Archive for the ‘Robert Ellsberg’ Tag

Feast of Lanza del Vasto (January 31)   Leave a comment

Above:  Peace Sign

Image in the Public Domain

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GIUSEPPE GIOVANNI LUIGI MARIA LANZA DI TRABIA-BRACIFORTE (SEPTEMBER 29, 1901-JANUARY 6, 1981)

Founder of the Community of the Ark

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Power can be used for any purpose, but nonviolence or the power of justice can serve only justice.

–Lanzo del Vasto; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 15

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Lanzo del Vasto, from Italian nobility, devoted most of his adult life to working for peace, nonviolence, and reconciliation.  Giuseppe Giovanni Luigi Maria Lanza di Trabia-Braciforte, born in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy, on September 29, 1901, was a son of Don Luigi Lanza di Trabia-Braciforte and Anne-Marie Henriette Nauts-Oedenkoven.  Our saint, a student of philosophy, matriculated at the University of Pisa in 1922.  He, raised in a Roman Catholic family, remained within that tradition for the rest of his life.  Del Vasto worked with non-Roman Catholics, though.  He participated in the Indian independence movement and lived in Mohandas Gandhi’s ashram in 1936-1937.  Gandhi called our saint Shantidas, of “Servant of Peace.”  Shantidas spent the majority of this adult life traveling around the world.  He had a particular interest in sites of ongoing violent conflict.

The future must be a future of nonviolence, or else there will be no future.

–Lanza del Vasto

Toward that end, del Vasto protested (often via fasting) against evils.  These evils included torture (especially during the Algerian War), concentration camps, nuclear weapons, the global arms race, and wars.  Our saint became so famous for nonviolent protests against violence that Pope St. John XXIII gave him an advance copy of the encyclical Pacem in Terra in 1963.

In 1948 del Vasto and his wife, Chantelle, founded the first Community of the Ark, in France.  Families lived in intentional community, practiced common prayer, refused to commit violence or to exploit anyone, and became collectively self-sufficient.  It was a model from the Acts of the Apostles 4:32-37.  Del Vasto founded subsequent branches of the Community of the Ark.  He was doing that in Murcia, Spain, on January 6, 1981, when he died of a brain hemorrhage.  Our saint was 79 years old.

Lanza del Vasto took Biblical ethics seriously.  What would the world be like if more people did likewise?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

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

THE FEAST OF DAVID CHARLES, WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF NEW GUINEA, 1942 AND 1943

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF ROSKILDE, ENGLISH-DANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of our 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 Jacques Bunol (January 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Mauthausen, Austria

Image in the Public Domain

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JACQUES BUNOL (JANUARY 29, 1900-JUNE 2, 1945)

French Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945

Born Lucien Bunol

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The saints have never attached importance to what their hands do; they did what they had to do, but they did it for love.

–Jacques Bunol; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 51

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Jacques Bunol, born Lucien Bunol, died because he followed Jesus.

Bunol, born into a poor family in Normandy on January 29, 1900, grew up wanting to become a priest.  He did.  Our saint also became a teacher.  The call to the contemplative life led our saint into the Carmelite order at Lille.  After a year or so of contemplation, he became the head of the monastery’s junior school.  Contemplation remained Bunol’s preference, though.  Our saint, obedient to what he understood to be the will of God, was a very good educator.

After the Nazi occupation of France began in 1940, Bunol provided shelter for three Jewish boys at the school.  Agents of the Gestapo arrested Bunol and the Jewish youths on January 13, 1944.  Our saint ministered to his fellow prisoners, said Masses, and shared his rations.  He survived the war; Allied forces liberated the concentration camp at Mauthausen on May 5, 1945.  Bunol, ailing, helped as he was able, but died in a hospital in France on June 2.

Bunol’s story inspired the movie Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2019 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND REFORMER OF THE CALENDAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, CHEYENNE WARRIOR, CHIEF, AND HOLY MAN, AND EPISCOPAL DEACON AND MISSIONARY IN OKLAHOMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS MAURIAC, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST, CHRISTIAN HUMANIST, AND SOCIAL CRITIC

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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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Feast of Alexander Men (January 22)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Image in the Public Domain

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ALEKSANDR VLADIMIROVICH MEN (JANUARY 22, 1935-SEPTEMBER 9, 1990)

Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1990

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I have always wanted to be a Christian living not by candlelight, but in the direct light of the sun.

