I have been enjoying “Holy Women, Holy Men (Celebrating the Saints)” — which replaces and greatly expands (and also edits) the old “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”  We added just over 100 new names to our (optional) calendar.  And it’s been fun seeing who’s now included.  Harriet Beecher Stowe, the great opponent of slavery and the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (the best-selling book of the nineteenth century — Lincoln is supposed to have said, upon meeting her, “So this is the little lady who started this great war!”) is there.  Walter Rauschenbusch made it in, along with Washington Gladden and Jacob Riis — all proponents of the social gospel.  John Hus, the Czech reformer (think Protestant Reformation) is now recognized.  Nathan Soderblom, an ecumenist and Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala made it in.  Conrad Weiser, who worked for peace among the native peoples of Pennsylvania and between them and European settlers in the 1700’s is recognized.  Samson Occum, a Native American (and ordained Presbyterian minister) is now in the calendar.  He went to England to raise money for a school for Native Americans (Eleazar Wheelock’s Indian charity school).  He spent over a year in England, and raised over $11,000 — a lot of money in those days.  When he returned, he discovered that Eleazar, who had promised to care for his family, had left them destitute in his absence.  He’d also moved, taken the money for the “Indian” school, and started a new school in Hanover which became Dartmouth College with the funds.  (This school did not serve Native Americans.)  After a disagreement with the colonial government of Connecticut over a lack of compensation for lands they had sold, Occum and many other Mohegans moved to Oneida territory in upstate New York (where they founded the Brothertown Community).  We now recognize the Righteous Gentiles, over 23,000 Christians and persons of faith (five named) who worked to save Jews from the Holocaust.  And we recognize Bartolome de las Casas, a Spaniard who worked against the enslavement of the native peoples of the New World.

These are just the new names added since the book arrived and I started using it!  I’ve had fun.

To this, I have also been adding names from the calendar of the Church of England (I’m not sure it’s the current calendar).  In the past week, in addition to names on our calendar (many of our names are not on their list) I have remembered John Keble (whose “Assize Sermon” is usually seen as the start of the Oxford Movement and who is the author of the hymn “New Every Morning”), Swithin (there really is a St. Swithin, commemorated on the day they moved his remains to Winchester Cathedral, when it seems to have rained heavily all day, which seems to have led to the superstition that if it rains on St. Swithin’s Day it will rain for another 40 days — and the name St. Swithin’s in the Swamp!), Bonaventure (known as the second founder of the Franciscans), Osmond (who caused the cathedral to be built at Old Sarum and seems to have had a lot to do with the development of the Sarum Rite, which heavily influenced the original Book of Common Prayer), and Elizabeth Ferard (who founded a community of “deaconesses” in the 1800’s, looking to create a community of service not modeled along Roman Catholic monastic lines).  That’s quite an interesting crew of people!

And then, of course, there are the saints that were already in our calendar.  Today I remembered Macrina (the sister and inspiration for St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Basil, St. Peter of Sebaste and Naucratios — all of whom I understand became bishops and were among the great defenders of the Nicene faith in the 4th century).  Sam Portaro (again, in “Brightest and Best”) writes of her life:

In this task-oriented, product-driven world, it is a point worth pondering — that it is the vocation of the Christian in this world ever to seek and yet never to attain.  It is our joy and our glory never to possess truth absolutely, yet ever to know the companionship of wisdom.  it is resurrection wisdom to know that there is no goal, no glory worth more than the road that takes us there.