Archive for the ‘St. Therese of Lisieux’ Tag

Feast of John Tavener (November 12)   2 comments

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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SIR JOHN KENNETH TAVENER (JANUARY 28, 1944-NOVEMBER 12, 2013)

English Presbyterian then Orthodox Composer

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Suffering is a kind of ecstasy in a way.  Having pain all the time makes me grateful for every moment I’ve got.

–Sir John Tavener

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John Tavener composed beautiful music that still enriches the lives of many people.

Tavener, born in Wembley, England, on January 28, 1944, grew up a Presbyterian and studied music from an early age.  His father was an organist at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Frognal, Hampstead.  Our saint studied music and began to compose at Highgate School, London, where he also sang in the choir at classical concerts.  Tavener became a fine pianist.  He began to study at the Royal Academy of Music in 1962.  There our saint decided to focus on composition.  Tavener also served as the organist and choirmaster at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Kensington, from 1961 to 1975.

Tavener was a prominent composer, starting in 1968.  That year he debuted a cantata, The Whale, based on the Book of Jonah.  He composed A Celtic Requiem the following year.  Tavener, who began to teach at the Trinity College of Music, London, in 1971, composed an opera, Thérèse (1973), about St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and a chamber opera, A Gentle Spirit (1977).

Tavener was no stranger to health problems and spiritual crises.  His brief marriage to dancer Victoria Maragopoulou in 1974 haunted him.  Health problems included a stroke in 1979, Marfan Syndrome (diagnosed in 1990), and a heart attack in 2007.  Tavener was acutely aware of his mortality.  In 1977 he converted to Russian Orthodoxy, the faith he practiced for the rest of his life.

The Russian Orthodox Church and literary works were the primary influences in Tavener’s music, starting in 1977.  Major compositions included The Lamb (1982; a setting of a poem by William Blake), Ikon of Light (1984), The Protecting Veil (1989), We Shall See Him as He Is (1990), Song for Athene (1993), Eternity’s Sunrise (1997), and Prayer of the Heart (2000; for Icelandic singer Bjork).  When Tavener began to set texts from non-Christian traditions to music, many people suspected he had become an apostate.  Tavener, who remained an Orthodox Christian, was expanding his artistic range.

Tavener, knighted in 2000, died in Child Okeford, England, on November 12, 2013.  He was 69 years old.  Maryanne Schaeffer (his wife since 1991) and three children survived him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON AND FOUNDER OF LITTLE GIDDING; GEORGE HERBERT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND METAPHYSICAL POET; AND ALL SAINTLY PARISH PRIESTS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE LINE AND ROGER FILCOCK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI, PENITENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS DE LEON, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

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Eternal God, light of the world and creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring John Tavener and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (October 1)   4 comments

Above:  St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX (JANUARY 2, 1873-SEPTEMBER 30, 1897)

Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

Also known as Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, and the Little Flower of the Child Jesus

Alternative feast day = September 20

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, born Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin at Alençon, Normandy, France, on January 2, 1873, came from a devout family.  Her parents were saints–literally.  Louis Martin (1823-1894), a watchmaker, and his wife, Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin (1831-1877), had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  The Roman Catholic Church declared them Venerables in 1994, beatified them in 2008, canonized them in 2015, and set July 12, their wedding day, as their feast day.

St. Thérèse led a brief and pious life.  Her mother, known informally as Zelie, died when St. Thérèse was just four years old.  The widower father raised his five daughters.  St. Thérèse, the youngest of the children, was the baby of the family; her father and sisters were very attentive to her, to the point of spoiling her.

