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From The Biographical Writings and Letters of Venerable Bede, translated from the Latin, by J. A. Giles; James Bohn, London, 1845; pp. viii, 115-134.
LIFE OF ST. VEDAST,
BISHOP OF ARRAS.1
HOW THE MAN OF GOD, ST. VEDASTUS, WAS INTRODUCED TO KING HLUTHWIC (CLOVIS THE GREAT).
WHEN Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, had come down from heaven into this world, through the Virgin’s womb, to seek the sheep that were lost, and, having gloriously achieved the work of his providence and of our redemption, had returned back to the seat of his Father’s glory, he left behind him many lights in the persons of evangelic teachers, to dispel the darkness of this world; that as the stars adorn the face of heaven, and all draw their brilliancy from the sun, so also his holy teachers might shine upon this world, deriving their light from the Sun of immortality, and illustrating with the brightness and holy name of Christ, those also who were wandering in the blindness of ignorance, that their hunger which they had felt, even from the beginning of the world, might be satisfied with the feast of eternal life. Of the number of these was the holy priest Vedast, an excellent preacher, in the time of the
king of the
A. D. 485.brave king of the Franks, Clovis, who was led by God’s grace into these parts for the salvation of many, that, by Divine Grace assisting him, he might turn back into the way of salvation, and that true freedom which is in Christ, a people deceived by the snares of the Devil, and the captive that was bound in the chains of sin. But that this might be done at a favourable time, according to the Apostle, who says, — “Behold, 116 now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation!” the Lord Jesus, who wishes for all men to be saved, provided a suitable reason for his servant, that so he might arrive here to preach the word of God. It happened that the above-named king, Clovis, was preparing to make war on the Alemanni, who at that time possessed a kingdom by themselves. He did not, however, find them unprepared, as he expected. For they had collected a strong body of men, and met the king on the banks of the Rhine, with a firm determination to protect their country, or perish in its defence. Both sides fought most valiantly, rushing on death; the one party for glory, the other for their freedom. The king, seeing the enemy fight thus bravely, and his own men almost cut off, began to despair of safety rather than to hope for victory. He had not been born again in Christ, but in this extremity had recourse to his assistance. Queen Clo-
tilda a Chris-
tian. His queen, Clotilda, had been baptized, and was a woman of great piety. He accordingly raised his eyes to heaven, and offered up this prayer: — “O God, of singular power and supreme majesty, whom Clotilda acknowledges and worships, grant to me this day victory over mine enemies. For from this day Thou shalt be my only God, the only power I worship. Clovis de-
a miracle.Grant me victory, and I owe to serve Thee for ever.”
HOW THE KING, AFTER HIS VICTORY, WAS EAGER TO BE BAPTIZED, AND HOW HE TOOK ST. VEDAST TO TEACH HIM AND ADMINISTER TO HIM THE SACRAMENT OF THE FAITH.
OH the wonderful mercy of Almighty God! oh how unspeakable is his goodness! who thus listens to, and
never abandons, those who trust in Him. With what faith ought Christians to invoke his mercy, when a pagan king, by one single petition, obtained so great a victory! What ancient example is there of such Divine love, in that he recompensed the tears of one bitter moment by bestowing so great a triumph on his future servant? Unless it be the example of King Hezekiah, who in his tribulation, by one single prayer, not only saved his city by Divine aid from instant devastation, but also, that same night on which he had poured forth his prayers into the Divine ear, saw victory and freedom secured by the slaughter of one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the enemy. But this victory, which I have mentioned above, brought eternal salvation to the king and his people, and that St. Vedast, that shining light, might not be hidden under a bushel, but be placed upon a candlestick, and shine forth by precept and example in the house of God, to turn away as many as possible from the errors of idolatry and the darkness of ignorance, into the way of truth: when the enemy was subdued and peace re-established, by the addition of the Alemanni to his dominion, the king returned in triumph home; and that he might faithfully keep his promise to the giver of so great glory, he made haste to listen to the holy preaching of Christ’s servants, and to be washed by the holy sacrament of baptism.
