Monday, September 17, 2012

This Week's Feast Days

September 17: Hildegard of Bingen [1098-1179]

Hildegard of Bingen, from the Rupertsberger Codex  One of the most significant women in the history of Medieval Christianity and certainly deserving of a date on the feast calendar [even if her inclusion did appease one of the many political sub-divisions in the Episcopal Church].  This quotation sums up her theology rather nicely:

"Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God."

While she is primarily recognized for her visions, she was also one of the most educated women of her time and contributed mightily to the life of the mind on which Anglican/Episcopal Christianity is centered.

More of her may be read here.

God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, 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.

September 18: Edward Bouverie Pusey [1800-1882]

There was quite a dispute within the Church of England in the early 19th century.  To make a long, involved story terribly short, the "high church" elements that had been brutally eradicated some 300 years before were beginning to make a comeback, especially as many of the younger clergy found value in acts of obvious devotion.  These included, but are not limited to, anything to appears to a newcomer to our own parish as "catholic" in nature. 

This came to be called the Oxford Movement.  If you click on the link, you may read a brief history of the event written by my favorite writer.

Since young clergy are often ignored, they needed some senior members of the Holy Orders to speak for them in the halls of power.  One of them was Pusey, who was, up to that point, a rather fussy, dusty professor of Hebrew.  Many were surprised to discover that, when facing a challenge, he was also a bit of a fire-eater.

More of him and his compatriots may be found here.

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

September 19: Theodore of Tarsus [602-690]

It's hard to believe that what drove the first and hardest fissure into Christianity was a dispute over how to calculate the date of Easter, but that was the case.  This dispute festered for some centuries until The Great Schism between the Eastern and Western traditions was realized in 1054.  In its earliest rumblings, much of the dispute was made dormant by the sagacity of a monk who, through sheer happenstance, became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Bishop of Rome was to appoint a new Archbishop, you see, but the candidate died from an illness contracted while travelling from England to Rome.  The Pope then chose an older candidate [65] from the hometown of St. Paul.  An unusual choice, many thought, but one that proved to be perfect.

Much more of Theodore may be read of here.  Please do so, as it's a good story.

Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

September 20: John Coleridge Patteson [1827-1871]

A martyr, although in an indirect manner.  Nevertheless, through his sacrifice, Bishop Patteson helped to end the illegal slave trade in the Pacific islands.  More of his life and death may be read of directly here and less so here.

Almighty God, you called your faithful servant John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

September 22: Philander Chase [1775-1852]

Chase's story is rather typical for an Episcopal cleric of his generation, at least in terms of background and opportunity.  Like John Henry Hobart from last week's feast days, Chase's career crosses historical paths with my own.

He was born in New Hampshire and educated at Dartmouth [Boo.  Go Princeton Tigers.]  He left the Congregational Church [yay] to become an Episcopalian and shortly afterwards read for Holy Orders.  His career, by all accounts, was peripatetic from that point forward, including starting the first Episcopal Church in New Orleans and serving as the rector of Christ Church in Hartford*.  [Christ Church in Hartford is currently the cathedral of our diocese.]

While establishing a parish and school in Worthington, Ohio [my Dad's hometown], he was called to become the first bishop of Ohio [my home and sponsoring diocese at the beginning of my career].  Among other accomplishments, Chase founded Kenyon College [my niece's alma mater] and it's divinity school [which, if it's still in existence, moved to Rochester, NY sometime in the late 1970's or early 80's].

Much more of him may be read here.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give you heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of your servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of your Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ's name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

[*An annoying footnote.  I once mentioned to a bishop that Chase should be placed on the feast calendar and that his nomination could be made by Connecticut, as he was once a rector in Hartford.  The bishop, who was against including any more "straight, white men" on the calendar responded, "No, he wasn't."  After I sent him all of the historical information about Chase's position in Hartford, including those taken from the archives of the diocese, he stopped talking to me.  My next job was in another diocese.  Ah, the church.  If we learn anything from the witness of Pusey above, it's that one may love the church more than it loves you.

Anyway, I'm happy to say that Philander Chase is now on the calendar.  That's all that really matters.]