Archive for the ‘Robert Ellsberg’ Tag

Feast of Gaspar Contarini (October 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Cardinal Contarini

Image in the Public Domain

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GASPAR CONTARINI (OCTOBER 16, 1483-AUGUST 24, 1542)

Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal and Agent of Reconciliation

Also known as Gasparo Contarini

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If we wish to put an end to the Lutheran errors and troubles, we need not muster orations, or subtle arguments:  let us rely on the probity of our lives and a humble spirit, desiring nothing but the good of Christ and our neighbors.

–Gaspar Contarini, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 450

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Cardinal Gaspar(o) Contarini comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg’s book.

Contarini, born in Venice on October 16, 1483, sought to be a reconciler during a time of extremes.  He, from nobility, studied philosophy at the University of Padua.  Our saint became a diplomat in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spain), and served as Ambassador to the Papal States.  Prior to and during the Protestant Reformation Contarini opposed ecclesiastical corruption and advocated for reform.  In 1510, for example, our saint published his criticism of worldly bishops.  When the Protestant Reformation had started, Contarini reviewed Protestant teachings and found in them much both to praise and criticize.

Contarini was not afraid to speak truth to power.  In 1529, in person, he urged Pope Clement VII (in office November 19, 1523-September 25, 1534) to focus on ecclesiastical reconciliation, not on temporal power.  Clement VII, born Guilio de Medici, did not accept the counsel.  He, a hardliner, as well as a cousin of the late Pope Leo X (in office 1513-1521), was a Supreme Pontiff of his time, unfortunately.

The next Pope was Paul III (in office October 13, 1534-November 10, 1549), born Alessandro Farnese.  His sister was Guilia, mistress of Pope Alexander VI (in office 1492-1503), born Rodrigo Borgia.  Pope Paul III appointed Contarini, a layman, to the College of Cardinals and assigned him to lead a reform commission.  The commission’s report condemned abuses, including simony and the sale of indulgences.

Contarini’s final effort at ecclesiastical reconciliation was the Regensburg conference (1541), between Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church.  He helped to develop agreement on many points, including justification by faith.  This attempt at finding common ground was so controversial on both sides that it failed.  Paul III replaced Contarini with Cardinal Carlo Carafa, a hardliner who established an inquisition instead.

Contarini died of a fever on August 24, 1542.  He was 58 years old.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

–Matthew 5:9, The New American Bible (2011)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, FATHER OF CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY TO THE FAR EAST

THE FEAST OF NELSON MANDELA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, AND RENEWER OF SOCIETY

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Gaspar(o) Contarini,

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 St. Teresa of Avila (October 15)   6 comments

Above:  St. Teresa of Avila, by Peter Paul Rubens

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF AVILA (MARCH 28, 1515-OCTOBER 4, 1582)

Spanish Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Reformer

Born Teresa de Cepeda

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Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you.  All things are passing, God never changes.  Patient endurance attains all things….God alone suffices.

–St. Teresa of Avila, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 448

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St. Teresa of Avila had many reasons to become dismayed, had she decided to permit them to dismay and disturb her.

Teresa de Cepeda, born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, came from a wealthy, well-educated family.  Her father was a merchant.  Her mother died when our saint was 14 years old.  St. Teresa became a Carmelite novice at the age of 21 years.  Her father objected, but she persisted.

Carmelite spiritual practice in that convent was quite lax; it was more like a boarding house than a nunnery.  Our saint, in her early twenties, was an invalid for several years.  During that time she read deeply in spiritual classics and became enamored of mental prayer, which she described as

friendly conversation with Him who we know loves us.

However, St. Teresa, having recovered her health, spent the next fifteen years neglecting her spiritual life.

St. Teresa, having renewed her spiritual life in 1555, had St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572) as a spiritual director.  In 1562, with the support of her bishop and the Pope, opened St. Joseph’s Abbey, the first of her new, rigorous convents.  More followed, starting in 1567; she founded 17 convents in all.  A friend, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), whom she met in 1567, founded rigorous Carmelite monasteries.

