Monday, May 28, 2007

Saint Augustine of Canterbury

This year Memorial Day happens to fall on the Feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop and Confessor. This St. Augustine was a monk whom St. Gregory sent to spread the gospel to England. St. Augustine, with about forty brothers, set out in 597, and began the work of preaching Christ to the people of England. His missionary work was filled with difficulties, yet he persisted, and eventually converted the people, including the king, Ethelbert. Eventually, Gregory made Augustine the first bishop of Canterbury.

Too often I hear the complaint of monasticism that it is a way of life that serves no good, and is of no value to the world, or the Church. There are at least two problems with this Protestant way of thinking. One is that it completely fails to appreciate just what a service to the Church a man can be who devotes his life to prayer and meditation. Just knowing that there is a monastery where monks or nuns pray for the Church is good for us. The other problem is that it fails to appreciate all the active service that is done by monks, including outright missionary work. I dare say that more missionary work has been accomplished by monks than by all of the evangelism programs the Church has even conceived. The first thing that would be Lutheran evangelizers should do is to learn to pray the Divine Office.

St. Augustine is just one example. Indeed, he is a great, shining example. And so today I thank God for fathers in the faith like Augustine of Canterbury, and I pray for the rebirth of monastic vocations among men and women, yes even in the Church of the Augsburg Confession.

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