the town of
nied by him
to Rheims. He came to the town of Tullum, where he knew that St. Vedast, with praiseworthy piety, served the only God, and enjoyed the sweet fruits of a life of holy meditation. He took this holy man as his companion on a journey which he was making to an illustrious priest and servant of Christ, Saint Remedius, at Rheims, in order that his salutary doctrine might refresh him at the different stages of his journey, and so a firm foundation of Christian faith might be laid, that when prepared by a faith and a knowledge of virtue, he might be washed in the spiritual laver by so great a pontiff, who would thus confirm, by 118 every spiritual gift, the work which St. Vedast, with the grace of God preventing him, had by his evangelic teaching begun. The king is
A. D. 499. Thus the one guided the eager king to the fountain of everlasting life, the other washed him on his arrival in the stream. Both the holy fathers were almost equal in piety: the one by teaching, the other by baptizing, presented the temporal king an acceptable offering to the King of Heaven. These are the two olives; these the two shining lights, by which the aforesaid king was instructed in the way of the Lord, and snatched by God’s mercy from the snares of the Devil, entered the gate of eternal life together with his brave subjects the Franks, and adopted the faith of Christ. The nation was thus made holy, a peculiar people, that in them might be displayed the virtues of him, who called them out of darkness into marvellous light.
HOW THE MAN OF GOD, VEDAST, RESTORED SIGHT TO A BLIND MAN, IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING AND PEOPLE.
THE Holy Gospel informs us that the Lord Jesus, on his way to Jericho, to confirm the hearts of those who were with him in their belief of his majesty, restored sight to a blind man, who called to him: so that by opening the eyes of one that was blind, the hearts of many might be spiritually enlightened. Thus St. Vedast also restored sight, with Christ’s assistance, to a certain blind man; and by this miracle confirmed the faith of the king which by his preaching he had planted in his heart, so that the king himself perceived that the illumination of the mind was as necessary to him as that of the eye to the blind man, and that the same effect which Divine Grace had produced by the prayer of his servant in the darkened eye of the body, was brought
about by the same Divine power through the teaching of his same servant, and by the infusion of spiritual light into his own heart. For the king’s excellency being on a journey with a worthy company of attendants, and a large multitude of people, came to a certain village, called in the language of the natives Wungesipagus, near the town of Reguliaca, which is situated on the flowery banks of the river Axna; and behold, as the king and people were crossing this river, a certain blind man met them, who for a long time had never seen the light of the sun.
to sight. His blindness possibly was for no fault of his, but that the works of God might be manifested in him, and that by the illumination of his eyes the hearts of many might be enlightened by the spirit. This man, hearing from those who were passing that way, that Christ’s servant, St. Vedast, was travelling in the same company, cried out, “Holy Vedast, beloved by God, have mercy upon me, and earnestly entreat the Divine power to assist my forlorn condition. I ask not gold nor silver, but that my eyes may be enlightened by your prayers.” The man of God immediately became sensible of divine power communicated to him, not only for the sake of the blind man, but of all the people who were present. He forthwith began to pray, and trusting in the Divine love, made with his right hand the sign of the cross over the eyes of the blind man, saying, “Lord Jesus, who art the true light, and didst open the eyes of the blind man when he called unto thee, open the eyes of this man also, that this people may understand that thou art the only God who doest miracles in heaven and on earth.” Straightway the blind man received his sight, and went on his road rejoicing. In memory of this miracle a church has since been founded by pious men on the spot, in which faithful worshippers to this day derive benefit from Divine miracles.
HOW KING CLOVIS WAS BAPTIZED IN THE CITY OF RHEIMS, AND THEN COMMENDED THE MAN OF GOD VEDAST TO THE PONTIFF REMEDIUS.
