September 9, 2008

Constance, Nun, and her Companions

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from stjeromeschapel.org. I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is September 9th, 2008: the feast of Blessed Constance and her companions.

Ever since the beginning of Christianity, the Church has been at the very forefront of healthcare. And when a disease starts to get out of control and turn into an epidemic, the Church has always had people who were willing to brave even that danger to serve their fellow men and women. The women and men we remember today gave their lives during just such a demonstration of compassion and faith.

By the end of August 1878, the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis had caused the city to be quarantined. More than half the city fled the danger, and of those who remained, more than 90% eventually contracted the disease. Five thousand people died.

A large team of Episcopalians remained to give aid and comfort to the sick. Sister Constance, a nun with the Sisters of St. Mary, was their leader. Ultimately, Constance, three of her sisters, and two priests died from the very disease from which they saved so many others.

The two priests who died 130 years ago in Memphis are buried side by side. On their monument is inscribed a bit from a passage in John’s gospel that might have had special meaning for these missionaries of mercy. “Greater Love Hath No Man.” Today we read another passage from John about life and death, “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”

Constance and her companions were called by God to that very hour, and they risked their lives to care for others. Though they lost their earthly lives, they will enjoy an eternity of life with God.

Let us pray: We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death: Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join tomorrow at stjeromeschapel.org for the feast of Blessed Alexander Crummell. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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