Reflections for November
30th October 2018
by Pam Spychal
as published in November Parish Life
November is a busy month with 27 festivals or commemorations, beginning with All Saints Day on the first of the month and ending with St Andrews Day on the 30th
All Saints Day is an important festival, celebrating all the known, and unknown, saints. It seems to me to be a good way of making sure we don’t miss anyone out (like when we give a vote of thanks), although I imagine saints are not the sort of people who would be offended if we did!
I’m glad the unknown saints are included. Have you met one? What are the qualities of a saint? Do they have to be Christian, or churchgoers, or on the Electoral Roll? Should they be married or single, celibate or in a relationship, rich or poor, clever or simple?
In The Bible the word ‘saint’, appears briefly in the Gospels and many times in The Acts and The Epistles. It refers to all the people of the early church who believed in Jesus d the canonisation of saints
In Anglicanism it’s more complicated! I have been looking at the Church of England’s calendar of feasts, festivals, and commemorations, for almost a year. Not one of the people mentioned there is called ‘saint’. “The Church of England has no mechanism for canonising saints, and it makes no claims regarding the heavenly status of those whom it commemorates in its calendar” (Wikipedia – The Calendar of Saints, Church of England)
I have looked at the Calendar for November, to see if I can identify some saints, using the phrases highlighted in bold above. Here is a selection:
Martin of Porres (17th C) was so holy in prayer that he failed to notice a fire raging in the church. He was patient in the face of racism (he was mixed race). He was extremely kind to the sick, the poor and the needy, but he also disobeyed his prior
Leonard the Hermit (6th C) showed kindness through the release and rehabilitation of prisoners. Otherwise, very little is known about him
Margaret Queen of Scotland (11th C) was kind, ‘serving orphans and the poor every day before she ate’, she was close to God, ‘washing the feet of the poor in imitation of Christ’ and holy, rising ‘at midnight every night to attend the liturgy’
William Temple (20th C) was a social reformer and co-founder of the Council of Christians and Jews, but was challenged because of his anti-pacifist views
Richard Hooker (16th C), an erudite theologian, was described by a biographer as ‘meek and patient’ by virtue of his marriage to his landlady’s daughter!
Elizabeth of Hungary (13th C) was married at 14, widowed at 20 and died at 24. After her husband's death she regained her dowry and used the money to build a hospital where she herself tended to the sick
Martin, Bishop of Tours kindly cut his cloak in two and shared it with a beggar
Charles Simeon must have been patient. He was appointed as curate-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge at the age of 23. The congregation would have much preferred another candidate. Services were disrupted and he was insulted in the streets. However, Simeon remained there for the remaining 53 years of his life!
Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America was probably very patient, steering a course through the American War of Independence, first loyal to the British and then loyal to the new American government
Priscilla Lydia Sellon (19th C) responded to an appeal in a newspaper for help for the poor of Devonport. She helped found an industrial school for girls, an orphanage for sailors’ children, a school for the starving and a night school for teenage boys. She helped tend to the victims if the 1849 cholera outbreak
Isaac Watts (18th C) does not appear to be remembered as holy, like or close to God or especially virtuous, kind or patient. However, like many hymn-writers he has left a lasting legacy, which touches us all to this day. I leave you with his words, which are so fitting at this time of Remembrance:
Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day
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