NOW the king, having been fully instructed by the man of God in the doctrines of the Gospel, and confirmed in his faith by this miracle, sped on his way, nothing doubting, and with zeal equalling the rapidity of his travel,
A.D. 499. made haste to see the pious Archbishop Remedius, that, with the Holy Spirit working by his agency, he might be washed in the living fountain of Catholic baptism to the remission of his sins and the hope of everlasting life. With whom having remained a few days, to satisfy the requirements of the church, and according to the apostolic precept to wash himself beforehand in the tears of repentance, as St. Paul, the chief of the Apostles, says, “Be repentant, and let each of you be baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” and that after this he might receive the mystery of baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity. But the holy pontiff knowing how St. Paul says, “Let all your deeds be done in good order, appointed a day on which the king should enter the church, and receive the sacrament of Divine Love. What joy was there among God’s saints, what triumph in the church of God, when they saw that the king of Nineveh, at the preaching of Jonah, had descended from his throne and sat in the ashes of repentance, and humbled the head of his majesty under the pious hand of God’s priest. The king, therefore, was baptized, together with his nobles and people, who, by Divine grace preventing them, rejoiced to receive the sacrament of the holy laver. With both his objects gained, namely, the conquest of his enemies and the fulfilment of his own salvatory vow, he returned to sway the sceptre of his kingdom, and commended 121 St. Vedast to the holy Archbishop Remedius. Here he stayed, and acquired renown by the merits of his life and the example of virtue which he set. He was amiable and respected by all, for the religious dignity of his manners, his singular charity, his delightful brotherly love, the distinguished humility of his piety, his constant watchfulness in prayer, his modesty of language, his chastity of body, his sobriety in fasting, and the kind way in which he comforted the wretched. He never thought of the morrow, but trusting continually in the bounty of God, fed all who came to him with the bread of eternal life. He despised no one in narrow circumstances, but refreshed the sorrowful with the words of pious consolation; he injured no one, not even by a word; but deemed it sufficient to benefit all with brotherly love; wherefore, also, he was much frequented by many illustrious men, that by his most holy discourse they might receive consolation for any sorrows that afflicted them, or hear from him the pure truths of religion according to the practice of the church. Wherefore, also, many were rescued by his devout piety from the snares of the Devil, and with the aid of divine love entered on the road that leads to everlasting life.
OF THE CONVERSATION OF THE MAN OF GOD AT RHEIMS, AND OF THE MIRACLE WHICH HE WROUGHT THERE.
INDEED, many men, as we have said above, both nobles and commoners, came to see the man of God, to be comforted by the grace which abounded on his lips; and because from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and because he loved all with brotherly love, he showed himself affable to all, thinking the salvation of others to be his own gain. Nor did he bury in the
ground of sloth the talent of the Lord’s money, but in the zeal of daily charity sought to increase it, that when his Lord came, he might not appear empty in his sight. Now a certain religious nobleman came among others to see the man of God, that he might be refreshed by him with the honey of heavenly doctrine. Whilst his sweet conversation was protracted to a great length, and the sun, passing beyond the midst of heaven, doubled the increasing shadows, the man of God, not wishing to dismiss his guest without something to strengthen him on his journey, told his boy, if any wine remained, to bring it to his dear friend, that he might return home refreshed in mind and strengthened in body. But from the great number of his visitors, the cask in which the wine was kept was dry, though the holy father’s charity was not: the boy, in a sorrowful accent, whispered this into the holy father’s ear, who blushed for shame, but with heart abounding in charity, and trusting on the Divine concurrence, he uttered a secret prayer to God, doubting nothing that he would be heard, or that he would have his petition granted; relying entirely on the mercy of him who brought a living fountain out of the dry rock for his thirsty people, and who in Cana of Galilee turned the water into most marvellous wine. He said to the boy, “Go, confiding in the goodness of God; and bring us quickly whatever you find in the vessel.”
wine. The boy ran quickly, in obedience to the holy father’s orders, and found the vessel running over with most excellent wine. Giving thanks to God, he drank the health of his companions and of the friend that was come to him, who returned home strengthened by this twofold hospitality. But this holy servant of Christ, that he might not be accused of boasting, or be talked of in public among the people, solemnly enjoined the lad not to speak of this miracle all the days of his life, desiring more to be known of God than of men: knowing of a certainty that humility is the guardian of all the virtues, and ascends 123 to the kingdom of Heaven on the steps of charity, for truth itself has told us that “every one who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
HOW THE HOLY MAN WAS ORDAINED BY SAINT REMEDIUS, AND SENT TO THE CITY OF THE ATREBATES TO PREACH THE WORD OF GOD; AND HOW HE HEALED A BLIND AND LAME MAN AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE CITY.
