Archive for the ‘Walter Hilton’ Tag

Feast of Margery Kempe (November 9)   3 comments

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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MARGERY BRUNHAM KEMPE (CIRCA 1373-CIRCA 1440)

English Roman Catholic Mystic and Pilgrim

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Well-behaved women seldom make history.

–Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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The General Convention of The Episcopal Church added Margery Kempe to the side calendar of saints in 2009.  Her feast day, shared with Richard Rolle and Walter Hilton, became September 28.  That feast day from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), carried over into the successor volume, A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016).  The General Convention of 2018 kept the composite feast yet moved it to January 19, per Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, actually the official calendar of saints for the denomination, and successor to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007).  I have, however, been breaking up the composite feast while renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  That process has brought me to this post, in which I have assigned Kempe’s feast to November 9, her feast day in The Church of England.

Margery Kempe, born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England, circa 1373, was devout.  She also proved perplexing to certain ecclesiastical leaders.

Kempe, born Margery Brunham, came from a wealthy family.  Her father, John Brunham, was, at different times, the mayor, a Member of Parliament, a coroner, a justice of the peace, and a chamberlain.

Circa 1393, at the age of 20 years, Margery married John Kempe (d. 1431).  For two decades she bore fourteen children, wore fine clothing, and, for a time, operated a brewery.  Our saint also desired a celibate life and reported visions.  She finally took a vow of chastity at the age of 40 years; her husband was not enthusiastic about her decision.

Kempe, eccentric and devout, violated gender norms.  She sobbed frequently, reported visions of the Passion of Jesus, pondered Heaven nearly continuously, and made pilgrimages.  Our saint confessed her sins going back to childhood.  She also visited various places–Assisi, the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostela, Rome, et cetera.  Most ecclesiastical figures Kempe consulted thought she was out of her mind, but orthodox, at least.  Blessed Julian(a) of Norwich offered encouragement and support to our saint.

Kempe endured official opposition from elements of the Church.  She even received threats of violence sometimes.  Certain bishops questioned her orthodoxy; they accused her of being a Lollard, until clearing her of that alleged offense.  Lollards, who also criticized Kempe, did not mistake her for being one of their tribe.

Kempe died circa 1440.  She was about 67 years old.

Kempe, able neither to read nor write, dictated The Book of Margery Kempe, long at the Carthusian Mount Grace Priory, near Northallerton, Yorkshire.  Later, the book became the possession of the Butler-Bowden family.  Since the book’s rediscovery in 1934, many people have read translations of it.

I remember one particular commentary on the Song of Songs.  The exegete emphasized the presence of God in the details of human lives, especially those details we do not consider holy, but perhaps merely mundane.

We spend our lives in the presence of God, made manifest in ways both mundane and extraordinary.  Much of the time we are oblivious to the presence of God in our lives.

Margery Kempe nourished the awareness of the presence of God in her life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANSKAR AND RIMBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF ALFRED DELP, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SEYMOUR ROBINSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

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Gracious God, we give you thanks for the life and work of Margery Kempe,

a mystic, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld your glory.

Help us, after her example, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly,

in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the

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

Job 26:1-14

Psalm 63:1-8

Romans 11:33-12:12

Matthew 5:43-48

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 611

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Feast of Richard Rolle (January 20)   1 comment

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Above:  Richard Rolle

Image in the Public Domain

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RICHARD ROLLE (1290/1300-SEPTEMBER 29, 1349)

English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

Richard Rolle has at least two feast days.  The Episcopal Church celebrates his life on September 28 and adds two other saints–Walter Hilton (died circa 1396) and Margery Kempe (died circa 1440) to the mix.  I have chosen, however, to stay close to The Church of England’s practice of celebrating his life apart from those of Hilton and Kempe, and of doing so on January 20.  I booked January 20 fully, so I have moved Rolle’s feast day to January 19.

We know little about the early life of Richard Rolle.  Even the year of his birth is a matter of debate.  We do know, however, that he dropped out of Oxford at age 18 to become an ascetic and a hermit against his family’s wishes.  Rolle spent many years moving from hermitage to hermitage, converting a host of people along the way.  Finally he settled down outside the Cistercian Convent of St. Mary, Hampole, England, where he advised the nuns spiritually.  Rolle died at Hampole on September 29, 1349.

Our saint left an impressive written legacy in both English and Latin.  His Latin style was academic and his English prose style flowed nicely.  Rolle, who was steeped in the Bible, wrote commentaries on entire books of scripture (such as the Psalms and the Lamentations) and parts of other books (such as Job and the Song of Songs).  He also attracted a following of other spiritual writers, some of whose writings have proven difficult to tell apart from those of Rolle.  Tradition has falsely attributed The Pricke of Conscience to our saint, for example.  Rolle defended the contemplative life against critics and himself against those who accused him of promoting an overly subjective form of Christianity.  Our saint, who was well-versed in major theological works, composed both prose and poetry.  He advocated for solitude, physical self-control, and love of God.  Among his theological works were De Emendatione Vitae (The Mending of Life), Incendium Amoris (The Fire of Love)Ego Dormio, The Form of Perfect Living, and The Commandment of Love of God.

Part of the beauty of good theological writing is that, when it survives its authors, members of successive generations can benefit spiritually from it.  We who live in these times are fortunate that Rolle’s writings remain available.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE RODAT, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF VILLEFRANCHE

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BOUVERIE PUSEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Gracious God, we give you thanks for the life and work of Richard Rolle,

hermit and mystic, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld the glory.

Help us, after his example, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly,

in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit

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

Job 26:1-4

Psalm 63:1-8

Romans 11:33-12:2

Matthew 5:43-48

–Altered from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 611

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