Julian of Norwich vs. William Wilberforce

February 15, 2016 Comments Off on Julian of Norwich vs. William Wilberforce


Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! So, there was a Saturday Lent Madness vote between Cyril and Methodius. Voting for that will be below, too. Methodius won on the Lent Madness site, but will we pull for Cyril? Also, on the Lent Madness site, Absalom Jones defeated Matthias 82% to 18%. Wow. On our St. Luke’s blog, our vote of confidence was even higher giving Absalom 85% of the vote. Today’s match up is: Julian of Norwich vs. William Wilberforce.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.

Statue_of_Dame_Julian-225x300Julian of Norwich

We know very little about Julian of Norwich. Her name is derived from the place where she devoted herself to a life of solitary prayer, study, and writing—the Church of Saint Julian. Her works date her life to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during a period of rampant epidemics of the Black Plague.

In 1373, at around the age of thirty, Julian suffered from a severe illness during which she had visions of Jesus Christ. She wrote them down immediately, and the 11,000-word text is believed to be the earliest surviving book written by a woman in the English language.

Around 1393, Julian explored the meaning of the visions in a longer version of Revelations of Divine Love. The book was widely read and is still embraced by both Catholics and Protestants as offering important and profound mystical insight into the nature of God. Julian believed sin was a necessary step to knowing one’s self and accepting God’s love. She taught that we sin because we are naive. To learn we must fail, and to fail we must sin.

She worried over the fate of those who were not raised in the Christian faith and had never heard the gospel. But she came to believe that God does everything in love, and therefore, “that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” possibly making her an early believer in universal salvation….. Read more here.

William_Wilberforce_Rousseau-206x300William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce was born on August 24, 1759. Family bequests left him independently wealthy, which allowed him to pursue a life of his own choosing. An affluent, educated politician and Christian who lived out his beliefs, Wilberforce defined himself through his devotion to dismantling slavery throughout the British Empire.

During a trip to the European continent, his spiritual life began to blossom, thanks to Bible reading and a commitment of service to God. Wilberforce’s embrace of Christianity prompted his interest in governmental and human rights reform.

Elected to the House of Commons in 1780 (a seat he held for forty-five years), Wilberforce was someone who commanded an audience. He was introduced to the horrors of the slave trade in 1787 by a group of anti-slave activists. His epiphany was stunning, and his dedication to abolishing slavery was lifelong. A journal entry indicated, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners.”… Read more here.

Lent Madness: Helena vs. Monnica

February 11, 2016 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Helena vs. Monnica


It’s here!! Lent Madness! On the Lent Madness site, our very first match up is: Helena vs. Monnica. Good stuff.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.


During her long life, Helena gathered the most-sought-after relics in Christian history, including splinters of what is known as the True Cross.

Helena was born around 246 CE, somewhere in Asia Minor—most likely the city of Drepanum. She grew up as a stable maid, but her fortunes changed radically when she met the emperor, fell in love with him, was whisked away to Rome, and gave birth to Constantine in 272 CE.

Some describe Helena as the royal wife, some as the royal concubine, some as the royal consort. What is clear is that after Constantine was born, the emperor sent Helena away. Helena and Constantine were exiled from court in 289 CE.

This was not the end of Helena… Read more here.


Monnica, a model of the praying mother and wife, was the mother of Augustine—the father of Western Christian thought. Married to a pagan bureaucrat named Patricius, who would later convert to Christianity under her influence, Monnica was mother to several children; Augustine was the eldest. After her husband’s death, Monnica made fierce and tireless efforts to secure Augustine’s conversion, even going so far as to push the local bishop to track Augustine down and argue with him.

By the time he was twenty-nine, Augustine decided to journey to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monnica, while opposed to the plan, persisted in going with him… Read more here.



Lent Madness: Begins February 11th!

February 10, 2016 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Begins February 11th!

Lent Madness 2015Are you ready? Do you have your brackets? Once again St. Luke in the Fields will participate in Lent Madness! Remember we are voting in TWO PLACES.  Only ONCE on the Lent Madness site here AND ALSO once below the saint bios on this very blog so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.

Brackets can be found here: http://www.lentmadness.org/bracket/.

