John Donne - Priest, Poet, 1631
"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for thee."
These words are most familiar to many; their author John Donne though less known than many, is one of the greatest of English poets. In his time, he was the best known preacher in the Church of England. But he came to that eminence by a rather tortuous path. He was born of wealth and in a Roman Catholic family in 1573, and then studied at both Oxford and Cambridge. Then studied law at Lincoln's Inn. Later he conformed to the Established Church and began a political career of service to the State. In 1601, he was secretly married to the niece of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal which after this secret being revealed, his public career came to an end. In 1615, however, he was persuaded by James the First and others to receive ordination.
After serving several brief cures, Donne became very popular as Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London from 1622 until his death in 1631. He drew many to his pulpit, as he reflected wide learning, passionate intensity, and devotion of one struggling in his own life to relate the freedom and demands of the Gospel to the concerns of common humanity in all its complexities.
Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with your servant John Donne, that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.
Richard - Bishop of Chichester, 1253
Richard and his older brother Robert were quite young when their parents died, leaving a guardian to manage a rather large estate. The guardian managed to let the estate dwindle, so Richard had to work long hours to restore it.
Richard was pressured to marry, but he preferring books, turned the estate over to his brother and went to Oxford. Though with out much money and often hungry, he succeeded in his studies un such persons as Robert Grossetese.
He studied law at Paris and Bologna, earned a doctorate and then returned to Oxford to become the University Chancellor. Edmund Rich, the Archbishop of Canterbury appointed him to be his own chancellor. Richard and Rich became close. Conflict with King Henry III eventually forced Rich into exile in France where Richard nursed him in his final illness. After the Archbishop's death, Richard moved into the Dominican House at Orleans for further study. He was then ordained priest in 1243.
Richard returned to England and was appointed Bishop of Chichester in 1244. King Henry was opposed to the appointment, confiscated the revenues of the diocese and locked Richard out of the Episcopal residence. During these years Richard functioned as a missionary bishop travelling around endeavoring to establish order in the church. King Henry threatened by the Pope, finally acknowledged Richard as Bishop of Chichester. He is best remembered by his words:
Dear Lord, of thee three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly.
And you thought that this prayer was from the song 'Day by Day,' made famous in the musical Godspell. We learn something everyday, don't we?
We thank you, Lord God, for all the benefits you have given us in your Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he has borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of your saintly bishop, Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.