Saturday, January 1, 2011

The English Church & Icons

I haven't posted as much as I've wanted to lately, but I had a great Christmas, 3 days with Holy Communion and no mortal sin! It was amazing. I've been enjoying the Rosary, Meister Eckhart, my grandpa's King James Bible (Psalms especially), as well as some John Duns Scotus, and Aquinas.

This morning I went to mass... but it was an Italian mass (I didn't know till it started). It had me thinking though as I stumbled through, using the Latin responses (they sounded more Italian than English), I was thinking about the first English Catholics and how they had to encounter the faith.

The Venerable Bede, St. Augustine of Canterbury, and St. Gregory the Great are some of my heroes and I was reading again today about the conversion of the Kingdom of Kent, and thought about how strange it must've been for these Anglish pagans to see the Roman monks sent by the Pope to evangelize them. St. Bede describes it thus:

"they came furnished with Divine, not with magic virtue, bearing a silver cross for their banner, and the image of our Lord and Saviour painted on a board; and singing the litany, they offered up their prayers to the Lord for the eternal salvation both of themselves and of those to whom they were come." - Ecclesiastical History of the British Isles / England Chapter XXV

I also was reminded of how important images were for people. St. Gregory described them as the biblia pauperum - the bible of the poor, and he attacked one iconoclastic bishop by saying:

"Tell us brother, have you ever heard of any other bishop anywhere who did the like? This, if nothing else, should have given you pause. Do you despise your brothers and think that you alone are holy and wise?"

Pope St. Gregory, did not mince words. I was given a penance of adding holy images to the exterior of my computer and I was thinking about how they can still be a bible for the spiritually poor (like myself). The Orthodox say when Satan tempts you with evil images, it is best to turn your eyes to holy ones.

Now all I need is a crucifix for my wall.

May Christ - the Icon and Image of the invisible God - be born in all of our hearts this new year, and speak to us amidst the confusing languages and ways of the world.

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