St. Teresa had to contend with opposition from ecclesiastical officialdom–bishops and the Spanish Inquisition–as well as from within her order.  Inquisitors were suspicious of her reported visions; mysticism alarmed the theological enforcers.  More opposition came from within our saint’s Discaled Carmelite order.  For a number of years St. Teresa was in internal exile, forbidden to found new convents.  That internal exile ended, though.

For years St. Teresa traveled through Spain on official business.  During one such journey, from Avila to Burges, she suffered her fatal cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.  She, aged 67 years, died at the Alba de Tormes Convent on October 4, 1582.

St. Teresa’s writings have continued to enrich seekers of God.  The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, the Life, Spiritual Relations, Exclamations of the Soul to God, and Conceptions on the Love of God have joined the ranks of spiritual classics.

The Church has honored St. Teresa.  Pope Gregory XV canonized her in 1622.  Pope Paul VI declared our saint the first female Doctor of the Church in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST DAY OF ADVENT:  THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE FREEMAN PALMER, U.S. EDUCATOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection:

Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching,

and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness;

through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 4:12-16

Psalm 42:1-7

Romans 8:22-27

Matthew 5:13-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 639

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This is post #1650 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Henri Nouwen (September 20)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Henri Nouwen

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRI JOSZEF MACHIEL NOUWEN (JANUARY 24, 1932-SEPTEMBER 21, 1996)

Dutch Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Writer

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We have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.

–Henri Nouwen

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Robert Ellsberg lists Henri Nouwen as the saint for September 20 in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  The date of September 20 works well for Nouwen on this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, for I reserve September 21 for St. Matthew the Apostle.

Much of contemporary spiritual writing has a reputation for shallowness.  This is fair because it is frequently accurate.  This generalization does not apply to the 39 books by Henri Nouwen, however.  I think in particular of The Way of the Heart, with its interpretation of the temptations of Jesus and application of those temptations to contemporary ministry.

Nouwen, born in Nijkerk, The Netherlands, on January 24, 1932, became one of the most influential and popular spiritual writers of the twentieth century.  He discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Utrecht in 1957, studied psychology at the Catholic University of Nijmegan from 1957 to 1964.  Next he studied at the Menninger Clinic, in the United States, in 1964-1966, and became involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Nouwen was an academic.  He taught at the University of Notre Dame (1966-1968), the Catholic Theological University of Utrecht (1968-1970), and Yale University School (1971-1981).  After spending six months in Bolivia and Peru in 1982-1983, our saint taught at Harvard Divinity School (1983-1985).  Nouwen was spiritually restless, seeking his proper place.  His moves from one teaching position to another indicated this restlessness.

Nouwen also experienced great stress.  He was, by all accounts, a priest who lived according to his wows, including celibacy.  He also had the needs for physical and emotional intimacy all people have.  Our saint struggled with those issues as well as his homosexuality, which he kept secret.  One biographer has suggested that Nouwen made peace with himself toward the end of his life.

Nouwen made a truly disturbing discovery about himself:  In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (perhaps not the best name for the parable, but the traditional one), he was most like the resentful older brother.  This was a spiritual condition he could change, and did address.

Nouwen spent 1986-1996 as the pastor at the Daybreak Community in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The community specialized in serving severely handicapped people.  In addition to his pastoral duties Nouwen was caregiver to Adam, a young man who could do nothing for himself–not even speak or feed himself.  In taking care of Adam our saint learned the meaning of being beloved by God.

Nouwen died of a heart attack on September 21, 1996, when he was in Hilversum, The Netherlands.  He was 64 years old.  He left a fine published legacy, which continues to benefit many people spiritually.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Henri Nouwen

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of James Carney (September 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Honduras and Nicaragua, 1957

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

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JAMES FRANCIS CARNEY (OCTOBER 28, 1924-SEPTEMBER 16, 1983)

U.S.-Honduran Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, Revolutionary, and Martyr, 1983

Also known as Padre Guadeloupe

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To be a Christian is to be a revolutionary.

