Sometimes going back to the roots is what’s necessary for true reform and renewal. It’s radical. So instead of looking at the material in this homily as nostalgic, I see it as a call to higher saintliness and boldness on all our parts in service of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I only have a little bit of English blood, but my mother tongue is English, so this is my culture and as a member of the Anglican Ordinariate, this is my patrimony even though my blood is Slavic and I still cross myself the Eastern way.
From historical accounts, we know how much Pope Saint Gregory the Great desired to bring the truth and love of Christ to the English nation. He had seen the English youth brought as slaves to Rome, and his heart was filled with compassion for them and for their fellow countrymen.
Thanks be to God, Saint Augustine and his companions carried out the mission with total obedience.
Contemplating the saints who were the illustrious fruit of the apostolic ministry of Saint Augustine and his companions, we recall also how many suffered, even to the shedding of their blood, to be true to the apostolic faith handed down to them in an unbroken line from the Apostles and, in particular, from Pope Saint Gregory the Great, heroic Successor of Saint Peter, and Saint Augustine of Canterbury, illustrious successor of the Apostles. In a most particular way, we recall the figures of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher who held fast to the tradition of the faith received from the Vicar of Christ on earth, when so many betrayed and abandoned the apostolic faith. At his trial on July 1, 1535, Saint Thomas More held firmly to the living Tradition of the Church, which forbade him, in conscience, to acknowledge King Henry VIII with the title of Supreme Head of the Church. When, during the trial, the Chancellor rebuked him, citing the acceptance of the title by so many bishops and nobles of the land, Thomas More replied: “My lord, for one bishop of your opinion I have a hundred saints of mine; and for one parliament of yours, and God knows of what kind, I have all the General Councils for 1,000 years, ….”(6) The English Martyrs gave up their lives in martyrdom rather than giving up their greatest and lasting treasure, the life of Christ alive for us in His holy Church. Many others, both canonized saints and unknown heroes of the faith, selflessly and enduringly practiced the Catholic faith brought to the British Isles by Saint Augustine and his companions.
Surely, too, we are conscious of the great challenges in living the apostolic faith in our time. Truly, Satan, “a murderer from the beginning” and “the father of lies”(7), cannot stand the truth and love of Christ shining forth in His holy Church. He never takes repose from his deceitful and hateful labors. He is always trying to corrupt the truth, the beauty and the goodness which Christ never ceases to pour forth into our Christian souls from His glorious pierced Heart. The pervasive confusion and grave error about the most fundamental truths, the most beautiful realities, and the lasting goods of human life and its cradle, the human family, as they come to us from the hand of God, are the tragic signs of Satan’s presence in our midst. When we see how he has succeeded in corrupting a culture which was once Christian and in sowing the seeds of confusion and error even within the Church herself, we can easily become frightened and discouraged.
But, as Saint Augustine and his companions knew and preached, there is another presence which always conquers Satan. It is the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His holy Church and, most perfectly and fully of all, in the Most Blessed Sacrament: His Real Presence. Holding fast to Christ and to His truth and love, even in the face of persecution, the victory over sin, the victory of eternal life will surely be ours.
Please go over and read the rest and see if it doesn’t make your heart burn within you.
I doubt the regular readers of my blog will be surprised to discover who gave this homily.