Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Moral Crisis in Uganda

It's ironic that, as we celebrate today the commemoration of Bishop James Hannington and the other martyrs of Uganda, our Anglican gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers in Uganda are facing possible, and for some, actual, martyrdom simply for who they are as God's creation -- at the hands of many "Christian" fellow citizens of their own country. The outcry from the leadership of the Anglican and Episcopal communities around the world has been a deafening SILENCE!

Bishop Pierre Whalon, who has care of the Episcopal (Anglican) communities in Europe, is one of the exceptions. His blog today is to valuable not to share with as many as have ears to hear:


What would Bishop Hannington say?

Thousands of Ugandan Christians have died as witnesses (martyrs, in Greek) to the Good News of Jesus Christ, Lord of all and Savior of humanity. Today we remember dozens of Anglican martyrs, beginning with a missionary Bishop, James Hannington.

He and his companions was murdered by King Mwanga, who feared the expansion of Christianity. They were joined in their witness by about one hundred African Christians, among whom were several young pages who had refused to submit to Mwanga’s sexual advances.

These martyrs have been held up as part of the reason Ugandans hate homosexuality. Mwanga himself was bisexual, having 16 wives, as well as a pedophile.

Today, that country is considering a law that would make homosexuality a serious crime, even in some cases a capital crime. What would the Martyrs of Uganda say? It is unimaginable that they who paid the ultimate price for their faith would demand that gay people be executed. Quite the contrary!

The Anglican Church of Uganda should strenuously oppose this bill, in conformity with the clear, repeated teachings of the Lambeth Conferences (1978, 1988, 1998—see also the 1998 report—hard to find, scroll down— and 2008, see section H) that homosexuals are beloved of God and should be allowed to be members of the Church. At least one Ugandan bishop has spoken out against the proposed imposition of the death penalty so far.

While some will retort that the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution I.10 declares homosexual practice to be incompatible with Holy Scripture, they would do well to read the whole passage:

“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

“while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals…”

Nothing in here or other Lambeth Conferences can justify support for the criminalisation of homosexuality.

As for Mwanga, he died in exile in the Seychelles apparently in 1903 (sources differ slightly), after having converted to Christianity and Anglican.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SS. Simon & Jude - October 28

"The two apostles are joined together on 28 October because a church, which had recently acquired their relics, was dedicated to their memory in Rome on this day in the seventh century..." (Celebrating the Saints, ed. Robert Atwell)

Simon is named in the list of Apostles in the three Synoptic Gospels. Mark calls Simon "the Canaanite", while Luke calls him "the Zealot". It's possible he had joined the party of the Zealots, a fourth political party in Jesus' time along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes, at some point, either before or after he became a follower of Jesus,

Jude appears in the list in Luke's Gospel and in Luke's Acts of the Apostles, related to James. Traditionally, he's been identified with "Thaddeus" in the listing of Apostles, and in later times as the "patron of lost or difficult causes". One view is that, because of the similarity of his name with Judas Iscariot, Jude was rarely invoked in prayer by the Church's faithful, so that interceding through him became a "last resort", when all else failed!

What can one say beyond this?!

O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles,
and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that,
as they were faithful and zealous in their mission,
so may we with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"What Do You Want Me To Do For You?"

Of the 64 Strong’s Concordance entries for the word righteousness -- i.e., just the ones in St. Paul’s Epistles -- nearly all of them relate the word to faith and Christ, and usually a combination of both. The clear indication is that there are two requirements for anyone aspiring to be “righteous”, i.e., “right with God”, “oned with God”, “in relationship to God”, two things which are possible only by the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit of life and love. Those two things are: 1) that I confess in faith, in setting my heart on the fact, that Jesus the Christ is in charge of my life, and that his words and actions are the norm by which I live. Paul expresses it beautifully in his letter to the community at Philippi: “For [Christ Jesus’] sake I have suffered the loss of all order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own...but one that comes through faith in Christ... 2) that I willingly embrace the cost of following Jesus, which is inevitable suffering. Again, from Philippians: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death...

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews, which has been used liturgically the past three Sundays, today, and will be used the next three Sundays, and which can be looked at as a sermon or pep talk or instruction, probably to both Jewish and Gentile Christians, suggests that the people had begun to forget these basics.

With that as a background, Mark’s Gospel story of Bartimaeus might make more sense to us than just being a miracle story, a sort of “fix-it” situation. Recall how the miracle stories in Mark, and generally in the
other Gospels, function. Read through Mark again, at your leisure, and notice how often Jesus is confronted and interrupted in his ministry by someone’s human suffering.

In Mark’s first chapter, Jesus confronts what binds, burdens, blinds, and breaks human beings, whether in mind or body, heart or health, life or hope. He confronts brokenness in its many forms: disease, demons, disability, death, and even nature’s devastating forces -- all things with which you and I, too, are familiar. Each time, by a word or a touch, Jesus lifts the burden, frees the captive, reclaims the outcast, forgives the sinner, calms the fear, or restores wholeness and peace.

Mark’s point is that in this Jesus of Nazareth, in his words and actions, in who he is, resides the Creator’s own authority and loving power. Over and over, Mark proclaims that in Jesus we have to do with Godself, the Lord of all life. But he presents Jesus as saying and doing things which cause us to ask, along with the crowds, the disciples, and the questioners: “
Who, then, is this man?

Richard Niebuhr says: “
Revelation means for us that part of our history which illumines the rest of it.” It’s the event from which we can go forward or backward and gain some understanding of the whole. Jesus is God’s revelation in person, in whom we see God’s righteousness in the flesh. In Jesus God discloses Godself to us as Knower, Judge and our only Savior.

The miracle stories are the testimony of faith. They’re not shared so much to create faith as to witness in faith, often in retrospect, to God’s mysterious power in Jesus. They don’t offer easy answers. We come away asking: “
Who, then, is this?” -- a good and righteous man?? a prophet?? a compassionate carpenter?? a visionary dreamer?? Or is he the One in whom God’s power and purpose, God’s presence and person, takes hold of us in awesome redeeming mercy, steadfast love, and amazing grace??

Mark uses this story of Bartimaeus and an earlier healing of a blind man to convey a message on blindness of the heart. As you read Mark, you realize that all along Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand, didn’t “get it”, or simply let it pass over their heads: which is a form of hardness of the heart. After Jesus feeds the 4000, the disciples worry about enough food to eat! In Mark 8, an exasperated Jesus blurts out: “
Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?...” So Jesus heals the blind man.