A. D. 499. WHILST the man of God was thus becoming known by fame, and the abundance of his charity, his religious life and zeal in preaching the word of God, were talked of by all, the holy Archbishop Remedius thought it better to place this shining light of Christ on a candlestick, that it might cast further the brightness of its holiness to the salvation of many, than that it should be concealed and almost buried in the obscurity of one single spot. Under Divine Providence, and with the good advice of his priests, he ordained him bishop, and sent him to the city of Atrebata to preach the word of life, that a people who had long lain in the old errors of evil habits, might, by the aid of God working through the constant zeal of his holy preaching, be led by him to the way of truth, and the recognition of the Son of God. Having undertaken this episcopal dignity and office of preaching, he speedily set out towards the above-named city; but as an omen of his future prosperity and success, God signalized his entrance into the town by a miracle. At the gate of the city he was met by two poor infirm men, one of whom was blind and the other lame, who in a pitiable tone asked alms of the man of God. Christ’s holy priest pitied their misery, and considering what he might bestow upon them, could not but know that an apostolic preacher had no gold or silver to give them; 124 wherefore, trusting in the divine clemency, and strengthened by the example of the Holy Apostles Peter and John, he said: “Silver and gold I have not; but what I have, that is, charity and prayer to God, this I give you forthwith;” at saying which words, the man of God, from the affection of his heart, shed tears at their distress, and offered up the prayer of faith for Divine assistance, either for their corporal benefit, or for the spiritual welfare of those who were present. Such pious and benevolent prayers could not fail of their effect: but, by the power of him who said, through Esaias the prophet, “I heard thee at the favourable time, and in the day of salvation helped thee,” both were restored, according to their prayers, in the presence of the people. The one received light into his eyes, the other rejoiced in recovered nimbleness of foot; and both returned home, giving thanks to Divine Grace, from whom they had received greater mercies than they had expected. This miracle, also, was the means of eternal salvation to many, who, seeing the heavenly virtue which followed the words of the man of God, left the abomination of idolatry, and believing ion Christ, were washed in the living water of holy baptism.
HOW HE EXPLORED EVERY PART OF THE CITY, AND WITH DIFFICULTY FOUND THE VESTIGES OF AN ANCIENT CHURCH AMONG THE RUINS WHICH WERE BECOME DENS FOR WILD BEASTS.
BY this miracle the man of God acquired great credit and support among the people; and he now explored the whole city, to see if there were any vestiges of an ancient church to be found. For he knew that in former times the place had professed the faith of Christ, but for the
sins of its inhabitants, the secret, though righteous judgment of God had given it over for devastation with the other cities of Gaul or Germany, to that perfidious pagan, Attila, king of the Huns, who, out of the exceeding fierceness of his soul, had shown neither honour to God’s priests, nor reverence to his churches; but, like a devouring pestilence, laid waste every thing with fire and sword. Then it was, as in the destruction of Jerusalem by the impious king of Babylon, that the nations came into the inheritance of the Lord, and with polluted hands defiled the temples of Christ, shedding the blood of his servants before the altars of the Most Highest. It was not the bravery of the pagans, but the sins of Christ’s people that did this.
at Arras, in
in Artois. At length Christ’s servant found the ruins of an old church among the fragments of walls, surrounded by briars and thicket; where once were companies of singers, but now were the dens and lurking places of wild beasts, full of their filth and all uncleanness, so that scarcely a vestige of the walls remained. At this sight he groaned from his inmost soul, saying, “O Lord, these things have come upon us, because we have sinned with our fathers, have acted unjustly and done iniquity; but Thou, Lord, be mindful of Thy mercy, spare our offences, and do not forget Thy poor people for ever.” As he uttered these words in tears, a bear suddenly sprang out of the ruinous den, to which the man of God, in anger, gave command that it should retire into the desert, and never again cross the banks of the river. Terrified at this admonition, the animal fled, and never again was seen in those parts. O for the wonderful power of Almighty God, in his holy saints, to whom the fiercest beasts show obedience! O for the wonderful boldness of mankind, who do not fear to despise the words of wholesome instruction delivered by his holy teachers! The irrational beast in a way uses human reason, by showing obedience to the commands of his saints; but man, formed 126 after the likeness of God, and endued with reason, is compared with the foolish beasts, and being made like unto them, understands not his own honour.
HOW AT A BANQUET GIVEN BY CLOTHAIRE, THE MAN OF GOD, BY THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, FOILED THE MACHINATIONS OF THE DEVIL.