Here is a handy video about how to vote on the Lent Madness site if you need a refresher:


Lent Madness: Congratulations to 2015 Golden Halo Winner — Francis of Assisi

April 2, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Congratulations to 2015 Golden Halo Winner — Francis of Assisi

Francis-GH“The Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee congratulates Francis of Assisi on his victory in Lent Madness 2015. With over 8,200 votes cast, Francis and Brigid of Kildare staged an epic neck-and-neck race throughout the day, fueling saintly passions across the globe. The SEC has certified the election (after having to zap some votes from several over-voters). In the end, rest assured that the result was close but clean.” Read more here on the Lent Madness site.

On a side note, Brigid of Kildare won on the St. Luke’s site. There is good news…the Lent Madness mugs are available for both St. Francis AND Brigid. Stay tuned on Facebook for announcements about Brigid’s mug.  Pre-order yours now!


Lent Madness: For the Golden Halo: Francis of Assisi vs. Brigid of Kildare

April 1, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: For the Golden Halo: Francis of Assisi vs. Brigid of Kildare

2014 Golden Halo Winner Charles Wesley prepares to welcome this year’s saintly champion.

2014 Golden Halo Winner Charles Wesley prepares to welcome this year’s saintly champion.

And then there were two… Brigid of Kildare beat out Egeria on Lent Madness site,  whereas on the St. Luke’s site, we chose Egeria!

But here we are. The last two standing looking to capture the Golden Halo. For the Golden Halo: Francis of Assisi vs. Brigid of Kildare.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported TOMORROW!


Stigmatization of St. Francis by Carducho

Stigmatization of St. Francis by Carducho

Francis of Assisi

Lord God, living and true.
You are love, charity.
You are wisdom; You are humility; You are patience;
You are beauty; You are meekness; You are security;
You are inner peace; You are joy; You are our hope and joy;
You are justice; You are moderation; You are all our riches;
You are our enough…
You are all our sweetness,
You are our eternal life:
Great and wonderful Lord,
God almighty, Merciful Saviour.
From ‘Praises of God’ in a letter to Brother Leo

a4c92b4075b9e85131fdde01f35abef0-190x300Brigid of Kildare

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.

Lent Madness: Brigid of Kildare vs. Egeria

March 31, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Brigid of Kildare vs. Egeria

Lent Madness 2015Francis trounced Molly Brant on Lent Madness site, running away with 71% of the vote. On the St. Luke’s site, Francis was the overwhelming winner, winning a whopping 91% of the vote.

This match up is Brigid of Kildare vs. Egeria. Winner of this will face off Francis of Assisi for a shot at the Golden Halo!

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.

Bridget_Kildare2-240x300Brigid of Kildare

I fear I must trouble you with a story.

I was ordained to the diaconate on February 1. I learned that it was St. Brigid’s day when I was filling out the form for my ordination certificate, but I didn’t think much of this — merely that she sounded Irish or something, which might please my grandmother.

During the service, several things went awry. Not so badly as to spoil the day (it was glorious) but just as to be disorienting. So when it came time for the bishop to lay hands on our heads, I guess he was a mite flustered. He put his hands on my head (I came first, alphabetically), and said the prayer of ordination, ending with “By the power vested in me, I now ordain you a bishop….
no, wait….
a priest…..
no, wait….
Look, I’m just going to start all over again.”

Everyone got a good chuckle, and he took a breath and finally ordained me to the correct order of ministry. Thank the good Lord.

Afterwards, at the reception, my presenting priest commented to me that this was a really appropriate occurrence for Brigid’s day. I looked at her blankly, and she smiled, and told me to do some research.

Sure enough, I discovered that Brigid has much to commend her, even besides her penchant for microbrewing before it was popular. Her leadership, her wisdom, her generosity, her tenacity in what she knew was right (she marched across Ireland and back!) are rare and valuable indeed...Read more here.

egeria-2 (1)Egeria

Holy Week, as observed through liturgy, changes a person. From the shouting, singing frenzy of Palm Sunday, to the poignant movements of Maundy Thursday, and the descent into the darkness, to the bleak desolation of Good Friday, to the expectant waiting and watching of the Vigil, which finally explodes into sunlight and the joy of Easter. One week captures all human emotion and wraps it in prayer.

