Whiggish reticence displayed in the failure of the CofE's Common Worship calendar to appropriately commemorate William Laud, martyred on this day in 1645 (see the TEC provision here). Laud is a mere optional commemoration in Common Worship, with no propers, in stark contrast to the other three martyred Archbishops of Canterbury, Alphege, Becket and Cranmer.
Laud's participation in the dynamics of Charles I's personal rule - not least the Star Chamber - may be invoked against him. This involvement in the affairs of state, however, was little different in nature to Becket's conflict with Henry II over ecclesiastical privileges or Cranmer's incredibly grubby role in Henry VIII's divorces. Alphege's death at the hands of the Danes was a symbol of Anglo-Saxon resistance from one who was a representative of the Anglo-Saxon elite.
It was in the midst - and not in spite - of the compromises occasioned by their involvement in state affairs that Alphege, Becket and Cranmer came to be witnesses to the Crucified and Risen One. It was Alphege's involvement in diplomacy on behalf of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom that led to his imprisonment and death. Mary Tudor's hatred for Cranmer principally arose from his role in Henry VIII's divorce of her mother, Catherine of Aragon. Henry II's increasing impatience with Thomas Becket flowed from the Archbishop's insistence that English secular courts had no jurisdiction over clergy. None of these issues - to put it very mildly - are matters central to the catholic faith. But, the conflicts which ensued allowed Alphege, Becket and Cranmer to be conformed to the Cross in light of the Resurrection.
And this was the same pattern seen in William Laud. His participation in the constitutional conflict that began to engulf England during the 1630s was the arena in which grace worked to conform him to the Cross. In his own memorable words on the scaffold:
I am now come to the end of my race, and here I find the cross, a death of shame, but the shame must be despised, or there is no coming to the right hand of God. Jesus despised the shame for me, and God forbid but I should despise the shame for him ... some of my predecessors have gone this way.
In celebrating the witness of Laud, we are declaring that it is in the midst of failure and compromise that the Crucified and Risen One is to be discerned - not in power and success. We should, therefore, be commemorating William Laud alongside his predecessors Alphege, Thomas Becket and Thomas Cranmer, those Archbishops of Canterbury with whom he shared the way of the Cross.