I have just bought a CaFE film resource, Belong and Believe. The blurb reads, “This new filmed course is a timely resource, drawing on the immense wisdom and inspiration from our Celtic spiritual heritage, helping us to find renewed faith and vision together.”
The saint we celebrate today is St. Wilfrid, who lived at a time when there were two strands or traditions of Christianity – Roman and Celtic. When Wilfrid was a young man living in Northumbria, Queen Eanflaed, who had been brought up in Kent, was observing Easter in the Roman fashion. Her husband, King Oswald, followed the Celtic custom, so that half the court was keeping Lent and the other half was celebrating Easter.
Later in 664, there was a Council at Whitby. The spokesman for the Roman party, gave a brilliant defence of Church Unity and emphasises the importance of a universal discipline.
Michael Milton in his book, Restoring the Woven Cord, said, “Wilfrid who was forming diocese and monasteries based on Roman models, was far more competent at arguing his case than the typically humble Celtic leaders. In any respects it was at this council that the spiritual fate of our land was decided.”
Like many other lovers of the Celtic Christianity Milton tends to emphasise, Celtic “good” and Rome “bad”. He wrote, “The Celtic Church lost against the powers of Rome. The community based church committed to poverty could not stand against the hierarchical and centrally organised church that had such effective links with the secular power.”
I like this summary of our saint of the day. “Although a leader of the Roman party, Wilfrid was in many ways a typical Celtic monk : an all-or-nothing man, an inveterate pilgrim, an indefatigable missionary, who was without tact or discretion. But he never spared himself in good causes or in indifferent ones. He was never wholly in the wrong, and he roused as much love as he caused exasperation; but the good he did altogether eclipses his failings and his absurdities.”
God of mercy,
you gave our fathers the light of faith
through the preaching of Saint Wilfrid.
May we who glory in the Christian name
show in our lives the faith we profess.