked with St. Juan de Castillo.  Castillo, born in Belmonte, Toledo, Spain, on September 14, 1595.  He studied law at the University of Alcalá then became a lawyer.  Yet Castillo found that career unfulfilling.  Therefore, he joined the Society of Jesus on March 21, 1614, with the intention of becoming a priest.  Castillo and St. Alphonsus Rodríguez Olmedo traveled to South America together in November 1616.

St. Alphonsus Rodríguez Olmedo, born in Zamora, Spain, on March 10, 1598, joined the Society of Jesus in Villagarcía de Campos, Valladolid.

Castillo, ordained a priest, spent the rest of his life as a missionary.  He joined González at Ijui.  González left there to found another mission while Castillo ministered at Ijui (now in Brazil).

Rodríguez served in the missions of Paraná and Itapuá in 1628.  Later that year, he helped González found Todos los Santos de Caaró.  On November 15, 1628, González was preparing to supervise the installation of the new bell at the mission church.  However, local chieftain Nheçu had ordered the deaths of the Jesuits there.  González and Rodríguez died via tomahawks.  Hostile tribesmen dragged the corpses into the church and burned it.

Two days later, at Ijui, Castillo also became a martyr, on the orders of Nheçu.

The Jesuit missions in South America continued until 1773, when Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus.  That shameful incident is the backdrop for The Mission (1986).

Holy Mother Church formally recognized these three martyrs.  Pope Pius XI declared them Venerables in 1933 then Beati in 1934.  Pope John Paul II canonized them in 1988.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES MONTGOMERY, ANGLICAN AND MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DIET EMAN; HER FIANCÉ, HEIN SIETSMA, MARTYR, 1945; AND HIS BROTHER, HENDRIK “HENK” SIETSMA; RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS

THE FEAST OF JAMES RUSSELL WOODFORD, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF ELY, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROSS MACDUFF AND GEORGE MATHESON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND AUTHORS

THE FEAST OF SARAH JOSEPHA BUELL HALE, U.S. POET, AUTHOR, EDITOR, AND PROPHETIC WITNESS

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame

of your love in the hearts of your holy martyrs

Saint Roque González de la Cruz,

Saint Alphonsus Rodríguez Olmedo,

and Saint Juan de Castillo:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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Feast of Juana Ines de la Cruz (November 12)   1 comment

Above:  Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz

Image in the Public Domain

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JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ (NOVEMBER 1648/1651-APRIL 17, 1694/1695)

Mexican Roman Catholic Nun, Composer, Writer, Philosopher, Feminist, and Alleged Heretic

Born Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana

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Well-behaved women seldom make history.

–Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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You foolish men, accusing women for lacking reason when you yourselves are the reason for the lack.

–Juana Inés de la Cruz, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 493

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Juana Inés de la Cruz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).

Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana made history and was not by the standards of her time and place, well-behaved.  She was an intellectual, a scientist, a mathematician, a philosopher, a musical composer, a poet, and a playwright.  Our saint was also a theologian.  She was the first great Latin American poet, too.  Our saint challenged the patriarchy and earned her bona fides as a feminist.  She was ahead of her time.

Juana was a Criolla, a mixed-race person mostly of Spanish ancestry.  She entered the world at San Miguel, Nepantia, near Mexico City, on November 12, 1648 or 1651.  Our saint’s father was Captain Pedro Manuel de Asbaje, a Spaniard.  Her mother was Isabel Ramirez, a Criolla.  The couple was unmarried.  Juana and Isabel lied on Isabel’s father’s hacienda.  Juana’s grandfather had a profound influence on her.  Our saint grew up devout and bookish.  She had an insatiable appetite for knowledge at a very young age.  Given that Juana’s culture forbade the formal education of girls and women, her education was entirely informal.  It began with her grandfather’s library.

Juana was an intelligent and well-educated young woman.  She read and wrote Latin when three years old.  She wrote a poem about the Eucharist when eight years old.  Our saint, who taught Latin at the tender age of thirteen years, also mastered Nahuati, the language of the Aztecs.  The sixteen-year-old Juana became a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Viceroy of New Spain.  When she was seventeen years old, she matched wits and intellects with the leading minds, theologians, and poets in New Spain, and astounded them.  Yet Juana, as a female, could not matriculate at the local university.

Juana needed to study, write, and think.  The prospect of marriage and motherhood did not appeal to her.  Therefore, the 19-year-old became a nun.  She left the Convent of Saint Joseph, of the Discaled Carmelites, after a few months.  Yet our saint found that she could maintain her library, keep her scientific instruments, and write to her content at the Convent of Saint Jerome, Mexico City.  She did, and the Viceroy and his wife ensured the publication of he writings in Spain.

Juana was not shy about expressing herself.  She confronted the patriarchy that denied women and girls access to formal education.  Neither was she reluctant to challenge male authority figures and question their orthodoxy.  In 1690. our saint critiqued a 40-year-old sermon by a famous preacher.  He was an idiot, she was certain.  So, she composed a scathing, detailed critique, probably the first theological work by a woman in the New World.  The Bishop of Puebla replied by affirming Juana’s orthodoxy yet arguing that theology was not women’s work.

