26th August

Come with Boldness

In union with Christ we have boldness to go into God’s presence with every confidence. 2 Corinthians 3: 12

The month of March, great is the pride of the birds
The wind is bitter blowing over the ploughed field
The crops are short while the days grow longer
Every creature knows its enemy
Every bird knows its mate
Every plant springs out of the earth
‘The bold person succeeds while the reckless person fails’.
Welsh Gnomes

Around me I gather
these forces to save
my soul and my body
from dark powers that assail me;
against false prophesyings
and false gods all around me
against spells
against knowledge unlawful
that injures the body
that injures the spirit.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate

As surely as the seasons unfold
and Spring follows Winter
so sure is your steadfast love,
O God.
As burns
released from winter’s bondage
leap joyously in the sea,
melt our frozen hearts
that we may worship you.
As buds uncurl
and flowers open their faces to the sun
turn us
to the light and warmth
of your presence.
Kate Mcllhagga

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25th August

With God Nothing Is Impossible

In your goodness you fed your people with manna and gave them water to drink. Through forty years in the desert you provided all that they needed. Nehemiah 9: 20, 21

After three days we reached land (probably modern France), and for the next four weeks we travelled through a deserted countryside. We ran out of food and became famished. One day the captain spoke to me, ‘What do you say, Christian? Your God is supposed to be great and all-powerful, why can’t you pray for us? We are starving to death. It’s hard to believe we will ever see another person alive.’

I then said plainly to them all, ‘Turn in faith and with all your hearts to the Lord my God, for whom nothing is impossible. He will send you food on your way until you have all that you can eat, for he has abundance of it everywhere.’ And with God’s help it happened. Suddenly a herd of pigs appeared on the road right before our eyes. The men killed a number of them and spent two nights there until they regained their strength. Their hounds were also fed, and from that day they had plenty of food.
The Confession of Patrick

I arise today
in the might of Heaven
brightness of sun, whiteness of snow
splendour of fire, speed of lightning
swiftness of wind, depth of sea
stability of earth, firmness of rock.
God’s legions to save me
To protect me
from snares of the demons
from evil enticements
from failings of nature
from one man or many
that seek to destroy me
nearby or afar.
St. Patrick’s Breastplate

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24th August

Prayer Changes Things

A voice said to him ‘Elijah, what are you doing here? .. Return to the desert near Damascus, then enter the city… 1 Kings 19: 13, 15

One night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Fast well, for soon you will be back to your own country.’ And in a little while the same voice said to me, ‘See, your ship is ready.’ But it wasn’t close by, it was perhaps two hundred miles away, at a place I had never been to, nor did I know a single person there. But I made up my mind to run away, and so I left the man with whom I had spent the last six years. I went in the strength of the Lord who guided me well, and I feared nothing up to the time I came to that ship.

On the day I arrived, the ship was scheduled to depart, and I told them I had the wherewithal to sail with them. But the ship’s captain was displeased, and his answer was sharp and indignant: ‘You are wasting your time trying to book a passage with us’. When I heard this I left them to return to the little shack where I was staying. On the way I began to pray, and before I had finished praying I heard one of the sailors shouting at me from behind. ‘Come quickly,’ he called out, ‘the men are asking for you’. Immediately I reversed my direction and headed back. ‘We are taking you on faith’, the crew explained. ‘Make friends with us in any way you like.’ But I did not become intimate with them through fear of God; and yet I hoped that an opportunity would open up when I could say to them, ‘Come to faith in Jesus Christ,’ for they were pagans. So I came aboard and we sailed immediately.
The Confession of Patrick

This day I call to me
God’s strength to direct me
God’s power to sustain me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s vision to light me
God’s ear to my hearing
God’s word to my speaking
God’s hand to uphold me
God’s pathway before me
God’s shield to protect me
St. Patrick’s Breastplate

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23rd August

The Fervent Spirit

The Spirit comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. Romans 8: 26, 27

As a beardless adolescent I was captured before I knew what to look for and what to avoid. I was like a stone lying deep in the mud; but he that is mighty came and lifted me up in his mercy, and raised me to the top of the wall. That is why I ought to shout in a loud voice, and return something to the Lord for all his benefits here and in eternity, which the human mind cannot even begin to comprehend.

