31 Jan 2018

Brigid, abbess, co-patron of Ireland

A saint is a follower of Christ whom we look to for inspiration and for support. Often we know little of the details of their daily lives, but that is unimportant. What we do know is that they trusted God. We know their trust was honoured and that they offer us in a story or an event – the inspiration to lead better Christian lives.

Brigid was born in Ireland in a time when it wasn’t easy to be an independent girl. Nevertheless she managed to be clear about her ideas and strong in her actions. She was able to step out of cultural expectations, to know and follow truth, and to make a difference to those around her. Brigid teaches young women that strength is a virtue.

She was known for her generosity. Interesting in our ‘winners only’ world, to consider that one can be both successful and generous – that it’s not a choice. Brigid reminds us that a charitable heart and a clear vision are a good thing in followers of Jesus Christ.

Brigid asked for what she needed, and said no to what was not right for her. She led her people, creating a home and monastery for many; equal to the men around her. Brigid reminds us that God created us all for a definite purpose, and to do some definite good.

Brigid’s story has become encased in myth, speculation and exaggeration. What remains are stories of how God worked in and through her life, images of rushes formed into crosses, of an abbey and a cow and a cloak that grew. Through it all, she disappears and the light of Christ is revealed. Brigid reminds us that what matters is not our biography, but our willingness to risk it all - to lose ourselves in Christ.

One of my favourite times of the year is February 1st, and as I await the turn of the year, two images inspire me. First, I often hum Luka Blooms song as the cold January days reach out in hope of spring:

Out of the cold, dark winter space
We come together, looking for Brigid’s grace
We dip our open hands deep into the well
Where our rivers run to
Who can tell, who can tell?
We warm our hearts and faces
In the heat of the burning flame
Something about our spirit
Never stays the same
Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you
Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you…
Let the light protect you ~ Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you… Let the light direct you ~ Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you… Don’t be afraid ~ Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you…The light that shines within you
© 2008 Luka Bloom (IMRO/MCPS Ireland)
And when the day arrives, I always laugh and think of the lake of beer! I think of Brigid, strong and brave, clear thinking and kind. Brigid, prayerful and powerful, leader and servant. Brigid, pouring out love and hope and healing at the start of the spring. She inspires me to be all I can be and more.

St. Brigid's Lake of Beer
Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS
Saint Brigid's Prayer - A lake of Beer

I'd like to give a lake of beer to God. 
I'd love the Heavenly 
Host to be tippling there 
For all eternity.

I'd love the men of Heaven to live with me, 
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I'd put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.

White cups of love I’d give them, 
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I'd offer
To every man.

I'd make Heaven a cheerful spot, 
Because the happy heart is true.
I'd make the men contented for their own sake
I'd like Jesus to love me too.

I'd like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around,
I'd give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.

I'd sit with the men, the women of God
There by the lake of beer
We'd be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

St Brigid let the light shine from within her and it changed her world

May we be inspired to let the light of Christ too shine forth from our lives this spring.

That kindness and hope might flourish with the daffodils this spring

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