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Archive for May 25th, 2020

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Bede (673-735) was the last of the early church fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church. Born in Northumbria, Bede was given by his parents to a monastery in Northern England at the age of seven. The most learned man of his time, he was a prolific writer of history, whose careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages. Known best for his book, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, he was also a profound interpreter of Scripture; his commentaries are still fresh today. His most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that Bede was working on a translation of John’s Gospel into English when death came, and that he died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips. He received the title “Venerable” within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England’s greatest saints.

About the year 680, at the age of seven, a boy was sent by his parents to the monastery of Monkwearmouth, in the country known today as Ireland by his family to be educated later by Abbot Ceolfrith, recognized as saintly. The abbot and the boy  were at the monastery in Jarrow  and most likely the boy had become a monk. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow. The only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices; one was Ceolfrith and the other a young boy, who according to the anonymous writer had been taught by Ceolfrith. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy until others could be trained. The young boy was almost certainly Bede.  In the middle of a lock down of a virus, the courage and bravery of the Abbot and Bede during a plague, should shame us today who want to stay away from Church. There is no ‘virtual Church’, only the Church, the Body of Christ, a body of virtue in the Holy Spirit.  The fruit of their faith in Christ endures. We thank the Lord for this pastor.

My times are in your hand (Ps. 31). We know what the Lord’s hands look like:  imprinted with nails as His feet. The Lord Himself in the flesh knew and knows the uncertainty of the times marked by trial and temptation, sore abuse and scorn of sinners, us.  By His hands He has delivered us and Bede and Ceolfrith. Another church body has as it’s motto, God’s Work, our hands but it should read, God’s Work, Christ’s Hands.  My times are in your hand.   This is a meaning of our Lord’s Ascension: His hands, the nail imprinted hands can now be everywhere at the right hand of the Father bringing the message of Savior and His so great a salvation by His forgiveness to the world, a timorous, prideful, fearful, vengeful world.

Bede died on the Feast of the Ascension, Thursday, 26 May 735, on the floor of his cell, singing “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”. He was buried at Jarrow. Bede wrote the hymn, A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing, centered on our Lord’s Ascension.

Let us pray…Heavenly Father, when he was still a child You called Your servant Bede to devote his life to serve You in the venerable disciplines of religion and scholarship.  As he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of Your truth to his generation, grant that we may also strive to make You known in all the world in our various vocations;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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