Saturday, November 11, 2006

11 November -- St Martin

In one of God's own co-incidences, Veteran's Day in this country is also the feast of the ex-soldier, St Martin of Tours. His life can be found many places on the web but one tends to rely on the good old Catholic Encyclopædia which recounts his vita here.

These days the feast of St Martin brings to mind something other than soldiering. He spent most of his life as priest, bishop, and abbot. In one of his letters (used for the second reading in the Pauline Rite's Office of Readings), Sulpicius Severus recounts his death and the sorrow of his flock at losing their pastor. I cannot help thinking of the retirement of our old pastor, Fr Daniel Johnson, from St Mary's by the Sea. The sentiments of his parishioners, his people, are the same:

He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying. All who heard this were overcome with grief. In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone? Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down? We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed. You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us”.

Although not dying, Father no longer had the health or strength to remain as pastor any more than St Martin. I don't know whether the "wolves" ravaged Tours after St Martin's death but they have certainly done their work at St Mary's.


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