Toward the end of her life, Juana went quiet in the face of the threat of the Inquisition.  In 1693, she ceased writing, sold her 4000-volume library and her scientific instruments, and gave the proceeds to the poor.  On April 17, 1694 or 1695, Juana died of plague at the convent.  She had contracted the plague while tending to other nuns, afflicted with it.

To keep a portion of the population “in its place” is to harm society.  Keeping others in “in their place” holds them back.  It also holds back those who keep them “in their place.”  Therefore, enlightened self-interest (if not the Golden Rule–imagine that!) leads to lifting up everyone and granting equality of access to formal education, et cetera.  Mutuality leads to each person having the opportunity to become the person God wants him or her to be.  This may not be the person social norms dictate him or her to become.  So be it.

Discrimination is insidious.  It harms everybody–the intended targets, these who commit it and consent to it passively, and all other members of society.  Where discrimination exists, there are only victims, some of whom double as victimizers.  Whatever one does to another, one does to oneself.

Some accused Juana Inés de la Cruz of being uppity and presumptuous.  They were wrong.  She was bold.  She was of her time and ahead of it.  And she deserved encouragement, not intimidation.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDRESS OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Juana Inés de la Cruz and all others]

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of the Martyrs of North America, 1642-1649 (October 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, New York

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT RENÉ GOUPIL (MAY 16, 1608-SEPTEMBER 29, 1642)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1642

First Roman Catholic Martyr in North America

Solo feast day = September 29

lay assistant to

SAINT ISAAC JOGUES (JANUARY 10, 1607-OCTOBER 18, 1646)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1646

Solo feast day = October 18

colleague of

SAINT JEAN DE LA LA LANDE (DIED OCTOBER 19, 1646)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1646

Also known as Saint Jean Lalande

Solo feast day = October 19

colleague of

SAINT ANTOINE DANIEL (MAY 27, 1601-JULY 4, 1648)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1648

Solo feast day = July 4

colleague of

SAINT JEAN DE BRÉBEUF (MARCH 25, 1593-MARCH 16, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = March 16

colleague of

SAINT GABRIEL LALEMANT (OCTOBER 10, 1610-MARCH 17, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = March 17

colleague of

SAINT CHARLES GARNIER (BAPTIZED MAY 25, 1606-DIED DECEMBER 7, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = December 7

lay colleague of

SAINT NOËL CHABANEL (FEBRUARY 2, 1613-DECEMBER 8, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = December 8

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Missionaries and Martyrs in New France, 1642-1649

Also known as the Canadian Martyrs

Alternative feast days = March 16 and September 26

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I.  INTRODUCTION

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The Martyrs of North America, 1642-1649, come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and The Anglican Church of Canada.  St. Isaac Jogues (1607-1646), by himself, is a profiled saint in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).

The label “Canadian Martyrs,” accurate in 1642-1649, is a contemporary misnomer, for not all eight martyrs died in what we now call Canada.  Some died in what is now upstate New York.

With eight saints, we–you, O reader, and I, have some proverbial bouncing balls to follow.  Telling their stories together is logical, however.

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II.  ENTER THE “BLACK ROBES”

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GOUPIL

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St. René Goupil offered himself to the service of God.  Goupil, born in Saint-Martin-du-Bois, Anjou, France, was a son of Hippliite Goupil and Luce (Provost) Goupil.  Our saint, a surgeon, became a Jesuit novice in Paris on March 16, 1639.  However, deafness forced him to leave the Society of Jesus.  Nevertheless, Goupil volunteered as a lay missionary.  He, having arrived in New France in 1640, served at the Saint-Joseph de Sillery Mission, Québec.  There he worked in the hospital though 1642.

Goupil and about 40 other people visited Huron missions in 1642.  One of the other missionaries was St. Isaac Jogues.

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JOGUES (I)

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St. Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit priest.  He, born in Orléans, France, on January 10, 1607, was the fifth of nine children of Laurent Jogues and Françoise de Sainte-Mesmin.  Jogues, educated first at his bourgeois home then at Jesuit schools, became Jesuit novice at Rouen in 1624.  He was seventeen years old at the time.  The Jesuit missions to New France started in 1625.  Those early missionaries inspired Jogues, who decided to become a missionary to New France, too.  Our saint professed his vows in 1626, studied philosophy at La Flèche for a few years, taught humanities at a boys’s school in Rouen (1629-1633), studied theology at Paris (1633-1636), and joined the ranks of priests (1636).

In 1636, Jogues, not yet a priest, met three of his heroes.  They were St. Jean de Brébeuf, Charles Lalemant, and Ènemond Massé, missionaries who had recently returned from New France.

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BRÉBEUF

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St. Jean de Brébeuf was another Jesuit missionary priest.  He, born in Condé-sur-Vire, France, on March 25, 1593, joined he Society of Jesus in 1617, at the age of twenty-four years.  Brébeuf, a teacher at Rouen (1619-1621), joined the ranks of priests in February 1622.  Then he served three years as the Steward of the College of Rouen.  In 1625, our saint became a missionary to New France.  The group of five missionaries arrived in Québec in June 1625.

