27th May St. Augustine of Canterbury

In 1997 on the anniversary of Augustine’s arrival in England, I was a deacon at a large service with Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury in the church of San Gregorio al Caelo in Rome, which had been one of Pope Gregory’s houses and which he had turned into a monastery. The Pope was suffering very severely from Parkinson’s at the time and could barely move his neck, but he managed well and it was a very powerful ecumenical event, from which I pinched two candles they had held. St. Augustine was sent off with great enthusiasm but by the time he was halfway across Gaul he had a serious change of mind. Only a brisk letter from Pope Gregory got him and his small team back on course. When he stepped off the boat in Kent he really did not know what would happen to him. (Many had suffered terrible fates in similar circumstances.) When we wonder what affect the presence of the Holy Spirit might have on our lives, it is surely those moments of incredible bravery, often we do not realise it at the time, that we see that there is something or one present with us, enabling us to take a step we never thought we could. God’s Spirit is always ready to help us carry out his work and do things we thought were impossible for us. Then we get a glimpse of what the Bible meant in those words, ‘Nothing is impossible to God.’

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