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Archive for the ‘Saints’ Category

Today we remember Kevin (“of gentle birth”, late 6th-early 7th century), who was a hermit and monastic founder in the beautiful and remote valley of Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains. He was famous for his austerity and for his love of nature, and is a patron of our diocese.

Almighty God, by whose grace Kevin, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and a shining light in the Church: inflame us with the same spirit of discipline and love, that we may ever walk before you as children of light: through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Father,
by the leadership of your blessed servant Brigid
you strengthened the Church in this land:
As we give you thanks for her life of devoted service,
inspire us with new life and light,
and give us perseverance to serve you all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Brigid (c. 451–525) was born in Faughart near Dundalk, said to be the daughter of a chieftain and his slave-woman. She is said to have heard the preaching of Patrick and to have taken the veil from St Mel of Ardagh. She founded a church at Kildare, a double monastery of men and women, with Bishop Conleth as her associate. She had an outstanding reputation for generosity and compassion; her popularity in the British Isles earned her the title “Mary of the Gael”.

While she seems to have been an historical person, Brigid embodies the attributes of a pagan goddess of the same name. A perpetual fire was kept burning by the nuns at Kildare (assisted miraculaously by the saint herself) until a reforming bishop put a stop to this pagan survival.

She is thus well suited as a focus not only for the ministry of women within the Christian church, but as a spiritual mentor for neo-pagan celtic spirituality.

 

 

St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare

 

 

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Today we commemorate the Conversion of St Paul, who, from being an opponent of Jesus Christ, became one of the foremost missionaries and shapers of the new faith.

Paul was a devout Jew, a learned and scrupulous Pharisee, who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be a false prophet, his followers deluded, and their “Way” a threat to Israel. As a result of a mysterious event on the road to Damascus, Paul became convinced that Jesus had been raised by God from the dead; and that he, Paul, was therefore wrong in his estimation of Jesus and his Church. He was baptised, and began the work of revising his understanding of God in this new light. His letters are among the earliest documents of the New Testament, and he made particular strides in commending the Gospel to the Gentile world.

Whatever his encounter on the Damascus road was, it convinced him that Jesus is risen, and Jesus is Lord, and that he had been wrong. It is a very uncomfortable experience to realise that you have been wrong about something, especially something important, especially something you have been very public about. You know by the sinking feeling in your heart where the truth lies; but it takes a big person to admit openly their mistake, and to re-order their life accordingly. Paul was as tenacious of his own opinion as anyone – if he thought you were wrong, he told you so. But he was also willing to learn and to change. So we give thanks for his conversion, and pray that we too may learn and change until we come to the fullness of truth.

Almighty God, who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul: Grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion may follow him in bearing witness to your truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Book of Common Prayer 2004

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