Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Remember & Celebrate Norbert Čapek

ICUU Member Groups are encouraged to celebrate sometime in June the 140th Anniversary of the birth of Norbert Fabián Čapek on June 3 1870. He was a key figure in the development and history of Czech Unitarianism. The ICUU Global Chalice Lighting for June will focus on this important part of our heritage.

Carl Seaburg described Norbet Fabián Čapek “as important to liberal religion as Channing, Ballou and Parker were in the 19th century, and more than equal to Skinner and Holmes in the 20th.”

William F Schulz has written “Among Unitarian Universalist heroes and heroines, only a handful were martyred for our values—Norbert Čapek is one of that handful. He embodied the best of our faith in the worst of times.”

Services on Sunday June 6 would be a suitable time to commemorate this “deeply religious figure endowed with unusual courage” (Henry) as that very day (in 1870) his parents dressed him in a christening gown and walked the two hundred yards to the local church to receive the priest’s blessing on the day dedicated to St. Norbert.

Many will know him for the flower communion he created, now shared annually in many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world. A flower communion would go well in a service remembering Čapek as he first held such a communion on the first Sunday in June 1923. This year the Prague Congregation will hold its Flower Communion Service on June 13.

A wealth of downloadable material; in English written by or about this great Czech Unitarian can be found at the website of the Czech Unitarians (www.unitaria.cz). Notable among the offerings there is current Senior Minister Petr Samojský’s superb paper Czech Unitarianism and Norbert Fabián Čapek, written while Samojský studied at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Another recommended resource is Richard Henry’s inspiring and comprehensive biography titled Norbet Fabián Čapek: A Spiritual Journey. Henry’s book is published by Skinner House and sill available from the UUA Bookstore (www.uuabookstore.org).

Hymns with words and music by Čapek (translated into English by Richard Boeke and others) can be found in the hymnal SINGING THE LIVING TRADITION as 8, 28 and 78. Versions of Čapek’s Flower Communion Prayer and Consecration appear in the same volume as 723 and 724. One of the Čapek hymns Universal Spirit also appears in the British Unitarian Hymns For Loving as number 43.

A new article on Čapek by Petr Samojský has just been published in the journal Faith and Freedom (from Harris Manchester College): "N. F. Capek and Prometheus Bound: Or the Price for Bringing Fire" (Vol 63: Part 1, Number 170).


Joel Monka said...

Is he by any chance related to Karel Capek, author of R.U.R.?

Steve Dick said...

N. F. Čapek is not related to Karel Čapek nor his brother Josef. Čapek is a common Czech name.