WHEN the man of God had found this ruined church, he took upon himself two labours of love; first, by his paternal care to bring to the knowledge of the light the people tainted with the errors of idolatry, and blinded with the darkness of ignorance; and secondly, to restore the church to its former honour. He appointed priests and deacons to assist him in the churches; and where there had lately been nothing but the caves of robbers,
churches. he now built houses of prayer, and he strove to adorn them rather with the praises of the Lord than with secular pomp and riches. But he was bountiful to the poor, and affable to the rich, that either by his gifts or kind words he might lead all into the way of truth. Knowing, therefore, that the proud of this world will with difficulty bend their necks to the humility of Christ’s religion, unless by admonitions of the sweetest love, he fortified himself by the example of the Apostle, and became all things to all men, that he might gain all. He showed honour to the old, and gave paternal admonitions to the young; continually, in his labours of charity, seeking not his own, but that which is God’s; and, in imitation of Christ himself, he despised not the banquets of the powerful; not for luxury’s sake, but under the plea of preaching, that by familiarity and concord, he might the more easily pour the word of God into the hearts of his fellow guests. Wherefore a certain 127 powerful nobleman of the Franks, Hocinus by name, invited Clothaire, Clothaire,
Clovis. son of King Clovis, who at that time was the able king of the Franks, to an entertainment which he had prepared at his own house for the king and his nobles. Saint Vedast was invited to the feast, who, on entering, stretched out his right hand, as was his custom, and marked every thing with the sign of the cross. It happened that there were standing there some vessels full of beer, which, according to a heathen error, had been polluted with diabolical charms. These cracked and fell to pieces by the superior power of the cross of Christ, and the liquor which they contained was poured out upon the ground. The king and his nobles, in turn, asked the bishop what was the meaning of the miracle. Destroys the
the Devil. The holy man answered, “By certain wicked charms practised to deceive the souls of the guests, the power of the Devil was concealed in this liquor: but the virtues of the cross of Christ have expelled it, and in its departure the liquor has been spilled upon the ground, as you see.” For many were set free from the trammels of the Devil’s secret agency, and abandoning foolish auguries and charms, took refuge in the purity of the true religion; seeing that the Divine power worked miracles through his servant, and that the machinations of the old serpent availed nothing against his holiness, and that what he had prepared for the destruction of a few, Christ’s grace had turned to the salvation of many.
OF THE SICKNESS, DEATH, AND BURIAL OF THE HOLY MAN, AND HOW THE HOUSE IN WHICH HE DIED ESCAPED UNTOUCHED BY A FIRE.
THIS holy priest had now, by Divine Grace, ruled the church with great devoutness in preaching the Gospel
and with zealous piety about forty years, and during this time had, by his catholic doctrines, turned a multitude of persons to the purity of the Christian faith. The knowledge of God’s law spread every where; the holy name of Christ was heard in the mouths of all; charity of life was visible in their conduct, love of their heavenly country burnt in the breasts of all; on appointed days the whole people thronged to the church, and celebrated with great joy the proper feast-days of our Saviour; alms were distributed abundantly to the poor, from house to house; the word of God was every where preached daily, and at the canonical hours the clergy sung in the churches hymns of praise. “Blessed,” said they, “are the people who have these things: blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God!” For all lay down to rest in the beauty of peace, all took pleasure in the knowledge of truth, and delighted in the holiness of Christ’s religion. But when this holy preacher and priest, ripe in virtues as in years, was now thought fit to receive from the Lord the reward of his labours, he was taken with a violent fever in the city of Atrebata; the Divine mercy so regulating it that where he had laboured so zealously, he might from thence arrive at eternal felicity, and in the arms of his brethren render up his soul to his Creator. But God, in order to signalize the departure of his servant,
The pillar of
light rests on
his house. caused a pillar of light to shine in the night from the top of the house in which the holy man was lying; and it seemed to remain there two hours, and to reach even up to heaven. When this was told to the man of God, he immediately saw that it portended his own death: and he called to him his sons, that by their prayers his soul might be commended to his Creator. Having bestowed on them the sweet counsel of paternal love, and the last words of charity, he was strengthened by the holy viaticum of Christ’s body and blood, and resigned his soul in the arms of his weeping brethren. O happy day for the holy priest! but most 129 sorrowful for all the people, thus suddenly abandoned by so great a spiritual pastor — abandoned only by his bodily presence, for his intercession in the spirit will never fail them, if they continue to follow his precepts, and the example of his holy life. Funeral ob-
