David of Wales vs. F.D. Maurice

The battleground is Great Britain as David of Wales goes up against F.D. Maurice of the Church of England. A bishop beloved by the Welsh vs. a social activist and theologian beloved by Anglo-Catholics. The winner advances to take on Julia Chester Emery.

In yesterday's match-up, a controversial pairing that brought together two ancient Egyptian ascetics, Antony of Egypt squeaked past Mary of Egypt 51% to 49%. People had a lot to say about this battle with a record number of comments recorded and if you thought your vote "didn't really matter," Antony prevailed by a mere 150 votes out of nearly 6,000 cast. He'll go on to face Basil the Great in the next round.

Speaking of voting, you should know that the Supreme Executive Committee keeps former President Jimmy Carter on retainer as an impartial election observer. This is just a reminder that Lent Madness suffrage entitles you to ONE vote per day. Big Brother (in the form of the technophile member of the SEC -- who used to work for IBM!) is watching. If you have more than one person (not including dog, cat, ferret, etc) in your household he/she/it can obviously also cast a vote on another device.

The elections so far have been clean but this is just a friendly reminder in light of yesterday's very close battle. So, your Christian duty this Lent is to vote. Just don't sin against God, the SEC, and the Lent Madness faithful and do it more than once.

davidDavid of Wales

The patron saint of Wales, David was a bishop of Menevia during the sixth century. Originally called to the monastic life, he ended up as a well-known church leader, teacher, and preacher. He founded numerous monasteries and churches throughout Wales and the surrounding areas. David also presided over two synods against Pelagianism (a heresy that denied the existence of original sin). The first synod was at Brefi around 560 and the second was at Caerleon (the “Synod of Victory”) around 569.

Legend has it that a miracle took place at the Synod of Brefi. While David was preaching a sermon in the village of Llanddewi Brefi, the place where he was standing rose up to form a hill, and a white dove landed on his shoulder. Commenters jest that the location of the miracle was already rather hilly, but the story is cherished as his best-known miracle. The white dove is seen as a symbol of his ministry. David is also associated with the leek, a symbol of Wales.

David lived a disciplined and ascetic life. His strict monasticism was modeled after the earliest Christian ascetics: hard manual labor without even the use of draught animals, silence, long hours of prayer, and a diet of bread and herbs without any meat and alcohol. No personal possessions were allowed.

Some accounts claim that David lived past the age of 100 years. His biographers described that the monastery was “filled with angels as Christ received his soul.” One biographer cited David’s last words to his community: “Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.” This entreaty is remembered as a well known Welsh saying: “Do ye the little things in life” (Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd).

Through the leadership of David, many evangelists journeyed throughout the British Isles and Brittany, spreading the gospel.

Collect for David of Wales
Almighty God, you called your servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of your mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the Gospel of Christ, we may with him receive our heavenly reward; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-- Amber Belldene

FDMauriceFrederick Denison Maurice

Frederick Denison Maurice was born in 1805. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, with the intention of becoming a barrister or lawyer. He was ultimately unable to receive his degree, because as a Unitarian and a dissenter from the established church, he refused to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, which defined the doctrine of the Church of England. Maurice moved to London, where he began to write in support of social reforms.

It was during his time in London that Maurice converted to Anglicanism. In 1830, he left London to study at Exeter College in Oxford. By 1834, he was ordained as a priest and four years later he wrote his seminal work The Kingdom of Christ, in which he held that the Church was a united body, transcending individual sects, denominations, and disputes. While Maurice’s work would ultimately be an early source of Anglican ecumenism, it also roused suspicion among more conservative wings of the church. In 1846, he became a professor of theology at Kings’ College, London.

European society changed rapidly in the first half of the nineteenth century, as advances in industrialization ultimately led to the rise of a new middle class, which created new social tensions. During the same year that socialist Karl Marx famously called religion “the opiate of the people,” Maurice wrote, “we have been dosing our people with religion…when what they want is...the living God.” Later, inspired by the Revolutions of 1848, a wave of political upheavals across Europe, Maurice became one of the organizers of the Christian Socialist Movement, seeking to, as he said, engage in the conflict with “unsocial Christians” and “unchristian Socialists.” The Christian socialists sought to apply Christian principles to laissez-faire industrialism, advocating for a collective responsibility for the poor and those in substandard factory working conditions.

