July 6: John Hus, Prophetic Witness and Martyr, 1415

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About this commemoration
John Hus
John Hus

John Hus (1372-1415) was a Czech priest who became leader of the Czech reform movement, which called for a return to scripture and living out of the word of God in one’s life. As preacher at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, he talked to the people in their native language. Hundreds gathered every day to hear his call for personal and institutional reform.

Clerics he had offended had him exiled from Prague, but he continued his ministry through the written word. Hus took the radical step of appealing directly to Christ rather than to the hierarchy for the justification of his stance. When the Council of Constance opened in 1414, Hus traveled there hoping to clear his name of charges of heresy. Hus had been given a pledge of safe conduct from the emperor, but his enemies persuaded council officials to imprison him on the grounds that “promises made to heretics need not be kept.” Although several leaders of the Council of Constance were in favor of moderate church reform, the council’s prime objective was the resolution of the Great Western Schism, which had produced three rival popes at the same time. The council therefore tried to secure a speedy recantation and submission from Hus. He maintained that the charges against him were false or twisted versions of his teachings, and he could not recant opinions he had never held. Faced with an ultimatum to recant or die, Hus chose the latter. As he approached the stake on July 6, 1415, he refused a last attempt to get him to recant and said: “The principal intention of my preaching and of all my other acts or writings was solely that I might turn men from sin. And in that truth of the Gospel that I wrote, taught, and preached in accordance with the sayings and expositions of the holy doctors, I am willing gladly to die today.”
His death did not end the movement, and the Czech reformation continued. Hus’ rousing assertion “Truth will conquer!” is the motto of the Czech Republic today.
Collects
I Faithful God, who didst give John Hus the courage to
confess thy truth and recall thy Church to the image
of Christ: Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear
witness against corruption and never cease to pray for
our enemies, that we may prove faithful followers of our
Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II Faithful God, you gave John Hus the courage to confess
your truth and recall your Church to the image of Christ:
Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear witness against
corruption and never cease to pray for our enemies, that
we may prove faithful followers of our Savior Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Lessons
Job 22:21–30
Revelation 3:1–6
Matthew 23:34–39
Psalm 119:113–120
Preface of All Saints


Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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