Brébeuf, who had a talent for learning languages, ministered mostly among Hurons.  Due to international politics (Anglo-French) tensions, the missionaries returned to France in 1629.  They returned in 1633.  Missionary work was challenging and not always successful.  The deaths of many indigenous people from European diseases complicated the matter.  But the missionaries were faithful.

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DANIEL (I)

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St. Antoine Daniel was one of the other Jesuit missionaries with Brébeuf in New France.  Daniel, born in Dieppe, Normandy, France, on May 27, 1601, studied philosophy for two years and law for for one year before joining the Society of Jesus at Rouen on October 1, 1621,  Our saint taught at Rouen (1623-1627), studied theology at Paris (1627-1630), joined the ranks of priests (1630) and taught at the College of Eu (1630-1632).

Daniel began to minister in New France in 1632.  At first, he tended to a flock of colonists at St. Anne’s Bay, Cape Breton (-1633).  Then he joined Brébeuf’s mission.  In 1634, Brébeuf and Daniel were two of the tree missionaries who traveled to Wendake.  Daniel learned the language of the Hurons.  He translated the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed, and set them to music.  For two yeas, Daniel also ran a school for indigenous boys.  In 1638, when Brébeuf moved onto a different assignment, and Daniel relieved him.

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JOGUES (II)

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In 1636, Brébeuf and company, back in France, told the other Jesuits of the great dangers of the mission in New France.  Jogues, not discouraged, became more determined to serve as a missionary in New France.  Shortly after ordination to the priesthood (1636), he and St. Charles Garnier sailed for New France.

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GARNIER

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St. Charles Garnier was a priest.  He, baptized in Paris, France, as an infant on May 25, 1606, was a son of of a secretary to King Henry III.  Garnier became a Jesuit novice in September 1624.  In time, our saint served as the Prefect of the College of Clermont, completed his studies in philosophy and rhetoric, and taught at the College of Eu for two years.  Next, Garnier finished his studies in theology, culture, and language.  Then, in 1635, he joined the ranks of priests.

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BRÉBEUF, GARNIER, AND JOGUES

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Garnier, Jogues, and company arrived in New France in June 1636.  Immediately, he traveled to the Huron mission.  Brébeuf was a strong influence on our saint.

Jogues arrived at his assigned mission station in Québec in September 1636.  He joined Brébeuf, the Superior of that Jesuit mission, at Saint-Joseph, on Lake Huron.  Immediately, an epidemic struck the Jesuits and the Hurons.  (This happened repeatedly.)  Fearful natives accused the “Black Robes” of trying to kill them.  Jogues caught a fever, but recovered.  He ministered to the Hurons at Saint-Joseph for six years.

In the winter of 1639-1640, Jogues and Garnier visited the Petun, a tribe in what is now southern Ontario.  That mission proved fruitless.  For two months, the Jesuit missionaries traveled from village to village, to a chilly reception.

In September 1641, however, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut found a receptive population of Ojibwe.  Jogues ministered at the new Saint-Marie Mission for a while.

Garnier worked at the Saint-Joseph Mission from 1641 to 1646.

Brébeuf also wrote hymns.  Perhaps the most popular one was the Huron Carol, which Jesse Edgar Middleton (1872-1960) translated into English as “Twas the Moon of Winter Time.”

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III.  GOUPIL AND JOGUES, 1642

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Goupil and about 40 other people visited Huron missions in 1642,  Jogues was part of this team, which included Christian Hurons.  On August 3, some Mohawk warriors attacked these Christians near present-day Auriesville, New York.  The Mohawk warriors tortured their victims.  Goupil, by this time a Jesuit lay brother, taught a Mohawk boy the sign of the cross.  For this, Goupil died via tomahawk to the head.  Jogues gave him last rites on September 29, 1642.

The Mohawk warriors also slowly tortured then killed the Huron converts.  (Hurons and Mohawks were traditional enemies.)

The Anglican Church of Canada, in its brief summary of this feast, states that Brébeuf, in 1649, suffered

atrocities which defy description.

Applying this statement to Jogues (in 1642) and Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant (in 1649), that statement is objectively inaccurate.  Finding descriptions is as easy as using Google.  I choose do describe the sufferings of these saints in general terms only.

Jogues emerged his captivity a mutilated man.  He returned to France for medical treatment.  Pope Urban VIII called Jogues a “living martyr.”  That “living martyr” returned to New France voluntarily in 1644.

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IV.  TO 1646

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CHABANEL AND GARNIER (I)

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St. Noël Chabanel was a Jesuit missionary.  He, born in Saughes, France, on February 2, 1613, became a Jesuit novice when he was 17 years old.  Chabanel taught at Jesuit colleges and earned a sterling reputation.  Our saint arrived in New France in 1643.  What he lacked in Algonquin linguistic acumen for a while he made up for with piety.  Chabanel, assigned to Sainte-Marie Mission, worked with Garnier.