Unlike Marx, the Christian Socialists would advocate for the active involvement of the Church in improving the lot of the working class. Maurice’s book Theological Essays, published in 1853, ultimately cost him his job as a professor when it was viewed as being heterodox—too much at odds with the established Church. Using his existing knowledge and teaching experience to improve the lives of the working class, he founded the Working Men’s College to promote his ideals. Ultimately he returned to the academy, teaching in Cambridge from 1866 until his death.

Collect for F. D. Maurice
Almighty God, who restored our human nature to heavenly glory through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ: Keep alive in your Church, we pray, a passion for justice and truth; that, like your servant Frederick Denison Maurice, we may work and pray for the triumph of the kingdom of your Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

-- David Sibley


David of Wales vs. F.D. Maurice

  • F.D. Maurice (54%, 3,351 Votes)
  • David of Wales (46%, 2,878 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,227

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199 comments on “David of Wales vs. F.D. Maurice”

  1. (Hmmm...I'm with you, Trisha. I seem to have voted with the minority every time, save one. Why shd today be any different?)

    Maurice seemed to be all over the map--law student, Unitarian, opposer of the 39 Articles; next paragraph of life, Anglican social reform theologian, scholar. With apologies to my Uncle Maurice, I voted for David. My life as a Christian seems to have been a striving to do "the little things" every day.

    Anyone for Cawl cennin (traditional leek soup) for supper? allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/34247/cawl-cennin--welsh-leek-soup-.aspx

  2. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa. Reflecting upon nature: "In these little things a zest for life is engraved like filigree, a source without which everything would be insipid." - Br. Roger. "Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ." - Theresa of Liseux. “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
    ― Francis of Assisi. Joy, simplicity, do little things, faith...David of Wales is a wonderful part of a great cloud of witnesses, and so I made my little vote.

  3. I love "Do ye the little things in life.". If we all did the little things the world would be a better place. David gets my vote.

  4. The more I read the bio for F.D. Maurice, the more I liked him and what he was striving to do. And I really liked the collect as well. This was an easier decision than yesterday's, for sure! Even my Jewish partner couldn't stomach either of those Egyptians.

  5. Since I don't believe in original sin doctrine - and think Pelagius got a bum rap - guess I will vote against David though I love daffodils. What brought me back into the church was its social justice work - so Maurice it is.

  6. I am having multiple problems with Lentmadness this year...there is NO vote button on the email I receive every morning. Normally I have to click on the "comments" to get this page so I can actually vote...this morning that didn't even work...gave me a 404 error, page not available message. So, I had to navigate over to Facebook and find your morning post in order to vote.

    Is there a way to fix the "vote" button on the email you send every day???

    1. The daily title is a link. Click on that and you should get the text in a format that allows you to vote.

  7. Maurice wrote, “we have been dosing our people with religion…when what they want is…the living God.”
    Sounds kind of like where we are today! My vote's with FD - a priest with the heart of a deacon.

  8. A few less than charitable comments today toward another in the hermit/anchorite/monastic tradition. Praying and inspiring others to deeper faith might seem small, but great things can come of it. I suspect David was active in caring for others, etc. as his many monasteries would have been the source of such assistance during his day. Ultimately, we can do nothing good that doesn't ultimately come from Christ's love working through us. (All credit goes to him.) Thomas Merton pointed out that not everyone is called to be contemplative. I say let's not throw stones so quickly a those who are. They will always be an important part of the church's witness.

    1. well spoken. we Americans are such activists and as much as we might give grudging assent to the power of prayer, deep down, we don't believe it, we are suspicious of too much solitude, we want David of Wales to have crusaded against slavery of the Irish or the injustice towards girls and women. we also don't understand the central healing and ministerial role monastic communities served for 1500 years of the church's history. sigh, i fear no contemplatve saint will ever win a golden halo with Americans doing the voting.