–Alexander Men; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 40

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Alexander Men spent his life negotiating difficulties of church-state relationships in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the Soviet Union).  He, from a family of Jewish converts to Christianity, entered the world on January 22, 1935.  Political realities played havoc with the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Moscow Patriarchate cooperated with the Soviet government.  The Russian True Orthodox Church (the Catacomb Church) did not.  Men’s baptism, when he was seven months old, was in the Catacomb Church.  Mother Mariya, abbess of a covert group of nuns, baptized our saint at the closed Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Zadorsk.

Men managed to become a priest, despite political obstacles.  He studied at the Moscow Fur Institute in 1953 and 1954, then at the Irkutsk Agriculture Institute from 1955 to 1958. Our saint’s religious convictions led to his expulsion.  Men, ordained to the diaconate in 1958, graduated from the Leningrad Theological Seminary and became a priest in 1960.  He earned degrees from the Moscow Theological Academy in 1968 and 1969.  Our saint’s dissertation for the Doctor of Theology degree was “Elements of Monotheism in Pre-Christian Religions and Philosophies.”

Men, a parish priest in the Moscow region, was a controversial figure and a subject of harassment and questioning by agents of the KGB.  He, the author of many articles and books, sought to evangelize members of the younger generation.  Near the end of Men’s life, he became a popular lecturer and a founder of the Russian Bible Society (1990).

Men, aged 55 years, died in Semkhoz, Sergiev Posad, Russia, USSR, on September 9, 1990.  That morning, he was walking on a woodland trail, en route to church.  Someone struck Men from behind with an axe.  Authorities have never solved the murder.

The most difficult moment for the church will come when everything is permitted us.  Then we will be ashamed because we are not ready to bear witness.

–Alexander Men; quoted in All Saints (1997), 41

Men, if he were still alive, would almost certainly disagree with the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Vladimir Putin.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Alexander Men 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 John Main (December 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  John Main, O.S.B.

Fair Use Image

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DOUGLAS WILLIAM VICTOR MAIN (JANUARY 21, 1926-DECEMBER 30, 1982)

Anglo-Canadian Roman Catholic Priest and Monk

John Main comes to this, 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).

Douglas Main struggled with identifying his vocation for a time yet found and embraced it.  Our saint, born in London, England, on January 21, 1926, was a son of David and Eileen.  In his twenties, Main, intent on becoming a priest, joined the Canons Regular of Lateran and commenced theological studies.  He eventually left the order because of strong doubts, though.

For a time Main was a civil servant, specifically, a member of the British Colonial Service.  He joined the Service in 1954, after having studied law at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, and graduating.  While stationed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, Main met a Hindu swami, who gave him a Christian mantra to use while meditating.  Our saint taught law at Trinity College from 1956 to 1959.  Then he resumed religious life.

Main joined the Order of Saint Benedict at Ealing Abbey, London, as John, in 1959.  Ordained to the priesthood in 1963, our saint served as the headmaster of St. Anselm’s Abbey School, Washington, D.C., from 1970 to 1974.  During this time, he studied prayer, according to writings of Desert Fathers, including St. John Cassian (c.360-c.435).  Main noticed compatibility between Christian and Eastern styles of meditation during these studies.  Our saint, back at Ealing Abbey, starting in 1974, started Christian meditation groups.  He continued this work at the new monastery in Montreal, beginning in 1977.

Main, aged 56 years, died in Montreal on December 30, 1982.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONIO MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NIEBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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O God, by whose grace your servant John Main,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

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

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Feast of the Martyrs of El Mozote (December 11)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of El Salvador

Image in the Public Domain

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MARTYRED IN EL MOZOTE, EL SALVADOR, DECEMBER 11 AND 12, 1981

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They did not die.  They are with us, with you, and with all humanity.

–English translation of the inscription on the memorial, El Mozote, El Salvador; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 541

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The El Salvadoran Civil War started after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero on March 24, 1980, and lasted until 1992.  The U.S. Government supported the repressive El Salvadoran government, which had ordered the murder of Romero, among many others.  The  number of dead civilians during the civil war was about 75,000.  Many Roman Catholic priests, lay people, and religious who advocated for the poor and oppressed were among the targets of official repression; they were allegedly communists.   They were actually following Christian morality.

There were also Protestants in El Salvador.  Many of them became targets of official repression, also.  Some of them lived in the village of El Mozote, about half of which was Protestant.  Many of these Protestants, living in the guerrilla-dominated province of Morazán, vainly attempted to be neutral.  Soon they learned horribly that, as Howard Zinn said,

You can’t be neutral on a moving train.

