Friday, May 25, 2018Bede the Venerable
Priest and Monk of Jarrow
Lesser Feasts and Fasts describes Bede in this way:
At the age of seven, Bede’s parents brought him to the nearby monastery at Jarrow (near Durham in northeast England) for his education. There, as he later wrote, “spending all the remaining time of my life. . . I wholly applied myself to the study of Scripture, and amidst the observance of regular discipline, and the daily care of singing in the church, I always took delight in learning, teaching, and writing.”
Bede was ordained deacon at nineteen, and presbyter at thirty. He died on the eve of the Ascension while dictating a vernacular translation of the Gospel according to John. About 1020 his body was removed to Durham, and placed in the Galilee, the Lady Chapel at the west end of the Cathedral nave.
Bede was the greatest scholar of his time in the Western Church. He wrote commentaries on the Scriptures based on patristic interpretations.
His treatise on chronology was standard for a long time. He also wrote on orthography, poetic meter, and especially on history. His most famous work, The Ecclesiastical History of England, written in Latin, remains the primary source for the period 597 to 731, when Anglo-Saxon culture developed and Christianity triumphed. In this work, Bede was clearly ahead of his time. He consulted many documents, carefully evaluated their reliability, and cited his sources. His interpretations were balanced and judicious. He also wrote the History of the Abbots (of Wearmouth and Jarrow), and a notable biography of Cuthbert, both in prose and verse.
His character shines through his work — an exemplary monk, an ardent Christian, devoted scholar, and a man of pure and winsome manners. He received the unusual title of Venerable more than a century after his death. According to one legend, the monk writing the inscription for his tomb was at a loss for a word to fill out the couplet:
Hac sunt in fossa
Bedae — blank — ossa
(This grave contains
the — blank — Bede’s remains)
That night an angel filled in the blank: Venerabilis.
Heavenly Father, who didst call thy servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to thy service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship; Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of thy truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make thee known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saturday, May 26, 2018Augustine
Bishop of Hippo; Doctor of the Church
b. November 13, 354
d. August 28, 430
To say that Saint Augustine is a "leader" or "father" of the church seems an understatement. Few figures have been more influencial on the development of Christian theology. Among his many writings are his Confessions and The City of God.
Augustine's influence extends right into the Saint Thomas pulpit to this very day, where our priests regularly rely on his wisdom and clarity, and even on the lessons to be learned from his own life. Among so many examples in the trove are these:
To Be Transformed, Present Your Body by Fr Austin (2008)
The Love of Money by Fr Mead (2006)
All in the Family by Fr Mead (2005)
Patience Wins the Day by Fr Mead (2005)
Enter by the Strait Gate by Fr Mead (2004)
O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, May 27, 2018TRINITY SUNDAY
Trinity Sunday fittingly comes one week after the Day of Pentecost, which marked the arrival of the Holy Spirit, who, in the words of the Nicene Creed, "proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified..."
It is actually the Athanasian Creed, not the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed, which most aggressively affirms the nature of the Trinity. We never say the Athanasian Creed in church, but yet it can be found in the 1979 Prayer Book on page 864 in the historical documents section. Here is the portion pertaining to the nature of the Trinity:
And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
If you struggle with this doctrine, you're not alone: it took the Church several centuries to clarify its teaching on the nature of the Trinity. These sermons may be of help also:
The Athanasian Creed (2010) by Fr Mead
Love is All You Need (2009) by Fr Mead
The Strong Name of the Trinity (2008) by Fr Mead
The Trinity: The God of Jesus (2007) by Fr Mead
The Trinity is Our Story (2005) by Fr Austin
Three Persons in One God (2003) by Fr Mead
The Holy Trinity (2002) by Fr Mead
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity: We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see thee in thy one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.