14 October The Feast of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, 1906.

the-testimony-of-the-cross
The Testimony of the Cross, Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1717) see below
O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky to the ministry of this Church and upheld him in his infirmity, that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into Chinese languages: Inspire us, by his example and prayers, to commit our talents to your service, confident that you uphold those whom you call; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For sometime now I have made it a practice to honor, commemorate, and venerate the Saints of the Chruch using the canon of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, or Holy Women, Holy Men both publications of the Episcopal Chruch in the United States.  I like to do this particularly while officiating the Morning and Evening Offices. Last year a young college student came up to me after one of the offices and told me he was particularly impressed with the story about Samuel Issac Joseph Schereschewsky. He was impressed by the fact that he was born into Judaism, was a master of languages particularly Wenli, and by the fact that even in his suffering from severe paralysis in almost his entire body Bishop Schereschewsky (pronounced skĕr-ĕs-kūs’kĭ Chinese: 施約瑟) completed his God given work of translating the Bible into Wenli).

A reprint from Holy Women, Holy Men

The story of Joseph Schereschewsky is unique in the annals of the Church. He was born on May 6, 1831, of Jewish parents, in the Lithuanian town of Tauroggen. His early education was directed toward the rabbinate, but during graduate studies in Germany, he became interested in Christianity through missionaries of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, and through his own reading of a Hebrew translation of the New Testament. In 1854 Schereschewsky immigrated to America and entered the Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh to train for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. After two years, he decided to become an Episcopalian, and to finish his theological studies at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, from which he graduated in 1859. After ordination, and in response to Bishop Boone’s call for helpers in China, Schereschewsky left for Shanghai. Always facile in languages, he learned to write Chinese during the voyage. From 1862 to 1875 he lived in Peking, and translated the Bible and parts of the Prayer Book into Mandarin. After Bishop Williams was transferred to Japan, Schereschewsky was elected Bishop of Shanghai in 1877, and was consecrated in Grace Church, New York City. He established St. John’s University, in Shanghai, and began his translation of the Bible and other works into Wenli. Stricken with paralysis, he resigned his see in 1883. Schereschewsky was determined to continue his translation work, and after many difficulties in finding support, he was able to return to Shanghai in 1895. Two years later, he moved to Tokyo. There he died on October 15, 1906. With heroic perseverance Schereschewsky completed his translation of the Bible, typing some 2,000 pages with the middle finger of his partially crippled hand. Four years before his death, he said, “I have sat in this chair for over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.” He is buried in the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo, next to his wife, who supported him constantly during his labors and illness.

Thanks be to God for that young man and his interest as it has inspired me to continue to study the Saints and talk abut them. And thanks be to God for the life of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky which inspires us all.

Art Note:

The painting produced above represents a work created by an artist suffering from severe paralysis.  Like Bishop Schereschewsky Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet did not let his paralysis keep him from  completing his God given tasks. Th above work was completed at a time when he could only use his left hand. More below.

Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1 May 1644 – 5 April 1717) was a French painter, especially of religious subjects. He was born into an artistic family in Rouen. His first training in art was from his father, Laurent Jouvenet.

Jouvenet early showed remarkable aptitude for his profession, and, on arriving in Paris, attracted the attention of Le Brun, by whom he was employed at Versailles, notably in the Salon de Mars (1671–74), and under whose auspices, in 1675, he became a member of the Académie royale, of which he was elected professor in 1681, and one of the four perpetual rectors in 1707. He also worked under Charles de La Fosse in the Invalides and Trianon.

The great mass of works that he executed, chiefly in Paris, many of which, including his celebrated Miraculous Draught of Fishes are now in the Louvre, show his fertility in invention and execution, and also that he possessed in a high degree that general dignity of arrangement and style which distinguished the school of Le Brun. His compositions are primarily planned as high reliefs, and the movements are in sharp diagonal straight lines rather than in curves.

Jouvenet died on 5 April 1717, having been forced by paralysis during the last four years of his life to work with his left hand.

 

 

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