FATHER’S TEACHING CORNER: Although it was not originally intended, the penitential approach to the total Eucharistic action is a necessary preparation, and is as much a part of the Offertory as it is of the Consecration and the Communion itself. Repentance, love, and faith—the three conditions for receiving God’s grace—should accompany the bringing of our gifts to God for His hallowing. They also should express the disposition of our hearts when we receive them back with God’s blessing upon them. Our offering is not pure; it is marked with the stain of our selfishness and injustices. The elements of bread and wine represent ourselves as well as God’s gifts, and, therefore, they need to be presented before God penitently, lovingly, and faithfully. Only when such requirements are met can we hope to “take this holy Sacrament” to our “comfort”, that is, to our spiritual strengthening so that we may be able to lead the “new life” of obedience to God’s holy will made possible to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.
CONCERNING THE INVOCATION OF THE SAINTS: The Church’s doctrine “the Communion of Saints” teaches the union of the Faithful, the living and the dead, in Our Lord. For the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, embraces the Militant on Earth, the Expectant in Paradise, and the triumphant in Heaven. As we picture the many centuries pat, there comes the wonderful realisation that the Company of heaven is many times larger than the Church on earth, even with its millions of members. As we pray for the holy dead, so we also pray to the saints in glory. We believe they pray for us. It is unthinkable that those who prayed for others on earth cannot do so in the life beyond. We do not know how they hear our prayers, whether as St. Augustine thought through the ministry of Angels or the arrival of other souls in Paradise or by God’s will and suggestion, but we believe that they do. And as our prayers are pleasing to God and avail in Jesus Christ, so much more are pleasing to God the prayers of those who are perfected, the Saints in Glory. Our Lord, in His love, gives them the joy of helping souls here, but it is by His merits and meditation that they help, because He is ever the fountain-head of mercy and justice, Our Loving and Compassionate Saviour. (To be continued)
THIS WEEK WE COMMORATE two great English Saints, Augustine of Canterbury and the Venerable Bede, whose relic we have on our altar. In the year 596 Pope Gregory the great sent a band of forty monks, led by Augustine, to preach the Gospel to the “heathen” English. They arrived in Kent in 597 and were well received by the local king, St. Ethelbert, who soon became a Christian along with many of his subjects. Augustine, however, discovered there was an ancient Christian Church in existence in Britain and went to Arles to be consecrated Archbishop of the English. He established his see at Canterbury, where he founded the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul. His mission continued to prosper, and shortly before his death he founded two more Episcopal sees, in London for the East Saxons and in Rochester. He was not successful in extending his authority to the existing Christians in Wales and south-west Britain. These Britons were suspicious and wary, Augustine was not very conciliatory, and the British Bishops refused to recognise his as their Archbishop. Even though he did not extend his mission to all of Britain, he is recognised as the evangeliser of England, and Bede states that he was a very conscientious missionary. He died in Canterbury in 603. BEDE was born in Northumbria in 673 and died at Jarrow in 735. He was sent to school at the monastery of Wearmouth, and soon after to the twin house of Jarrow where he became a monk and a priest. He spent his entire life there never going further that Lindesfarne and York. In addition to his biblical writings, he is best known for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. While most of his works on the saints, hymns, and homilies were written in Latin, Bede is the first known writer of English prose. In his last illness he was translating St. John’s Gospel and finished the last sentence just before he died. In 836 a Church Council in Aachen referred to him as “the venerable”, a title kept to this day. In 1899 Pope Leo XIII gave him formal recognition as a Doctor of the Church, which is ironic since this is the same Pope who declared Anglican Orders to be invalid.