Archive for the ‘Thomas a Kempis’ Tag

Feast of Blessed Lojze Grozde (May 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Yugoslavia, September 1939

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

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BLESSED LOJZE GROZDE (MAY 27, 1923-JANUARY 1, 1943)

Slovenian Roman Catholic Martyr

Alternative feast day = January 1

Blessed Lojze Grozde served God ably during his 19 years of life.  He, born out-of-wedlock at Trzišce, Zgornje Vodale, Slovenia, Yugoslavia, on May 27, 1923, and baptized that day, grew up with his maternal grandparents and an aunt, pious peasants who raised him.  Our saint, a fine student, attended a boarding school in Ljubljana, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor.  Grozde, who joined the Congregation of Mary at the age of 13 years and Catholic Action two years later, considered studying for the priesthood yet concluded that he could do more for God as a layman.

World War II proved deadly for Grozde.  Yugoslavia was under fascist–Italian and German–occupation.  Communist rebels, being opposed to fascism because they were communists, resisted the occupiers (as rebels in occupied countries tend to do).  Some of these rebels mistook our saint, who was en route to visit relatives, for a fascist collaborator.  He was, without a doubt, a Roman Catholic; he carried a Latin prayer-book and the copy of The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis.  These rebels arrested, incarcerated, and tortured Grozde, whom they killed at Mirna Trebnje, Slovenia, on January 1, 1943.  Some children found his corpse in the woods on February 23.

Pope Benedict XVI declared Grozde a Venerable then a Blessed in 2010.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Lojze Grozde

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 714

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Feast of Thomas a Kempis (July 24)   1 comment

Thomas a Kempis

Above:  Thomas à Kempis

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS À KEMPIS (CIRCA 1380-JULY 25, 1471)

Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, and Spiritual Writer

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The Episcopal Church observes the life and legacy of Thomas à Kempis on July 24.

Thomas Hemerken was a native of Kempen, now on the German side of the Rhine River and near the Dutch border.  In the late 1300s the political structure was that of the Holy Roman Empire.  He studied with the Brethren of the Common Life at Deventer, Holland, for seven years.  The Brethren lived simply and communally.  They operated influential schools, supported themselves financially by copying manuscripts, emphasized the inner life and virtuous living, emphasized practical theology, and practiced moderation with regard to ascetic and penitential practices.  The founder of the order was Gerhard Groote (1340-1384), who had come from a wealthy family and renounced his worldly ways.  In 1399 our saint joined the Brethren at Mount St. Agnes, near Zwolle, Holland.   His brother was the prior there.  Kempis took monastic vows in 1407, became a priest six years later, and advanced to the rank of subprior in 1425.  He was an introvert who was more comfortable in the company of books than people. (I respect that.) Kempis enjoyed copying the scriptures, works of the Church Fathers, and books about asceticism.

Kempis died at Mount St. Agnes on July 25, 1471.

Our saint’s enduring legacy is Of the Imitation of Christ, or the Imitation of Christ for short, a book whose authorship many people have doubted for a long time.  In my copy, dated 1891, for example, Anglican priest, poet, and educator Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903) argued in his introduction that the authorship of the Imitation of Christ was an impossible question to answer.  Other scholars have been certain, however, that Kempis wrote the book.  The author of an old Encyclopedia Britannica article argued that the preponderance of evidence affirmed that our saint wrote the book, for example.

The text builds on orthodox Christology and Trinitarian theology and emphasizes, as its title indicates, imitating Christ:

“He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness,” saith the Lord.  These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished how we ought to imitate His life and manners, if we will be truly enlightened, and be delivered from all blindness of heart.

Let therefore our chiefest endeavor be, to meditate upon the life of JESUS CHRIST.

–Page 13 in my copy, published in 1891

Kempis favored frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist as a spiritual practice.  Daily reception is best, he wrote.  The sacrament and the scriptures are both essential for Christian living, he insisted:

In the mean time I will walk in faith, strengthened by the examples of the Saints.

I have also holy books for my comfort and for the glass of my life; and above all these I have Thy most Holy Body and Blood for a singular remedy and refuge.

