Archive for the ‘Thomas Merton’ Tag

Feast of John Harris Burt (October 20)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN HARRIS BURT (APRIL 11, 1918-OCTOBER 20, 2009)

Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and Civil Rights Activist

Bishop John Harris Burt comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his connection to his father, Bates Gilbert Burt (1878-1948), already here.

John Harris Burt was a native of Michigan.  He, born in Marquette on April 11, 1918, was a son of Father Bates Gilbert Burt and Abigail Gilbert Bates Burt.  Burt, Sr., was the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Marquette (1904-1922).  Burt, Sr., was later the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pontiac, Michigan (1922-1947).  Our saint, after graduating from high school in Pontiac, matriculated at Amherst College (B.A., 1940).  Then he studied social work for a year at Columbia University, followed by further studies at Virginia Theological Seminary (Class of 1943).

Then Burt began ordained ministry.  He, ordained to the diaconate (1943) then the priesthood (1944), was the canon of the Cathedral chapter of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis (1943-1944).   He met Martha May Miller at St. Paul’s Church.  Next, Burt served as a chaplain in the United States Navy (1944-1946).  He married Martha on February 16, 1946.  Our saint was also the Episcopal chaplain at The University of Michigan (1946-1950).  He left that post to become the Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown, Ohio (1950-1957).  As the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, California (1957-1967), Burt made that parish a leader in social activism.  He was, for example, a prominent ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.

Above:  The Flag of Ohio

Image in the Public Domain

Burt became a bishop.  He, elected in 1966, became the Bishop Coadjutor of Ohio on February 4, 1967.  He succeeded to become the Bishop of Ohio by the end of the year.  Burt served until he retired in 1983.  Our saint was outspoken and active.  He opposed the Vietnam War.  In 1967, Burt spoke at the International Inter-Religious Symposium of Peace in New Delhi, India.  Following the collapse of the steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio, our saint co-founded the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley.  This earned him the Thomas Merton Award, previously given to luminaries, such as Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan.  Burt, an early advocate for the ordination to women to the priesthood, promised to resign if the General Convention of 1976 did not approve such ordinations.  It did, much to the consternation of many a traditionalist Anglican.

Burt was active in Christian ecumenism and interfaith relations.  He was, for a time, the President of the Southern California Council of Churches, as well as a representative to the National Council of Churches at another time.  Our saint chaired the denominational Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (1974-1979).  He worked on Jewish-Christian relations at The Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel.

Burt understood that loving one’s neighbors had practical applications.  Therefore, for example, he worked on energy independence, as well as solutions to economic problems in Ohio and seven nearby states.

Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Marquette, Michigan, on October 20, 2009.  Martha, their four daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren survived him.

Burt said:

The world alters us as we walk in it.

He worked to alter the world for the better as he walked through it.

May each of us do likewise.

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God of Shalom, we thank you for the ministry, international work,

and community development work of your servant, John Harris Burt.

May we also, in the Name of Jesus, pursue peace with our neighbors near and far away,

and build up each other spiritually, economically, and concretely.

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

Amos 8:1-10

Psalm 1

James 2:14-26

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Feast of Richard McSorley (October 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

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RICHARD T. MCSORLEY, S.J. (OCTOBER 2, 1914-OCTOBER 17, 2002)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Professor, and Peace Activist

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I see my mission in life, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church what it should be, a peace church.  To be Christian means to have respect for life in all its forms, and in today’s nuclear age, that means Christians must become active witnesses for peace and must firmly oppose all forms of war.

–Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 540

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Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The McSorleys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were a large and devout Roman Catholic family.  There were fifteen children, eight of whom entered religious life.  Young Richard entered the Society of Jesus in 1932, at Wernesville, Pennsylvania.  By 19939, our saint completed his degree in philosophy.  That year, the order sent him to Manila, the Philippines, to teach at a Jesuit high school and seminary.

McSorley spent December 13, 1941-February 23, 1945, as a prisoner of the Japanese Empire.  He and other Jesuits and seminarians suffered repeated tortures.  McSorley nearly died of starvation.  He, hauled repeatedly before firing squads, saw fellow prisoners executed.  Japanese soldiers laughed at our saint, and aimed their guns at him without shooting.  They faked him out three times.