Then follows Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi, the first acknowlegment of Jesus as God’s Anointed One. This admission bridges the gap between blindness and insight, confusion and confession in faith. Mark uses the story to say that unless God opens our eyes, unless God illumines our minds, then even those who seem to be closest to Jesus and claim to understand the most are blind people when it comes to perceiving the presence of God’s reign in Jesus.

After Peter’s confession, Mark’s emphasis shifts, and these are the Gospel passages we’ve been reading and reflecting on the past few Sundays. From now on Jesus’ face is set toward Jerusalem and toward the cross that awaits him. Mark says less now about Jesus’ works, and the response demanded by faith, and focusses on his teaching, especially on the cost of discipleship, which is suffering and death.

Bartimaeus’ story places before us the mystery of God in Jesus. For Mark, Bartimaeus, though probably a historical person, serves as a symbol of all of us: his brokenness, desperation, his persistent cry for mercy is ours and the world’s. We, too, are blind and in need, as he is.

Notice also the contrast with last week’s Gospel. James and John, the Sons of Thunder, or “
Sons of Entitlement” as Stephen B. Chapman, Old Testament Professor at Duke University calls them, rudely, and inappropriately engage in a power grab attempt: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” When Jesus asks; “What is it you want me to do for you?”, they respond that they want box seats next to him in the kingdom, one on the right, one on the left. They totally missed or ignored what Jesus had said to the disciples, not five minutes before: “...See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over...they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him...

In contrast, Bartimaeus seems to have realized how much he needed Jesus’ mercy, for he doggedly cries out, even when “
sternly ordered”, Mark says, to keep quiet. And again, Jesus asks: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus asks for sight, for vision; but Mark says that when he received his sight “he followed [Jesus] on the way...
Whether Bartimaeus realized it or not, we know that that “way”, of course, led to Jerusalem, to that supper with Jesus’ disciples where he would say: “
This is my body, broken for you.

You and I need to be very sure that we know what we, in our blindness, ask Jesus for when he says to us: “
What do you want me to do for you?” Because the sight that Jesus gives us will lead us ahead on the road, as it did Bartimaeus, with Jesus to our Jerusalem. But that doorway and path to mercy, and vision, and love which Jesus is is the only way, ultimately, to God.

St. Augustine wrote: “
If [Jesus] had not consented to be the way, we should all have gone astray...I do not say to you, seek the way. The way itself has come to you: arise and walk.

The Way who is Jesus, indeed, comes to you and me this morning in our sharing of the Eucharist, saying: “
This is my body, broken for you.” “What do you want me to do for you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autumn Reflections

About a month and a half ago I drove to Sacramento, passing the Adobe Farm pumpkin patch, and saw the workers out in the field planting this year's crop. When I drove by earlier this month I was amazed at how quickly the plants were growing. It immediately conjured up the memory of my last two years' visits to the farm, where each weekend is a real autumn festival, especially for children. I've always loved fall: the crispness in the air, the colors of the leaves, something about the late afternoons, the harvest time. There's a certain magic to searching, amidst all the excited little ones and their parents at the farm, for just the right two or three pumpkins which I can take home, carve creatively (!), and set upon the gate posts for the delight of trick-or-treaters, come All Hallows Eve.

Fall seems also to be a particularly meditative time of year. It's probably inevitable, as I age, that I think about the time I have left on this wondrous earth, about the eventual transition from this plane of existence for which my body and soul have been rehearsing, in multiform ways, since birth. I'd certainly like to hang around long enough to continue doing what I can to make this a better, more sustainable earth for all those who will follow. I'm not really anxious to go; but I'm also trying gracefully to hold myself open to the point when it will be time to take leave, and to join the many
loved ones whose company I've missed for so long.

On Labor Day weekend I was most definitely at home. I don't drive, if I can avoid it, on holiday weekends, for obvious reasons. I was thinking about all those who share the noble task of labor, on whatever level, and found myself hoping that, this coming year, the economy will show definite signs of a resurgence, that the pain and dislocation caused to so many by others' previous greed and selfishness, might begin to be relieved, that as a society we might, by then, have begun to gain some wisdom to reevaluate and recenter our lives and priorities, and at least regain some sense of civility in our public discourse!

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to be with family, to rejoice in the blessings (hopefully) that we are to one another, and generally among people and within communities. Beyond that, along with many others, I continue to try to think of ways to be more sensitive to and to address the needs of others who don't have the luxury of looking forward to the holidays (or most days) with any kind of real hope.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gaspar del Bufalo (1786-1837) - Apostle of the Precious Blood

Tomb of St. Gaspar at the Church of Santa Maria in Trivio, Rome

St. Gaspar del Bufalo was the founder of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood in Rome. I was privileged to have
made my profession as a member of the Society in 1958 and to have been ordained a priest in 1964. My connection with the Society continues today through the Amicus C.PP.S., a community of former priests, brothers, and seminarians of the Society and their families, which gathers every two years at the Motherhouse in Ohio.

Gaspar del Bufalo was born in Rome, the son of a cook employed by the Altieri family, whose palace was across from the Church of the Gesù in Rome. Through the influence of his mother, Annunziata, he became greatly devoted to St. Francis Xavier, whose relic is prominently displayed on an altar of the Gesù. He was ordained to the priesthood in the diocese of Rome in 1808. Along with other clergy who refused to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808 after the deportation of Pope Pius VII, he was sent into exile to northern Italy. Upon his return to Rome in 1814, he considered joining the Jesuits, who had recently been reestablished. However, in view of the needs of the time and in response to Pius VII, he engaged in the ministry of preaching and founded, despite facing considerable difficulties, a society of priests, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, at the abbey of San Felice in Giano, Umbria, in 1815.
Until his death on 28 December 1837, he worked tirelessly to re-evangelize central Italy, especially the Papal States. He was well known for his eloquence in preaching, his devotion to the poor (especially the Santa Galla Hospice in Rome), and his work with the brigands of southern Lazio.

St. Gaspar's missionary efforts were extremely dramatic. One contemporary, the Passionist priest and bishop St. Vincent Strambi, described his preaching as being "like a spiritual earthquake." He was also a friend of St. Vincent Pallotti, founder of the Pallotines, who assisted at Gaspar's deathbed. He is particularly known for his devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ and for spreading this devotion during his lifetime.

Gaspar had a significant influence on St. Maria De Mattias, foundress of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (A.S.C.), although it was C.PP.S. Missionary Venerable John Merlini who was most directly associated with St. Maria in establishing her congregation.

Gaspar had given his last mission in Rome at the Chiesa Nuova in 1837. Although in ill health, he returned to Rome from the Missionaries' house in Albano in the fall of 1837 to minister to the sick during the cholera outbreak. He returned to Albano, but returned again at the suggestion of Cardinal Franzoni, the cardinal protector of the Congregation, in December 1837. He died in an apartment in the Teatro di Marcello on December 28, 1837.
His funeral was held in Rome at the church of Sant'Angelo in Pescheria, near the Teatro di Marcello, and he was buried in Albano. Later, his body was transferred to the house of the Missionaries on the Via dei Crociferi in Rome (Santa Maria in Trivio), where it remains today.

Loving God, you made Gaspar del Bufalo a priest and outstanding apostle
of the Precious Blood of your Son. Through his intercession may we
experience the abundant fruits of the price of our redemption. We ask this
through our Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Paradise Outside My Window

My favorite window is a large double one in the office, under which is a small prayer altar where I can pray silently and offer the Daily Office. It looks out onto the sidewalk in front of my patio area, to the left, and the next building, to the right. There are lots of bushes: fragrant honeysuckles and many others I can't name. A leafy, shady curved tree of some sort. Some sort of, maybe, a spruce bush. The two neighbor cats, one gray, one a calico, from across the way often stretch out at the base of the tree, oblivious as I pray the Magnifcat over them! The sun shines beautifully through the tree in the morning and evening. In the winter the tree stands bare and lonely looking, the leaves all fallen. But out of the fog and rain drops often form on the bare branches, almost like clear crystal beads, or tears, or sweat.

What I see looking out that window, whatever the season, is paradise; or, I should explain, a reminder of paradise. A new book I just read talks about how terribly important images of paradise were to the Christians of the early nine or ten centuries. If you look at the catacombs and other early Christian art you don't find depictions of the Crucifixion, but rather of paradise. It was the Church's way of holding before us the reality of the Risen Christ and his original gift to humankind of peace and harmony, of a place rich with life-giving water, of abundance of the sweet fruits of the earth, a place of non-violence and peace and sabbath rest. The early Christians believed in that image and reality for the hope which it held out, even amidst and despite the sufferings, disjointedness, perplexities, and oppression that might have been part of the fabric of their immediate lives. Always there was hope; paradise was real; and God was to be blessed for that gift.

And so, as I look out the window onto the remnant of paradise that appears before me, I'm drawn to its heart, which is the Heart of Love itself. In Him I take joy in such magnificence as the bushes and growth and the tree before me, in the animals whose simplicity and peace challenge me in my "antsiness" to get side-tracked by distractions or to get on with my busy-ness, in the sheer miracle of life at work in all of them. I'm led to thankfulness to be part of this paradise and to the hope which it holds out.

I'm daily led to remember the people all over the world, particularly in this community or even in this very complex of neighbors who may not be aware of this gift of paradise. Occasionally, people walk by and I can pray for their welfare and safety and happiness as they go off, perhaps to work, or school, or to whatever. Sometimes it's unavoidable to hear neighbor siblings venting on one another, or parents arguing, and it becomes an occasion to pray for God's mercy, love and comfort for all of us who are in the same boat at one time or another. At other times my mind meanders to the national crisis of the day, or to the thousand other challenges which face us all in our largely messed-up U.S. society...and I'm led to pray for those who govern and make decisions which affect us, for those in the media whom I can hardly stand sometimes, for the murderers and rapists and con artists in the morning headlines, or the people who've been killed in accidents, the victims of the health care system, for those who die, far too young, from cancer. The paradise outside my window many times draws me out of my surrender to negativity and gloom and near-despair back into the hope which Love, here and now, holds out to all of us. That and the awareness and recollection of all the incredible mercies so many good people around me lavish upon other people, quietly and consistently, every day, never making the headlines, seeking no more reward that to just see another person smile, have the strength to survive another day, pass on a good word or gesture to someone else down the line.

Dorothy Day wrote, in 1961: "I was thinking, how as one gets older, we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy that goes with loving." (The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, Ed. Robert Ellsberg, Marquette University Press, 2008, p. 310) As I sit by my office window each day, unavoidably getting older, I thank God for this little paradise outside helps me understand a bit better what Dorothy Day might have been talking about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thomas Edward DeHaven (1922-1966)

My mother began dating my stepfather, Tom DeHaven, in 1952. I'm fuzzy on how or where they met, but since that was in my mother's drinking days, and Tom's, I suspect that they met at their favorite bar, called The 19th Hole. Tom had come with Mom for several visits when I was at Brunnerdale Seminary, in 1953, my junior year. Though he presented himself from the beginning as a nice-enough guy, I was naturally threatened by any "intruder" between Mom and me, having lived alone with her from childhood. I knew something was up because Mom had been talking again, as she had in 1948, about having my father declared legally dead. After my father resurfaced then and was arrested, having worked out an agreement, he skipped out on his court-ordered alimony payments, and must've laid low because we never heard from him again, nor did the authorities pursue him. At first I brushed off Mom's talk of having him declared dead, but, of course, wondered why it suddenly was so important to her after all these years. After Mom's death in 2003, I came into possession of all her papers and learned that she and Tom had obviously been contemplating marriage, possibly as early as 1952. They'd even gotten blood tests in mid-February, 1953. In the meantime, Mom never discussed it with me.

By mid-summer, again unbeknownst to me, Mom's petition for a decree of divorce from my father was in the final stages, and was finally granted on July 24, 1953. Mom and Tom must have had the wedding planned almost to the minute. They obtained a marriage license in Liberty, IN, about an hour's drive west of our home in Dayton, OH, the same day as the divorce became final. They were married immediately afterwards at Edwards Memorial Methodist Church there. The marriage certificate includes a picture of the parsonage, a lovely white Victorian two-story, with a porch and what appears to be a sizeable yard, and two photos of the newlyweds.