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LALEMANT

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St. Gabriel Lalemant was a priest.  He came from an extended family (including Charles Lalemant) deeply involved in the Society of Jesus and the mission to New France.  Our saint, born in Paris, France, on October 31, 1610, was the third of six children of an attorney.  Lalemant joined the Society of Jesus in 1630.  He tried to get sent to New France years before he succeeded; ill health stood in the way for years.  Finally, in 1646, uncle Jerome Lalemant, the Vicar-General of Québec, interceded.  In the meantime, our saint had taught at the college in Moulins (1632-1635), studied theology at Bourges (1635-1639), became a priest (1638), and taught at various schools (1639-1646).

Lalemant arrived in Québec in September 1646.  He spent months studying the languages and customs of the Hurons.

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LA LANDE

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St. Jean de la Lande (a.k.a. St. Jean Lalande) was a Jesuit lay brother.  He, a native of Dieppe, Normandy, France, was just 19 years old when he arrived in New France.

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V.  1646:  JOGUES AND LA LANDE

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St. Isaac Jogues became the French envoy to the Mohawk Nation in the Spring of 1646.  (The Huron and Mohawk Nations had forged a fragile peace the previous year.)  Jogues arrived with de la Lande and other members of the diplomatic party in September 1646.  Mohawk warriors captured the Jesuits and took them to the village of Ossermenon (the site of Auriesville, New York, today).  Jogues died of a tomahawk to the head on October 18, 1646.  The following day, la Lande attempted to recover the corpse.  He also died of a tomahawk to the head.

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VI.  TO 1649

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DANIEL (II)

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St. Antonie Daniel returned to the main Huron town, Teanaostaye, on July 4, 1648.  While the majority of Huron men were away, trading in Quêbec, Iroquois warriors attacked the town.  Daniel tended to his flock in the chapel as best he could.  Then he absolved them of their sins, baptized catechumens, and confronted the attackers.  The priest, vested, carried a cross toward the Iroquois warriors.  They killed him, placed his body in the chapel, and burned the chapel.  By then, many of the Hurons who had been in the chapel had escaped.

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BRÉBEUF, LALEMANT, AND CHABANEL

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St. Jean de Brébeuf, master of languages, had done much to help the Jesuit mission in New France.  His translated works included a catechism and a collection of Biblical prayers, proved invaluable for a long time.  Yet he met a gory end, too.

St. Gabriel Lalemant ministered in the area of the Three Rivers trading center through September 1648.  He, having been Brébeuf’s assistant at Wendake (September 1648-Feburary 1649), had gone to Saint-Louis Mission.  Lalemant replaced Chabanel.  Meanwhile, Brébeuf had transferred to Saint-Ignace Mission, near Saint-Louis Mission.

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VII. 1649

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BRÉBEUF AND LALEMANT

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In March 1649, when most of the Huron warriors were away, Iroquois warriors attacked Saint-Ignace.  Huron warriors from Saint-Louis delayed the attackers, thereby allowing women, children, and elderly people to escape Saint-Ignace.  Iroquois warriors captured Brébeuf and Lalemant.  Both saints suffered terrible tortures.  They received the crown of martyrdom–Brébeuf on March 16 and Lalemant on the following day.

The Society of Jesus closed and burned Sainte-Marie Mission, rather than permit the Iroquois to desecrate the site.

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CHABANEL AND GARNIER (II)

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St. Noël Chabanel, transferred from Saint-Louis Mission, went to Saint-Joseph Mission.

St. Charles Garnier, living in a Petun village, died during an Iroquois raid on December 7, 1649.

The following day, a “renegade Huron” killed Chabanel, apparently for being French.  According to “alternative facts”–lies–the French had betrayed the Hurons and entered into an alliance with the Iroquois.

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VIII. CONCLUSION

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Pope Pius XI declared these martyrs Beati in 1925 then full saints five years later.

Writing hagiographies can lead to a sense of spiritual inadequacy.  One may think of oneself as a good person.  Perhaps one is a good person.  But is one as good as, for example, these eight martyrs?  I am not.

Consider St. Isaac Jogues, for example, O reader.  Imagine yourself in his position.  Knowing the risks, would you have done what he did?  And having suffered as he did, would you have remained so dedicated?

The North American Martyrs acted out of the love of Christ.  Each one took up his cross and followed Jesus to his individual Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 21, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ADAME ROSALES, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF SAINT CONRAD OF PARZHAM, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE B. CAIRD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST THEN UNITED REFORMED MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGIA HARKNESS, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, ETHICIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON BARSABAE, BISHOP; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS, 341

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Eternal God, you consecrated the first-fruits of faith

in the forests of North America by preaching and blood

of Jean de Brébeuf and his holy companions.

In your mercy send forth many to labour in every corner of this nation,

that your gospel may yield in our day a rich and bountiful harvest

by the increase of a true Christian people;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Romans 8:28-39

Psalm 116:10-16

Luke 12:8-12

–The Anglican Church of Canada

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Feast of Chuck Matthei (October 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Chuck Matthei

Image Scanned from Cloud of Witnesses (2005)

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CHARLES LEE MATTHEI (FEBRUARY 14, 1948-OCTOBER 1, 2002)

Founder and Director of the Equity Trust, Inc.

Chuck Matthei comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005).

