On this day in 1970, Pan Am Airlines made the first commercial flight with the new Boeing 747. It had been scheduled for the 21st, but was delayed while the flight attendants were taught to use the giant shoehorns required to fit the coach-class passengers into their seats.
Today in the east we celebrate Timothy the Apostle (ca. 17 – 97), disciple of St. Paul of Bible fame and sometime bishop of Ephesus. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that he was widely known to have a Greek father, so when Paul deputized him for preaching to the Jewish diaspora, he had him, erm, operated on, to avoid offense. Exactly how his audiences were meant to know this (announcement in the papers? handbills?), it is perhaps best we don’t ask. Timothy then began a whirlwind tour of the northeastern Mediterranean, both with and without Paul. We are not told which he preferred. We are told a lot about Paul’s personality.
The New Testament contains two letters of Paul to Timothy. One consists primarily of fatherly advice on how to run a church; the other is a somewhat more personal letter ending with a request to fetch some stuff Paul had left in a locker in the Greyhound chariot terminal in Troas. In First Timothy, Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine to ease his stomach, yet he also says that bishops ought not to be “given to wine.” This tells us two things: (a) Timothy may have had the tendency to apply Paul’s personal advice a little too zealously, and (b) he had frequent indigestion.
On the Roman calendar today we find the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850), a French priest who managed to survive the Terror with body and head in intimate proximity. The fourteenth child of deeply religious and reliably fertile parents, he followed three older brothers into the priesthood, entering seminary at the age of 10 and becoming a priest at the age of 24. They took vocational formation seriously in those days. When the Revolution came, he refused to sign an oath disclaiming the authority of the Church, and was forced to go underground to continue his ministry. Move along. These aren’t the priests you’re looking for. Later, when the government decided that that liberté stuff might apply to Catholics too, he helped fifty compromised priests reconcile with the Church. These are the priests you’re looking for. Later still the pendulum swung back, and he fled to Zaragoza, Spain, which less than 10 years later would be besieged not once but twice by Napolean’s armies. By that time he was long gone, though, and the townsfolk blamed their misfortune on something else.
Returning to France he started a Catholic youth sodality (lay movement), seeking to re-un-secularize France by the example of “a people of saints.” Imagine, trying to promote Christianity by living exemplary lives. Wait, am I editorializing? They say a prophet is without honor in his own country, and sure enough the old guard opposed him, seeking instead to recapture the privileges the church had had before the Revolution. Hmm. Living godly lives, or demanding rights? Sorry, there I go again. Fortunately the higher-ups, realizing (this time) that it’s better to side with the good guys before they die rather than wait and say “oops” afterwards, affirmed William Joseph and his Marian Sodality. He went on to form two religious societies, both also dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
I would like to say he is the patron saint of people who have been decapitated, or flee to Spain, or something, but my sources do not indicate his patronage of any cause. This may be because he is still only “Blessed” and not yet an official, you know, saint saint. Perhaps one of our readers will create an online petition to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for a suitable patronage. I’d sign. Wouldn’t you?
This Day in History for 21st January [sic] (HistoryOrb)
Boeing 747 (Wikipedia)
Saint Timothy (Wikipedia)
Apostle Timothy (Orthodox Wiki)
William Joseph Chaminade (Wikipedia)
Society of Mary (Marianists) (Wikipedia)
Reign of Terror (Wikipedia)
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade (SQPN)
Bl. William Joseph Chaminade (L’Osservatore Romano)
Congregation for the Causes of Saints (Wikipedia)
The Holy Bible. (A good online Bible can be found at Bible Gateway.)
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.