St. Thérèse had a conversion experience at the age of 14 years and became Carmelite novice at the age of 15 years.  On Christmas Eve 1886 the 14-year-old saint, who had played a nun as a girl, had a vision of the infant Jesus.  Her vocation, she realized, was to pray for priests.  Our saint, seeking to give her whole life to God, gained the necessary special permission to enter the Carmelite convent (the same one where two of her sisters were nuns) in Lisieux.  She became Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

In the convent St. Thérèse obeyed the order’s rule to the letter, felt intimacy with God, and suffered failing health and spiritual difficulties with outward good cheer.  Our saint was, by nature and conditioning, neurotic.  St. Thérèse’s determination to be love and

to make Love loved

compelled her as she offered to God her devotion and suffering in the hope that God would credit them to souls in greater name than she.  The author of The Story of a Soul understood herself to be a

little flower of Jesus

who glorified God in her metaphysical garden.

St. Thérèse, aged 24 years, died of tuberculosis at the convent on September 30, 1897.  She had, for a time, felt abandoned by God as she struggled with despairs.  She had lost all certainty.  At the end, however, faith remained.  Her last words were,

Oh, I love Him!…My God,…I love you.

The Church recognized St. Thérèse.  Pope Benedict XV declared her a Venerable in 1921.  Pope Pius XI beatified her in 1923 and canonized her in 1925.  Pope John Paul II declared St. Thérèse a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

At the end of her life St. Thérèse had faith, not certainty.

Faith, when it is what it should be, is never about objective, historical-scientific certainty, in the style of Enlightenment Modernism.  Much knowledge of that variety exists and is valid; intellectually honest people should embrace it.  Enlightenment Modernism does have limits, though.  At that point faith takes over; a different form of certainty is present.

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, LORD SHAFTESBURY, BRITISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF COMPASSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST, DEACON AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MYSTIC

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Gracious Father, who called your servant Thérèse to a life of fervent prayer,

give to us the spirit of prayer and zeal for the ministry of the Gospel,

that the love of Christ may be known throughout the world;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Judith 8:1-8

Psalm 119:1-8

Luke 21:1-4

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg and Saint Hildegard of Bingen (September 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hildegard of Bingen

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JUTTA OF DISIBODENBERG (CIRCA 1084-DECEMBER 22, 1136)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from December 22

mentor of

SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (1098-SEPTEMBER 17, 1179)

Roman Catholic Abbess, Mystic, Theologian, Poet, Playwright, and Composer

One of my goals in renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, as I keep repeating, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Therefore, I merge the feasts of St. Hildegard of Bingen (September 17) and her mentor, Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg (December 22).

Blessed Jutta, born circa 1084 in Spanheim, was a German noblewoman.  Her brother was Meganhard, the Count of Spanheim.  She became a hermitess on November 1, 1106.  Blessed Jutta lived near the Abbey of Saint Disibod, Disibodenberg.  She taught children and became the center of a female community before beginning to serve as the first abbess of the new convent at Disibodenberg in 1116.  One member of that community then convent was St. Hildegard, born in Böckelheim, near Spanheim, in 1098, and also of German nobility.  She, raised and educated at Disibodenberg, succeeded Blessed Jutta as abbess in 1136.  St. Hildegard held that post until 1147.  That year she and eighteen nuns founded a new, independent convent near Bingen.  She served as the abbess there for the rest of her life.

St. Hildegard was a mystic; she had been one since childhood.  From 1141 to 1150 she published accounts of 26 of her visions in Scivas (Know the Ways).  Our saint’s visions were consistent with theological orthodoxy, according to the Archbishop of Mainz, a group of theologians, and Pope Eugenius III.  After 1150 St. Hildegard continued to report and write about her visions.

St. Hildegard was a remarkable person, especially by the standards of her time and place.  In 1152-1162 she made preaching tours in the Rhineland.  She corresponded with monarchs and popes, wrote at least one drama, composed religious texts and music, and wrote treatises on science and medicine.  She was, by the standards of her time and place, unusually scientifically astute.  St. Hildegard, as a theologian, belonged to the school of Creation Spirituality.  The Church has recognized her as a Doctor of the Church, a title it bestows on few saints.  The only other women so honored were St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897).