The population of the village increased because of the influx of refugees.  In December 1981, at the time of the massacre, about 1000 people lived in El Mozote.

Atlacati Batallion, created at the infamous School of the Americas, Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia, U.S.A., was conducting the ironically named Operation Rescue.  They were searching for guerrillas whom they suspected of hiding in El Mozote.  The questioning of villagers on December 10 yielded no information, for no guerrillas were present.  During two days (December 11 and 12), the soldiers brutally murdered all but one inhabitant.  They raped, decapitated, dismembered, et cetera.

The sole survivor was Rufina Amaya (1943-March 6, 2007), who watched as her family died terribly.  She also overheard soldiers discussing the faith of their victims.  Soldiers raped and shot one young girl repeatedly.  She sang until soldiers hacked her neck with machetes.

The massacre at El Mozote was the worst and largest massacre in modern Latin American history.  Rufina told her story.  Many journalists investigated and reported it.  The Reagan Administration and many conservative allies in the private sector downplayed the massacre, criticized the guerrillas instead, and sought to discredit journalists who reported the events of the massacre.

Rufina lived in Honduras from 1985 to 1990 then returned to El Salvador.  She never returned to live in El Mozote, however.  The village, abandoned for years, eventually became an active community again.  Rufina, who became a Roman Catholic lay minister, died on March 6, 2007.  Forensic evidence confirmed her reports, despite what the Reagan Administration, et cetera, claimed.

The blood of the martyrs cries out from the earth and belies the claims of those who defended the government of El Salvador.

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God of the martyrs, the oppressed, the poor, and the downtrodden,

we respond with justifiable moral outrage at accounts of massacres,

such as the one at El Mozote, El Salvador, in 1981.

We also recoil in disgust at the indifference of the United States Government

to that atrocity and to federal support for that brutal regime.

May we translate our anger and disgust into positive action,

demanding that our governments live up to the highest ideals of moral conduct at home and abroad.

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

Jeremiah 17:14-18

Psalm 10

Revelation 6:9-11

Matthew 2:13-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WASHINGTON GLADDEN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF FERDINAND QUINCY BLANCHARD, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY MONTAGU BUTLER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JACQUES FERMIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

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Feast of Maura Clarke and Her Companions (December 2)   4 comments

Above:  Flag of El Salvador

Image in the Public Domain

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MARY ELIZABETH CLARKE (JANUARY 3, 1931-DECEMBER 2, 1980)

ITA FORD (APRIL 23, 1940-DECEMBER 2, 1980)

DOROTHY LU KAZEL (JUNE 30, 1939-DECEMBER 2, 1980)

JEAN DONOVAN (APRIL 10, 1953-DECEMBER 2, 1980)

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U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN EL SALVADOR, DECEMBER 2, 1980

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What do you do when even to help the poor, to take care of the orphans, is considered an act of subversion by the government?

–Jean Donovan, December 1, 1980

One becomes a martyr.

These four women served God faithfully, especially among poor people, and followed Jesus to death.  Each one took up her cross and followed Christ.

The Cold War made for morally untenable compromises.  During U.S. presidential administrations of both major parties, the federal government supported brutal military dictatorships that targeted those who worked among the desperately poor.  The rationale for supporting such repressive regimes was that at least they were not communists.  One of these governments ran El Salvador.  Military death squads executed many, who in the name of Christ, worked with the poor, as well as many of those poor civilians, all in the name of fighting communism.

Dorothy Lu Kazel (1939-1980) had been Sister Laurentine of the Ursulline Sisters of Cleveland, Ohio, since 1960.  The native of Cleveland had taught at the Sacred Heart Academy in East Cleveland (starting in 1965) and taught catechism to deaf students at the St. Martin de Porres Center, Glennville, Ohio.  After serving as a missionary to the Papago tribe in Arizona in 1969, Kazel returned to Cleveland and earned her M.A. in counseling (1974).  That year she worked briefly at the Beaumont School for Girls, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  In 1974 she joined a mission of the Diocese of Cleveland to El Salvador.  In that country Kazel, workin with the poor in dangerous circumstances, became “Madre Dorthea.”