–Father James Carney

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The national security policy that justifies everything that is done in terms of U.S. security is an evil policy.  Father Carney got in trouble because he fell in love with poor people.  Other people get in trouble because they fall in love with riches and power and glory and pomposity.

–Joseph Connolly, brother-in-law of James Carney

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James Francis Carney took up his cross and followed Jesus to his death.

Carney, born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 28, 1924, grew up in a devout and middle-class Roman Catholic family in the Middle West.  He was an altar boy, a football player, and a member of the St. Louis University High School Class of 1942.  Our saint attended St. Louis University on a football scholarship.  While playing the sport he injured a knee; he had a bad knee for the rest of his life.  Myopia and a bad knee did not prevent conscription into the U.S. Army during World War II.  He, serving in the European Theater as a member of the Army Corps of Engineers, found living piously in the military difficult.  The frequent profanity proved especially disturbing.

Carney’s life changed after the war.  In 1946 he resumed studies at St. Louis University for a year.  Our saint matriculated at the University of Detroit, to study civil engineering, in 1947, but left after a year.  Religious life was calling.  While at Detroit Carney first read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  He spent the rest of his life synthesizing Christianity and Marxism.  In 1948 our saint matriculated at St. Stanislaus Seminary, Flourissant, Missouri.  Carney joined the Society of Jesus.  He served as a missionary in British Honduras (now Belize) from 1955 to 1958 then studied at St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s, Kansas.  He became a priest in 1961.

Honduras has a sad political history.  The economically underdeveloped country has a long record of military dictatorships and corrupt and repressive governments.  Poverty is rampant, entrenched, and intergenerational, and institutional.  As in other parts of the former Spanish Empire, relatively few people own most of the land, control the majority of the wealth, and resist attempted at the redistribution of land, wealth, and political power.

From 1961 to 1979 Carney was a missionary priest in Honduras.  He, devoted to Our Lady of Guadeloupe, preferred that the peasants (campesinos) among whom he ministered call him “Padre Guadeloupe.”  Our saint, not content to stop at administering sacraments, became a social and political revolutionary for justice.  He identified with the peasants and lived as they did.  He became active in the peasants’ union, advocated for land reform, became a Honduran citizen, and came to identify as a “Marxist-Christian.”  He criticized the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Honduras for their close relationship with the United Fruit Company, which paid far below a living wage, thereby exacerbating poverty.  Our saint also condemned U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

Carney, after spending a few weeks at St. Louis University in 1979, moved to Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas had recently deposed Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the U.S.-backed dictator.  After spending a few years as a member of a revolutionary society, Carney decided to return to Honduras.  Doing so was dangerous.  The U.S.-supported government there arrested or executed alleged subversives–including leftists, liberals, and union activists.  Death squads were active in the Honduran Army.  This was the government that, according to U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1983, was promoting democracy.  The Honduran government was not promoting democracy while murdering or arresting its politically troublesome citizens.  It was, however, providing a base of operations for the U.S.-backed, anti-Sandinista Contras.

Carney, who resigned from the Society of Jesus in June 1983, had become a committed revolutionary.  He regarded the wealth of the Vatican with disgust and recoiled at bourgeois Christians who supported causes he considered antithetical to the faith.  His pacifism was gone; some violence was sadly necessary, Carney understood.

On July 19, 1983, Carney returned to Honduras as the chaplain to a small band of guerrillas.  The Honduran Army captured or killed the unit quickly; Carney disappeared.  There were, over the years, various proposed fates for Padre Guadeloupe.  The most likely one was that, on Friday, September 19, 1983, the Honduran Army, having tortured Carney, threw him out of a helicopter above a mountain.  Perhaps the priest died when he hit the ground.

Officially, nobody recovered Carney’s physical remains–just his stole and chalice.

Carney’s family has attempted to learn of his fate and what the U.S. Government knows about it.  A federal judge, citing national security, dismissed a lawsuit.  Requests under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed answers, but mostly indirectly.  In 1999 the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) released many pages of documentation; 75 of those pages were entirely blacked out.  Members of the the family have also had good reasons to suspect that the federal government has tapped their telephones.