Matthei’s Roman Catholic faith compelled him to devote most of his life to social justice.  Why not?  He understood that, in the Bible, justice and righteousness are the same.

Matthei, born in Chicago, Illinois, on February 14, 1948, learned the Christian ethic of social justice at home.  He, a son of Robert L. Matthei and Nancy Horne Matthei, had two sisters, Nancy and Patty.  Our saint, active in the Civil Rights Movement as an adolescent, drew inspiration from Jesus and Mohandas Gandhi.  The Hebrew Prophets’ message of economic justice also informed Matthei’s life.

This mission manifested itself in various ways.  Matthei, as the Executive Director of the Institute for Community Economics, Greenfield, Massachusetts (1980-1990), accomplished much.  He created many affordable housing units.  Matthei also increased the number of community land trusts from 12 to more than 100 in 23 states.  Furthermore, our saint helped to organize the National Association of Community Development Loan Funds (now the National Community Capital Association).  He was the founding Chairman (1985-1990).  As if that were not enough, Matthei also sat on the board of the Social Investment Forum from 1983 to 1988.  He affirmed socially responsible investment.

Matthei, associated with the Catholic Worker movement of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), practiced his socially-conscious faith.  He practiced Gandhian nonviolence; our saint was a pacifist.  Matthei also supported the Catholic Worker movement’s shelters and soup kitchens financially.  And he criticized social institutions and systems that harmed poor people.

Matthei founded the Equity Trust, Inc., in 1991, then served as its Director.  In this capacity, he engaged in useful and essential work in the United States of America, Central America, and Kenya.  Our saint, for example, assisted the Gullah/Geechee community on Sapelo, Island, Georgia, in preserving their culture and community.  He also acquired and preserved 140 acres of land in the Hudson Valley, for agricultural use, to feed people.  Matthei, furthermore, traveled, spoke, and consulted on the topics that defined his life’s work.

Matthei, aged 54 years, died in Voluntown, Connecticut, on October 1, 2002.  The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, a complication of thyroid cancer, in our saint’s case.

Robert Ellsberg wrote of his final visit to Matthei, a few days before our saint’s death.  Thyroid cancer had robbed Matthei of the ability to speak; he dictated requests on a laptop computer.  Our saint requested that Ellsberg bring prints by Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), as well as photographs of his (Ellsberg’s) children.  Matthei was at peace, Ellsberg recalled after that meeting with his friend of 28 years.

Matthei, sitting in a wheelchair, typed a wonderful piece of advice on the laptop computer:

Every age has need of a few fools.

If understanding that justice and righteousness are identical, then acting accordingly, seems foolish, every age needs many fools.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FULBERT OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, U.S. PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

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

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Elizabeth Fry (October 12)   2 comments

Above:  Elizabeth Fry

Image in the Public Domain

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ELIZABETH GURNEY FRY (MAY 21, 1780-OCTOBER 12, 1845)

English Quaker Social Reformer and “Angel of Prisons”

Elizabeth Fry comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via four sources.  The first is Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  The other three sources are The Church of England; the Scottish Episcopal Church; and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Elizabeth Gurney, born in Norwich, England, on May 31 1780, grew up in a prosperous Quaker family.  Both parents, John Gurney and Catherine Barclay Gurney, had ties to banking.  John was a partner in Gurney’s Bank.  Catherine belonged to the family that founded Barclays Bank.  Our saint’s family was relatively lax, by Quaker standards.  They (gasp!) sang and danced.  The family also (horrors!) wore bright clothing to the meeting house.  Catherine died when Elizabeth was 12 years old.  Therefore, our saint subsequently helped to raise her younger siblings.  She also felt the calling to godly social service and greater personal austerity.

Elizabeth married Joseph Fry, a banker and a Quaker of Bristol, on August 19, 1800, when she was 20 years old.  The couple moved to London.  They raised twelve children (ten of whom lived to adulthood), born between August 1801 and October 1822.  Our saint eventually felt that her life, full of domestic duties, was distracting her from a higher calling.  Twelve years into married life, she wrote in her diary:

I feel that my life is slipping away to little purpose.

In 1813, our saint began her efforts in prison reform.  She visited Newgate Prison, where the inhumane conditions appalled her.  Women and their children shared cells and wore rags.  Some slept on old straw.  Others did not have even straw on which to sleep.  The next day, Fry returned with clothing and fresh straw for inmates.  Guards told her that the prisoners and children were savages who did not deserve such alleged luxuries.  After helping female prisoners and their children in these ways for years, Fry began to help them in another way in 1816; she founded a prison school for the mostly illiterate prisoners and their children.

Above:  Newgate Prison

Image in the Public Domain

Fry’s prison reforms were controversial at the time.  Many conservatives accused her of being soft on crime.  If conditions in prisons were humane, what deterrent value would prisons have?  Our saint founded the Association for the Reformation of Female Prisoners in Newgate in 1817.  Female inmates learned skills they could use to support themselves and their children financially in the outside world.  This approach led to the founding of the British Ladies’ Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners in 1821.  Our saint’s emphasis on rehabilitation was allegedly soft on crime.  Fry, who visited various prisons, worked to provide jailers and provide sufficient food as well as Bibles and care packages for long transport journeys on ships.  She also visited prisoner transport vessels, in use even after they became illegal in 1837.  Fry also lobbied for human conditions for prisoners throughout the realm.

