Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lettered English Converted by the Unletterd and Ignorant

How significant for a people the was led into heresy by the willfulness and pride of Henry VIII, that their conversion from “idols which they had previously adored with savage fear” was effected by weak and illiterate instruments. Pope St.Gregory the Great had sent Augustine (not our Augustine of Hippo and Benedict XVI) from St. Andrew’s monastery in Rome to preach the Gospel in England in the year 597.

Gregory wrote to Augustine: “Who, dear brother, is capable of describing the great joy of believers when they have learned what the grace of almighty God and your own cooperation achieved among the Angles They abandoned the errors of darkness and were bathed with the light of holy faith. With full awareness they trampled on the idols which they had previously adored with savage fear. They are now committed to Almighty God. The guidelines given them for their preaching restrain them from falling into evil ways. In their minds they are submissive to the divine precepts and consequently feel uplifted. They bow down to the ground in prayer lest their minds cling too closely to earthly things. Whose achievement is this? It is the achievement of him who said: ‘My Father is at word until now and I am at work as well.

“God chose illiterate preachers and sent them into the world in order to show the world that conversion is brought about not by men’s wisdom but rather by his own power. So in like manner God worked through weak instruments and wrought great things among the Angles. Dear brother, in this heavenly gift there is something which should inspire us with great fear and great joy.

“For I know through your love for that people, specially chosen for you, that Almighty God has performed great miracles. But it is necessary that the same heavenly gift should cause you to rejoice with fear and to fear with gladness. You should be glad because by means of external miracles the souls of the Angles have been led to interior grace. But you should tremble lest, on account of these signs, the preacher’s own weak soul be puffed up with presumption; lest, while seeming externally raised aloft in honor, it fall internally as a result of vainglory" (Office of Readings, May 27).

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