Unfortunately for me, Mom broke the news to me in a letter which I received the afternoon before I was to go home for my vacation. "Home" had suddenly changed from apartment I'd been used to, to another one in the same area. I felt devastated and betrayed: not only because I'd been the very last to know what was going on, but also because of the fact that my mother had been married outside the Catholic Church. In those days, especially if you happened to be studying for the Roman priesthood, that was a BIG deal! Immediately upon reading the letter, I went to the chapel where I knelt sobbing for a long time. For some years after that, I subconsciously refused inwardly to forgive my mother for this, and, unfortunately, my attitude towards Tom was anything but warm. It took me about four years to work this through, to forgive Mom and to accept Tom for the incredible person I came to know and recognize him to be. Thankfully, he turned out to be a real father to me and truly one of the best friends I've ever had. Tom was generous to a fault, almost always upbeat and smiling, with a quick sense of humor, and always doing favors for his mother and his six siblings, for Mom and me, and just about anyone else who needed him. He was extremely inventive, and with spare material from his job at Frigidaire, where my grandfather had worked, he created practical things like a napkin holder and a set of candlesticks which I still have, and one of my most prized possessions: his jewelry box made of inlaid wood, a real masterpiece. He was an avid bowler, along with his oldest brother, Bill, and won a number of league awards.

In 1966 I was already Chaplain at Sacred Heart College [now Newman University] in Wichita, KS. At that time my Mom had come down with serious phlebitis and was on periodic bed rest. I'd just retired around 1:00 AM the morning of October 21, when I received a tearful call from my Aunt Joan. My first guess was that perhaps Mom had died. But it was Tom. He'd had a sudden heart attack the night before, October 20. He'd worked that day, but experiencing some chest pains he'd gone to see the company nurse. She had him lie down to rest, then sent him home thinking he might have had indigestion and was now okay. After he went to bed, Mom heard a moan, and by the time she reached him he'd died.

Both Mom and I took Tom's death very hard, though I mostly internalized it. There are times even now when I still become emotional thinking about him. He died seven years before my natural father did, though I didn't know that at the time. Once both Mom and Tom had stopped drinking several years earlier, things were very good, and there was never any question how deeply they loved one another, and me. On October 22 I celebrated the Requiem High Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Dayton, OH, which had become our family parish, surrounded by family, friends, and a good number of Precious Blood priests who'd assisted at my first Mass there two years before. Tom began taking instructions in Catholicism in mid-October, 1961, from Fr. Cletus Foltz, C.PP.S., who'd been Rector when I was at Brunnerdale Seminary, and was then pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Dayton. Fr. Foltz baptized Tom there on December 15, 1962, and Tom received his first Communion the following day, December 16.

43 years now! A long time. God's peace to you, Tom!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Luke the Evangelist

"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. " (Luke 1:1-4)

"In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’" (Luke 1:1-8)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Who Is Greater...?"

Whoever is in charge of picking the lessons for this Sunday’s liturgy missed three verses (vv. 32-34) in the Gospel (Mark 10:35-45) which are rather important for understanding the whole dynamic of what’s going on between Jesus and the disciples. 32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’

This is the
third time that Mark shows Jesus explaining to the disciples the destiny and meaning of his mission, and three times the disciples clearly don’t “get it”. His predictions are really the summary of Mark’s Gospel as Mark knows it. First, Peter tries to hush Jesus up for speaking about suffering and being killed, but Jesus rebukes Peter and tries to set his and the disciples’ thinking straight. Then on the road to Capernaum Jesus notices a little argument going on among them, and later confronts them, only to find out that they’ve been bickering about who’s “the greatest”. So, Jesus uses a visual aid in the form of a little child on his lap: a symbol of one who is totally helpless and dispossessed, and how this is the kind of simplicity they’re to imitate as God’s servants, even as he will on the Cross. But their only response is to change the subject and to rant about someone who was also preaching in Jesus’ name, and whom they tried to stop “because he was not following us”. And now, after marching them in single-file on the road, according to seniority, as was the custom in those days, the young “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, have the audacity to ignore what Jesus has been saying and to initiate a power grab: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.” How would you have reacted, had you been there??

Stephen B. Chapman, Old Testament professor at Duke University has commented very pointedly on this text: “
James and John McZebedee matriculated at my seminary again this fall. The "Sons of Entitlement," I call them. They are usually -- but not always -- young and white in addition to being male. They have typically grown up in the church, attended Christian colleges and majored in religion. They like to refer to their mental index of Theologians Worth Reading and readily scoff at those theologians they have not read (and so are not worth reading). They patronize second-career students, female students, minority students and those ministerial students who are without apparent academic ambitions. Their fathers are frequently pastors. It is possible, these Sons of Entitlement piously concede in candid moments, that God may be calling them to become professors or bishops. They are rather easy to dislike...Surely [Jesus] must realize that Zebedee’s boys need to straighten out their values and goals. After all, their primary concern is where they will sit in glory, not whether they can actively pursue a ministry or earn rightful acclaim.”

James and John, and their fellow disciples too, just could not fathom that the meaning of discipleship is service, not privilege, and that Jesus is the exemplar of such service. It was incomprehensible to them that those who aspire to greatness must be servants, and that those who would be “number one” must becomes slaves. Not a popular notion, in any generation! And surely Mark’s account would have been influenced by his own firsthand experience of such leadership struggles within his and other early Christian communities.

In preparing this I ran across a story from the early years of our country which deals with the same issue that Mark raises. During the American Revolutionary War a company of soldiers under the command of a captain was building a fort out of a pile of heavy logs. While wrestling with a log which was to form the capstone and was really too heavy for the men to handle, the captain kept yelling at his men "heave it up", while he himself stood by with his hands on his hips. Suddenly a stranger in everyday clothing rode up on horseback, and seeing the soldiers sweating and struggling with the log, he stopped and asked the captain why he wasn’t helping his men. "I am an OFFICER!" was the reply. With that the stranger leapt off his horse, took off his coat, and helped the men put the heavy log in place. As he was about to ride away, the stranger said to the captain, "Next time you need help, just call on me. My name is George Washington and I am Commander in Chief of the United States Army!"

Even in the way he replied to James’ and Johns’ rude and self-interested request, Jesus modeled servant ministry. “What is it you want me to do for you?” Mark tells us that the other disciples’ reaction to the two was far less tolerant: “...they began to be angry”. Jesus makes it clear that it’s not his calling to be in the “give-away” or preferential treatment business: “ sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared...” Jesus was progressively becoming aware that His Father was leading Jesus to the fulfillment of an important plan, that he was being led toward the Holy City, Jerusalem, and that this would culminate in much suffering and ultimately, his own death. He was trying desperately to convey this to the disciples: first, to prepare them for the reality, and second, to motivate them to follow his example as God’s servant. The author of the letter to the Hebrews, in retrospect, comments on that example: Jesus, God’s Son and Servant, “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears,...and he was heard because of his reverent submission...he learned obedience through what he suffered...and...became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him...” The word “obedience” comes from the Latin, ob + audire = to really listen: not just to hear words, but to listen and to act on what one hears.