Fry engaged in other humanitarian work, too.  In 1824, she founded the Brighton District Visiting Society.  Volunteers visited the homes of the poor, to assist them.  Across the island, this model of social work duplicated.  Our saint also campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade.  The school for nurses Fry founded in 1840 provided nurses to Florence Nightingale’s humanitarian effort during the Crimean War.

Despite much criticism from the right, our saint had prominent admirers and supporters.  Among these were King Frederick William IV of Prussia (reigned 1840-1861) and Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901).  Queen Victoria contributed financially, too.  Also, Fry’s work inspired prison reform legislation in Europe.

Fry cared deeply about the poor and sought to address that perpetual poverty.  She started a nightly homeless shelter in London in 1820.  She and brother Joseph John Gurney (her business manager, and her financial benefactor after husband Joseph Fry went bankrupt in 1828) studied systemic and widespread poverty in Ireland.  Brother and sister wrote a report then published it.

Fry helped other populations, too.  Mental asylums have long been cruel and notorious places.  Fry worked to reform and improve the treatment of the insane and the mentally ill in Britain, too.  Our saint also helped seamen.  In 1836, she helped to provide libraries in Coast Guard stations and some naval hospitals.

Fry’s main literary legacy may be her Texts for Every Day in the Year, Principally Practical and Devotional (1831).

Our saint, aged 65 years, died in Ramsgate, England, on October 12, 1845.  Seamen at Ramsgate flew their flag at half-staff in her honor.  This showed great respect, for, to that point, they had only honored deceased British sovereigns in this way.

For further reading, I refer you, O reader, to archive.org, from which books about Fry are available for free.

Do we see the image of God in the poor, vulnerable, and despised?  Elizabeth Gurney Fry did.  Do we care enough about others to reach out to them?  Elizabeth Gurney Fry did.  Her faith found expression in her actions.  She, being a Quaker, affirmed that the “Inner Light” of God exists in each human being.

The challenge the legacy of Elizabeth Gurney Fry poses to the rest of us is great and morally proper.  This is the challenge to believe–really believe–that each human being bears the image of God and contains the divine Inner Light.  Those who really believe this act accordingly.  They make political enemies, create controversy, and improve lives.  They challenge exploitative social attitudes, structures, and institutions.  They live the Golden Rule.  How this looks varies according to circumstances, such as time and place.  The principle is constant, though.

The Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes the following text:

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May we–you, O reader, and I–do so, with God’s help.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Gracious and loving God,

you bring good tidings to the afflicted,

bind up the broken-hearted,

and proclaim liberty to the captives;

we thank you for sending Elizabeth Fry into the prisons

with words of comfort and deeds of care:

grant that all who minister to those in prison

may be filled with your compassion

and be bearers of your hope;

through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

Blessed are you, Jesus our good shepherd,

in Elizabeth your minister.

Year after year she visited women

in prisons and asylums.

May we too understand and care for people unconditionally.  Amen.

Genesis 39:20-23

Psalms 41 or 82

Romans 12:9-21

Matthew 25:31-45

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Feast of Joao Bosco Burnier (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Germane Region of Brazil

Scanned and Cropped by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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JOÃO BOSCO PENIDO BURNIER (JUNE 12, 1917-OCTOBER 12, 1976)

Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1976

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The history of salvation is nothing more than the accumulation of the responses of individual men and women to the call of their baptism.

–João Bosco Burnier, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 443

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João Bosco Burnier comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).

Burnier led a life defined by love of Jesus and his fellow human beings, especially “the least of these.”  He, born in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on June 12, 1917, was the fifth of nine children.  Our saint, who joined the Society of Jesus at age 19, graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.  He, ordained in Rome in 1946, wanted to be a missionary in Brazil.  First, though, he had other assignments.  Burnier was the Jesuit Assistant for Latin America (-1954).  Then our saint was the Jesuit Vice Provincial for the province that spanned the states of Goias, Minas Gerais, and Espiritu Santo (1954-1959).  Next, Burnier was a novice master and spiritual director (1959-1965).  He, as a member of the Brazilian Roman Catholic Indigenous Missionary Council (CIM), advocated for the rights of indigenous people.

Finally, in 1966, Burnier got to become a missionary.  He, based in the region of Mato Grosso, carved out of the Amazon rain forest, ministered to the Bakairi and Xavante people in the state of Minas Gerais.  Our saint understood how to succeed as a missionary in his context:

We must adapt ourselves to the culture of the Indian in order to transmit the gospel, or to discover within the life of the Indians the gospel values.

–Burnier, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 444

Burnier also conducted his missionary work in the context of the military dictatorship (1964-1985).

One of Burnier’s allies was his bishop.  Pedro Casaldáligo (February 16, 1928-August 8, 2020) was the Bishop of São Felix do Araguala (1971-2005).  Casaldáligo lived simply.  He defended the rights of the poor and of the indigenous peoples.  The bishop also embraced Liberation Theology and openly opposed the military dictatorship.  He was, according to enemies, a communist.  (Communism had a flexible definition, depending on who was calling someone else a communist, apparently.)