The truth of the matter seems clear, especially considering the many redactions and the appeals to national security:  The Honduran Army executed Carney with the support of the U.S. Government, which does not want to admit this.

Carney, in his 1983 autobiography, “The Metamorphosis of a Revolutionary,” wrote:

Since my novitiate, I have asked Christ for the Grace to be able to imitate him, even to martyrdom, to the giving of my life, to being killed for the cause of Christ.  And I strongly believe that Christ might give me this tremendous Grace to become a martyr for justice.

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 404-405

The United States of America is, unlike many other nation-states, a country founded on high ideals, which the U.S. Government and society has a long record of trampling, unfortunately.  Human nature makes no exceptions because of U.S. citizenship.  When my country is at its best, it seeks to live those ideals, embodied most nobly in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, especially the Fourteenth Amendment.  The case of James Carney’s fate and the subsequent cover-up of U.S. Government knowledge of if poses a difficult question:  If a government founded on high ideals consistently makes a mockery of them, how are citizens supposed to respond to that hypocrisy?

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God of the poor, the oppressed, and the powerless,

we confess our sins, which we have committed either in knowledge or ignorance,

and which have harmed those less fortunate, many of them far away.

We acknowledge that, despite our best intentions,

we are complicit in the sins of our society, governments, institutions, and corporations.

We have the blood of innocents, many of whom we will never encounter, on our hands.

As we praise you and thank you for the moral courage of Father James Carney to take up his cross and follow Christ,

we also pray that you will forgive us and grant us the necessary grace

to confess and repent of our sins, and to act, as you lead us, to help the poor, the oppressed, and the powerless.

We pray through Jesus of Nazareth, executed unjustly as a criminal and a threat to imperial security.

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

Amos 8:4-8

Psalm 15

Revelation 18:9-20

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH PAYSON PRENTISS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JEREMY TAYLOR, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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This is post #1600 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of the Martyrs of Birmingham, Alabama, September 15, 1963 (September 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, 1993

Photographer = Jet Lowe

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ADDIE MAY COLLINS (AGE 14)

CAROLE ROBERTSON (AGE 14)

CYNTHIA WESLEY (AGE 14)

DENISE MCNAIR (AGE 11)

Died in the basement of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, Sunday, September 15, 1963

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These children–unoffending; innocent and beautiful–were the victims of one of the most vicious, heinous crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.

–The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., September 18, 1963

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This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).

The city of Birmingham, Alabama, was notorious during the Civil Rights Movement.  There, from 1956 to 1963, the city earned its unfortunate nickname, “Bombingham,” due to the at least 28 unsolved racially motivated bombings.  In Birmingham, in 1963, authorities committed unjustifiable violence against peaceful protesters–many of them juveniles–when they sprayed them with water full-force (sufficient to break bones) from fire water hoses and sent dogs to attack protesters.  In Birmingham, in April 1963, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., sat in the jail and wrote his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, one of the great texts of moral theology in the twentieth century.  And, on September 15, 1963, a few bombers committed a crime that claimed lives and shocked much of the world.

September 15, 1963, was to be Youth Day at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.  Addie May Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair, set aside to lead the 11:00 service, were excited.  They had left Sunday School early and gone to put on their white choir robes in the basement.  The new school year had begun; they were discussing that topic.  Upstairs, in a women’s Sunday School class, the topic of the lesson was “The Love that Forgives.”  Then, at 10:22, a bomb exploded in the basement, destroying the outside stone staircase, blowing a hole in the eastern façade of the building, injuring twenty people, and killing the four girls.

Moral revulsion at this act was global yet not universal.  The Vatican newspaper likened the bombing to a “massacre of the innocents.”  The bombing and the four deaths shocked even many of the most hardened segregationists.  In Birmingham that Sunday, however, the bombing inspired social violence–some of it fatal–by whites on African Americans who were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The wrong place was Birmingham.

At the funeral three days later Dr. King condemned the crime and reminded the mourners that

God has a way of wringing good out of evil.

He also stated the necessity of being concerned with the system and society that produced those immediately responsible for the bombing.

King’s words remain relevant.  His speeches and writings have a simultaneously noble and unnerving quality, for they remain germane when we Americans, as a country, should have made more progress toward social justice.  In the context of 2015-2018 in the United States several factors alarm me.  The move of hateful rhetoric and policies, until recently usually relegated to whispers, coded speech, and unapologetically racist wing nuts on the Far Right into the mainstream of politics, but without the coded language, is sinful.  Many election results of recent years confirm this phenomenon.  Yet this period in U.S. history is not unique, the study of the past teaches me.  White supremacy is an indefensible American tradition.  It is as American as motherhood, apple pie, and

…all men are created equal….

Human depravity is, in my mind, a verified fact, not an article of faith.  I need no faith to believe that which I can prove objectively.

King still teaches us, if we listen.  The deaths of the four girls and the injuries of the twenty other people at the church on September 15, 1963, still teach us, if we listen.  Do we dare to listen to the lessons they impart?

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Loving God of the Incarnation, you identify with us in our joys and our sorrows.

We thank you for your holy children:  Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair.

We also mourn them, murdered in an act of racism, cruelty, and cowardice.

Burn out of us, we pray, all hatred for any of our fellow human beings, and cast out all prejudice that leads to bigotry.

We pray through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, an innocent man who died violently and unjustly.

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

Isaiah 69:17-22

Psalm 37:1-13

Romans 12:9-21

Matthew 2:13-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH PAYSON PRENTISS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JEREMY TAYLOR, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta (September 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gold Medal of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF CALCUTTA (AUGUST 26, 1910-SEPTEMBER 5, 1997)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity

Also known as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Alternative feast day = October 19

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We can do no great things, only small things with great love.

–St. Teresa of Calcutta, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 393

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Reactions and responses to St. Teresa of Calcutta prove that, regardless of how good one is and how much one helps others, especially the poor and other marginalized persons, one will have vocal critics.  This is not surprising, especially if one considers Jesus of Nazareth, sinless, and the subject of intense criticism for nearly 2000 years.  One, such as St. Teresa, who makes no pretense of perfection while following Christ can expect criticism also.  The servant is not greater than the master.

Our saint was a native of Skopje, now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, perhaps soon to become the Republic of North Macedonia.  On August 26, 1910, however, Skopje was a city in the Ottoman Empire.  St. Teresa, an ethnic Albanian, grew up in a series of countries for a few years without leaving the city; borders shifted around her.  In 1918, however, Skopje became part of the new country of Yugoslavia.   Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the youngest child of Nikollé Bojaxhiu and Dranafile Bernai, grew up in a devout family.  Her parents had her baptized when she was one day old.  Her father died when she was eight years old.  Our saint, having read accounts of missionaries in the Bengal region of India, decided at a young age to become a missionary and a nun.

St. Teresa became a religious when she was 18 years old.  Agnes joined the Sisters of Loreto and resided at the abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland.  She studied English there.  The following year she arrived in India, as a missionary.  At first Agnes, still a novice, learned the Bengali language and taught at St. Teresa’s School, Darjeeling, in the southern Himalaya region.  Agnes made her first religious vows on May 24, 1931, becoming Teresa, after St. Thérèse of Lisieux.  When Sister Teresa made her final vows on May 14, 1937, she was a teacher in Calcutta.  Our saint taught in that school until she became the headmistress in 1944.

St. Teresa began her work living among and helping the poor in Calcutta in 1948.  She did this in obedience to a divine vocation she received during a train ride on September 10, 1946.  Over the years our saint founded institutions and spin-off orders of her original order, the Missionaries of Charity, founded with thirteen members in 1950.  She also became an Indian citizen.  St. Teresa and those who worked with her ministered to the poor, the homeless, the dying, lepers, the addicted, and victims of epidemics of natural disasters.  They started work in Calcutta then expanded around the world.

