Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Bede the Venerable, a Benedictine from the 7th century who had a keen sense of what it meant to translate intellectual pursuits into action. He stands as a great example for new evangelists in the 21st century. Fr. Steve Grunow explains why.
There is an understanding of the Church put forward by her detractors and enemies that for much (if not all) of its history, the Church has been a backward institution responsible for fomenting superstition, persecution and violence. Is this true? Might there be something that this negative appraisal is missing?
From roughly the sixth to the tenth century, civilization in Western Europe passed through a momentous transformation as the power of Rome faded and the culture that had enabled that empire to flourish and grow fractured. The grandeur of Rome passed into memory and a new kind of Europe emerged in its place.
In the midst of this cultural transformation a monk by the name of Benedict founded a new kind of religious movement that would act as a stabilizing influence for the peoples of Europe. Monks of the Benedictine Rule would establish monastic houses, and in their efforts to bring the Gospel to bear on their time and place they would produce innovations in technology, advance intellectual inquiry, produce art and music, and preserve the cultural patrimony of the ancient world. All this was accomplished for Christ and because of Christ.
Saint Bede, whose memory the Church celebrates today, was a member of this Benedictine movement. He was born in the year 673...
Today is the Feast of St. Athanasius, a great figure in the Church whose in-your-face sanctity was more than compassion and niceness. St. Athanasius stood boldly and forcefully for the proper understanding of Jesus's divinity so that we might know this Christ who is fully God and fully man. Today, Fr. Steve invites us to stand with St. Athanasius.
“The Eternal Word, the Son, was in no way degraded by receiving a human and mortal body. Rather, he deified what he put on; and more than that, he bestowed the gift of his divinity upon our humanity.”
St. Athanasius lived when the blood of the Church’s earliest martyrs was still fresh in the memories of Christians—and the intensity of his faith was a tribute to those who had suffered and died rather than recant the Apostolic Faith. He is described by biographers as being small in stature and stark in appearance with a body that bore clear signs of his rigorously ascetic life. Athanasius was an Egyptian, his skin dark, eyes deep set and piercing, with a mind as penetrating as his gaze.
He did not suffer fools. His disposition challenges our conception of holiness as being nice and well-mannered. Athanasius was more than willing to fight if provoked, and when the Church was threatened he did not just speak up, he shouted...