I have, by the way, added Bishop Casaldáligo to my list of people to consider seriously for inclusion on this Ecumenical Calendar.

In October 1976, Father Burnier and Bishop Casaldáligo were traveling together after having attended an ecclesiastical meeting.  They were visiting towns and villages, and enjoying doing so.  On October 11, the duo arrived in the small town of Ribeirão Bonito, Mato Grosso.  While there, they learned that police were torturing two peasant women in the jail.

The priest and the bishop did what any decent Christian men would do; they went immediately to the jail and confronted the police officers.  The officers accused Father Burner and Bishop Casaldáligo of being communists.  One officer pistol-whipped the priest.  Then the officer shot the priest in the neck.  Burnier died in the neurological unit in Goiania, Goias, Brazil, the next day.  Our saint was 59 years old.

Local peasants erected a memorial to Father Burnier on the site of his shooting.  On a cross they inscribed (in Portuguese, of course):

On 11 Oct. 76 in this place of Ribeirão Bonito, Mato Grosso, was assassinated Father Joāo Bosco Burnier, for defending the liberty of the poor.  He died, like Jesus Christ, offering his life for our liberation.

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 445

Jesus said:

Take up your cross and follow me.

Jesus said:

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s brother.

Jesus also said:

When you did it for the least of these, my brethren, you did it for me.

Father Joāo Bosco Burnier laid down his life for two peasant women he never met.  He did this without hesitation.

No greater love, indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT TIKHON OF MOSCOW, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GEORGE THE YOUNGER, GREEK ORTHODOX BISHOP OF MITYLENE

THE FEAST OF JAY THOMAS STOCKING, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MONTFORD SCOTT, EDMUND GENNINGS, HENRY WALPOLE, AND THEIR FELLOW MARTYRS, 1591 AND 1595

THE FEAST OF RANDALL DAVIDSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Gracious Lord, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives for the message of your love.

Inspire us with the memory of those martyrs for the Gospel

[like your servant João Bosco Burnier]

whose faithfulness led them in the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Agneta Chang (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Korea Within the Japanese Empire, 1910-1945

Image Source = Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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AGNETA CHANG JEONG-EUN (SEPTEMBER 25, 1906-CIRCA OCTOBER 4, 1950)

Maryknoll Sister and Martyr in Korea, 1950

Sister Agneta Chang Jeong-eun comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1950).

Above:  The Flag of the Korean Empire

Image in the Public Domain

Sister Agneta came from a devout Korean Roman Catholic family.  Our saint debuted in the Korean Empire, then a protectorate of the Japanese Empire, on September 25, 1906.  For most of her life, her homeland was part (1910-1945) of the Japanese Empire.  Sister Agneta was one of six children of Chang Gi-bin and Lucia Hwang.  Our saint’s father, Chang Gi-bin, worked at ports.  He was the revenue officer at Inchon then the superintendent of customs at Busan.  Our saint had three brothers and two sisters.  The parents , fluent in Korean, Japanese, and English, had their children educated (for some number of years, per child) in the United States of America.

Above:  The Flag of Japan

Image in the Public Domain

One brother was Chang Myon, a.k.a. John Chang (1899-1966).  He served as a delegate to the United Nations (1948), as the South Korean Ambassador to the United States of America (December 1949f), as the Prime Minister (November 1950-April 1952), as the last Vice President (May 1956-April 1960), and as the Prime Minister again (August 1960-May 1961).

Sister Agneta connected with the Maryknoll Sisters via her father, one of their supporters in Korea.  She completed her novitiate training (started in 1921) in Maryknoll, New York.  Then she returned to Korea in 1925.  Our saint worked as a catechist at Uyju (now in North Korea).  She also taught Korean to the non-Korean Maryknoll Sisters there.  Sister Agneta, artistic and musically-inclined, shared those talents.  In 1930, after five years at Uyju, our saint spent five years at the College of Religious of the Sacred Heart, in Japan.  She graduated with her A.B. degree om 1935.

The Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had formed in the Diocese of Pyongyang in 1931.  Sister Agneta, upon returning to Korea in 1935, joined them.  In December 1941, with U.S. entry into World War II, the U.S. Sisters left Korea.  Sister Agneta, the novice mistress, was cut off from from the Maryknoll Sisters organization, supplies, and funding.  She struggled with inadequate funding and supplies, as well as high inflation, behind enemy lines.

Above:  Japan and Divided Korea, 1945-1948

Image Source = Post-World War II Supplement to Hammonds’ New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

After the Japanese surrender, the United States America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics divided Korea into two occupation zones.  The Soviets occupied the portion of Korea north of the 38th Parallel.  Sister Agneta lived in the Soviet Occupation Zone (1945-1948).  During this time, she reestablished contact with her family and the Maryknoll Sisters.  She also received necessary supplies and funding.

