When I have been to Catholic churches, from my local parish, to on pilgrimage, to on holiday, I love seeing the variants in statues, styles and congregations. Even in our own land (Wales!) we can see in our own congregations the Welsh, English, Irish mixing freely with the Poles, Spaniards, French and even the Asians and Africans.
Like the nations, we as peoples are nurtured and our own cultures grow in the bosom of the Church.
|St Guthlac receiving the tonsure|
So it is I enjoy stumbling upon stories, pictorial or written, and histories of Our Faith and especially of Saints I've never heard of before.
Just the other day I picked up an old school text-book entitled 'The Medieval World' from a charity shop and in that there's a picture of St Guthlac receiving the tonsure (as pictured here).
So I couldn't help but look up St Guthlac and discover something more of who he was and what he did.
I think St Guthlac is the kind of Saint that can set a good example for Catholics today. The England of his own day (freshly taken from the British/Welsh [boo], still fractured and yet to be unified) would have still been a heavily pagan land, and he himself must surely have killed in his role as a Saxon soldier prior to his becoming a monk and undergoing years of penance for his sins.
How unlike the political class today who send men off to die in highly dubious wars, often in the name of Christianity (or at least dressed in its terms), but far from doing penance for killing innocents, they sell books, get on the lecture trail and more to try to justify their unjust wars and rake in the millions.
St Guthlac had blood on his own hands, understood that he would pay for his sins in this world or in purgatory and so did penance.
Sadly, I cannot help but think our own times are more pagan than the Anglo-Saxon lands of the 7th Century.