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Be not conformed to this world, but be you reformed by the renewing of your mind; that you may prove what is that good will of God, well-pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2). This the Apostle wrote to all Christian men, but most chiefly to Priests and Bishops. Priests and Bishops are the light of the world. For he said unto them, you are the light of the world: and he said also, If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness? that is, If Priests and Bishops (who should be as lights) run in the dark way of the world, how dark then shall the secular people be? Wherefore St. Paul said chiefly to Priests and Bishops, Be you not conformed to this world, but be you reformed. In which words, the Apostle doth two things: First he forbids, that we be not conformed to this world, and made carnal: and then he commands, that we be reformed in the spirit of God, and become spiritual.

John Colet (1467–1519) an English cleric, was considered one of the early pioneers of Christian humanism. Along with his friends Thomas More (1478–1535) and Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536), he helped launch the “new learning” that sought to synthesize classic Greek and Latin writings with the great minds of the Catholic Church and ushered in the European Renaissance. The dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Colet recognized the need for reform in the Catholic Church at a time when such concerns were coming quickly to a head, soon to explode throughout Europe as the Protestant Revolt. Perhaps because he remained Catholic throughout his life, Colet’s works are mostly lost — with a few prayers and one sermon, excerpted above.

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