Thursday, January 29, 2015

Charles, King and Martyr

This King was wont to say, the true glory of princes consisteth in advancing God's glory, in the maintenance of true religion and the Church's good.

You may wonder why this XVII century British monarch happens to be the only saint canonized and remembered in the Church of England.

There is a short explanation to this, in fact, as Bishop Creighton of London in 1895 observed: "Had Charles been willing to abandon the Church and give up episcopacy, he might have saved his throne and his life. But on this point he stood firm; for this he died and, by dying, saved it for the future."

This is pretty impressive, isn't it?

If we can call ourselves to be part of one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church today is due to the martyrdom of King Charles, yes indeed a Martyr and a King.
Under his monarchy England oversaw a phase of restoration for both great cathedrals and small churches, with the commission of works of art (something unheard of since the kingdom of Queen Elizabeth I), he both founded charities and promoted the improvement in the liturgy of Anglicanism and he tried to restore the episcopacy in Scotland, through the adoption of a Scottish prayer book, with the approval of Archbishop William Laud.

His reign was a brief Golden Age for Anglicanism and also for spiritual and devotional writings which we still appreciate today. His was not a mere passion for aesthetics, but a real sacrifice made for his belief in the Apostolic Church and for the continual presence of Christ at the table of the churches of his kindgom.

He maintained his strong belief until his death, his final words were: "I am the martyr of the people. I have a good cause and a gracious God on my side."

I truly believe that as Anglicans we must be thankful for his sacrifice - therefore I truly hope that today your prayers will be devoted to this our great Saint and Martyr. 

This is a collect you can all use for this purpose:

King of kings and Lord of lords,
whose faithful servant Charles
prayed for his persecutors
and died in the living hope of thine eternal kingdom:
grant us, by thy grace, so to follow his example
that we may love and bless our enemies,
through the intercession of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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