Jerusalem, too, changes a person. There is a saying you hear when you visit on pilgrimage: “Go to Jerusalem for a week, you write a novel. Stay for two — you cannot write even a sentence.” It’s a comment on the difficulties of conveying the depth of the experience, the complexities of people, the intensity of faith in this place. The heat of Jerusalem dries up your words.

Egeria, however, held onto her words. She not only held onto her words, she gifted us with words that would echo down the centuries and affect each and every one of us.

When she went on pilgrimage, she wasn’t content with a surface view of the things she saw. She asked questions, she took notes, she recorded everything, she sent her observations back home so everyone there could share her joy...Read more here.

Lent Madness: Holy Competition in Holy Week?

March 30, 2015 § 5 Comments

DSC_6879-e1315428467832-297x300Every year around this time, a few people raise an objection to Lent Madness. Couldn’t you have finished it before Holy Week? Doesn’t this seem out of step with our pattern of worship this week? Well, yes.Lent Madness is most certainly out of step with the sacred journey of Holy Week, especially the Three Holy Days.

There is also a deep blessing, a blessing even, in this dissonance. You see, by the end of Lent Madness, those of us who have been voting and joining in the vigorous discussion in the comments will know a fair bit about each of the Faithful Four competitors for the Golden Halo.

Those who “get” the madness will probably have a favorite saint by now, but we’ll also realize that they’ve already received their prize. That frees us to celebrate whoever wins.

This brings us to the journey of Holy Week. One way to understand this week is to see it as a way for each of us to enter intro the very heart of the great story of our salvation through Jesus Christ. We remember the hopes that were placed upon Jesus. We recall his commandment to his friends, and we recall the sacred meal he entrusted them to continue. We gaze with sorrow on the cross and remember how the whole world abandoned God’s precious gift of love. We grieve. Finally, we rejoice in the mystery of new life as Jesus Christ is raised, as we realize that God’s love is stronger even than death.

And in all this, our lives are transformed. Perhaps some part of the story tugs at us, and we renew our commitment to follow Jesus.
That’s just what the saints did. They lived transformed lives, renewed by the Gospel. In their lives we see Christ’s light shining brightly. We learn from their example, and we can carry on our journey knowing that we are able to call on them in prayer, as companions in our journey.

The saintly smackdown has the allure of competition, but ultimately it is about encountering lives transformed by Jesus Christ. Holy Week is a whole bunch of liturgy, but ultimately it is about praising God for the mighty acts of our salvation and about renewing our journey as followers of Jesus.

So I encourage you to do two things this week. In the early days of the week, cast your votes in Lent Madness. In the latter days of the week, find your way to a church and enter into the Three Holy Days.In all of this, we open ourselves to the transforming power of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

– The Reverend Canon Scott Gunn, Executive Director, Forward Movement

Lent Madness: Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

March 30, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

Lent Madness 2015Egeria eeked out a win 51% over Frederick Douglass’s 49% on Lent Madness site. On the St. Luke’s site, Egeria was the overwhelming winner, winning 87% of the vote.

Here we are at the Faithful Four. This match up is Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.

St.-Francis-with-the-animals-300x213Francis of Assisi

Our church garden is well-used holy space by all of God’s creation. One afternoon in October, members of our church gather with our companion animals and ask God’s blessing on these precious beings of God who share their lives with us.

Over the years, more and more neighbors of many faiths join us, and what began as a small gathering has grown into a lively and sacred time filled with the chorus of barks and meows. Our St. Francis statue, nestled in a corner of the church garden, stands in witness to this holy gathering, reminding us of the man who saw God fully visible in every aspect of holy Creation.

Francis, for his many gifts to the Christian faith, is likely most well-known as the namesake of the Blessing of Animals. I suspect Francis, who spent his life responding to the great generosity of God in all he encountered, would probably offer he was just stating the obvious: that God is present in all that surrounds and sustains us and of course we should offer thanks and prayers.