Above:  The Flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)

Image in the Public Domain

All that ceased with the establishment of the ironically-named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, informally, North Korea.  The North Korean government began its persecution of religion it could not control.  Therefore, for example, many Roman Catholic priests and bishops went to prison.  Some became martyrs.  Authorities also seized ecclesiastical buildings.

On May 14, 1950, North Korean agents closed the last building the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help used.  The Sisters dispersed.  Sister Agneta traveled with Sister Mary Peter Kang to a Roman Catholic village, Songrimi.  Our saint had long had a bad back, due to an injury.  Sister Agneta, who wore a back brace, was in constant pain, and the journey to Songrimi was extremely difficult for her to make.  She was bedridden in the village when officials came to apprehend her on the pretense of her summons to perform compulsory civil defense work.

Sister Mary Peter Kang last saw Sister Agneta on October 4, 1950.  Our saint was lying in anguish on an ox cart, groaning and praying as the cart moved on a mountain trail.  According to subsequent reports, North Korean soldiers shot Agneta and some other women then buried their corpses in an unmarked mass grave.  

Sister Agneta was 44 years old when she died.

Twelve Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help remained in North Korea.  They also perished, presumably.  Sister Mary Peter Chang and other Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help arrived safely in South Korea, though.  

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES AND ENLIGHTENER OF NORTH AMERICA

THE FEAST OF CORDELIA COX, U.S. LUTHERAN SOCIAL WORKER, EDUCATOR, AND RESETTLER OF REFUGEES

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WRIGHT BUCKHAM, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIO ALVAREZ MENDOZA, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Agneta Chang

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), 713

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Feast of Penny Lernoux (October 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Latin America

Image in the Public Domain

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PENNY LERNOUX (JANUARY 6, 1940-OCTOBER 9, 1989)

U.S. Roman Catholic Journalist and Moral Critic

Penny Lernoux–journalist, defender of the poor and oppressed, and advocate for Liberation Theology–comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via two books.  The first one is Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  The other volume is Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, second edition (2005).

Lernoux, born in California on January 6, 1940, was a cradle Roman Catholic.  She became a journalist.  In 1962, as an employee of the United States Information Agency (U.S.I.A.), she traveled to Latin America for the first of many times.  After leaving the U.S.I.A., she went to work for the Copley News Service in the early 1960s.  Our saint, an employee of that news service for about a decade, continued to travel professionally in Latin America.

The Cold War made for nasty bedfellows, all in the name of fighting communism.  The United States Government usually supported Latin American right-wing military dictatorships that sent death squads to execute innocent civilians.  The United States Government even installed some of these dictatorships, all in the name of fighting communism.  These governments were not communist, at least.  Most Roman Catholic bishops in Latin America supported these repressive governments, which were not communist, at least.  Lernoux became disenchanted with her Church and her country in the 1960s.  She remained so for the rest of her life.

Yet our saint found grassroots heroes of faith who renewed her faltering faith.  Maryknoll Sisters helped to renew Lernoux’s faith.  She also met Roman Catholic priests and missioners who worked and identified with the poor and oppressed, despite great risks to themselves.  Lernoux began to tell these stories.  Her first book, Cry of the Poor:  The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America–The Catholic Church in Conflict with U.S. Policy (1977), was part of that endeavor.  She really lowered the boom on the Vatican and the United States Government in In Banks We Trust:  Bankers and Their Close Associates:  The C.I.A., the Mafia, Drug Traders, Dictators, Politicians, and the Vatican (1984).  She also wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education and the National Catholic Reporter.  Furthermore, our saint spoke in North American churches, telling the stories of their Latin American counterparts.

Lernoux found another reason to criticize the Vatican.  The Church had betrayed the promise of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), she alleged.  For example, Pope John Paul II and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) were busy silencing dissent in the 1980s.  People of God:  The Struggle for World Catholicism (1989) did nothing to make Lernoux less unpopular at the Vatican.

At the end of her life, Lernoux was writing her fourth book, a history of the Maryknoll Sisters.  In September 1989, Lernoux received her diagnosis of cancer.  On October 8, she aged 49 years old, died in Mount Kisco, New York.  She left behind a husband (Denis Nahum) and a daughter (Angela).  

Robert Ellsberg and Arthur Jones completed Lernoux’s last book.  Hearts on Fire:  The Story of the Maryknoll Sisters debuted in 1993.

Lernoux understood the divine preference for the poor in the Bible.  She, in her words, walked

in solidarity with the poor.

So did many Latin American Roman Catholic priests, lay people, and religious.  So did Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara (1909-1989), who challenged his fellow Latin American bishops to identify with the poor and the oppressed, not the rich and the powerful.  And so did El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980), who became a martyr.

The poor and the oppressed need more advocates of the calibre of Penny Lernoux.

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God of the poor and oppressed,

thank you for the work and legacy of your servant Penny Lernoux,

a journalist, an advocate for the poor and oppressed, and a faithful dissident.

Help us, we pray, shake off the barriers to recognizing oppression and exploitation,

and our roles in perpetuating those sins.

May we, in the name of performing righteousness,

not commit and perpetuate evil.

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 4:1-10

Psalm 15

Revelation 18:1-24

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH RUNDLE CHARLES, ANGLICAN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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