The Anglo-Saxon saints, along with the rest of the early Church, had a completely different view of Christian suffering to us. For them, pain and illness, although not to be sought, was participation in the suffering of Christ on the cross, and thus an involvement in the redemption of the world. A quick or sudden death, therefore, cheated them out of this privilege, meaning that they were somehow found to be unworthy of sharing in Christ’s work. The granting of Eadberht’s wish, to die through a ‘long and wearing illness’, gave him the right to be buried close to Cuthbert’s uncorrupted body, as he, too, had been found worthy of sharing in Christ’s redeeming work.
Morning Prayer with St Cuthbert – Day 43
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