After coming to Ireland I was put to work tending cattle, sheep and hogs, and many times during that day I would pray. More and more the love of God and the fear of God came to me, so that my faith was strengthened and my spirit was moved. In a single day I would pray as often as a hundred times, and nearly as often at night, when I was staying in the woods and in the mountains. I would rouse myself before daylight to pray, whether in snow, frost, or rain; it made no difference, and I felt no bad effects. Because the Spirit in me was fervent, I knew no sluggishness.
The Confession of Patrick

Christ beside me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ within me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me
Christ in my lying, my sitting, my rising
Christ in heart of all who know me
Christ on tongue of all who meet me
Christ in eye of all who see me
Christ in ear of all who hear me
From St. Patrick’s Breastplate

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22nd August

A Kidnapped Youth Finds God

How can a young man keep his life pure? By obeying your commands.With all my heart I try to serve you. Psalm 119: 9, 10

I, Patrick, am a sinner, the most awkward of country bumpkins, the least of all the faithful, and the most contemptible amongst very many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of a certain Potitus, a priest of the village of Bannavem Taburniae, and there I was captured by slave traders.

At the time I was about sixteen years old, and I did not know the true God. Along with thousands of other people, I was taken in captivity to Ireland. It was no more than we deserved, for we had turned our backs on God and did not keep his laws. Neither did we obey our priests who reminded us of our salvation. So the Lord scattered us among many nations, even to the utmost part of the earth, where my insignificance might be seen by strangers.

In Ireland the Lord opened my eyes to my unbelief, so that I might at last face up to my wickedness and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God. He respected my humbling and had mercy on my youth and ignorance. Even before I knew him, he watched over me. Before I was able to tell good from evil, he protected me and comforted me as a father would his son.

So I cannot keep quiet – nor should I -about the tremendous blessings and the grace that the Lord poured out on me in the land of my captivity.
The Confession of Patrick

I arise today in vast might,
inviting the Trinity
entrusting myself to the Three
honouring the One
meeting in the Creator.
St. Patrick’s Breastplate

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21st August

Temptation

Now Jesus can help those who are tempted because he himself was tempted in all ways as we are. Hebrews 2: 18

If you fall into temptation in the place where you live, do not desert that place when the temptation comes; for if you do, you will find that, wherever you go, the temptation you are running away from will be there ahead of you.
Sayings of the Desert

God’s will would I do
My own will bridle.
God’s due would I give
My own due yield.
God’s path would I follow
My own path refuse.
Christ’s death would I ponder
My own death remember.
Christ’s agony would I meditate
My love to God make warmer.
Christ’s cross would I carry
My own cross forget.
Repentance of sin would I make
Early repentance choose.
The love of Christ would I feel
My own love know.
Carmina Gadelica

O Christ, the Champion of the tests
When the first thought strikes, help me to resist
When the first look overwhelms, help me to resist
When the first fascination takes hold, help me to resist.
If I fall, save me

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20th August

God Can Speak Through An Infant

Out of the mouth of infants you have ordained strength, in order to stop anyone who opposes you. Psalm 8: 2

Sometimes small children blurt out something which communicates God’s heart in a way that an adult cannot. The reason is that children pick up the spirit of a person or a place more quickly than do adults, who have protected themselves with layers of sophistication. It was an infant having a Spirit-led tantrum who caused the boy Cuthbert to think again about his life.

For the first eight years of his life Cuthbert had a mind for nothing except games, pranks, and careering around. He used to boast that he had beaten all those of his own age, as well as many older boys, at wrestling, jumping, running and many other exercises. When the others were tired out he would look around in triumph as though he was ready to start afresh.

One day a great crowd of children were playing together in a field, twisting around in all sorts of contortions. Suddenly a three year old rushed up to Cuthbert and began to scold him in the way an adult would. He told him he should not spend all his time just mucking about, but should exercise control of mind over body. Cuthbert pooh poohed the idea, at which the little boy promptly went into a tantrum. He tearfully told Cuthbert that God wanted him to be a holy priest and leader in the church, so how could he waste his life doing things that were against his nature and his calling?

Cuthbert soothed the child in a friendly way, and did, in fact, go home at once to think about what had been said. From that time people noticed that he behaved in a more mature way, and they concluded that the Spirit who spoke to him through the words of an infant, spoke to him also in the recesses of his heart.

I pray, Lord, for the children whom I know.
Help me to encourage them
to listen to the thoughts and pictures
you put into their minds.
Help me to humbly receive what they tell me,
and to keep at least half an ear cocked
for your voice coming to me through them

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19th August

Simplicity

God made us simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated. Ecclesiastes 7: 29

David gave the Welsh people rules to help them live simply for God. A growing number of Christians make a Rule of Life today. Some do it for the good of their soul, others do it for the good of the poor in other countries who receive unjust payment for what they produce; some do it for the good of nature, to prevent natural resources being squandered.

William Penn the Quaker observed: ‘People must follow the 10 commandments of God or they condemn themselves to the 10,000 commandments of men’. The saying of Jesus in Matthew 5.8 basically means ‘Blessed is the person whose motives are unmixed.’ Consider the effects of being pulled in more than one direction: Stress levels, and the vast increase in National Health requirements; dishonesty, and the vast increase in bureaucracy; family break-down. Even in the church, it can mean committees and meetings to satisfy every conflicting demand. These use up the energy and time that should be directed to one purpose only: being Jesus for others.

