A Framework for Faith/Spiritual Practices
What I have to deplore with mournful compaint is a general loss of good, a heaping up of bad.
- Gildas, The Ruin of Britain (British, 6th century)
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."
- Matthew 5.13
Gildas was writing about the state of the church and its impact in Britain at the turn of the 6th century. To be brief, things were bad.
Gildas looked everywhere for evidence of the salt and light of Christian witness. He did not find it in any of the kingdoms of Britain, and he did not find it in the churches.
The pastors of his day were feckless, lazy, self-indulgent, and content to leave well enough alone. Consequently, politics was the deciding factor in most people's lives, and this meant the rich and powerful fought with one another at the expense of the poor and dependent, with pastors and bishops trying hard to line up on the right side of each squabble.
Gildas decried "the ruin" of his beloved country. He could not see what was happening in Ireland, where, even as he wrote, a mighty revival was taking root and preparing to launch into Scotland and Europe.
What was the difference? Why did Ireland become ablaze for God and the Kingdom while Britain continued to languish in complacency?
The difference was in the people. The same pastors and bishops who tried to keep Patrick from going to Ireland, reviled him while he was there, and sought to recall and try him during his latter years, continued to guard their ecclesiastical fiefdoms and their privileged places as though this were what it meant to seek the Kingdom of God.
Meanwhile, Patrick and his spiritual descendants, ablaze with a vision of Christ and His Kingdom, denied all worldly comforts, put on the whole armor of God, took up a life of rigor and discipline, fought mightily against every lust of the flesh, evangelized fiercely, instructed constantly, and sent their brightest and best to martyrdom in uncertain lands, all for the cause of Christ.
As our own country continues to lose what is good and heap up what is bad, where will we take our stand? With the ruiners of our country and its churches, or with the revivers of same?
Where will you stand today?
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