Saturday, May 14, 2011
May 13 -- Feast of St. John the Silent
The job of bishop is an to be an intermediary between the secular world full of politics, policy, and management, and the spiritual world. It is a tough balance, and many folks have not handled it well. Some have been too worldly for their own good and the good of the Church. Others, like St. John the Silent, are not canny enough.
John had been bishop of Colonia for about a decade when his brother-in-law became the regional governor. The brother-in-law of course saw this as a perfect alliance between church and state; he immediately set about policy alignment. John rightly saw this as intrusion and interference, but he lacked the political skill set to thwart it. Instead he fled to a monastery under an assumed name and his hid there for four years. Only when he was deemed prepared for ordination was he forced to admit he had already taken holy orders and was living in pretense.
In a surprising (to me, anyway) twist, the Patriarch of Jerusalem allowed him to remain. He took a vow of silence and walled himself up for four more years. Then he became a hermit in the desert, where (according to accounts) he was protected from robbers by lions. Eventually he made his way back to the human world to engage in the orthodoxy debates.
Posted by Tom Major at 6:36 AM