After U.S. paratroopers rescued the prisoners.  McSorley returned to the Untied States of America.  Our saint graduated from seminary at Woodstock College in Maryland.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1946, embarked upon a life of ministry and social justice.  He, assigned to St. James’ Church, St. Mary’s City, Maryland, confronted Jim Crow laws, individual racism, and the Ku Klux Klan.  He preached against racism, advocated for the desegregation of church and society, and nearly became the victim of a Klan lynching.  McSorley, not intimidated, refused to be silent.

McSorley, who taught philosophy at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania (1952-1961), completed his doctorate at Ottawa University, Canada, during those years.  Then he taught theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1961f).  He also did all of the following:

  1. He tutored the children of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
  2. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama.
  3. He opposed the Vietnam War.
  4. He became a pacifist in the 1960s.
  5. He tried to abolish all chapters of the R.O.T.C. at Roman Catholic colleges and universities.
  6. He favored the abolition of the R.O.T.C.
  7. He denounced all weapons of mass destruction.
  8. He condemned nuclear weapons as sinful.
  9. He helped to found Pax Christi U.S.A. in the 1970s.
  10. He went to jail for peacefully protesting Apartheid and nuclear weapons.
  11. He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting repressive governments in Latin America.
  12. He wrote books and articles.

McSorley had a well-developed sense of the disparity between the laws of God and the laws of governments.  For our saint, Christian love was nonviolent love.  He considered Just War Theory absurd, especially in the age of nuclear weapons:

Can we serve both God and our government when the government orders us to do what God forbids?  Of course not.

McSorley belonged to the Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton wing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint made enemies, of course.  He made enemies inside the Society of Jesus.  F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover (that paragon of opposition to civil rights and civil liberties) considered McSorley a “disgrace” and searched in vain for a way to smear his reputation.

McSorley, aged 88 years, died in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2002.

Our saint took to heart the commandment of Jesus to love one’s enemies.  In so doing, McSorley became a radical–a radical Christian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MIKEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Richard T. McSorley] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Thomas Traherne (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS TRAHERNE (CIRCA 1637-SEPTEMBER 27, 1674)

Anglican Priest, Poet, and Spiritual Writer

Also known as Thomas Trahern

Feast Day in The Episcopal Church = September 27

Feast Day in The Church of England = October 10

Thomas Traherne comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England and The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church, my chosen denomination, has two calendars of saints, oddly.  The main one is Lesser Feasts and Fasts, most recently updated in 2018.  Traherne is not on that calendar.  Or is it?  My copy of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is a PDF.  It lists Traherne on the calendar at the front of the document yet omits his profile, collects, and assigned readings.  These are present, however, on the side calendar, created at the General Convention of 2009, present in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), expanded at the General Convention of 2015, and published in the revised A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).

Traherne was one of the metaphysical poets, along with George Herbert (1593-1633), also an Anglican priest.  However, his poetry remained unpublished until 1903.  His prose was in print, starting in 1673, though.

Traherne, born circa 1637 in Hereford, England, was apparently a son of a shoemaker.  A wealthy and generous relative financed our saint’s education at Brasenose College, Oxford (B.A., 1656; M.A., 1661; B.D., 1669).  Traherne, ordained to the diaconate in The Church of England in 1656 and to the priesthood in 1660, served as the Rector of Credenhill, December 1657-1667).  He became the private chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, the First Baronet of Great Lever, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, in 1667.  Our saint held this position until he died in Teddington, Middlesex, England, on September 27, 1674.  He was about 37 years old.  The date of his burial was October 10, 1674.

Traherne was, by all accounts, a devout and bookish man who had a pleasant disposition and led a simple lifestyle.  The largest category of his possessions was books.  He was a minor figure and a relatively obscure man during his lifetime.  Only one of his books, Roman Forgeries (1673), was in print before he died.  Christian Ethics (1675) appeared posthumously.  A Serious and Patheticall Contemplation of the Mercies of God (1699) listed the author as anonymous.

Traherne’s literary legacy nearly wound up (literally) on the scrap heap of history.  Yet The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne (1903) and Centuries of Meditation (1908) started a period of republication, reconsideration, and discovery.  Identification of other works by Traherns continued through the late 1990s.

Traherne, being a metaphysical poet, had a way of writing in a less-than-direct manner.  Many intelligent and well-educated people have read texts from these poets, understood every word of a passage and not understood what that passage meant.  Others have argued about the meanings of selected passages.

