May 21 – John Eliot

Illumination - John Eliot

John Eliot
Missionary among the Algonquin
21 May 1690

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From the Satucket Lectionary

John Eliot was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1604 and graduated from Cambridge in 1622. He taught school for a while, came under Puritan influence, and determined to become a minister. In 1631 he went to New England and was ordained to preach at Roxbury. He developed an interest in Indian language and customs, and began to preach to the Indians in 1646, at first in English but within a year in their own tongue, Algonkian. He published a catechism for them in 1654 and by 1658 translated the Bible into Algonkian, the first Bible to be printed in North America. A revised edition was published in 1685. Eliot also wrote The Christian Commonwealth (1659), Up-bookum Psalmes(1663), The Communion Of Churches (1665), The Indian Primer (1669), and The Harmony of the Gospels (1678), and was a major contributor to the Bay Psalm Book.


John Eliot’s Algonquin Bible


Eliot planned towns for Indian converts, away from the white towns, in areas where they could preserve their own language and culture and live by their own laws. He prepared Indians to be missionaries to their own people. Daniel Takawambpait was the first Indian minister in New England, being ordained at Natick, Massachusetts, in 1681. Eliot’s Indian towns grew to fourteen in number, with thousands of inhabitants, but they were scattered in King Philip’s War in 1675 (King Philip was an Indian leader who undertook to drive the English out of New England), and although four communities were restored, they did not continue long.

Eliot died after a long illness on 21 May 1690.

— by James Kiefe

May 20 – Alcuin of York

Illumination - Alcuin of York

Alcuin of York
Deacon + Abbot of Tours
20 May 804

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Alcuin was an Englishman from York, born into a noble family about 730, and educated by a pupil of Bede. Having become a deacon, he was made head of the cathedral school at York around 770. In 781 he was asked by the Emperor Charlemagne to become his minister of education. He accepted, and established schools at many cathedrals and monasteries, and promoted learning in every way he could. In the preceding years of constant wars and invasions, many ancient writings had been lost. Alcuin established scriptoria, dedicated to the copying and preservation of ancient manuscripts, both pagan and Christian. That we have as much as we do of the writings of classical Roman authors is largely due to Alcuin and his scribes. (He is credited with the invention of cursive script, in which the letters are connected for greater speed of writing.) To Alcuin, backed by Charlemagne, belongs much of the credit for the revision and organisation of the Latin liturgy, the preservation of many of the ancient prayers, and the development of plainchant. He and his fellow theologians at Charlemagne’s capital of Aachen (or Aix-le-Chappelle) were important advocates of the doctrine that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son jointly. Unfortunately, the East, which regarded the Emperor at Byzantium as the sole Emperor, resented Charlemagne’s assumption of the title of Holy Roman Emperor, and this hardened their opposition to the aforesaid doctrine, thus contributing to the rift between East and West.

by James Kiefer

May 19 – Dunstan

Illumination - Dunstan

Dunstan
Monk + Archbishop of Canterbury
19 May 988

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A Prayer

Almighty God, who raised up Dunstan to be a true shepherd of the flock, a restorer of monastic life, and a faithful counselor to those in authority: give to all pastors the same gifts of your Holy Spirit that they may be true servants of Christ and all his people.


From the Satucket Lectionary

Dunstan was born near Glastonbury in the southwest of England about the year 909, ten years after the death of King Alfred. During the Viking invasions of the ninth century, monasteries had been favorite targets of the invaders, and by Dunstan’s time English monasticism had been wiped out. In its restoration in the tenth century, Dunstan played the leading role. He was born of an upper-class family, and sent to court, where he did not fit in. At the urging of his uncle, the Bishop of Westminster, he became a monk and a priest, and returned to Glastonbury, where he built a hut near the ruins of the old monastery, and devoted himself to study, music, metal working (particularly the art of casting church bells, an art which he is said to have advanced considerably), and painting. A manuscript illuminated by him is in the British Museum. He returned to court and was again asked to leave; but then King Edmund had a narrow escape from death while hunting, and in gratitude recalled Dunstan and in 943 commissioned him to re-establish monastic life at Glastonbury. (Glastonbury is one of the oldest Christian sites in England, and is associated in legend with King Arthur and his Court, with Joseph of Arimathea, and with other worthies. It has been said that the Holy Grail, the chalice of the Last Supper, is hidden somewhere near Glastonbury.) Under Dunstan’s direction, Glastonbury became an important center both of monasticism and of learning. The next king, Edred, adopted Dunstan’s ideas for various reforms of the clergy (including the control of many cathedrals by monastic chapters) and for relations with the Danish settlers. These policies made Dunstan popular in the North of England, but unpopular in the South.

Edred was succeeded by his sixteen-year-old nephew Edwy, whom Dunstan openly rebuked for unchastity. The furious Edwy drove Dunstan into exile, but the North rose in rebellion on his behalf. When the dust settled, Edwy was dead, his brother Edgar was king, and Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury. The coronation service which Dunstan compiled for Edgar is the earliest English coronation service of which the full text survives, and is the basis for all such services since, down to the present. With the active support of King Edgar, Dunstan re-established monastic communities at Malmesbury, Westminster, Bath, Exeter, and many other places. Around 970 he presided at a conference of bishops, abbots, and abbesses, which drew up a national code of monastic observance, the Regularis Concordia. It followed Benedictine lines, but under it the monasteries were actively involved in the life of the surrounding community. For centuries thereafter the Archbishop of Canterbury was always a monk.

Dunstan took an active role in politics under Edgar and his successor Edward, but under the next king, Ethelred, he retired from politics and concentrated on running the Canterbury cathedral school for boys, where he was apparently successful in raising the academic standards while reducing the incidence of corporal punishment. On Ascension Day in 988, he told the congregation that he was near to death, and died two days later.

by James Kiefer

May 17 – Thurgood Marshall

May 17 - Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall
Lawyer + Jurist
17 May 1993

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Quotes

In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.

None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.

I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.

May 16 – Martyrs of Sudan

Illumination - Martyrs of Sudan

Martyrs of Sudan
16 May 1983


 

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From the Satucket Lectionary

The Christian bishops, chiefs, commanders, clergy and people of Sudan declared, on May 16, 1983, that they would not abandon God as God had revealed himself to them under threat of Shariah Law imposed by the fundamentalist Islamic government in Khartoum. Until a peace treaty was signed on January 9, 2005, the Episcopal Church of the Province of the Sudan suffered from persecution and devastation through twenty-two years of civil war. Two and a half million people were killed, half of whom were members of this church. Many clergy and lay leaders were singled out because of their religious leadership in their communities. No buildings, including churches and schools, are left standing in an area the size of Alaska. Four million people are internally displaced, and a million are scattered around Africa and beyond in the Sudanese Diaspora. Twenty-two of the twenty-four dioceses exist in exile in Uganda or Kenya, and the majority of the clergy are unpaid. Only 5% of the population of Southern Sudan was Christian in 1983. Today over 85% of that region of six million is now mostly Episcopalian or Roman Catholic. A faith rooted deeply in the mercy of God has renewed their spirits through out the years of strife and sorrow.

— From the proposal before the 75th General Convention

May 13 – Frances Perkins

Illumination - Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins
Public Servant + Prophetic Witness
13 May 1965

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Prayer

Loving God, we bless your Name for Frances Perkins, who lived out her belief that the special vocation of the laity is to conduct the secular affairs of society that all may be maintained in health and decency. Help us, following her example, to contend tirelessly for justice and for the protection of all in need, that we may be faithful followers of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


 

From the Satucket Lectionary

Frances Perkins (April 10, 1880– May 14, 1965) was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As a loyal supporter of her friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition. She and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes were the only original members of the Roosevelt cabinet who remained in offices for his entire presidency. During her term as Secretary of Labor, she was largely responsible for the U.S. adoption of social security, unemployment insurance, federal laws regulating child labor, and adoption of the federal minimum wage.

Perkins was born in Boston, Massachusetts and spent much of her childhood in Worcester. She attended Worcester’s Classical High School and was graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA degree in chemistry in 1902, and from Columbia University with a master’s degree in sociology in 1910.

She achieved statewide prominence as head of the New York Consumers League in 1910 and in that position she lobbied with vigor for better working hours and conditions. The next year, she witnessed the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a pivotal event in her life. In 1918, Perkins accepted Governor Al Smith’s offer to join the New York State Industrial Commission, becoming its first female member. She became chairwoman of the commission in 1926.

In 1929 the newly-elected New York governor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, appointed Perkins as the state industrial commissioner. Having earned the cooperation and respect of various political factions, Perkins ably helped put New York in the forefront of progressive reform. She expanded factory investigations, reduced the workweek for women to 48 hours, and championed minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws.

In 1933 President Roosevelt appointed Perkins as Secretary of the Department of Labor, a position she held for twelve years, longer than any other Secretary of Labor. With few exceptions, President Roosevelt consistently supported the goals and programs of Secretary Perkins. In an administration filled with compromise, the president’s support for the agenda of Frances Perkins was unusually constant.

As Secretary of Labor, Perkins played a key role in the cabinet by writing New Deal legislation, including minimum-wage laws. Her most important contribution, however, came in 1934 as chairwoman of the President’s Committee on Economic Security. In this post, she was involved in all aspects of the reports and hearings that ultimately resulted in the Social Security Act of 1935.

Following her tenure as Secretary of Labor, in 1945 Perkins was asked by President Harry Truman to serve on the United States Civil Service Commission, which she did until 1952, when her husband died and she resigned from federal service. During this period, she also published a memoir of her time in FDR’s administration called The Roosevelt I Knew, which offered a sympathetic view of the president.

Following her government service career, Perkins remained active as a teacher and lecturer at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University until her death in 1965 at age 85.

— more at Wikipedia

As a young adult she discovered the Episcopal Church and was confirmed at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois, on June 11, 1905, and was a faithful and active Episcopalian for the remainder of her life.

During her time as Secretary of Labor, she would take time away from her duties on a monthly basis and make a retreat with the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor in nearby Catonsville, Maryland.

— from Holy Women, Holy Men

May 10 – Nicolaus von Zinzendorf

Illumination - Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendof

Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf
Prophetic Witness
10 May 1760

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Prayer

God of life made new in Christ, you call your Church to keep on rising from the dead: We remember before you the bold witness of your servant Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, through whom your Spirit moved to draw many in Europe and the American colonies to faith and conversion of life; and we pray that we, like him, may rejoice to sing your praise, live your love and rest secure in the safekeeping of the Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


 

From the Satucket Lectionary

Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf, Imperial Count of Zinzendorf and Pottendorf, (May 26, 1700 – May 9, 1760), German religious and social reformer and bishop of the Moravian Church, was born at Dresden.

Zinzendorf had a naturally alert and active mind, and an enthusiastic temperament that made his life one of ceaseless planning and executing. Like Martin Luther, he was often influenced by strong and vehement feelings, and he was easily moved both by sorrow and joy. He is commemorated as a hymnwriter and a renewer of the church by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on May 9.

Zinzendorf had previously, in deference to his family, who wished him to become a diplomat, rejected the invitation of August Hermann Francke to take Baron von Canstein’s place in the Halle orphanage; and he now resolved to settle down as a landowner, spending his life on behalf of his tenantry. He bought Berthelsdorf from his grandmother, Baroness von Gersdorf and began building his home.

His intention was to carry out into practice the Pietist ideals. He did not mean to found a new church or religious organization distinct from the Lutheranism of the land, but to create a Christian association the members of which by preaching, by tract and book distribution and by practical benevolence might awaken the somewhat torpid religion of the Lutheran Church. The “band of four brothers” (Rothe, pastor at Berthelsdorf; Melchior Schäffer, pastor at Görlitz; Friedrich von Watteville, a friend from boyhood; and himself) set themselves by sermons, books, journeys and correspondence to create a revival of religion, and by frequent meetings for prayer to preserve in their own hearts the warmth of personal trust in Christ. From the printing-house at Ebersdorf, now in Thuringia, large quantities of books and tracts, catechisms, collections of hymns and cheap Bibles were issued.

A dislike of the dry Lutheran orthodoxy of the period gave Zinzendorf some sympathy with that side of the growing rationalism which was attacking dogma, while at the same time he felt its lack of earnestness, and of a true and deep understanding of religion and of Christianity, and endeavoured to counteract these defects by pointing men to the historical Christ, the revelation of the Father. He seems also to have doubted the wisdom of not separating from the Lutheran Church, and began to think that true Christianity could be best promoted by free associations of Christians, which in course of time might grow into churches with no state connection. These thoughts took a practical turn from his connection with the Bohemian or Moravian Brethren. Zinzendorf offered an asylum to a number of persecuted wanderers from Moravia and Bohemia, (part of Czech Republic today), and permitted them to build the village of Herrnhut on a corner of his estate of Berthelsdorf.

Zinzendorf devoted himself to them. He, with his wife and children, lived in Herrnhut and brought Rothe with him. Gradually Zinzendorf was able to organize his refugees into something like a militia Christi, based not on monastic but on family life. However his ideas of family were centered not on a traditional nuclear family of parents and children. Indeed, he wanted to break traditional family bonds by organizing communal families based on age, marital status and gender. These communities, such as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, were designed for the sole purpose of serving Christ, who also was considered to be the community leader. Zinzendorf was also able to establish a common order of worship in 1727, and soon afterwards a common organization. He was consecrated a bishop at Berlin on 20 May 1737 by Bishops David Nitschmann and Daniel Ernst Jablonski.

Zinzendorf took the deepest interest in mission. He travelled widely, visiting America in 1741-42 and spending a long time in London in 1750. Missionary colonies had by this time been settled in the West Indies (1732), in Greenland (1733), amongst the North American Indians (1735); and before Zinzendorf’s death the Brethren had sent from Herrnhut missionary colonies to many other places throughout the known world.

Zinzendorf, overcome with his labours, fell ill and died on 9 May 1760, leaving Bishop Johannes von Watteville, who had married his eldest daughter Benigna, to take his place at the head of the community.

— more at Wikipedia

Additional information on Count von Zinzendorf may be found at a website devoted to him