Today the church remembers Aidan, 651, and Cuthbert, 687, Bishops of Lindisfarne.Aidan provides us with a strong example that actions often speak louder than words and the best kind of Christian evangelism is that which proceeds from godly and charitable living. Trained at Iona, Scotland, Aidan was already revered as a compassionate and learned monk when King Oswald of Northumbria invited him to help with the evangelization of Northern England. Aidan joyfully responded and began the work by founding a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne. This monastery soon became a center for missionary and charitable activities throughout England and Scotland. The monks of Lindisfarne followed the old Celtic rites and practices, but Aidan had traveled widely on the continent and was able to familiarize them with the practices of the Roman Church, thus preparing his people for things to come. Aidan trained a whole generation of Christian leaders for the English church. Included among them were numerous bishops and saints. Perhaps the highest compliment paid to Aidan was that of the Venerable Bede (see May 25) who wrote that Aidan “taught no otherwise than he and his followers lived; for he neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing to the poor whatsoever was given him by the kings or rich men of the world.” May we take delight in doing your work, O Christ. Amen. A man of large stature and unusual physical prowess, Cuthbert seemed destined from his youth for leadership. He, however, was always concerned that his spiritual leadership match his physical endowments. Prior to accepting a call to become Bishop of Lindisfarne, he spent eight years in prayer and meditation on the cold and isolated island of Farne. Cuthbert"s episcopate was brief but highly significant. It was occasioned by plague, war, and schism. He spent much time caring for and healing the sick and preaching against the superstitious use of charms and amulets. In the midst of war, Bishop Cuthbert went fearlessly among his people, ministering to the wounded and inspiring hope in the survivors. He worked toward the reconciliation of those Celtic Christians who were dissatisfied with the liturgical and political changes being effected by the Roman Church in Britain. Cuthbert led many men to salvation in Christ and contributed significantly to the Christianization of the North Country of England. Holy living to Cuthbert meant a life of service. As the historian Bede put it, “He was aflame with the fire of divine charity; and to give counsel and help to the weak he considered equal to an act of prayer—knowing that he who said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" also said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor." ” May the love of Christ so inflame our hearts that we are led to love our neighbors in both word and deed. Amen.
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Everliving God, you called your servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and gave them loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.