Historical setting: 589 C.E. King Guntram’s castle in Châlons
Father Felix is working hand-in-hand with the King’s men to build a monastery here in Châlons.
I’m starting to understand the pieces of power here, so maybe I should congratulate young Felix for elevation to a would-be bishop if the king could only give that advancement.
I mention, “With only a parish priest assigned here by the powers of Rome it was probably no joke at all for Father Columbanus to address you as ‘Bishop’ of Châlons.”
The beardless young face of the priest shows off a bigger grin, “Yes, you’ve noticed.”
“So, Father Felix, I suspect the new monastery will use the Celtic Rule, not the Benedictine.”
I can guess a disturbing power play behind all of this. The simple purity of Father Columbanus settled him into the midst of a political mire which may have seemed, in a way, a wilderness. And those Celtic Christians did find what they were seeking — mountains and forests replete with nature fulfilled by Creator. It is a place for ceaseless prayer and psalms as love letters to Love’s Source as Columbanus considers a ruin to be a gracious place for his community. And maybe he has no idea that boundaries, and in fact kingdoms are being manipulated by his land grant. I think Guntram finds this gentle Celtic father is one more tool to empower him to reach over the heads of the bishops of Austrasia.
Ana spent all this time in the book collection of this king and his late brother. These would be the very same books that Chilperic read that led him to conclude that the Trinity was not biblical and maybe not even ordained by God, but was simply a contrivance of human compromise. The Trinity and the creed itself were born in a theological, philosophical academic puzzle devised to produce humanly discernable proof for a three-headed Christian God that could be fully explained by men of power who had been rooted in paganism rather than monotheistic Judaism.
I told her Guntram probably won’t read all of those volumes and take his holy insights to the bishops as his brother did. That gained Chilperic nothing but the wrath of his own bishop, Gregory of Tours. Here Guntram is maintaining an intentional separation between the holy and the political from the vantage point of earthly control alone. He is always cautious not to tread anywhere near the gates of heaven, as Chilperic had attempted.
And again tonight Ana and I are guests in this royal luxury.
(Continues Tuesday, August 16, 2022)