Saturday, May 31, 2008

St. Bede and Catholic Continuity

One thing that has occurred to me while reading the Ecclesiastical History is that St. Bede is a Catholic. That might seem like a silly observation. In one sense it's a pretty obvious one, given the alternatives (none, for him in the British Isles), and given the fact that the Church has canonized him and named him a Doctor of the Church. But in another sense I think it's useful to point it out anyway.

As I read EH I realize that I am reading the work of a Catholic. It's not primarily a theological or doctrinal work, but when these subjects come up, the perspective taken is a Catholic one, and it's entirely clear that St. Bede thinks and writes as a Catholic throughout. His writing doesn't conflict with St. Augustine; it doesn't conflict with the Councils; it doesn't conflict with Trent; it doesn't conflict with Vatican II. The same tapestry of belief is to be found in St. Bede as elsewhere in the history of the Church.

I guess the point is that St. Bede provides testimonial evidence contradicting the ridiculous claims made by those who like to pretend that the Church's history has been one of degeneration, or of discontinuity. No. Wrong. Growth? Yes. Development in understanding? Certainly. Contradiction? No. The Church teaches the same Gospel today that it taught in the 1500s, that it taught in the 1200s, that it taught in the 700s, and 300s, and from the very beginning.

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