Fr. John Eudes, OCSO
8th Friday of Ordinary Time
1 Peter 4:7-13 ; Mark 11:11-26
“The end of all things is at hand.” These words were written about two thousand years ago. Were they actually written by Peter, as an early tradition asserted? There are reasons to doubt it was the apostle himself who wrote this Epistle, though a disciple of his in Rome seems to have composed it. One reason for this view is that while Peter, according to Roman tradition died in 64, there is reference to matters that took place in 70 A. D. Modern exegetes for the most part, have concluded that this reference to the end of all things refers to the end of the current culture and its way of life, not to the destruction of the world. Various periods of history – mostly notably around the year one thousand, but also in our own times– have seen groups of people persuaded the end was near. In our day, since the invention of nuclear bombs that the world we inhabit could become uninhabitable in large areas is a very real fear..
Saint Augustine of Canterbury, whom we commemorate at this mass today, lived, however, in very different times. He died in the year 604 after a varied and eventful life. He began his religious life in Rome, at the same monastery where Pope Gregory the Great had lived as a monk on the Coelian Hill and it was from there that the Pope sent him with 30 monks to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons. After various difficulties on the way there he returned to Rome where he was made a bishop. Once he arrived in England he was able to gain the cooperation of the local King Ethelbert who had a Christian wife. The Pope had great confidence in Augustine and made him the first Archbishop of England, freeing him from the bishops of Gaul whose power and influence was extensive. Interestingly, this independence of the Archbishop of Canterbury is the historical background to the current policy of England’s present government to withdraw from the European Union.
Saint Augustine built the first Cathedral of Canterbury which remains today the most influential See in England. He also founded the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul, later called Saint Augustine. His seven years as Archbishop were filled with struggles due to divisions in the country, for the Irish in the West had a great distrust of the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine’s fidelity, nonetheless, proved a source of fruitfulness after his death. He was buried at the monastery in Canterbury where his tomb is honored to the present day.
The Eucharist we are celebrating as we commemorate this English Saint, provides us with the spiritual assurance and inner strength to advance in the same way that Saint Augustine taught by word and example. May each of us here at this mass and those we pray for always prove faithful to the grace and love we share in this Holy Sacrament.