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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

 

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.

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Celebrating St. David Day with a Scene from his Life

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ March 1, 2023

 

David, Patron Saint of Wales, was a 6th century bishop who established 12 monasteries throughout his native land and was vigorous in combating heresy. In this excerpt from An Unholy Communion, book 3 in my Monastery Murders series, David preaches a momentous sermon which resulted in miraculous signs.

The Dawn of Promise

            Light gathered in the clouds over his head as David, standing near the bank of the River Brefi, its waters running blue and swift, surveyed the vast crowd covering the field before him.  The popularity of the message being preached by the British monk Pelagius in Rome was much talked of even here in their rugged land beyond the shielding mountains. Many Church officials in Rome and throughout what little was left of the empire had been persuaded of Pelagius’s enticing doctrine that there was no such thing as original sin. Humankind was basically good and could overcome evil and make itself fit for heaven by its own efforts. There was no need for the atoning sacrifice of Christ, only for strength of will and energy of activity.

            David shook his head. His mane of gold-shot brown hair behind the half moon tonsure that left the front of his head clean-shaven tossed in the breeze.  The white dove that had followed him since his childhood hovered near his shoulder. That so many had assembled for the debate proved the correctness of Archbishop Dubricius’s decision to call this synod.  And David feared it would be a debate, not an automatic acclamation of acceptance for the historic faith delivered by the apostles.  Even priests and monks from some of the houses he himself had founded had fallen under the spell of this heretical teaching. David closed his eyes and raised a fervent prayer that Archbishop Dubricius would be able to persuade them to stand strong for the orthodox faith.

            David opened his eyes and started when he saw Dubricius himself standing before him. “My lord Archbishop, I pray for your strength and wisdom.  This heresy must be uprooted before it spreads like a virulent weed throughout our land. Already its poisonous tentacles are gripping much of the church.”

            Dubricius nodded his head in a kind of bow. “And I pray for your wisdom. And success in persuading your hearers.”

            It was a moment before the significance of Dubricius’s words struck him. “My lord, you would have me address the synod?”

            “I know of no one else so well qualified in the skills of debate and proclamation.  Ever you have stood strong for the historic ways. May your strength not fail you today.”

            David looked at the throng of churchmen gathered across the field.  An image of our Lord teaching and then feeding the ten thousand came to him.  He could not refuse to do the archbishop’s bidding. But he felt so inadequate. So unprepared. And the stakes were so high.  The very gospel itself was at risk. The truth must be preserved for future generations.

            “My Lord Archbishop,” he bowed his head.  “I humbly accept.  Permit me a few moments’ preparation.”

            Dubricius raised his arms to call the congregation to order and began a chant that was half prayer, half hymn:  “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”

            And across the field the antiphonal response came:  “Let thy loving kindness and thy truth continually preserve me.”

            Minutes later, David’s fears were calmed. He knew what he would say. David walked to the head of the assemblage: “Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.”

            David raised his arms, aware of the dove fluttering just at his right shoulder. “My brothers, it is the keeping of the truth, the historic faith of the prophets, the apostles and the fathers I declare to you.  The precious faith of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This we must not sacrifice for any easy doctrine, no matter how honeyed the words.”

            David was aware that those standing near him, even those he knew disagreed with his position, were listening intently.  But he could sense a restlessness at the back of the throng.  And little wonder, they could neither hear nor see him.  How could they be persuaded of so sensitive an issue?

            He looked around.  The riverbank offered a slight elevation.  He took a few steps backward to gain perhaps a foot or two of height, but not enough for even his powerful voice to reach to the back. 

            All he could do was carry on.  And pray.  He raised his voice, “Always the new ways glitter.  The easy ways entice. How pleasant to believe that we carry no stain. . .”  His words continued, the arguments flowing easily, but David was less aware of his own words than of the look of amazement on the faces of his hearers.  He could feel the air vibrate with the intensity of their attention.

            And then he realized he could see their faces.  Even those as far back as the monastery wall he could see them.  And they him. 

            He looked down and saw that where all had been a level field, he was now standing on a raised hill the height of a man’s head.  And the dove no longer fluttered, but sat on his shoulder.

            David’s heart rejoiced.  His plea had been heard.  His voice increased in vigor as his appeal reached to the furthest corners: If no sin, there was no need of God’s grace. If man could save himself by his own righteous acts, what use then Christ’s saving act through his great loving sacrifice?         

            It was the hard way they must take.  As our Lord had taken.  The hard, but true way. The way delivered unto the saints.  The way opened for all by our Lord’s sacrifice. 

            He didn’t know how long he spoke.  Afterward he could not recount the arguments he had made.  But when he was finished he descended the hill, not knowing that his face was shining.

Read the complete story in An Unholy Communion3 The Monastery Murders

           

 

Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

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