May 19, 2005
St Dunstan's Day
St Dunstan is an interesting man and "saint". He died in 988 as the Archbishop of Canterbury, having started out as a Monk in Glastonbury. He is the patron saint of Bellringers and is also the man responsible for the reform of the English Monastic disciplines and the pre-Norman reformation of the Church in England.
By all accounts a polite, modest, and somewhat retiring man, he could, when roused, be a very forceful figure indeed. He certainly made an indelible mark on his own age and his memory still echoes down the ages as a man who faced some quite difficult issues in a period of difficult politics, violence, and great uncertainty. He reputedly first came to prominence as a novice when, like St Alphage, he shamed his fellow monks into returning to their vows. Later, as Abbot of Glastonbury, he was the instrument behind several important synods which took decisions that would shape the future of the Church in the West and, indeed, its theology on a number of issues.
He was persuaded to leave his Abbey for Canterbury where he set about installing wider reforms which both encouraged the faithful and reshaped the Church in these islands, perhaps even laying the foundations for the reforms which would, some 600 years later, give rise to the present Church of England. I suspect, too, that he must have wished fervently at times for the peace of his glorious Abbey at Glastonbury and the distance it would have given him from the politics that inevitably surround the Archdiocese of Canterbury.
Then as now, Canterbury demands a strong man, one able in theology and wise in politics to steer the Church of God through the troubled waters of every age. As we remember Dunstan, so, too, we should pray for his successor, Rowan, also a man of the West.
Posted by The Gray Monk at May 19, 2005 11:06 AM