Wulfstan of Worcester (Jan. 19)

Wulfstan of Worcester (960-1023) served as Bishop and Counselor to Anglo Saxon Kings in the late 10th and early 11th centuries at a time when the Christian kingdom initiated by the blood and toil of great rulers like St. Edmund the Matyr and King Alfred had fallen into decline. He was a man of courage who preached boldly. While serving as counselor to King Aethelraed he spoke plainly of the evil done by one of Aethelraed’s nobles in the murder of Aethelraed’s half-brother King Edward, martyr (978). He foresaw the impending conquest by Viking invaders as the judgment of God upon the laziness and unrighteousness of his Anglo Saxon compatriots and preached to that end. Many of his words ring true today:

 “Our own desires have been too often fashioned into law for us.” (143)

“And with this far and wide it has come to the fullness of evil habits, that one is now more ashamed of good deeds than evil deeds, because too often good deeds are derided with scorn and the one who fears God reviled all too much. And all too often those who love righteousness and have in any measure the fear of God are reproached and attacked with contempt.” (145)

Moreover, I think his placement of blame for the downfall may also apply in our day when so many prominent voices in the church seem mor concerned with their own position and reputation and popularity than with truth.

“Through the lawlessness of the nation and through the wicked laziness of God’s officers who kept silent about the truth for too long and mumbled with their jaws where they should have shouted. Through the foul lust of the people and through gluttony and various of their sins they also forfeited their country and lost themselves.” (146)

Wulfstan. “Sermo Lupi ad Anglos.” Anglo Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings. Trans. Robert Boenig. (2000)

His words inspire me to pray in the words of Thomas a Kempis as found in the BCP:

“Our God in whom we trust: Strengthen us not to regard overmuch who is for us or who is against us, but to see to it that we be with you in everything we do.”