Lent Madness: Joseph Schereschewsky vs. Francis

Does size (of name) really matter? You decide as Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky takes on Francis of Assisi. In recent action Julian of Norwich soundly defeated Absalom Jones. You can still vote for Columba vs. Joseph.

See the updated tournament bracket here: Lent Madness 2010

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky (1831-1906) was born a Jew in Lithuania and was orphaned as a young child. While in rabbinical school he came across a version of the New Testament in Hebrew and became convinced that Jesus was the messiah. In 1854 he emigrated to America but was not baptized until the following year. Ordained in New York after attending General Theological Seminary, he offered himself as a missionary to China.

A brilliant linguist, Schereschewsky spoke Yiddish, Russian, German, English, Polish, and Chinese. While in China he began the translating work that would define his ministry. He translated the psalms and the Book of Common Prayer into the Shanghai dialect. And from 1862 to 1975 he dedicated himself to translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese. 

He served as Bishop of Shanghai and founded St. John’s University of Shanghai in 1879. Schereschewsky developed Parkinson’s disease, was largely paralyzed, resigned his position as Bishop of Shanghai, and spent the rest of his life completing the work of translating the Bible into Wenli (the classical style of chinese writing), the last 2,000 pages of which he typed with the one finger that he could still move.

A Collect fo S.J.I. Schereschewsky: O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and sent him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land. Lead us, we pray, to commit our lives and talents to you, in the confidence that when you give your servants any work to do, you also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was a deacon in the church and the founder of the monastic order that would become known as the Franciscans. Born into a rich Italian merchant’s family, Francis led a carefree existence early in his life. It wasn’t until a serious illness that he began to take his faith more seriously. According to legend, following a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis had a vision where he heard Jesus say to him, “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins”. He perceived this to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying, and so sold some cloth from his father’s store to assist the church. This infuriated his father whom Francis then renounced and took to begging in the streets.

After hearing a sermon on Matthew 10:9, in which Jesus tells his followers to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the journey, he embraced a life of poverty. within a year he had 11 followers and, after receiving papal blessing, the order began to grow significantly. He partnered with St. Clare who had started a parallel female order and the movement spread all over Europe.

Many of the stories of Francis deal with his love of animals which is why the modern church blesses animals on his feast day, October 4th.

A Collect for Francis: Most  high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


One Comment on “Lent Madness: Joseph Schereschewsky vs. Francis”

  1. Nice. Are you trying to kill me with this choice? (It’s all about me.)

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