Jesus reminds James and John that, regardless of what position they eventually attain, they, as his followers, will inevitably suffer, perhaps even die, in imitation of their Master. That’s the meaning of drinking the cup and being baptized with Jesus‘ baptism. This takes on special meaning when you and I realize that Mark, writing this account many years after this discussion, already knew that James had died at the hands of Herod Agrippa.

Further, Jesus reminds the whole group that they live in a society where the recognized rulers use their authority to “lord it over” others, and where the “great ones are tyrants”. “But it is not so among you,” Jesus says. In the circle of God’s reign, in the community of believers, the great one must be a servant and the one who covets first place must be a slave -- of ALL. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve...” Luke’s version of this quotation adds: “...For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves...

So, where does this leave you and me?? Perhaps we can begin to determine this for ourselves by thinking about some questions:

1) What is really primary for me in my life, and especially in my relationship to Jesus? What is it that I value above all else? What is really worthy of my expending energy for?

Honestly, the kind of self-giving service that Jesus holds out to the disciples and to us doesn’t come easily or naturally to most of us. If that’s true of me, how am I dealing with it? What would have to change if I were willing to accept Jesus’ ministry of serving rather than being served as the model for my own ministry with others?

2) A second set of questions we might think about concerns my own ambitions and my reaction to others’ ambitions. Perhaps the greater sin in the seminary, in the church, in my family or social circle, in my parish, is not misplaced ambition, but complacency and lack of ambition altogether. Where ambition exists, it, at least, can be redirected and purified. But where it’s entirely absent, mediocrity sets in, the status quo hardens, and professors and committees, vestries and parishioners, husbands and wives and children can end up debating endlessly about methods and procedures. Perhaps we too easily demonize James and John, and others, for being so ambitious. Could it be that their act of stepping forward matters more to Jesus than their immediate reasons for doing so? Is it possible that even we might learn to engage people who seem to be “Sons/Daughters of Entitlement” with respect and love, as Jesus did, while helping them and ourselves to refocus their/our ambition on true servanthood and its high demands?

Fr. Henry Nouwen, in his book The Wounded Healer, notes: “The healer is not a person in perfect health, but a sick person as well. The difference is that the healer would bind up his own wounds long enough to minister to others. That's all any of us can do in the Church because we are all wounded healers.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Father I Never Knew

My father, Robert Joseph Allagree, was born the only child of Joseph Allegree, Jr. and Rosa Matilda Mattingly, on August 20, 1904, in Washington, IN. In many of the public records the name “Allegree”, sometimes “Allegre”.

My paternal grandparents, Joseph and Matilda, were married in 1903, in Washington, IN, Daviess County, by Rev. William P. Garrity, likely at the Catholic church in Washington: St. Simon’s Church [possibly SS. Simon and Jude Church]. Grandfather, Joseph, was born in 1868, probably in Orange County, IN. He was 34 when he married Matilda. According to the records of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, with whom my father later studied, Joseph died “of heart trouble” in 1914 at the age of 45. However, the copy of his death record which I later obtained confirms that he died February 4, 1914, at Washington, IN, of alcoholic poisoning. His age was 45 years, 8 months, and 17 days.

According to Grandfather Joseph’s death record, his parents, my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, were Robert Allegre(e) and Harriet(t) E. Pruitt, both born in Indiana. Cemetery records indicate that Great-grandfather Robert was born in 1840; Great-grandmother Harriett was probably born between 1844-1846. It’s likely that she died after June, 1870 and before 1880. Great-grandfather Robert died in 1927, by falling off a bridge drunk and drowning in a puddle of water, according to family legend related to me by my father’s last wife, Jean.

My grandmother, Matilda Rosa Mattingly, was born in 1880, in Washington, IN. According to her second marriage application to Charles Crooks, she listed my Great-grandfather, Alexander, as having been a “teamster”. Matilda’s mother, my great-grandmother, was Laura Ann Summers. For about the last 12 years of her life Great-grandmother Laura was committed to the Southern Indiana Hospital for the Insane, Evansville, IN, where she died in 1900.

Matilda and Joseph were divorced after four years, in 1907. My grandmother lists her occupation in 1909 as “Housekeeper”. Her second marriage, to Charles Daniel Crooks, took place in December, 1909, when she was 26. As to Matilda's death, the records of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart state: “She died of the flu in 1919 at the age of 39.” This is confirmed by her death record, and that she died on March 24, 1919 at Washington, IN. She was buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Washington, IN, along with Charles, her second husband, and his wife after Matilda, Catherine. The grave, however, is marked by a simple ground-level stone which reads “Charles Crooks 1877-1962”. Only after trying in vain, then being guided to one of the community elders of Washington, IN, was I able to find the grave site!

I've gleaned only bits and pieces about my father's earlier life. I know that he was orphaned at age 19. Apparently, Thomas Mattingly, grandfather of Don Mattingly who later was a NASA astronaut, wanted to raise my father who got along poorly with Charles Crooks, his step-father. It's said that Crooks took the money from Matilda's insurance, after her death, and spent it on another woman. My father apparently said that all he got was a new suit for the funeral.

On April 1, 1920, Robert entered St. Joseph's Juniorate, operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in Metuchen, NJ, under the name Robert Joseph Crooks. In a letter in 1952, my father said: "I came from Washington, Indiana attended by Brother Berchmans who is now deceased." Brother Albertinus, S.C. was the director at the time. My father's teachers were: Bro. Valerian, S.C., Bro. George, S.C., and Bro. Alexis, S.C. On August 14, 1920 Robert began his Novitiate; a new chapel was under construction at the time. The following August 15, 1921, his was the first class to take (first) vows in the new chapel. He took the religious name Brother Paulinus, S.C. That same year a fellow Hoosier from my father's hometown, Bro. Maximilian, S.C., entered the order.

Bro. Paulinus took his second vows on August 15, 1922, then was assigned to teach at Star of the Sea Grammar School, Long Island, NY (at Far Rockaway). I have been told that he was adept at French and taught the language. On August 21, 1923, Robert left the Order "of his own volition", according to the records. He also verified this in the above-mentioned letter in 1952. His last known communication with anyone in the Sacred Heart Order was a letter dated March 10, 1953 to "Rev. Bro. David" in which he says: "I am trying to get a position with reference" , then he adds to Bro. David: "Pray for me. I am going into a hospital here."