St. Vedast. The clergy and much people assembled together, to perform the last obsequies of the reverend man: there were also other officers of the church, priests and deacons: but, wonderful to say, amid the voice of the earthly singers, as some pious men relate, a song was heard in heaven, and when they approached the bier on which the body was placed, and which was lying with all funeral honours in the midst of them, they found themselves unable to move it. Not knowing what to do, nor which way to turn, they asked the pious arch-priest Scopilio, who had been private secretary to the man of God, whether he remembered to have heard him give any instructions about his burial, being apprehensive that this might have happened because they intended to bury him within the walls of the city. Scopilio answered, that he had often heard him say no one ought to be buried in a town, which should be the abode of the living, not the resting-place of the dead. By his advice, therefore, they determined to bury him without the walls in the oratory which he had himself built; and immediately they lifted the bier with the greatest ease, and carried the holy body with lamps and hymns of praise to the place, where they buried him with great honours near the altar of the oratory. A noble treasure, in truth, was it which they here deposited in the ground! and miracles of Divine power are wrought there even to this day, such as those who have seen can tell better than the pen of the historian. In process of time, the house in which God’s chosen servant died caught fire, and a certain holy woman, called Habita, saw Saint Vedast come and put out the fire. Thus the house escaped destruction, as did also the bed on which the man of God had died, that all men might see how exalted must be his happiness in heaven, inasmuch as even his 130 house and bed were not suffered to be burnt on earth; and by his exceeding merit, with the assistance of Divine Love, Miracles. former miracles are daily related, and new ones performed. Blessed was the city of Atrebata, for such an excellent protector! Its mouldering walls are ennobled by his righteous deeds: all its people should rejoice in his holy intercession, and offer everlasting praise to Almighty God, who gave them so renowned a teacher, by whose preaching they have learnt the way of truth, and by whose prayers, if they continue in the firmness of the faith, and in holiness of life, they will remain safe from all adversity, and will arrive at the glory of eternal happiness through our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns for ever and ever with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, through ages of ages! — Amen!
A HOMILY PREACHED TO THE PEOPLE ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF ST. VEDAST.
The homily. REJOICE, my beloved brethren in the Lord, who have come together at this festival in honour of our holy father and protector, St. Vedast; and be joyful in the spirit, and praise from the bottom of your hearts the clemency of Jesus Christ our Lord, who, by the preaching of this holy priest hath deigned to bring us out of the errors of idolatry to a knowledge of His name: let us, then, with one consent follow the steps of so holy a teacher; let us not be degenerate sons of so great a father, but by noble conduct imitate the sanctity of his life. Let us, therefore, cast from us the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of life, so that we may walk virtuously in the day: because the night of ignorance hath departed and the light of true science hath shone upon us, that we may be sons of light, and walk in all purity and 131 righteousness. The homily. Let no seeds of wickedness or malice be hidden in any of our hearts: for man sees the face, but God examines into the heart, nor can any thing be concealed from the eyes of His Omnipotence. Let us make ready ourselves in all goodness, that Vedast, our illustrious bishop and pious preacher, may rejoice to lead us on the last day before the tribunal of our Great Judge, so that, by the number of his children, his glory may be amplified, and we may earn the privilege of hearing that gracious sentence pronounced, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, enjoy the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the beginning of the world!” He does not cease to help us daily in our earthly conflict by his pious prayers uttered from his heavenly country, desiring that we, his dearest children, begotten in Christ by his fatherly piety, may arrive at the glory of everlasting happiness. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every one of you in order, according to the measure of his strength, bravely resist the promptings of the Devil, that he may become worthy the crown of victory which shall never fade, in company with our pious father. “For the affections of this world,” saith the apostle, “are not worthy to be compared to the future glory, which shall be revealed in us.” The Divine Love, therefore, hath willed that the time of our labour should be brief and the reward of it lasting, and that for tribulation which shall last but for a time, we shall rejoice in the recompense of glory everlasting. Now, we have heard, when the life of God’s beloved priest was read, what devotion he displayed in every excellence, how he chastened his body by rigorous abstinence, and strove to perform offices of charity to all men. Let us go on with all alacrity of mind, and with all our strength of body, following the traces of his holy life, that we may merit to be made partakers of the happiness in which he reigns with Christ. Let no carnal concupiscence or secular ambition impede our course: let us, by deeds of 132 piety, The homily. accelerate our course to the gates of the heavenly country, where the inhabitants of the eternal city are waiting for us, and the King himself, who wishes all men to be safe, is anxiously looking for our salvation with his holy saints. It is our duty to co-operate with Him in the work of our salvation; for He hath loved us to such a degree that he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all. Let us love Him because He first loved us; let us do His will, because His will is our happiness: let us always keep in mind what was said by the Source of all Truth to a certain rich man in the Gospel: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments:” what are the commandments, save to fear God and to love our neighbour? “On these two commands hang all the law and the prophets!” Now, the love of our neighbour is proved in works of compassion. Whosoever hath the riches of this world, let him help the man who hath not. Whosoever possesseth the knowledge of learning, let him correct him who errs, as the Apostle James saith, “Whoso turneth one sinner from the error of his ways, covereth a multitude of his own sins.” It behoveth us to know, dearest brethren, that, in proportion to the number of souls any man has gained to God, so will be the reward which he shall receive from God. What exalted glory do you not imagine St. Vedast must have in the heavenly kingdom with Christ, who gained by his zealous preaching such an innumerable people to Christ on earth! Or, how great glory do you then trust that man’s soul must have among the angels, whose body hath so much honour among mankind! What cannot his pious prayers obtain in heaven, when on earth he performed such great miracles? But the zeal of his Gospel-preaching and the fervour of the love which glowed in his bosom, were greater than any miracles. See how manfully he sought to multiply the talents which he received from the Lord! Therefore shall he hear the Lord pronounce over him that happy 133 judgment, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, The homily. for thou hast been faithful over a few things: I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of the Lord thy God.” Small are the goods of this present life, in comparison of the goods which are to come; but whosoever labours faithfully in the former, shall rest happily in the latter. This holy saint, whom you have come together to honour, laboured for the salvation of many; wherefore on the day of judgment he shall receive the rewards of many. He chastened himself by rigorous abstinence, and benefited others by sedulous preaching; wherefore he is worthy to be praised by all men, according to the saying of Solomon, the wisest of men, “The memory of the just man shall be accompanied with praises, but the name of the wicked rotteth: whilst the life of the just shall be praised, the iniquity of the wicked, like dung, is detested by all men.” What greater happiness can there be than by a good life and conversation to earn from God the glory of eternal happiness, and to be praised by the mouths of all men? Let us consider daily with what assurance we can come before the tribunal of the Chief Judge, what good works we can carry with us; His justice will be no accepter of persons; but will render to every one according to his works: and he who labours the most in the works of the Lord, shall receive the most in the kingdom of God. Let each of us, in whatever vocation he is placed, strive therein to work out his own salvation. The door of the heavenly kingdom is open to all; but the quality of men’s merits will admit one man and reject another. How wretched must it be for a man to be shut from the glory of the saints, and to be consigned with the Devil to eternal flames! The burden of its sins sinks the soul into Tartarus; but the overflowing of God’s justice exalts it to heavenly glory. Let us throng frequently to the church of Christ: let us diligently hear therein the word of God; and what we receive in 134 the ear let us retain in our hearts, The homily. that we may bear the fruit of good works in patience, and with brotherly love may each study to assist the other. We have abundant bright examples of our Heavenly Father in every office of charity, in the fervour of faith, in the long-suffering of hope, and in the persevering in goodness displayed by the holy man, whom we so much honour and so much love. Let us, in all our conversation, follow his holy footsteps with all the energy of our minds; that, walking in the way of his life, we may be thought worthy with him to receive the glory of eternal happiness, through the aid of our everlasting King and Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
1 For a popular rendering of the conversion of Clovis, on this site, see The Baptism of Clovis, by Hilaire Belloc, from Miniatures of French History, New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1926; pp. 26-33.