      1. Agreed. I have been surprised and intrigued to see how often I have sided with the mystics in this enterprise. And how often I am in the minority! Learning so much about the saints and myself...

  9. I love approaching faith with an understanding that "the little things" add up, but I'm going with Fred today. The working class needed him then and perhaps he can inspire us to be more and more aware of those needs today. Plus I agree that meditating about "unsocial Christians and unchristian socialists" creates a good Lenten chuckle.

  10. Another agonizing choice, so my vote could be based on trivialities: I'm very tempted to vote for David because his Celebrity Blogger wrote "Commentors" rather than the wretched "Commentators." But I'm also a former Unitarian-turned-Anglican, so Maurice and I belong to the same tribe.

    What finally decides my vote is Maurice's witness in the modern era to being our brother's keeper because he's God's beloved child, not because he has met some qualification based on our personal opinions.

  11. Had to vote for the ole' namesake.

    On a different subject, I wonder if there's been any consideration of recirculating previous contestants. I may be mistaken, but this year's bracket doesn't seem to have as many ancient saints as past years. At some point, every possible contender from the major feasts, lesser feasts, and Holy Women Holy Men will have been used, right?

  12. David of Wales certainly set a great example in his time. However FD Maurice shines as a bright light in the miserable 19th century so I must vote for FD.

  13. Voting for F.D., but will spend the next week learning to pronounce "Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd".

      1. And then someone should set it to music. Actually there probably already is a tune associated with it. Must look that up.

  14. F.D. Maurice was grounded in eternal truths, yet ahead of his time. All honor to St. David, the patron saint of my Welsh ancestors, but Fr. Maurice gets my vote today.

  15. Had to vote for David with Welch ancestors who would come out of hiding had I not!
    Social reforms are wonderful ideals, but over zealousness has led our society to unfortunate dependence .

  16. My wonderful spouse is David, but I cast my vote for FDM, wish he could run for president! He apparently made such a difference in his world that wherever he walked, people saw a glow surrounding him.

  17. Apples and oranges this morning........

    Sure, we can say how much FDM did but how do you compare a 19th century post enlightenment theologian and social reformer to a 7th century mystic and bishop? While I would disagree with David's position on Original Sin, it is understandable that he came to such a conclusion in a pre enlightenment environment.

    My vote needs to go to beloved David - the namesake of my church and patron saint of Wales. "Do the little things" and wear a leek on your cap on March 1st!

  18. FDM is a man after my own heart - he stood up for the underdog, tried mightily, "failed" at one point by being tossed from his job for refusing to toe the unjust line, made lemonade out of lemons by creating a school for those underdogs,and never lost sight of his vision despite the difficulties. About two weeks ago, I read an article about things really creative people do. One item on the list: they fail, and then get right back up and keep trying. That's what FDM did .. So he gets my vote.

  19. It the age when we are looking at the movement from "religion" to "spirituality", I can only vote for the very real and spiritual man - F.D. Maurice.

  20. I see this is the day my bracket goes down in flames. That's what Iget for picking the saint I thouggt had the best chance over my personal choice.

    Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd

  21. Having a lot of Welsh in my ancestry, I thought this would be an easy vote. I had never heard of F.D. Maurice, but admire his passion for social justice issues and see his influence today in the emerging church movement. We need voices like his now as much as during the time he lived. Sorry, St. Dayffd - F.D. gets my vote!

  22. FDM for me. I'm an Episcopalian who works at a Unitarian Universalist congregation (they assiduously don't call it a "church," and they think I'm a bit odd for wearing ashes on my brow from time to time). Today's two saints would have an awkward cuppa together, don't you think?

  23. "Do the little things"....and you could have added: with all diligence and great love! That is how the little things add up to further the reign of God. David was a doer and my Welsh heritage continues to demand that of me. Dewi Sant!

  24. That 404 really put me off, but I finally got through by going back to the egg, or the chicken, whatever. I knew there actually were Comments, the screen was bulging. Another tough pick.