Saint Edward the Confessor

Today we honour the memory of Saint Edward the Confessor: King of England from 1042 until his death in 1066.  King Edward is considered to be a model for Christian monarchs and is the patron saint of kings.  Until 1348 Saint Edward was considered to be the patron of England but during the reign of Edward III he was replaced by Saint George.  Edward provided funds for the first Benedictine abbey of Saint Peter to be built at Westminster and his remains are interred in the present church.  King Edward was canonised in 1161 by Pope Alexander III.

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Wickedness and impiety, suppression of truth, immoral choices: according to St. Paul, these are the kinds of vices and sins that will face God’s wrath.  Although he used these words to describe the world 2000 years ago, Paul could just as easily have been writing about the world today.  He could have been writing about the darkest recesses of many people’s hearts.

Even we are not immune from the wiles of human nature, so how can we change our hearts, let alone convince someone else to turn away from sin and embrace the will of God?  We may even begin to feel that the Gospel message sounds a bit backward when compared with the polished arguments of the world and the sophisticated justifications we make for our own failings.

More and more people are coming to realise that human logic isn’t enough to change ourselves or our world—we need God’s power.  The Gospel tells the world the story of a God who loves us so much he pursues us relentlessly, even to the point of giving up his own Son for our sins.  As St. Paul says, this Gospel message really is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes”.

We may ask ourselves what events have had a spiritual impact on us.  What has caused us to renew our faith or to take another step closer to God?  Maybe we heard a stirring homily.  Maybe we were struck by someone’s deep faith.  Maybe it was a book we read.  Whatever it was, at the heart, it was the relentless call of God that changed us.  People can be persuaded by reason, or they can be swayed by emotional argument; but only the Holy Spirit can bring about deep and lasting transformation in the human heart.

Our duty is to preach the Gospel, and as St. Francis of Assisi famously said, we can even use words if we have to.  We are like the loudspeaker God uses to amplify his call to the people around us.  But in the end, our witness – more than our words – should point people towards God.  He is the one who will penetrate their conscience and transform their lives.

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