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Friday, May 27, 2011

Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest, Confessor and Doctor

Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest, Confessor and Doctor
Bede the Priest was born about the year 673, at Jarrow, on the borders of England and Scotland. At the age of seven, as he himself hath left on record, he was placed under the care of holy Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth, to be educated. Thereafter he became a monk, and so ordered his life that, whilst he should devote himself wholly to the study of the sciences and of doctrine, he might in nothing relax the discipline of his Order. There was no branch of learning in which he was not thoroughly versed, but his chief care was the study of the Holy Scriptures ; and that he might the better understand them he acquired a knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew tongues. When he was nineteen, as he himself hath told us, he was ordered deacon ; and at thirty by command of his Abbot he was ordained priest ; and immediately on the advice of Acea, Bishop of Hexham, undertook the work of expounding the Sacred Books. In his interpretations he so strictly adhered to the teaching of the holy Fathers that he would advance nothing which was not approved by their judgement, and had the warrant of their very words. He ever hated sloth, and by habitually passing from reading to prayer, and in turn from prater to reading, he so inflamed his soul that often amid his reading and teaching he was bathed in tears. Lest his mind should be distracted by the cares of transitory things, he never would take the office of Abbot when it was offered him. * The name of Bede soon became so famous for learning and piety that Saint Sergius the Pope thought of calling him to Rome, where, certainly, he might have helped to solve the very difficult questions which had then arisen concerning sacred things. He wrote many books for the bettering of the lives of the faithful and for the defending and extending the Faith. By those he gained everywhere such a reputation that the holy Martyr Bishop Boniface styled him the Light of the Church ; Lanfranc called him The Teacher of the English ; and the Council of Aix la Chapelle termed him The Admirable Doctor. But as his writings were publicly read in the churches during his life, and as it was not allowable to give him officially the title of Saint, they spoke of him as The Venerable, a title which in all times after hath remained peculiarly his. The power of his teaching was the greater also, in that it was attested by a holy life and the graces of religious observance. In this way, by his earnestness and example, his disciples, who were many and distinguished, were made eminent, not only in letters and in sciences, but in personal holiness. * Broken at length by age and labour, he was seized, in the year 735, by a grievous illness. Though he suffered under it for more than seven weeks. He ceased not from his prayers and his interpreting of the Scriptures ; for at that time he was turning the Gospel of blessed John into English for the use of his people. But when, on the Eve of the Ascension, he perceived that death was coming upon him, he sought to be fortified with the last Sacraments of the Church. Then his young amanuensis said to him : There remaineth yet, dear master, one sentence not written down. And when the holy man had painfully supplied the translation, and heard the scribe say that it was finished, he exclaimed : Well said, It is finished. Whereupon, after he had embraced his companions, and was laid on a piece of sackcloth on the ground, he repeated the words : Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost : and fell asleep in the Lord. His body, incorrupt, (or, as it is related, breathing sweet odour,) was buried in the monastery of Jarrow, and afterwards was translated to Durham with the relics of Saint Cuthbert.
O God, who hast enlightened thy Church with the wondrous learning of blessed Bede thy Confessor and Doctor : mercifully grant to us thy servants ; that we, being in all things enlightened by his wisdom, may at all times feel the effectual succour of his righteousness, through Jesus Christ our Lord

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