My father apparently contracted rheumatic fever while in Metuchen, though that wasn't mentioned in the records I saw. Some time in 1921 he was apparently reassigned to Oklahoma to teach Native American students, and on his way there he stopped briefly in Indiana to visit his step-father, who didn't receive him very graciously. Robert never again returned to see him, and at that time left the Order. Subsequently, he is said to have joined up with someone in Indiana with whom he travelled to Berea, KY, where they are said to have worked at the college there. He may even have attended some classes at the school.

My parents, Grace Elinor Fries and Robert Joseph Allagree, met at the Buckeye Bar in Dayton, OH, possibly at the end of 1934 or in early 1935. Both my parents had a drinking problem, and I think they were well on their way to becoming alcoholics at an early age. Dad apparently spent a lot of time in the bar down the street, wearing his white “doctor” outfit. In addition there were apparently indications along the way that he wasn't very responsible or trustworthy. My understanding is that my mother left home twice to be with my father. The first time, Grandpa Fries apparently talked her out of it; the second time she stayed with my father. Mom told me that Grandpa didn’t like my father at all, and that Grandma Fries wasn't very enthusiastic about him either. Nevertheless, my mother and father were married on September 3, 1935, in Campbell Co. KY, by Thomas Henly, Justice of the Peace. There is also a church record showing that their marriage was validated in the Roman Catholic Church by the Rev. Albert J. Kroum at Emmanuel Catholic Church, Dayton, OH, on September 11, 1935 [the date had originally been set for September 3, but was moved back, probably because they were being civilly married in Kentucky].

My father seems to have been a bit of a con-artist in his early years. He’d been befriended by Dr. Richard Hochwalt at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Dayton, OH, probably during the illness of Robert's first wife, Verda Mae, mother of my older brother and sister, Bobby [deceased] and Pat. Robert later placed the children in St. Joseph’s Orphans’ Home, Dayton, giving them the impression that when he remarried, he’d take them out of the orphanage. Family legend has it that he “procured” a copy of Dr. Hochwalt’s signature and affixed it to a certificate which he got by taking a mail-order course in physiotherapy. He then called himself “Dr. Allagree” and, after marrying my mother, set up shop in their home. The earliest, and practically only, pictures I have of my father are in a white uniform. My mother, who served as his “nurse” [I learned years that Mom had wanted to be a nurse!], lived in mortal fear that they’d be found out and raided by the authorities. Mom once commented: “The sad part about it was that he was good at it [physiotherapy]...and he showed progress in patients...

Mom's recollections of my father weren't at all positive. She said my father rarely spoke about his experience of studying to be a Brother of the Sacred Heart [in Metuchen, NJ] when he was a young boy, except that he had left because of rheumatic fever. His name in religion was Brother Paulinus. She said he later used to roller skate under the name, Bobby Crooks, the name he adopted for a time after his mother, Matilda Rosa, remarried Charles D. Crooks. My oldest sister, Pat Pont, has a picture of Dad with a notation, “Bob Crooks - Indiana’s Roller Skating Champion 1917 - 1918 - 1919 - 1920”. Mom said he never spoke much about his parents. When I asked Mom if there were happy times, she remembered him taking her to a hotel downtown where there was a good band. My father was apparently a good dancer, and they’d have a few drinks and spend the evening dancing. And there were times, for example, “at the lake” [seen in a number of the photos I have] where he treated both of us well. Mom said that generally my father “acted like he was crazy about you...kinda showing you off all the time...” She said that he had worked striping cars for some of the time they were married, something he continued in later years, and also had the physiotherapy office off and on.

My recollections from this period are vague and sporadic. I don’t actually remember my father at all, even though I have several photos of me with him and my mother between the ages of 4 months and 2 years, all reflecting apparently happy times. Of the 11 pictures of my father which have come down to me, five are of him alone and six are of him with me, either as a baby or young child.

When I was 2 1/2, in 1939, the year that Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli was elected Pope, my father deserted my mother and me. My father had left us, apparently on the pretext of having to go out of town, and promising to send money to Mom, though it quickly became clear that his intention was to leave permanently. He had precollected what his “clients” owed him, and left Mom and me high and dry, absconding with the money.

Here is how I eventually learned that I had four half-brothers and three half-sisters. Though I’d grown up as an only child, I discovered in 1952, my sophomore year at Brunnerdale Seminary, that I probably had a half-brother and a half-sister. I was working in the laundry one day with old Sister M. Liberata, C.PP.S. She asked what my father’s name was. When I told her it was “Robert Joseph”, she said that she’d known two children at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Dayton with the name Allagree, and she thought that was also their father’s name. I remember telling her that it couldn’t be: “I’m an only child.” It raised a question in my mind, and I couldn’t wait until my mother’s next visit so that I could ask her about it. She finally admitted to me that my father had been married before, that there were two children, Patty and Bobby, that his first wife had died of tuberculosis, and that he had put the children in St. Joseph’s Orphanage, promising to come and get them once he was married again. He never did. Mom remembered him bringing them for dinner on several occasions. On one of my later summer vacations I remember calling my sister, Pat, and having a brief, but pleasant conversation. Inexplicably, we both simply let it go at that.

In 1950 Mom learned that my father was living with a common law wife and had two sons, Bobby Gene and Bobby Joe, whom he’d also recently abandoned. Jean later married a man named Selig, who adopted the two boys, both of whom went by the surname Selig. My father was arrested in mid-April, 1950, in Chillicothe, then transferred to the Montgomery County jail in Dayton because he’d never paid my mother any child support for the previous 10 years. Shortly after he appeared in court and agreed to pay, he disappeared again, and the case was never pursued. Mom felt strongly that someone within the police or legal system had conspired to make this possible.

My oldest sister, Pat, had gone to Julienne High School in Dayton with my Aunt Janie and my Aunt Sue, with whom she graduated. In August, 1988 I asked Janie if she had Pat’s address or phone number. Coincidentally, she’d recently received the latest Julienne alumni book, and Pat was listed. It took me several weeks to work up the courage to call Pat, but I really wanted to know if my father was still alive and where he lived. Pat, I think, was initially surprised when I called, but nevertheless pleased. In answer to my question, she told me that Dad had died in 1973. She told me about the funeral, and later I filled in many more details from various sources.

