St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor
St. Bede was a British monk who dedicated himself to prayer, writing, and study. He was so well known for his learning and holiness that he was made not only a saint, but a Doctor of the Church. But he is something of an oddity among the doctors. Most of the Doctors are known for their theological or spiritual writings. The work that St. Bede is most known for is a history book, An Ecclesiastical HIstory of the English Speaking Peoples. He does not simply talk about Britain after Christianity came, but starts around the arrival of Julius Caesar.
Bede was convinced that God is at work in history in very real and concrete ways. For him, the careful study of history was a way to observe how God works in the world, and how humanity responds to God– in both good and bad ways. As we saw yesterday, the Holy Spirit has come into the world, and everything is being made new. This is important to bear in mind at this point in the liturgical year. In the readings, we are picking up basically where we left off before Ash Wednesday. But nothing is the same after Pentecost. As we hear the readings, we should ask ourselves what difference the Spirit makes. How is the Spirit at work in what we hear, how is the Spirit needed in the various events, and how are things different thanks to the Spirit?
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.