Francis’ most well-known prayer which he actually wrote, Canticle of Brother Sun, is a song to God who has so deeply entered creation that everything is connected in mystical union. Francis saw everything in creation related to one another and deserving of honor and love. The words remind us that no part of creation is too small or too great, too insignificant or too vast, to stand separate from each other. Brother Sun and Sister Moon are honored. Sister Water, Brother Fire, and Sister Mother Earth are all part of the unity of God. Even Sister Death, “from whom no living man can escape” is praised as part of God’s creative experience...Read more here.

mbrant-bio-portraitbMolly Brant

The first time I read Molly Brant’s history, I was immediately struck by her ability to navigate between two vastly different cultures and political systems. As one historian said, she was a “bridge between two worlds.” In the midst of our currently fractured political system, Brant’s life illustrates that there is another way — perhaps not a perfect way — but a means nonetheless of how people of differing cultural and political systems can strive to co-exist in times of uncertainty. Molly’s faithfulness to her Christian faith and her Mohawk family shaped her commitment to harmonious relations even amidst a war that sought to attain the allegiances of Native American tribes no matter the cost to tribal culture and way of life.

Naturally, many debates have circled around Molly’s Loyalist leanings. However, one must remember that history is often on the side of the winner. Were we to step into Molly’s shoes, our view and esteem of her might be a bit different.

Indeed, Molly’s life causes us to examine our own interpretations, leanings, and motivations and how they impact others.

Ultimately, Molly’s goal was to preserve the cultural vitality and independence...Read more here.

Lent Madness: Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria

March 27, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria

Lent Madness 2015Molly Brant defeated Bernard Mizeki 59% to 41% Lent Madness site. On the St. Luke’s site, Molly Brant swept the floor with Bernard Mizeki, winning 83% of the vote.

The next match up is Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.

Cedar-Hill-300x199Frederick Douglass

Every tourist to Washington, D.C., visits the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Capitol Building. Such sights are classic but they’re so…pedestrian. If you want a bird’s eye view of the city and an opportunity to imagine a day in the life of one of North America’s greatest embodiments of faithfulness, wisdom, and activism, head south to Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass’ historic and beautifully restored property in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood. There you’ll have a chance to walk his expertly manicured lawn, which Douglass tended and on which he lifted weights each morning.

Yes, my friends, Douglass was a fitness buff and a naturalist who tended to his body and garden with great affection and detail.
Indeed, he was a well-rounded man long before “well-rounded” became a buzzword on college applications...Read more here.


Egeria, kindly recollect, was a Spanish nun who travelled to Palestine, Turkey, and Greece from 381-384 CE, and wrote letters home describing her adventures. As befits one of the first Pioneers of PenPals, Spain issued a stamp for her in 1984.

Somewhat confusingly, there is also a tropical aquarium plant named for her. Because
every trip around the bowl is a pilgrimage for a goldfish who can only remember 30 seconds worth of stuff!

Once she returned home, however, I feel confident in asserting that Egeria had a garment similar to this to notify people of her travels. Egeria is invoked as an authority by the custodian Franciscans who live in and care fore the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and they invite you...Read more here.

Lent Madness: Bernard Mizeki vs. Molly Brant

March 26, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Bernard Mizeki vs. Molly Brant

Lent Madness 2015Brigid of Kildare prevailed against Kamehameha IV, 55% to 45%  Lent Madness site. On the St. Luke’s site, not surprisingly Brigid also rocked the house with 78% of the vote.

The next match up is Bernard Mizeki vs. Molly Brant.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.

mug-150x150Bernard Mizeki

While not as plentiful as, say, Francis or Brigid saintly kitsch, those seeking South African martyr Bernard Mizeki items are not left completely bereft. If you too want to inspire thousands of people to love God and the Gospel get your Bernard M
izeki t-shirts and mug — find either in this fashionable design.

Although Bernard was known to be sensitive to the ways of the local Spirit religion, he once angered local religious leaders when he carved crosses into some trees sacred to their ancestral spirits....Read more here.

440px-Joseph_Brant_by_Gilbert_Stuart_1786-238x300Molly Brant

Long before Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In and got the internet all abuzz, Molly Brant was already leaning in.

Long before networking became a skill at which extroverts excelled and introverts avoided, Molly Brant was already establishing connections and making deals.

Long before people turned to HGTV andArchitectural Digest for design inspiration, Molly Brant was already wowing British and French nobility.

…And long before Route 5S became an often-traveled highway in upstate New York, Molly Brant was walking and riding its dusty paths as a business leader and a mediator.....Read more here.

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