February begins with the birthday and Feast Day of one of the most beloved and renowned of the Celtic Saints, St. Brigid. Her life and ministry of charity is celebrated every Sunday throughout the month.
It is not known with certainty what year she was born, but early writings do tell us that “she was born out of wedlock on a sunny morning, on the 1st day of February.” She died in 535.
Brigid’s life and work brought light out of the darkness of medieval (sixth century) Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. She grew up a milkmaid and cowherd in bondage to the Druids. So many apocryphal fancies have been used to embellish her life story that it is impossible to reconstruct an accurate biography.
What we do know as fact was that she converted to Christianity and founded a religious order in Kildare which was mixed, men and women, after the fashion of the Celtic Church. Like Hilda of Whitby, Brigid served as Abbess (female Abbott) of this order. She was consecrated bishop in order to serve as such. Such consecrations of females were not unheard of among the Celtic Christians of the Isles.
Brigid was renowned for her charity, virtue and piety. She came to be so loved and honored among the Gaelic people that she was called “Mary of the Gael.” Churches were named for her throughout the British Isles before the coming of the Anglo-Saxons and the Roman Catholic missionaries, as they have been down through the centuries to this very day.
A medieval hagiography of Lismore says of her, “She was abstinent, she was innocent, she was prayerful, she was patient, she was glad in God’s commandments, she was firm, she was humble, she was forgiving … she was the Temple of God. Her heart and mind were thrones of rest for the Holy Spirit. She was a blessing to all, and blessed all who came into her presence.”
Celts, yesterday and today, are big on blessings. But just what is a blessing, what does it do? A blessing sanctifies the purpose of that which is blessed; it confers God’s love and protection on the someone or something that is blessed, whether a person, a place, an event or an object.
While serving at former churches, and now with Spiritual Sojourns, our church without walls, one of the Rev Bev’s and my most requested ministries, in addition to bringing the sacraments, was and is to do special blessings.
St. Brigid understood the power of blessings. She composed many of her own. One of hers that is a favorite of Rev Bev and mine is this one:
The deep peace of the silent stars bless you;
The deep peace of the flowing air bless you;
The deep peace of the running wave bless you;
The deep peace of the quiet earth bless you;
May peace fill your soul;
May peace bless you and make you whole. Amen.
So it is that during the month of February in 2021 we will be especially blessed, and it is serendipitously appropriate that it is the celebration of St. Brigid’s life. As her time was a bridge from the darkness of medieval religion to the light of Christianity, this time is a bridge from the darkness of an awful COVID-19 pandemic to the light of its vaccinated diminishment and healing.
Be blessed and bring peace to your soul by embracing and holding fast to the unbreakable weave of the fabric of Celtic Spirituality/Christianity, woven by such as St. Brigid into a tapestry of love for you, as manifested in our creator God and His nearer presence in all things seen and unseen, and in his son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.