Despite St. Hildegard’s respected status in the Church during her lifetime, she ran afoul of ecclesiastical authorities toward the end of her life.  She permitted the burial of an excommunicated man in the convent’s cemetery.  Then our saint disobeyed an order to disinter the corpse; the deceased had reconciled with God before he died, she said in her defense.  St. Hildegard’s defiance led to the Archbishop of Mainz placing the convent under an interdict, a penalty she protested.  Eventually the archbishop lifted the interdict.

St. Hildegard died a few months later, on September 17, 1179.

Pope John XXII beatified St. Hildegard in 1326.  She was informally “St. Hildegard” for centuries until Pope Benedict XVI made it official in 2012.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS III, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, MATHEMATICIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAGNUS AND AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF AVIGNON

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HAMMOND, ENGLISH MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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God of all times and seasons:

Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, a student of Jutta,

may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation,

and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:1-2, 6-7, 9-12, 27-28

Psalm 104:25-34

Colossians 3:14-17

John 3:16-21

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 589

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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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Feast of Blessed Maurice Tornay (August 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Maurice Tornay

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MAURICE TORNAY (AUGUST 31, 1910-AUGUST 11, 1949)

Swiss Roman Catholic Missionary to Tibet, and Martyr, 1949

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To fulfill my vocation to leave the world and devote myself entirely to the service of souls to lead them to God, and save myself.

–Blessed Maurice Tornay, 1932

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One of the recurring problems in Christian history has been that imperial incursions have led to hostility to foreigners, thereby making life and work more perilous for missionaries.  Another reason for this has been that many missionaries have, unfortunately, been more agents of their empire than of Christ.  That reality has made matters worse for the missionaries who have not been imperial agents.  The British invasion of Lhasa, Tibet, in 1904 led to anti-Christian sentiment and violence in Tibet.  Buddhist monks attacked missionaries.  Blessed Maurice Tornay had to contend with such hostility.

Tornay, born in Rosière, Valais, Switzerland, on August 31, 1910, was devout from an early age.  The seventh child (of eight) of Jean-Joseph Tornay and Faustina Dossier grew up in a pious family.  He was also a fine student, especially of French literature, as well as the writings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Therésè of Lisieux.

Tornay joined the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, Hospitallers of Saint Nicholas and Grand-St-Bernard of Mont Joux.  He, a novice from August 25, 1931, made his first vows on September 8, 1932, and his final vows in 1935.  Surgery for a stomach ulcer, followed by recuperation, interrupted preparation for missionary work in 1934, but he, healed, headed for the borderlands of Tibet and China in 1936.

At Weixi, Yunnan, China, Tornay continued preparation.  He learned the local language, studied dentistry, medicine, and theology, and prepared for the priesthood.  Our saint, ordained in Hanoi on April 24, 1938, founded and led the Houa-Lo-Pa seminary.  The Japanese invasion of 1939 forced him to resort to begging to acquire food for his students.

In 1945 Tornay became the pastor of the Yerkalo mission in Tibet.  The Thirteenth Dalai Lama had died in 1933.  The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, born in 1935, although enthroned in 1940, did not begin to rule until 1950.  Anti-Christian persecution forced Tornay to leave Tibet and seek diplomatic pressure to intervene with the Tibetan government.  All diplomatic intervention failed.  On August 11, 1949, our saint was en route to Lhasa, to seek a meeting with the Tibetan government, when guards ambushed and shot him at To-Thong, Tibet.  He was 37 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared Tornay a Venerable in 1992 then a Blessed the following year.

I recall a scene from The Needs of Earth, an episode of Crusade (1999), a series the TNT channel never gave a chance.  In the scene Captain Matthew Gideon of the Starship Excalibur tells an alien,

When Mozart was my age, he was dead.

When Blessed Maurice Tornay was my age, he was dead.  And what he had done for the glory of God puts me to shame.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELLERTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CARL HEINRICH VON BOGATSKY, HUNGARIAN-GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

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Almighty and everlasting God we thank you for your servant Blessed Maurice Tornay,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of China and Tibet.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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