Friday, October 16, 2009

the feast of st. gall

an often overlooked part of the "collateral damage" of the american military adventure in the near east is the price paid by arab christians. american smart bombs recognize them no better than did the european crusaders, and their non-christian neighbors are able to be convinced that since they are christians and america claims to be christian, they must be on the side of the enemy.

the problems caused the church by being involved with the state is nothing new. as st. columbanus and st. gall travelled across europe, being part of the "irish who saved civilization," they constantly found themselves befriended and the betrayed by the various local princes who were in constantly changing alliances with or against the pope or the emperor.

yet st. gall managed to continue the tradition of the irish monks at his monastery until the eighth century. whether this saved civilization or not, it did keep alive a strand of christianity which was often strenuously opposed by a papacy whose primary dogma more and more seemed to be its own power.

some scholars suggest that the areas in europe which were evangelized by the irish missionaries such as columbanus and gall and willibord were more inclined to rebel against the papacy at the time of the reformation because of the suppression they had experienced. if that is so, their revolt went many times far beyond what would have been approved by the irish missionaries. the orthodox faith brought by st. gall to switzerland was often abused in the collateral damage of the reformation.

but, just as the christians in palestine have survived, despite their difficulties, the orthodox faith does as well. and i am very delighted that the far-flung members of christ's holy catholic church are sometimes recognizing each other more clearly than did the crusaders. this new brotherhood of st. herman calendar is devoted to the orthodox saints of pre-scism britain. i'm looking forward to reading what it says about st. gall.