–Page 305 in my copy, published in 1891

The Imitation of Christ has become the second most influential work in Western Christianity and the Christian book translated into the second greatest number of languages.  The Bible occupies the first rank in both categories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

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

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

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

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

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Holy Father, you have nourished and strengthened your Church

by the inspired writings of your servant Thomas a Kempis:

Grant that we may learn from him to know what is necessary to be known,

to live what is to be loved,

to praise what rightly pleases you,

and always to seek to know and follow your will;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18

Psalm 33:1-5, 20-21

Ephesians 4:32-5:2

Luke 6:17-23

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 483

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Feast of John Newton (July 24)   3 comments

John Newton

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN NEWTON (JULY 24, 1725-DECEMBER 21, 1807)

Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

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JOHN NEWTON, CLERK

ONCE AN INFIDEL AND LIBERTINE

A SERVANT OF SLAVES IN AFRICA WAS

BY THE RICH MERCY OF OUR

LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST

PRESERVED, RESTORED, PARDONED,

AND APPOINTED TO PREACH THE FAITH

HE HAD LONG LABOURED TO DESTROY

–from John Newton’s epitaph, which he wrote

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John Newton (1725-1807), famously the author of “Amazing Grace,” wrote much more than that.  He did write, for example, the splendid hymn, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” which I prefer to “Amazing Grace.”  (I do tilt toward Anglo-Catholicism.)

Newton’s father was a ship master; his mother was a devout Calvinist who raised him to become a minister.  Yet she died when our saint was just seven years old.  Newton, educated formally only from ages nine to eleven years, went to sea with his father at age eleven.  Six years later our saint joined the Royal Navy, from which he deserted in time.  Then he joined the ranks of slave traders.

Our saint came to realize eventually that grace was free yet not cheap; it did require much of him.  In 1748, at age twenty-three, he converted to Christianity after reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.  Yet our saint did not abandon the slave trade immediately.  In 1750 Newton, aged twenty-five years, married Mary Catlett, whom he had known since he had been seventeen years old and she fourteen.  And finally, in 1754, our saint’s conscience forced him into a different line of work.

The reformed man started his new life as a tide surveyor at Liverpool, yet he studied for Anglican Holy Orders.  He, ordained, served as Curate of Olney (1764-1780) then as Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807).  Toward the end of our saint’s tenure at Olney he and neighbor William Cowper, also a hymn writer, collaborated on Olney Hymns (1779).

Newton, blind at the end of his life, died in London in 1807, having been born there also.

A partial list of Newton’s published works follows:

  1. Cardiphonia:  or, The Utterances of the Heart;
  2. Letters to a Wife, Volumes I and II,
  3. Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade (1788);
  4. Works, Volume I;
  5. Works, Volume II;
  6. Works, Volume III;
  7. Works, Volume IV;
  8. Works, Volume V; and
  9. Works, Volume VI.

Newton wrote many laudatory and generally excellent hymns, some of which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Here is another:

Though troubles assail and dangers affright,

Though friends should all fail and foes all unite,

Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,

The Scripture assures us, the Lord will prevail.

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The birds without barn or storehouse are fed;

From them let us learn to trust for our bread;

His saints what is fitting shall ne’er be denied,

So long as ’tis written, “The Lord will provide.

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His call we obey, like Abram of old,

Not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold;

For, though we are strangers, we have a good guide,

And trust, in all dangers, the Lord will provide.

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No strength of our own or goodness we claim;

Yet since we have known the Saviour’s great Name,

In this our strong tower for safety we hide,–

The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide.

And here is another:

Now may He who from the dead

Brought the Shepherd of the sheep,

Jesus Christ, our King and Head,

All our souls in safety keep.

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May He teach us to fulfill

What is pleasing in His sight,

Perfect us in all His will,

And preserve us day and night.

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To that Redeemer’s praise,

Who the covenant sealed with blood,

Let our hearts and voices raise

Loud thanksgivings to our God.

Perfection, as in “be perfect as God is perfect” in the Gospels, as I have read in commentaries, indicates being suited to one’s purpose.  John Newton became suited to God’s purpose for him.  May each of us become suited to God’s purpose for each of us also, if we are not that already.  If the latter scenario is our reality, may we remain in it.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI-TIM-OI, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCES DE SALES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GENEVA

THE FEAST OF THURGOOD MARSHALL, ATTORNEY AND JURIST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BARCLAY, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

John Newton and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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