Thursday, August 25, 2005

Saint Izaak of the Brooks

Belatedly thumbing through some magazines that arrived earlier this year, I came across the following item in the April 2005 issue of Fly Rod & Reel:

Here at FR&R headquarters, we get a lot of off-the-wall e-mails. But by far the strangest in a long time arrived recently and announced an effort to name Izaak Walton, author of the 1653 angling tome The Compleat Angler, as a saint in the Episcopal Church.

We asked the same question you're likely asking yourself: C'mon, a fly-fisher as a saint?

Sure St. Peter and St. James and the rest were all fisherman, but they left angling for a higher calling. Izaak Walton was just an English tailor and biographer who wrote a book about fishing and that's pretty much it, right?

Well, not exactly. Spearheading the effort to "elevate" Walton to sainthood is Reverend Jeremy Lucas of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Athens, [Alabama]. Rev. Lucas informs us that Walton represents a philosophy of pastoral simplicity and grace that is often forgotten in this bustling and busy age.

"[Walton] took up fishing as a contemplative practice that had nothing to do with how much money you could make from it," Lucas says. "I feel Izaak is saying: You can go out and go fishing on a day that is perfectly fine to work and be fine. Relax."

OK, you might be saying to yourself, but will this help me catch more fish? Say, I'm getting skunked, for instance. Can I send a prayer to Walton, who then relays it to the Big Guy and get the fish biting?

Not quite, according to Lucas. Episcopalian saints don't have the same intercessory role that saints in the Catholic Church occupy. Lucas has already submitted his proposal to the committee that approves candidates for sainthood, but a final decision on Walton's elevation won't be handed down until the next Episcopal Convention in 2006. So Lucas has about a year to campaign for his candidate.

He is hopeful that angling-minded Episcopalians will help him get Walton named to the Calendar of Saints. "This is light-hearted, but nonetheless serious," Lucas says. "We're trying to lift up someone who has a good attitude about the world."

Interested Episcopalians can contact Rev. Jeremy Lucas at 256-232-3541 and

The Izaak Walton window in Winchester Cathedral

(Are you paying attention, Mrs. P?)


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