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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645.

William Laud was a humble tailor"s son who proved his competence in the Church of England as a scholar and administrator and in 1633 was elected Archbishop of Canterbury. By then the church was seriously weakened by the controversies of the Reformation. Laud attempted to renew the power of the church and to restore its influence over people"s lives. As an advocate of “Uniformity” and the “Via Media” of the Church of England, he encountered violent opposition from various extremist groups. He made powerful enemies when he opposed the brutal practice of enclosure.

Archbishop Laud was sincere, positive, quite selfless in his devotion to duty, and surprisingly tolerant for his time. He was tragically tactless and undiplomatic and sadly inept at reading public opinion. He was unable to stem the rising tide of Puritan political power in England. The most extreme militants gained control of the government and beheaded Laud on a trumped-up charge of treason. He died with the dignity and confidence of a Christian martyr. Indeed, he is often considered such. All of England was soon to learn how ruthless and tyrannical the militant wing of the Puritan party could be. Today"s prayer is the Prayer for the Church (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 816), written by Laud.

Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

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Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servant William Laud, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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