Traherne was an Anglican.  As one, he affirmed the compatibility of faith and reason.  In his case, Christian Neoplatonism fed a particular variety of mysticism.  And, in the wake of the Restoration (1660), he was sharply critical of both Puritanism and Roman Catholicism.  Traherne also affirmed the will of God as the proper basis of human ethics, Hell as the loss of love for God, and Heaven as the “sight and possession” of love for God.  Furthermore, our saint delighted in nature and retained childlike joy regarding it.

Twentieth-century saints who drew influence from Traherne included Thomas Merton (1915-1968), C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), and Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957).  Traherne’s renaissance, although delayed, was worthwhile.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

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

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

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

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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

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Creator of wonder and mystery, you inspired your post Thomas Traherne

with mystical insight to see your glory

in the natural world and in the faces of men and women around us:

Help us to know you in your creation and in our neighbors,

and to understand our obligations to both,

that we may ever grow into the people you have created us to be;

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

lives and reigns, one God, in everlasting light.  Amen.

Jeremiah 20:7-9

Psalm 119:129-136

Revelation 19:1-5

John 3:1-8

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 609

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Feast of Venerable Catherine de Hueck Doherty (August 10)   2 comments

Above:  Combermere, Ontario, Canada

Image Source = Google Earth

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EKATERINA FYODOROVNA KOLYSCHKINE DE HUECK DOHERTY (AUGUST 15, 1896-DECEMBER 14, 1985)

Foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate

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The hunger for God can only be satisfied by a love that is face to face, person to person.  It is only in the eyes of another that we can find the Icon of Christ.  We must make the other person aware we love him.  If we do, he will know that God loves him.  He will never hunger again.

–Venerable Catherine de Hueck Doherty, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 352

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Venerable Catherine de Hueck Doherty comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).  In that volume, her feast day is August 15.  On this Ecumenical Calendar, however, I reserve August 15 for St. Mary of Nazareth, Mother of God.  Furthermore, I do not wait until I add “new” saints with December feast days to add Doherty to this calendar.  I have, therefore, moved her feast.

Social justice is a spiritual and divine mandate.  This message runs through the Law of Moses, the teachings of the Hebrew prophets, and the ethics of Jesus in Nazareth.  This message continues to animate many professing, practicing Jews and Christians, frequently to the frustration and consternation of merely professing Jews and Christians.

Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine was originally a subject of the Russian Empire.  She, born on a train in Nizhny, Novgorod, on August 15, came from minor nobility.  Her father was Fyodor Kolyschkine, a Polish-Russian industrialist and diplomat.  Our saint’s mother was Emma Thomson Kolyschkine.  The family religion was Russian Orthodoxy.  Ekaterina spent much of her childhood abroad because of her father’s diplomatic assignments.  The family returned to Russia in 1910; our saint matriculated at the Princess Obolensky Academy, Saint Petersburg.  At the tender age of 15 years, she married a cousin, Baron Boris de Hueck (1889-1947), in 1912.

The revolutionary age of Russia had begun.  The First Russian Revolution (1905) ended Czarist autocracy, to an extent.  That revolution led to the creation of something of a constitutional system.  World War I (1914-1918) hastened the Second Russian Revolution (1917), which ended the monarchy and left power in the hands of the ineffectual Provisional Government.  The Third Russian Revolution (1917) brought the Bolsheviks to power.

The de Huecks spent much of World War I apart.  The Baron, in military service, was on the Eastern Front.  The Baroness worked as a nurse.  The two of them, eventually reunited, fled Russia after the rise of the Bolsheviks to power.  The couple joined the Roman Catholic Church en route to the New World.  They arrived in Canada in 1920.

The de Huecks were nobility, but they were poor in the New World.  Venerable Catherine worked a series of low-paying jobs in Canada and the United States.  The de Hueck family had grown to three people.  The newest member was a son, George.  Eventually, our saint earned real money on the lecture circuit; she described her experiences in Russia and escaping from that country.  As time passed, she regained her economic good fortune yet lost her marriage.  Venerable Catherine began to question her life, with its materialistic plenty.

Our saint, obeying what she perceived as the call of God on her life, radically simplified her life in 1930.  She gave up most of her worldly goods and moved into a slum in Toronto.  She, with the support of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, founded the first Friendship House.  This institution offered Roman Catholic education, fellowship, and a soup kitchen.  Ironically, some conservatives mistook our saint for a communist sympathizer.  Friendship House, Toronto, lost support and had to close in 1936.

