From Weedy@21:1/5 to All on Tue May 11 23:33:19 2021
Humility and charity
Let me warn anyone bent on following Christ to listen to Saint Paul:
One who claims to abide in Christ ought to walk as he walked. Would
you follow Christ? Then be humble as he was humble; do not scorn his
lowliness if you want to reach his exaltation. Human sin made the road
rough but Christ's resurrection leveled it; by passing over it himself
he transformed the narrowest of tracks into a royal highway.
Two feet are needed to run along this highway; they are humility
and charity. Everyone wants to get to the top--well, the first step to
take is humility. Why take strides that are too big for you--do you
want to fall instead of going up? Begin with the first step, humility,
and you will already be climbing.
-- Caesarius of Arles
May 12th - St. Aethelheard of Louth and Canterbury
(Also known as Ethelhard)
On entering the Temple in Louth one is soon confronted by St.
Aethelheard. In the icon on sees a patient, resilient and tough
person. There is more than a slight hint of the inner life of a monk
in his eyes. So who is he? He was the 14th Archbishop of Canterbury
who died on 12th May, 805. Very little is known of his life before he
became Archbishop but he is described as "Abbas Hludensis Monasterii",
i.e. Abbot of the Monastery of Louth.
He lived through very troubled times. The powerful King Offa of Mercia (757-796) had enlarged his kingdom until there was only Mercia,
Northumbria, and Wessex left in what we now know as England. The
kingdom stretched down into Kent but to some extent the king felt
threatened by Canterbury and its powerful Archb. Jaenbert (766-791).
The king decided to give his kingdom an independent Archdiocese based
in Litchfield. This would weaken Canterbury's influence by dividing
the province. This was successfully accomplished when the Papal
Legates George and Theophylact, sent by Pope Hadrian I in 786-788
arrived. Bishop Higbert received the pallium (See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11427a.htm) as Archbishop of
Lichfield, and the Archbishop of Canterbury was left with only London, Winchester, Sherborne, Rochester, and Selsey as suffragan sees. On the
death of Archbishop Jaenbert (12 Aug., 791), Aethelheard was moved
from Louth to Canterbury through the direct influence of King Offa. He
was clearly a man the King felt he could trust. Problems for
Archbishop designate Aethelheard began immediately. Although he was
elected in 791, his consecration and enthronement took place on 21
July, 793: the delay was almost certainly due to the clergy and
faithful in Kent being most unwilling to have a foreign Archbishop.
Then three years later the nobles of Kent rebelled against King Offa
and their Archbishop and rallied round one Eadbert Praen, a priest and
a member of their ex-royal house (what a strange priest this man must
have been!). Life gradually became increasingly unbearable and
dangerous. Although the famous Bl. Alcuin wrote furiously to St.
Aethelheard telling him not to desert his Church, and after deposing
and excommunication Eadbert Praen, the Archbishop was forced to flee
to the continent. King Offa died on 26 July. His successor Egfrith
died after a very short reign, about 13 Dec.; Cenwulf succeeded in
Mercia, but the uprising continued in Kent until the capture of
Eadbert in 798.
St. Aethelheard had been most helpful to King Cenwulf in deposing
Eadbert, and in remaining loyal to him in Kent. This enormously
increased his standing in the Royal court and as a result the
Archbishopric of Lichfield began to look superfluous. The King wrote
in 798 to Pope Leo asking him to look into the need for a second
Archbishopric and enclosed a petition from Aethelheard and his
suffragan Bishops. Meanwhile St. Aethelheard returned home and
received another furious letter from Bl. Alcuin telling him to do
penance for having left his Church. The King’s letter was received
favourably and St. Aethelheard decided to set out for Rome in 801 to
speak to his chief pastor himself. In Rome he was just as successful:
Pope Leo III (795-816) solved the problem of Canterbury and Lichfield
by returning Lichfield to a suffragan diocese. The Council of Clovesho
on 12 Oct., 803, officially acknowledged the pope’s decision in
presence of Cenwulf and his Witan (parliament). An unfortunate result
of this was that Bishop Higbert was deprived of his pallium
(Omophorion), in spite of Alcuin's plea that so good a man should not
So what makes St. Aethelheard so important for us? A number of things:
St. Aethelheard insisted that those who were to be made Bishop should
make a formal profession of their Orthodox faith and obedience. This
was enormously important in maintaining the teaching of the Church
incorrupt and it had a second effect that affected the history of this
If King Offa had been successful in founding a permanent Archdiocese
in Lichfield the attainment of national unity would have been set back
by generations. With a unified Church (with York becoming a
Metropolitan it was easier to make a spiritual unit a political one.
He is a local! There are no other communities or parishes with him as
their patron. This is not as strange as it seems for, although his
shrine was immensely popular until the Norman Invasion, both it and he
were suppressed cruelly by the conquerors.
Holy father Aethelheard of Louth and Canterbury pray to God for us!
"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge
without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better
than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of
--Thomas á Kempis
And I live, now not I: but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in
the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and
delivered himself for me. [Galatians 2:20 ] DRB
A PRAYER FOR PERSEVERANCE
Lord Jesus Christ,
I believe in Thee as my God and my Saviour.
Make me more faithful to Thy Gospel and
commandments. By sharing in the Eucharist,
may I come to live more fully
in the life Thou hast given me.
Keep Thy Love alive within my heart and soul
so that I may become worthy of Thee.
Teach me to value and be thankful
for all of Thy Gifts.