Today is the memorial of Saint Cuthbert, 7th century monk, bishop, and hermit, and the patron of my Title Parish as a curate in the Church of England. I served the good folk of St Cuthbert’s, Darwen (pictured above), in the Diocese of Blackburn, in this capacity for four years before I moved to Canada. It represented a formative period of my life, the experience of which contributed significantly to the long process of prayer, study, reflection, and discussion which ultimately led to God’s call to enter into the fulness of communion in the Catholic Church. I remain immensely grateful to God for the many opportunities and graces received in this chapter of my Anglican ministry, and continue to hold the good folk of St Cuthbert’s, Darwen in my prayers, asking their good patron to intercede for them, and for all Christian people that, as today’s Collect implores, the lost may be brought home to the One Fold of the Redeemer.
‘It was then the custom of the English people, that when a cleric or priest came into a town they all, at his command, flocked to hear the word, willingly heard what was said, and more willingly practised what they could hear and understand. But Cuthbert was so skilful a speaker, so fond of making his point, and had so much brightness showing in his angelic face, that no one present tried to conceal from him the most hidden secrets of his heart, but all openly confessed what they had done; because they thought the guilt of this could not be hidden from him. They wiped away the guilt that they had confessed with worthy fruits of penance, as he commanded.
He was accustomed especially to reach those places, and preach in those villages, as are high up among crags and wild moorland, inaccessible because of their poverty and wildness, which nevertheless he, in his entire devotion to duty, would seek industriously to polish with his teaching. When he left the monastery he would often stay a week, sometimes two or three, and sometimes a whole month, before he returned home, continuing in the mountains to allure the rustics to heavenly employments by preaching and example’.
from The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, c.731, by St Bede the Venerable, 672-735
Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Cuthbert from tending sheep to follow thy Son and to be a shepherd of thy people: in thy mercy, grant that we may so follow his example; that we may bring those who are lost home to thy fold; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon