Fr. George W. Rutler: Comfort My People

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By Fr. George W. Rutler, Crisis Magazine, February 7, 2019

The name of the step-brother of William the Conqueror was a palindrome, and the ladies who made the Bayeux Tapestry must have enjoyed embroidering it and the caption under the scene of Odo at the Battle of Hastings. A year after the Norman Conquest, he became Duke of Kent, assuming vast lands and power, but William had already seen to it that he became a bishop about the age of nineteen. He was serious about his episcopal office, even at Hastings where a servant carried his crozier into the fray. Careful of the canonical prohibition against clerics wielding a sword, he used a heavy club, and with it he threatened his own troops who were reluctant to run headlong into a hail of crossbow arrows. The inscription on the tapestry, which he probably intended for his own cathedral, reads in abbreviated Latin: “Hic Odo Eps [Episcopus] Baculu[m] Tenens Confortat Pueros” which is to say, “Here, Bishop Odo, holding his club, comforts his boys.” In our vernacular, that is not the sort of comfort one wants, but the word originally and essentially means to strengthen. Derived from it are words like fortress and fortitude, the latter being one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is the other Comforter that Christ promised, in order to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (John 14:16; Ephesians 6:11)…..Read entire article…