On a visit to my Allagree family in Chillicothe in August, 2001, I met Steve Hughes, my father's brother-in-law. He told me he had been very close to my father, and that, in fact, was with him when he died. One October 17, 1973 Steve, my father, and my younger brother, Joe, had driven to Columbus. Both Steve and my father each bought a car at an auto sale. Robert had eaten some peanuts and drank a Coke. He asked Steve to follow him back to Chillicothe because he wasn't feeling very well. At one point he pulled over briefly, then continued on. He stopped again, and when Steve got to him he could see that Robert was in distress, and eventually died in his arms. Steve said that a doctor stopped to help, but by that time it was too late. Robert was pronounced dead-on-arrival at Mercy Hospital, Columbus, OH, with a diagonosis of "acute myocardial infarction" and "arteriosclerotic heart disease". What's the old saying? "Like father, like son." It could've turned out that way for me, but luckily I had several good and alert doctors who prevented it.
I had quadruple cardiac bypass in 2002, and made it my mission to survive beyond 69! So far, so good.

In the past 11 years of his life, I'm told by family members, my father really cleaned up his act! He stopped drinking and apparently "got religion" through a TV evangelist from Arizona, The Rev. Willard Wilcox, who came to do his funeral. My father's funeral took place in Portsmouth, OH on October 20, 1973, and he was buried in Lucasville Cemetery, near Chillicothe.

My initial conversation in 1988 with my sister, Pat, had at least answered my main question. But as we talked about Dad and the two families he had, in addition to me, Pat kept referring to “the others”. When I questioned that, she told me that Dad had a fourth wife, Dolores Hughes, and a boy, Joe, and two girls, Julie and Patty Ann. The younger ones had known about me all along, but I didn’t even know they existed.

In 1989 my former wife, Cheryl, and I flew back to Ohio to visit my mother, then 74. My newly-discovered younger brother and sister, Joe and Julie, drove up from Chillicothe to Dayton where we met for the first time, after which Cheryl and I went back with them for a week’s visit with my youngest sister, Patty Ann, their mother, Jean, my father’s last wife of nearly 25 years, and all the nieces and nephews. Several days later Joe took us to visit our father’s grave in Lucasville, OH, where, with deep emotion, I offered prayers for the dead from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. I've been there to visit one other time since then. I learned from my family that Robert had known that I was ordained a priest in 1964, and had carried a childhood picture of me with him, which the family gave me. I later wrote and spoke about this visit and its aftermath: “ 1989, after discovering that I had four half-brothers and three half-sisters, I go to Lucasville, OH, to visit my father’s grave. A week later I dream that he and I meet. In the dream we converse without words, then slowly turn and walk off together. I feel the greatest peace I’ve ever known...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering the Oxford Martyrs -- And Thelma

The Martyrdom of Hugh Latimer (1485?-1555)
and Nicholas Ridley (1500?-1555)

The Martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)

The date of the celebration of the deaths of the Oxford martyrs -- Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer -- is etched indelibly in my mind for two reasons: 1) it was one of the key dates I needed to know for the General Ordination Exams which I took in 1982, and 2) because Thelma Sullivan's birthday was celebrated on that feast day of theirs, October 16.

From 1983-1986, I served two mountain missions in Northern California: Good Shepherd, Susanville, and Holy Spirit, Lake Almanor. My first pastoral home call in Almanor was to Thelma Sullivan, then 87, whom we referred to as “our token senior”. Thelma’s had lost one eye and wore a prosthesis. Her quiet sense of humor was absolutely refreshing. and sometimes a tad wicked! She’d often ask me and others if her eye was in straight! Most of the families at Holy Spirit were young, but Thelma fit right in despite her advanced age. She was one of the youngest-at-heart people I’ve ever known. She adored the children in the congregation, and especially my son, Andrew. I think she’d been widowed, though I don’t recall for sure. As a young woman, she’d worked for years at the gift shop in the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, and she had many friends. When she was up in years she moved up to Clear Creek, between Westwood and Hamilton Branch. She had a perfectly charming little wooden cabin, with a porch, right on Clear Creek, and it always delighted me to visit her. We'd sit and chat for a bit, then have Communion together, usually Rite I which she loved. She kept a large-print prayer book handy so that she could follow along. Then after a brief quiet time, she’d quietly suggest that we break out a bottle of Johnny Walker's which she loved, or sometimes just a pot of tea, and we’d sip our drinks together and share news. She was sharp as a tack mentally and always enjoyed a good joke.

I particularly recall the Holy Spirit congregation showing up en masse at Thelma’s in 1985, to celebrate her 90th birthday with cake and ice cream. I “wondered” out loud if there was any significance to the fact that her actual birthday fell on the commemoration of martyred Anglican Bishops Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer! I also acknowledged that it fell one day after the feast of Teresa of Avila, noted for saying, “God save us from sour-faced saints,” which, I later made clear in the parish newsletter: “...Thelma is not. (Sour-faced, that is!)...” She was as close to being a saint as one could be, in my opinion.

Thelma had a profoundly wise, simple, spiritually realistic outlook on life, and during our visits we’d often talk at a deeper level about various things. I think she looked on me as a sort of “honorary” son. I certainly loved her, and it was my humbling privilege at the end of her life, two years after I’d left Almanor and gone to be rector at St. John's, Chico, to be called upon to minister to her at the nursing home in Chico where she’d been moved. She died on February 17, 1988, at 92.

I can definitely imagine , after her passing, Thelma schmoozing with the good Bishops Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer, and sitting down together over drinks to compare notes, maybe even to celebrate their common feast day. I wonder: was it Johnny Walker's or tea?!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

La Madre

"God forgive you, Brother Juan,
for having painted me,
and for having painted me ugly and bleary-eyed."

"May nothing disturb you,
nothing astonish you.
Everything passes.
God does not go away.
can attain anything.
The one who has God within,
lacks nothing.
God is enough!

Memorial to Santa Teresa outside Puerta del Alcázar,
across from Plaza de Santa Teresa, Ávila

Baptismal font in Iglesia de San Juan Bautista
in which Santa Teresa was baptized

Convento de San José (Convento de las Madres)
Santa Teresa's first foundation, 1562

Convento de la Encarnación, Ávila,
where Santa Teresa fully took on monastic life and began her reform movement.
Teresa lived here for 27 years, three as Prioress.