Yet Dorothy Day (1897-1980) understood our saint and what she was doing.  Day’s Catholic Worker Movement operated on similar principles as did Friendship House, Toronto.  Father John LaFarge, Jr. (1880-1963) also understood what Venerable Catherine was doing.  In 1937, he invited her to establish a new Friendship House in Harlem.  Friendship House, Harlem, opened the following year.  In Harlem, our saint learned about racial prejudice and injustice.  She continued to travel and lecture.  In Savannah, Georgia, a group of white Roman Catholic women nearly beet Venerable Catherine to death after a lecture.  In 1941, Thomas Merton (1915-1968) heard our saint speak.  He summarized Venerable Catherine’s message:

Catholics are worried about Communism:  and they have a right to be….But few Catholics stop to think that Communism would make very little progress in then world, or none at all, if Catholics really lived up to their obligations, and really did the things Christ came on Earth to teach them to do:  that is, if they really loved one another, and saw Christ in one another, and lived as saints, and did something to win justice for the poor.

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 353

The Baroness, of “the B.,” as her friends referred to her, carried the air of authority naturally and did not suffer fools easily and gladly.  Once, a high-society, racist woman told our saint,

You smell of the Negro.

Venerable Catherine replied,

And you stink of hell!

The marriage to Baron de Hueck formally ended via annulment in 1943.  That year, Venerable Catherine married journalist Edward J. “Eddie” Doherty (1890-1975).  They had met when he was on an assignment to write a story about her.

Leadership-related tensions at Friendship House, Harlem, led our saint to resign from that organization in 1947.  The Dohertys moved to Combermere, in rural Ontario, Canada.  There they helped the local poor and sick.  And there they founded the Madonna House Apostolate in 1947.  The Madonna House was a place of prayer and spiritual retreat.  Our saint emphasized withdrawing from worldly compulsions and listening to God.  The place of retreat, she wrote, could be anywhere, really, and varied according to circumstances.  Yet retreating and listening remained crucial.

Eddie, ordained a priest in the Melkite Rite in 1969, died in 1975.

Venerable Catherine, aged 89 years, died in Combermere on December 14, 1985.

Our saint’s Madonna House Apostolate has continued.  So has the message, apart from the Apostolate.  For example, Venerable Catherine wrote and spoke of the “duty of the moment.”  She emphasized the moral imperative of doing at any given moment what God would have one to do at that moment.

What, O reader, is God telling you is imperative for you to do at this moment?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SHABBAZ BHATTI AND OTHER CHRISTIAN MARTYRS OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD

THE FEAST OF SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE, CELTIC MISSIONARY BISHOP; SAINT CAELIN, CELTIC PRIEST; SAINT CEDD OF LASTINGHAM, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BISHOP OF ESSEX, AND ABBOT OF LASTINGHAM; SAINT CYNIBIL OF LASTINGHAM, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK; SAINT CHAD OF MERCIA, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, ABBOT OF LASTINGHAM, BISHOP OF YORK/THE NORTHUMBRIANS AND OF LICHFIELD/THE MERCIANS AND THE LINDSEY PEOPLE; SAINT VITALIAN, BISHOP OF ROME; SAINT ADRIAN OF CANTERBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, CANTERBURY; SAINT THEODORE OF TARSUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY; AND SAINT CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE, CELTIC AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, HERMIT, PRIEST, AND BISHOP OF LINDISFARNE

THE FEAST OF DANIEL MARCH, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN STUART BLACKIE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN SCHOLAR, LINGUIST, POET, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA OF BOHEMIA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA AND MARTYR, 921; HER GRANDSON, SAINT WENCESLAUS I, DUKE OF BOHEMIA, AND MARTYR, 929; SAINT AGNES OF PRAGUE, BOHEMIAN PRINCESS AND NUN; HER PEN PAL, SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI, FOUNDRESS OF THE POOR CLARES; HER SISTER, SAINT AGNES OF ASSISI, ABBESS OF ASSISI; AND HER MOTHER, SAINT HORTULANA OF ASSISI, POOR CLARE NUN

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Lord 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 your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Fritz Eichenberg (October 24)   1 comment

FRITZ EICHENBERG (OCTOBER 24, 1901-NOVEMBER 30, 1990)

German-American Quaker Wood Engraver

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It is my hope that in a small way I have been able to contribute to peace through compassion and also to the recognition, as George Fox has said…”That there is that of God in everyone,” a conception of the sanctity of human life which precludes all wars and violence.”

