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St. Bede

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Bede, 672/3 – 26 May 735 A.D. , also known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable, was an English Benedictine monk at the monastery of St. Peter and its companion monastery of St. Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles (contemporarily Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey in Tyne and Wear, England). Born on lands likely belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery, Bede was sent there at the age of seven and later joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery, both of whom survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there.

While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede traveled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles, even visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria. He is well known as an author, teacher (a student of one of his pupils was Alcuin), and scholar, and his most famous work, Ecclesiastical History of the English People gained him the title “The Father of English History”.

His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. Another important area of study for Bede was the academic discipline of computus, otherwise known to his contemporaries as the science of calculating calendar dates. One of the more important dates Bede tried to compute was Easter, an effort that was mired with controversy. He also helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ (Anno Domini – in the year of our Lord), a practice which eventually became commonplace in medieval Europe.

Bede was one of the greatest teachers and writers of the Early Middle Ages and is considered by many historians to be the single most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800.

Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, and his work made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, which contributed significantly to English Christianity. Bede’s monastery had access to an impressive library which included works by Eusebius, Orosius, and many others.

His scholarship and importance to Catholicism were recognised in 1899 when he was declared a Doctor of the Church. He is the only Englishman named a Doctor of the Church.

Bede, for whom the worship of God was the whole of your life, from which flowed your learning, wisdom, and ability to pass down to others the Faith, pray for us that our whole lives might be taken up in the worship of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who’s praise you sang as your last words of your earthly life, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit”; and may all our gifts flow from our worship of God, to the building up of the Church.

Heavenly Father, you called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship: Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of your truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make you known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Blessed Bede, ora pro nobis.

Amen.

St. Vincent

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Today, the Church remembers St. Vincent of Lérins.

Saint Vincent of Lérins, who died c. 445 A.D., was a Gallic monk and author of early Christian writings. One example was the Commonitorium, c. 434, which offers guidance in the orthodox teaching of Christianity. As a critic of St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Vincent was out of step with the Church of Rome, which had made of St. Augustine the center of their theology, but because of his orthodox teaching he is nevertheless venerated as a saint by the Church. He opposed the Augustinian model of Grace and held to a model of Grace more closely resembling the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Vincent upheld tradition and seemed to have objected to much of Augustine’s work as “new” theology, embedded with too much of the philosophical categories of new-Platonism, which he did not think befit the teaching of the Jesus, the apostles, and the Apostolic Fathers (a view still held by the Orthodox Churches). In the Commonitorium he listed theologians and teachers who, in his view, had made significant contributions to the defense and spreading of the Gospel; he omitted Augustine from that list.

Vincent wrote his Commonitory to provide himself with a general rule to distinguish Catholic/ Orthodox truth from non-Christian beliefs, committing it to writing as a reference. It is known for Vincent’s famous maxim:

“Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.”

Blessed Vincent, you devoted your life to the learning of, and the teaching of, the Christian Faith of the undivided Early Church. Pray for us who follow the same vocation, that we may be faithful teachers of the Faith, able to discern Truth from falsehood, and so declare the Gospel of Jesus undiluted, that all the world might know the redeeming power of the Resurrected Lord.

Ora pro nobis.

Amen.

Love

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“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.” -Dostoyevsky

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” – St. Paul

Holy Saturday

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“Something strange is happening. There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parents, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory.

At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!”

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants, I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.

“Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of humankind, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.”

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and so I brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed; the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am LIFE ITSELF am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them adore you as they do God.”

“The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity”.

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Bishop Melito of Sardis, (died c. A.D. 180)

Feast of the Annunciation

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Today, since the 25th was a Sunday, the Church commemorates the Feast of the Annunciation, the day when the angel Gabriel said those wondrous words “Hail, Mary, full of grace! The LORD is with you!”

All of creation held its breath as the young girl tried to comprehend and assimilate what was happening, and what was being asked of her. If she says “yes” to the LORD, it could mean exile from her family, living on the streets as a beggar while pregnant, or at the worst, being stoned to death.

But, wonder if wonders, the young girl, full of faith and trust, said “yes” to the LORD, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled” and all of creation shouted in wonder and praise. In that moment, and because her betrothed, Joseph, also said yes, redemption and salvation was conceived by the Holy Spirit in her womb, and became a human, and they named him Jesus.

Hail, Mary, full of grace! The LORD is with you!

May we also say “yes” to the LORD, that his will might also be accomplished in our lives, and so love and grace may abound for the sake of the world.

Blessed Mary, mother of Jesus, ora pro nobis.