Patio de la Encarnación

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Your Matron, Edith Cavell"

Nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

Edith Cavell Memorial outside
Eppingham Gate - Entrance to Norwich Cathedral

Edith Cavell Memorial - Norwich
(Taken 5/6/2007)

Edith Louisa Cavell was born into a British clergy family at Swardeston. After a time as a governess, she became a nurse, working with the Red Cross in Belgium in 1907. In World War I she cared for the wounded on both sides. Refusing repatriation, she began smuggling British soldiers from Belgium into Holland, eventually helping some 200 Allied soldiers to escape from the Germans. Her religious beliefs, rooted in Anglicanism, compelled her to help all those who were in need, both German and Allied soldiers. She was arrested and faced trial by the Nazis in 1915.

Nurse Cavell became well-known for her comment to The Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give her Holy Communion the night before her execution: "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." Her final words to the German Lutheran prison chaplain, Paul Le Seur, were recorded as, "Ask Father Gahan to tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country." According to Rev. Le Seur, eight men carried out her sentence at Tir National shooting range in Schaerbeek, at 6:00 AM on October 12, 1915.

The night before she died, Edith wrote this to her nurses:
"My Dear Nurses,
To my sorrow I have not always been able to talk to you each privately. You know that I had my share of burdens. But I hope that you will not forget our evening chats.

I told you that devotion would bring you true happiness and the thought that, before God and in your own eyes, you have done your duty well and with a good heart, will sustain you in trouble and face to face with death...

One more word. Never speak evil...Nurses all need to think of this, and to cultivate a loyalty and team spirit among themselves...

If any of you has a grievance against me, I beg you to forgive me; I have perhaps been unjust sometimes, but I have loved you much more than you think.

I send my good wishes for the happiness of all my girls, as much for those who have left the School as for those who are still there. Thank you for the kindness you have always shown me.

Your matron,
Edith Cavell"

Edith Cavell was also an influential pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium. Following her death, many memorials were created around the world to remember her. One of the first was unveiled in October, 1918 by Queen Alexandra on the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, near a home for nurses which also bore her name. On May 19, 1919, her body was interred near the memorial. Others include:

- a stone memorial, including a statue of Cavell, adjacent to Trafalgar Square in London
- a memorial in Peterborough Cathedral
- a marble and stone memorial near The Shrine in Melbourne, Australia
- a dedication on the war memorial on the grounds of Sacred Trinity Church, Salford, Greater Manchester

Medical facilities:
- Edith Cavell Hospital, in Peterborough, where she received part of her education
- Edith Cavell Hospital in the Brussels borough of Uccle (Ukkel), Belgium
- a wing of Homerton Hospital, Hackney, London
- a wing of Toronto General Hospital, Canada
- Cavell Building, Quinte Children's Treatment Centre, Belleville, Ontario, Canada
- University of East Anglia, Norwich, named its School of Nursing and Midwifery centre, the Edith Cavell building,when it opened in 2006.

- Edith Cavell Drive, Steeple Bumpstead, UK
- Cavell Avenue, Twin Cities, Minnesota
- Cavell Street, running next to the London Hospital in Whitechapel, where Cavell trained
- Cavell Street, West Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
- Rue Edith Cavell/Edith Cavellstraat, Uccle/Ukkel, Brussels, Belgium
- Avenue Edith-Cavell, Nice, France
- Rua Edith Cavell, Lisbon, Portugal
- Cavell Drive, Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Cavell Avenue, Guelph, Ontario
- Edith Cavell Boulevard, Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada
- Cavell Avenue, Trenton, New Jersey
- a street in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, South Africa
- a street in Port Louis, Mauritius
- Cavell Avenue in The Danforth neighbourhood, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Avenue Miss Cavell, St-Maur-Des-Fosses,France

- Edith Cavell Regional School of Nursing, Belleville, Ontario
- Edith Cavell School, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
- Edith Cavell Elementary School, Vancouver, British Columbia
- a school in St. Catharines, Ontario
- a school in Bedford, Britain
- Wymondham College in Norfolk, Britain, has a boarding block named after her.
- a building at the University of Queensland, Australia
- Cavell House, at St. Aidan's Anglican Girls' School, Brisbane, Australia

- Cavell Gardens, Inverness, Britain
- Mount Edith Cavell, a peak in the Canadian Rockies, named in 1916
- Cavell Corona, a geological feature on Venus
- a bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand
- The Edith Cavell Trust, established by the New South Wales Nurses' Association providing scholarships to nurses in New South Wales
- The Edith Cavell Nursing Scholarship Fund, a philanthropy of the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation providing scholarships to exceptional nursing students in Dallas, Texas and the surrounding area
- a guest house in Clevedon, Somerset (Cavell House) where she spent some of her childhood
- a variety of rose, first bred in 1917, is named after her
- a YWCA camp in Lexington, Michigan
- Edith became a popular name for French and Belgian girls after her execution. The French chanteuse Édith Piaf, born two months after Cavell was executed, was the best known of these.
- Radio Cavell 1350 AM, broadcasting to the staff and patients on The Royal Oldham Hospital Charity Radio.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cristóbol Colón (c. 1451-1506)

Posthumous portrait of Columbus
by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

Sepulcro de Cristóbol Colón (Columbus' Tomb)
with coffin bearers representing the kings of
Castilla, Léon, Aragón, & Navarra
(Taken at Catedral de Sevilla, 1998)

Christopher Columbus was a navigator, colonizer and explorer whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. He made four voyages, all funded by Isabella I of Castile, to explore and several attempts at establishing a settlement on the island of Hispaniola, thus initiating the process of Spanish colonization, and the eventual general European colonization of the "New World."
Columbus was not the first person to reach the Americas from Europe. At least one other group preceded him: the Norse, led by Leif Ericson.

Columbus initiated widespread contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans. The term "pre-Columbian" is usually used to refer to the peoples and cultures of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and other Europeans. Columbus himself was responsible for the deaths of millions of Native Americans, possibly between 1 and 3 million, in the first 15 years of his colonization of the Caribbean, including entire peoples' such as the Taino and the Arawak. He has the dubious distinction of being the founder of the practice of slavery in the Americas.

Columbus was probably born in Genoa, although there are other theories. The name Christopher Columbus is English for the Latin Christophorus Columbus. The original name in 15th century Genoese language was Christoffa Corombo. The name is rendered in modern Italian as Cristoforo Colombo, and in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón.