We’re off and running!
The first day of Lent Madness and the first two saintly contenders are…. (drum roll please!):
Jonathan Myrick Daniels and Macrina (the Younger, not to be confused with Macrina the Elder who was her grandmother. Sheesh, this is confusing, right? And it’s only the first day!
I realize that if I’ve inferred that I’m going to tell you how to vote that’s not a good thing. I might (or maybe I might not) share with you who I’m voting for each day as we work our way through these holy play-offs. But if today is any indication, it’s going to be a hard choice. I mean how do you pick between two perfectly wonderful saints? Here’s a little bit about each of them (I have brazenly taken much of the following from the book “Calendar of Saints” published by Forward Movement in support of Lent Madness. You can order it from Amazon for the low, low price of $4.99 and it will be delivered straight to the electronic reading device of your choice. Mine happens to be an iPad since I broke my Kindle).
Jonathan Daniels was a seminarian at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA. In March of 1965 he saw on television Alabama State Troopers beating and tear-gassing civil rights marchers. The next day Martin Luther King, Jr. called for white clergy and people of good will to stand with the protesters. The next day, Daniels and 10 other seminarians left for Selma. On March 9 he joined about 2,500 others in the second march to the Pettus Bridge and back. Daniels petitioned the seminary to let stay on to work for civil rights. That summer was killed while shielding young Ruby Sales from a shotgun wielded by a deputy. He was 26 years old. Ruby Sales went on to attend Daniels’ alma mater and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1977, to this day serving a church in Arlington, TX.
Macrina (the Younger) was a saint in her own right though throughout much of history she was upstaged her brothers Gregory and Basil who were 2/3 of the Cappadocian Fathers (they helped finalize the words of the Nicene Creed — yes it’s them you can blame). A lot of what they wrote and taught actually came from Macrina and they did give her credit calling her the “greatest teacher of the faith they ever encountered. A big theme for her was “journey” — that the journey with Christ is the destination. That sits well with those of us who are Meyers Briggs “N”s and “P”s. Macrina also converted her family’s estate in Pontus to a monastery that cared for the poor and provided a peaceful place for both women and men to study and meditate. She became the spiritual mother of monasticism (something that doesn’t sit well with those of us who are “E”s…!).
Sooo… who to vote for? Well obviously I like them both, but in this opening round I’m casting my ballot for Jonathan Daniels. Why? For one thing I really like that our calendar includes saints who lived more recently than the middle ages (one of them, not in any bracket this year, but hopefully she will be soon — Tim Schenck, are you listening? — is Harriet Bedell whom members of St. Stephen’s actually remember (and helped boost her into Holy Women, Holy Men). I also find Daniels’ story particularly compelling because he didn’t say “oh, I can’t do anything, I’m ‘just’ a seminarian.” How many of us back off taking action because we tell ourselves we’re “just…” (fill in the blank. He was moved by the injustices going on in his own country and, literally, put his life on the line to make a difference. In my own recent memory, I am reminded of people whom I know who were in seminary in New York when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Their response was heartfelt and immediate. They heard Christ say “go where the suffering is and do what you can.” One of them still battles respiratory problems as a result.
To vote, go here