Today the English church honours the memory of the Benedictine monk Saint Bede, the most notable of all the Anglo-Saxon scholars. He wrote around 40 books mainly dealing with theology and history. His greatest work The Ecclesiastical History of the English People is still in print today and gives us an invaluable insight into the life of the Church and the State in England spanning eight centuries. Saint Bede died quietly in his monastery in Wearmouth on this day in 735. In 1899 Pope Leo XIII named him a Doctor of the Church – the only Englishman to hold this honour. Let us ask Saint Bede’s continued protection and intercession for the Church in England.
For all the variety and diversity within the human race, we all have one thing in common: sin. Every one of us falls short of God’s glory in one way or another—or in lots of ways! Not even the Sacrament of Baptism can erase our tendency to sin. No matter who we are or how hard we try, we will sin today—even if only in small ways—and that sin will cause us some degree of separation from the Lord.
This is why God has left us with the precious—and often unappreciated—gift of repentance. Just think: At any time of the day or night, we can go to the foot of the cross and find that our sin has been forgiven—not because we have done the right amount of penance but because of the unfettered, ever-flowing mercy of God. It should bring tears to our eyes that because of Christ, we can approach the throne of God confident—even in our repentance—that he will hear and embrace us.
Have you ever felt unworthy to come before God in prayer? Or have you ever felt that God might be withholding some blessing because of a sin you committed in the past? Be careful! Don’t let yourself become bound up in guilt or accusation! Instead, close your eyes and imagine Jesus looking at you with great love and tenderness. Hear his voice, almost musical in its compassion, telling you, “My child, I died for that sin. I have forgotten it. It is as if it never existed.”
We don’t have to wait forever to know forgiveness from God. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can touch his mercy right now. There is something very powerful in the act of confessing to another person—especially if that person is an ambassador of the church. In fact, the more we repent, the more we will know God’s healing as well as his forgiveness. Whenever we turn back to God, the angels in heaven rejoice. The floodgates of grace are opened. And we are caught up in the loving arms of our Father once more. O how great is the mercy of God!