Eventually St. Teresa became famous internationally.  She received many honors, perhaps most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  She had a reputation as a living saint.  She lived up to it, venturing into war zones to rescue children and assisting victims of devastating earthquakes.  The staunch Roman Catholic, who opposed divorce, abortion, and artificial contraception, also attracted strong criticism from across the political spectrum.  Some critics were right-wing Hindu nationalist politicians.  Others were those sensitive to the global reputation of Calcutta, now renamed Kolkata.  There were also antitheists (to use Reza Aslan‘s term), such as Christopher Hitchens.  Criticism also came from other quarters.  St. Teresa’s death has not abated criticism of her and her orders.

The 87-year-old saint died in Calcutta on September 5, 1997.  The Indian Government gave her a state funeral, but not without controversy.  The Roman Catholic Church fast-tracked her path to full sainthood, declaring her a Venerable in 2002, a Blessed the following year, and a full saint in 2016.

St. Teresa is the patron of the Missionaries of Charity and, with St. Francis Xavier, a patron of the Diocese of Calcutta.

As for criticisms of St. Teresa, she was, like each of us, a flawed human being.  But would it be too much to ask that we, who have done far less good than she did, follow the advice of the novelist Alex Haley and “find the good and praise it”?

The orders St. Teresa founded continue to minister to vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNARDINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND THE ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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More Sources of Names for My Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days   Leave a comment

Above:  My Set of The Interpreter’s Bible, August 2, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have collected Biblical commentaries for years.  On occasion I have chosen a scholar, the author of multiple volumes in that collection, for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  I have added Father Mitchell J. Dahood (1922-1982), for example.  Only this week, however, have I made a list of scholars–more than sixty of them–to consider.

I have drawn names for my Ecumenical Calendar from a variety of sources.

  1. I have consulted approved denominational calendars of saints (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran), of course.  I have found them very helpful, but hardly comprehensive.  (I look forward to the final version of the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, due in book form next year, although I have downloaded the provisional version of it as a PDF.)
  2. I have also gotten much mileage out of Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  I purchased my copy at the Goodwill store on the east side of Athens, Georgia, on August 28, 2016, and have seldom gotten more value out of any book as I have from this one.
  3. I have found many names in hymnals, especially old ones.
  4. I have added public figures.
  5. I have added some people I have known.
  6. I have added people of whom I have read while preparing a post on another saint.
  7. I have added people I simply thought belonged on a calendar of saints.

The main source of “new” names is The Interpreter’s Bible, a classic set from the 1950s.  Other names on my list of Biblical scholars come from other Biblical commentaries.  I choose to focus on commentaries from a certain period (no later than the early 1980s, mainly), for one major requirement for addition to my Ecumenical Calendar is being dead.  (One scholar who contributed to The Interpreter’s Bible is still alive, by the way.)  I do not draw many names from The New Interpreter’s Bible (1990s-early 2000s), essential to my preparation of Sunday School lessons, because of the issue of most of those scholars still being alive.  I wish the contemporary scholars good health, a constant grasp of their faculties, and long life, but I will not write about them as saints as long as they breathe.

Above:  My Set of The New Interpreter’s Bible, August 2, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I have established a few rules to govern my Ecumenical Calendar.  One of those rules is that I have chosen not to write blurbs and call them posts.  I have therefore refused to consider some scholars and other people, on the grounds of lack of information.

I have, however, found sufficient information on three of the newly listed (for the purpose of consideration) scholars this week to draft posts adding them to my Ecumenical Calendar.  The experience of taking notes and synthesizing information was most pleasant and spiritually rewarding.

I have designed my Ecumenical Calendar to be an ongoing project, the end of which will be my death.  I have made long-term plans for the project, manifesting my desire to continue living for a long time.

Writing my Ecumenical Calendar is a spiritually rewarding hobby.  I pray that reading it is at least as spiritually rewarding for you, O member of my audience.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNARDINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND THE ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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Posted August 2, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Communion of Saints

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