We wish to ‘live simply that others may simply live’, to avoid any sense of judging one another; and God will make different demands of each of us. Our common responsibility is to regularly hold before God (and, as appropriate, to share with our Soul Friend) our income, our savings, our possessions, conscious that we are stewards, not possessors of these things, and making them available to him as he requires.

A simple lifestyle means setting everything in the simple beauty of creation. Our belongings, activities and relationships are ordered in a way that liberates the spirit; we cut out those things that overload or clutter the spirit.
From the Way of Life of The Community of Aidan and Hilda

Too long have I worried about so many things.
And yet, my Lord, so few are needed.
May I today live more simply – like the bread.
May I today see more clearly – like the water.
May I today be more selfless – like the Christ.
From Russia

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18th August

Authority

The crowd was amazed at the way Jesus taught. He wasn’t like the teachers of the Law; instead, he taught with authority. Matthew 7: 28, 29

There are two kinds of authority – outer and inner. Outer authority is often decried, but inner authority, though it is so elusive, is widely desired. It was this kind of authority that drew so many people to Jesus, and still does draw them. David had this kind of authority too.

One hundred and eighteen British church leaders, concerned lest the people no longer followed their lead, called a major synod for leaders and members of churches at a place named Brevi. David, who was not interested in church politics, stayed away. So many people came to the synod that they had to pile clothing to create a mound from which the speakers could be seen and heard. But speaker after speaker failed to get the ear of the people, and the leaders panicked, lest the the people returned disillusioned with the organised church. Then Paulinus, under whom David had studied, urged that they bring David to the synod, for he ‘conversed with angels, was a man to be loved’, and had stature. Three times David refused the invitation, until his holy old friend Bishop Dubricius personally went to him. The modest David told him ‘I can’t preach but I will give what little help I can with my prayers’.

As they reached the outskirts of the crowd David heard the wailing of mourners. Dubricius wanted to hurry him on to the platform, but David insisted on going to the bereaved person, a mother whose son lay dead. He comforted the mother, who begged him to restore her son. David spent more time praying over the son, who revived. She instantly dedicated him to serve God under David. David gave this young man the Gospel Book he carried, and he walked with it in front of David to the front. All eyes followed them, word spread fast, and there was a clamour for David to speak. For years afterwards people swore that that mound of clothes grew bigger as David spoke. For he spoke with authority and not as others had done. His heart was to be with the people in all their needs, not to be up front. But the people’s heart went out to him, and through him to God. That is true authority. A church in Wales recently spent time meditating on the ‘mound’. In what areas does God want you to grow authority? True authority makes its mark through prayer and service.

God take from me delusions of grandeur.
Give to me the authority that belongs to me.
May it grow through prayer and service

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17th August

Rapport

Friends always show their love. What are brothers for if not to share trouble? Proverbs 17: 17

I have been to a number of Christian communities where brothers or sisters seem to flow together in mutual love. They have trust in their eyes, and esteem in their hearts for one another, and they help each other in practical ways. That spirit marked David and his brothers, as the stories about Brother Aidan reveal.

Aidan was one of David’s inner circle of three from the beginning whom the biographer describes as ‘being alike of one mind and desire’. Once Aidan was studying one of the monastery’s books, which had no doubt been painstakingly transcribed, out of doors, when David asked him to go on an errand; this involved taking two oxen and a wagon to carry some timber which was some distance away. Aidan was, as always, so keen to carry out errands in a good spirit that he left immediately; leaving his precious book still open. Having harnessed the oxen, loaded the wagon with the timber, and begun his return journey, the wagon and oxen careered over a cliff. Aidan made the sign of the Cross over them, and retrieved them safely from the sea. Further on the journey there was such a downpour that the ditches overflowed, and Aidan then thought of that precious book!

Having unloaded the timber he went back for the book, no doubt thinking of the damage the downpour had done to it He found it, however, in exactly the same condition as it was when he left it. The brothers felt that the humility and faith in the way Aidan carried out the errand had provided a shield for the oxen, and that David’s fatherly faith on behalf of his dear brother had provided a shield for the book.

Aidan’s rapport with David at a deep spiritual level continued when he moved far away to Ireland, where he founded a monastery. One day before Easter Eve he was praying in the monastery, when he ‘knew’ that someone would poison David’s food at their Easter Day supper. He sent one of his monks, who managed, with divine guidance, to cross the sea and reach David in time to tell him.

May the great God be between your two shoulders
To protect you in your going and your coming.
May the Son of Virgin Mary be near your heart
And the perfect Spirit be upon you pouring.
Carmina Gadelica

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