Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Feast Of Chad

Chad was the bishop of Lichfield [the one in England without the "t"; not the one in Connecticut where the "t" stands for "touchy"].  Chad is best known for settling a potentially schismatic issue during the period of controversy following the Synod of Whitby in 663.  In Whitby, it had been determined by the British Church that the Celtic tradition would be surrendered in favor of that of the Church of Rome.  This did not rest well with everyone, including a couple of the bishops who had consecrated Chad.  Because they were non-conformists, Chad's installation as the Archbishop of York was held to be irregular and, instead of cracking the greater church in two over the issue, Chad humbly resigned the See of York.  His consolation prize was Lichfield.

And what a consolation it was, at least for those whom he served.  Chad is recognized as the "icon" of the peripatetic bishop: he was in constant motion baptizing, confirming, teaching, preaching and celebrating.  He did so on foot, because he did not wish to spend diocesan funds on a horse [the Archbishop of Canterbury gave him one as a gift, eventually].  Because of this familiarity, he was widely beloved by those of Lichfield whom he served.  This is even more remarkable when one considers that Chad served for only two and one-half years, before succumbing to exhaustion.  [Imagine, a time when bishops visited all their parishes not to have meetings, but to engage in the sacramental rites and abide simply with their flocks through meals and common fellowship.  "You may say I'm a dreamer,..."]

Chad died on this day in 672.  Subsequently, countless chapels and other structures in what was once Mercia [and is now the English Midlands of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire] were named for him.

Almighty God, for the peace of the Church your servant Chad relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to step aside for others, that the cause of Christ may be advanced; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.