–Fritz Eichenberg, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 463

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Fritz Eichenberg comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via All Saints (1997).

Eichenberg expressed his Quaker faith in his art.  He, born in Cologne, Germany, on October 24, 1901, grew up in a secular Jewish family.  He studied graphic arts in Cologne and Leipzig before working as an artist in Berlin (1923-1933).  World War I and its aftermath influenced Eichenberg’s pacifism.  The rise of Nazism forced Eichenberg and his family to emigrate.  He arrived in the United States of America in 1933.  Subsequently he worked in the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, taught at the New School for Social Research and at the Pratt Institute, and chaired the Department of Art of The University of Rhode Island.  His wife’s death in 1938 preceded an emotional breakdown.  Eichenberg, after resorting to Zen meditation, converted to Quakerism in 1940.

Eichenberg created wood engravings of both secular and sacred subjects.  He illustrated classic works of literature and depicted Christ and saints.  Subjects included Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas Merton, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Cesar Chavez, as well as Eichenberg’s favorite saint, Francis of Assisi.  Images of Jesus included Christ of the Breadlines (1953) and Christ of the Homeless (1982).  In Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men (1954), our saint depicted an angel with a dove on one side of a the cross and gas-masked soldier holding a bomb on the other.  Our saint, who met Dorothy Day in 1949, created images for the Catholic Worker newspaper.

Eichenberg died of complications of Parkinson’s Disease at Peace Dale, Rhode Island, on November 30, 1990.  He was 89 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C:  THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS WINDOW MAKER

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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 Fritz Eichenberg and all those

who with images 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 John Leary (August 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Boston, Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN TIMOTHY LEARY (FEBRUARY 22, 1958-AUGUST 31, 1982)

U.S. Roman Catholic Social Activist and Advocate for the Marginalized

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All his spiritual efforts, and there were many, were not however primarily focused on himself, on his own righteousness, on his own salvation, etc.  His life was intensely ordered toward others.  The prayers, the choices, the daily Masses and Communions, the repentance, the study, the retreats, etc., had one aim, namely to make possible the deeds of Christ-like love, mercy, service and kindness here and now, in the particular concrete moment.  John believed he could not genuinely serve people except by loving them in the way God revealed they should be served in the person of Jesus.

Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, on John Leary, September 4, 1982

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John had a sensitivity, an awareness of the pain of others that was relentless.  Compassion for others had become the dominant experience of his life.

–Sister Evelyn Ronan on John Leary; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 375

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The difference with John was that he discovered that life had no purpose, no meaning, no direction, and no focus apart from the purpose and focus on God….He became in his short life the complete and total man for others, and those who knew him and loved him testify to the face of Christ that shone in and through him.

–The Reverend Peter Gomes on John Leary; quoted in All Saints (1997), 376

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This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).  Ellsberg’s assigned date is August 31, but, given that I have reserved that date for St. Nicodemus, a Biblical figure, I transfer Leary’s feast to August 30.

John Timothy Leary, born into a New England Roman Catholic working class family with Irish roots on February 22, 1958, spent his 24 years well.  He, inspired by Thomas Merton (1915-1968) and Dorothy Day (1897-1980), took his Catholicism seriously.  Leary was a pacifist–a member of Pax Christi.  He also affiliated with the Catholic Worker Movement.  Leary’s eulogist, Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, described our saint as a “Magna Cum Laude Harvard Graduate” and “Summa Cum Laude Catholic Worker.”  Leary, committed to the “seamless garment” doctrine of life, protested against the death penalty, abortion, and the military draft.  He allowed street people to live in his apartment.  Leary worked with the elderly, the homeless, and the incarcerated.  The major in religious studies (Harvard University Class of 1980) attended Mass daily, usually at Our Lady of the Annunciation Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral, Boston, Massachusetts.  Leary also read the Bible, prayed the rosary, and attended retreats at a Trappist monastery.

Leary, who enjoyed running, died in Boston on August 31, 1982.  That afternoon he was running from work to his room at the Catholic Worker house when he had a heart attack.

What might Leary have done for God and many of his fellow human beings–especially vulnerable ones–had he lived longer?

The answers to that question occupy the realm of the counterfactual, but the holy example of his life can and should inspire us to use our time wisely, to the glory of God and the benefit of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR., AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 726

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