July 16, 2017
Are there days that we have dedicated to the memory of the lives of women leaders in the church?
Yes, the Episcopal Church in both its official Book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts and in its presumptive replacement Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, are filled with women recognized for their faithfulness, courage, and spiritual leadership. If you are curious about who these women are, both books contain information about their feast days, a Collect celebrating their virtues, and a short hagiography (saintly biography).
This past week of the church year was remarkable for noting the lives of Macrina of Cappadocia (Wednesday, July 19); Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman (Thursday, July 20); and Mary of Magdala (Saturday, July 22).
As a group, it would be hard to outdo this concentration of saintly folks, male or female. As a matter of endorsement of the week and the women, below are BLT's (blessed little thoughts) about each:
- Macrina of Cappadocia, c. 330-379: Macrina was mentioned a few weeks ago when I brought up her brothers, Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa (who wrote a biography of his older sister which extols her wonderful faithfulness and dedication to God. She devoted her life to religious orders and turned the family estate to a nunnery.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902: An 19th Century women's rights advocate, author of the Woman's Bible, at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.
- Amelia Jenks Bloomer, 1818-1894: activist for the anti-slavery, anti-alcohol, and women's votes movements. Yes, she is also known for a fashion item, "bloomers," which developed from her design of baggy pants worn under a mid-length skirt. The design was to be a modest but practical alternative to long flowy dress and laced mid sections.
- Sojourner Truth, 1798-1883: Born a slave, in 1826 she escaped and became a street-corner evangelist and the founder of a shelter for homeless women. Well known for, "Ain't I a Woman?" which defends women as fully engaged in the realities of the world and, therefore, worthy of the vote.
- Harriet Tubman, 1820-1913: In 1844, she escaped slavery in Maryland to freedom in Canada. She returned to help others escape. During the Civil War she joined the Northern Army as a cook, nurse, and spy, and on one occasion led a raid that freed over 750 slaves. She became known as "the Moses of her People."
- Mary of Magdala, (Magdalene): Disciple to the Disciples: A follower of Jesus in Galilee, from whom seven Demons were exorcised (Luke 8:2 and 16:9), witnessed the Crucifixion (Mt. 27:56, Mk. 15:40, and Jn. 19:25) and Resurrection (Mt. 28:1, Mk 16:9, Lk. 24, and Jn. 20:1). Clearly a key figure in the formation of the faith.
The Rev. David Lucey