Jean Donovan was a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in El Salvador.  She, born in Westport, Connecticut, on April 10, 1953, had been a business consultant in Cleveland, Ohio.  Donovan, having earned her M.A. in Business Administration from Case Western Reserve University, had gone to work for the firm of Arthur Andersen.  She had also begun to  volunteer with poor people in Cleveland.  The call to serve God in the poor took precedence.  Donovan quit her job, joined the Maryknolls, and trained to become a missionary.  She arrived in El Salvador in July 1979.

Donovan and Kazel worked together in El Salvador.  They were some of those who kept vigil with the casket of St. Oscar Romero (1917-1980) in March 1980.  They witnesses the military attack on the large crowd at his funeral on March 30, 1980.  Hundreds suffered injuries and forty-four died.  Donovan and Kazel knew the risks they took daily, and that each day could be their last.

Donovan was no fool, especially about U.S. military helicopters.  Her father build them for a living.  One day in November 1980, Donovan, 27 years old, riding her motorbike, noticed a U.S. military helicopter following her.  She recognized its name and model.  When Donovan asked the U.S. Ambassador about the helicopter, he denied the presence of any such equipment in the country.

Maura Clarke and Ita Ford were Maryknoll Sisters.

Clarke, born in Queens, New York, New York, on January 13, 1931, was a daughter of Irish immigrants.  She joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1950 and made her vows in 1953.  After graduating from the Maryknoll Teachers College in 1954, she taught at St. Antony’s Parish School, in the Bronx.  Then Clarke spent 1959-1977 working with poor people in Nicaragua.  She spent 1977-1980 in the United States as part of a Maryknoll Sisters World Awareness Team.  She worked mostly on the East Coast.  Our saint returned to Nicaragua in 1980.  There she remained consistently until August.

Ita Ford, born in Brooklyn, New York, New York, on April 23, 1940, joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1961, having graduated from Marymount College.  Failing health forced Ford out of the order in 1964, but she returned seven years later.  She worked as an editor at Sadlier publishers from 1964 to 1971.  She rejoined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1971.  The order sent Ford to Chile in 1973, shortly after the CIA-sponsored coup d’état that over threw the Allende government and installed Augusto Pinochet, who terrorized the civilian population for 18 years.  She left Chile for El Salvador in 1980, shortly after the assassination of Archbishop Romero.  In El Salvador Ford worked with Sister Carol Piette (September 29, 1939-August 23, 1980).  Piette and Ford were escorting a recently released prisoner to his home when they became caught up in a flood.  Piette gave her life to save those of Ford and the former prisoner.

Ford joined with Clarke in Nicaragua later that month.  Ford returned to Chalatango, El Salvador, with Clarke replacing Piette.  Later the women returned to Nicaragua briefly.  They returned to El Salvador on December 2, 1980.  Kazel and Donovan met them at the airport.

Soldiers abducted the women, beat all of them, raped Kazel and Donovan, and shot each woman in the back of her head.

The U.S. Government’s response was inconsistent.  The Carter Administration, set to expire in just over a month, suspended military aid to El Salvador.  Its policy toward brutal governments in El Salvador had been inconsistent, despite Carter’s pronouncements about the importance of human rights in foreign policy.  The Carter Administration had long been aware of the El Salvadoran death squads.  Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom in March 1980 had prompted international outrage.  The Reagan Administration, which did not link human rights to foreign policy in Latin America, restored military assistance and never pressured the government of El Salvador to respect the human rights of its citizens or those of the United States.  At least the government of El Salvador, with its death squads, was fighting communists, right?  The Carter Administration’s hypocrisy and the Reagan Administration’s indifference regarding human rights in Central America were both objectionable, but the former was preferable to the latter.

Clarke reflected,

One cries out, “Lord, how long?  And then too what creeps into my mind is the little fear or big, that when it touches me very personally, will I be faithful?”

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 526

All four women were faithful to the end.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF YORK, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of the 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 122

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 Sojourner Truth (November 26)   2 comments

Above:  Sojourner Truth

Image in the Public Domain

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SOJOURNER TRUTH (1797-NOVEMBER 26, 1883)

U.S. Abolitionist, Mystic, and Feminist

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If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

–Sojourner Truth, 1851

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Sojourner Truth comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, mainly via The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.  She also comes to my Ecumenical Calendar via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), and G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  Truth’s Lutheran feast day, shared with Harriet Tubman, is March 10.  The feast day situation in The Episcopal Church is complicated, though.

The Episcopal calendar of saints used to be a simple matter.  From 1963 or so to 2009, the then-current edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts defined the church calendar.  From 1988 to 2006, the triennial General Convention approved the new edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, with “new” saints added.  The General Convention of 2009 left Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (published in 2007) unaltered yet authorized a greatly expanded side calendar, the first guide to which which was Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010).  The General Convention of 2012 left Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) alone, but the General Convention of 2015 authorized a successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  The General Convention of 2018 authorized the expanded Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, which, as of the date I write this post, is available only as a PDF document.

Truth, therefore, has two feast days in The Episcopal Church.  Her feast day from Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) and A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016) is July 20.  She shares that feast day with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, and Harriet Tubman.  However, her feast day (by herself) in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is November 26.

Isabella Baumfree, born in Rifton, New York, in 1797, was a slave.  She, a daughter of James and Elizabeth Baumfree, grew up speaking Dutch, not English.  After our saint learned English, she spoke it with a Dutch accent.  Young Isabella suffered greatly.  She, sold more than once, never knew her siblings; slavery broke her family apart.  She endured beatings, the scars of which her body bore throughout her long life.  When Isabella was 13 years old, her master mated her with Thomas, an older slave.  She and Thomas had five children.  As the government of New York prepared to free all the remaining slaves in that state on July 4, 1827, Isabella’s master reneged on promises to free her prior to that date.  In 1826 she liberated herself and her youngest child, Sophia.

Isabella spent 1826-1843 in New York City and the immediate area.  Elizabeth Baumfree had taught her daughter to trust in God.  Isabella became a Christian under the influence of her new employers (1826-1829), Isaac and Maria Van Wagener, Quakers.  Our saint, their housekeeper, adopted their surname.  In 1828 she successfully sued for the freedom of her son Peter, sold illegally into slavery in Alabama.  He joined her in New York and became Peter Van Wagener.  About that time, Isabella joined a Methodist congregation.

Isabella, who claimed to have conversations with God, was not, unfortunately, the shrewdest of mystics at all times.  From 1829 to 1832 she was housekeeper to Elijah Pierson (1786-1834), a dodgy evangelist who billed himself as “Elijah the Tishbite.”  He was also a friend of her next employer, Robert Matthews (1788-circa 1841), who billed himself as “Matthias the Prophet,” operated a commune from 1832 to 1835, and also turned out to be untrustworthy.

Our saint’s life changed in 1843.  Peter, a crewman aboard a whaling vessel, died.  Isabella, discerning a call from God to become an itinerant evangelist and political activist, renamed herself Sojourner Truth.  She was a feminist, a suffragette, a pacifist, an educator (despite being illiterate), a pacifist, and an advocate of temperance.  Truth also worked with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.  The latter man published her dictated autobiography, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, in 1847.

Truth, based at Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1844 to 1857, was usually a Methodist.  She had an association with the Millerites, however.  After William Miller’s predictions of 1843-1844 proved false, she chose to remain separate from that movement, which spawned the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Truth, unlike other abolitionists, understood the principle summarized in intersectionality, a word that did not exist during her lifetime.  Her life played out at the intersection of race, slavery, and gender.  Perhaps Truth’s best, most succinct summary of why freedom for slaves and the equality of men and women must go hand-in-hand was the “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, which she delivered at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851.

Truth, who moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where some of her daughters resided, in 1857, supported the U.S. military during the Civil War and worked for justice for former slaves after that conflict.  She helped to recruit African-American soldiers during the war.  She also met with President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 then remained in the District of Columbia, to minister to slaves in refugee camps.  Then Truth spent seven years unsuccessfully lobbying for federal land grants for former slaves.

Truth remained a radical in her final years.  In 1872 she tried to vote in the presidential election;  she would have voted for President Ulysses Grant, with whom she had met.

Our saint, aged about 86 years, died in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 26, 1883.  The truths for which she worked and advocated have never died, though.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ARMITAGE ROBINSON, ANGLICAN DEAN, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSA VENERINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE VENERINI SISTERS; MENTOR OF SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS FILIPPINI

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Almighty God, who has made the Church to be one body with many members and many gifts:

we thank you for the witness of your daughter, Sojourner Truth,

and for her courage to preach the truth of your liberating love in the face of injustice.

Grant that we, like her, may use our time, talents, and energy to proclaim the coming of your Kingdom,

which is good news to the poor, and in which all the oppressed shall be made free;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-20

Psalm 126

Mark 4:21-29

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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