Saint of the Day – 27 May – Saint Bede the Venerable (673-735) Confessor, Priest, Monk, Father and Doctor of the Church (Added by Pope Leo XIII in 1899),
Today, … England brings forward her illustrious son, the Venerable Bede. This humble Monk, whose life was spent in the praise of God, sought his Divine Master in nature and in history but above all in Holy Scripture, which he studied with a loving attention and fidelity to Tradition. He, who was ever a disciple of the ancients, takes his place today among his masters, as a Father and Doctor of the Church.
He thus sums up his own life: “I am a Priest of the Monastery of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul. I was born on their land and ever since my seventh year, I have always lived in their house, observing the Rule, singing day by day in their Church and making it my delight to learn, to teach, or to write. Since I was made a Priest, I have written commentaries on the Holy Scripture for myself and my brethren, using the words of our venerated Fathers and following their method of interpretation. And now, good Jesus, I beseech Thee, Thou Who hast given me in Thy mercy, to drink of the sweetness of Thy Word, grant me now, to attain to the Source, the Fount of Wisdom,and to gaze upon Thee forever and ever.” (Bede, Hist. Eccl. cap. ult.)
The holy death of the servant of God was one of the most precious lessons he left to his disciples. His last sickness lasted fifty days and he spent them, like the rest of his life, in singing the Psalms and in teaching. As the Feast of the Ascension drew near, he repeated over and over again, with tears of joy, the Antiphon: O King of Glory, Who hast ascended triumphantly above the heavens, leave us not orphans but send us the Promise of the Father, the Spirit of Truth. He said to his disciples, in the words of St Ambrose: “I have not lived in such a way, as to be ashamed to live with you but I am not afraid to die, for we have a good Master.” Then returning to his translation of the Gospel of St John and a work, which he had begun, on St Isidore’s Day, he would say: “I do not wish my disciples to be hindered after my death, by error, nor to lose the fruit of their studies.”
On the Tuesday before the Ascension ,he grew worse and it was evident that the end was near. He was full of joy and spent the day in dictating and the night in prayers of thanksgiving. The dawn of Wednesday morning found him urging his disciples to hurry on their work. At the hour of Tierce they left him to take part in the procession made on that day (the last of the Rogation days), with the relics of the Saints. One of them, a youth, who stayed with him, said: “Dear Master, there is but one chapter left; hast thou strength for it?” “It is easy,” he answered with a smile, “take thy pen, cut it and write – but make haste.” At the hour of None, he sent for the Priests of the Monastery and gave them little presents, begging them to remember him at the Altar. All wept. But he was full of joy, saying: “It is time for me, if it so please my Creator, to return to Him Who made me out of nothing, when as yet I was not. My sweet Judge has well ordered my life and now, the time of dissolution is at hand. I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ. Yea, my soul longs to see Christ my King in His beauty.”
So did he pass this last day. Then came the touching dialogue with Wibert, the youth mentioned above. Dear master, there is yet one sentence more. Write quickly. After a moment – “ It is finished,” said the youth. “Thou sayest well,” replied the blessed man. “It is finished. Take my head in thy hands and help me face the Oratory, for it is a great joy to me to see myself facing that holy place where I have so often prayed.” When they had laid him on the floor of his cell, he said: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost” and when he had named the Holy Ghost, he yielded up his soul.