Today is the feast of that great historian and historiographer, The Venerable Bede.
He was born in the north of England, near the monastery of Wearmouth. He joined that monastery, and spent all his life there or at Jarrow, teaching and writing. He was the outstanding ecclesiastical author of his time. He wrote commentaries on Scripture; an ecclesiastical history of the English people, which is a unique and irreplaceable resource for much of early English history; and the first martyrology (collection of saints’ lives) to be compiled on historical principles. He was also the first known writer of English prose, though this has not survived. He died at Jarrow on 25 May 735: he taught and worked until the last moments of his life, which are narrated by Cuthbert in today’s Office of Readings. He is venerated as the “light of the Church” in the Dark Ages, and as a forerunner of the 8th and 9th century renaissance of the Western Church.
It allows us to focus on the impact that history has on us. In a time when we speak all too casually about a “new normal” we might consider how truly redundant this phrase is, from a Christian point of view. As if the present moment was contingent on an old normal, and defined only in relation to that, when God is present at this moment and therefore the present moment is always the normal, made so by God’s presence being the norm. So, history is both formational and informational, but only God in this moment – to which we makes a constant pilgrimage of grace – is transformational. So there is only the normal of the now.
-Part of our ‘Celebration of the Saints’ series-