11th June

Four Destroying Fires

Go to the Lord and you will live. If you do not go, he will sweep down like fire on the people. The fire will burn up the people… and no one will be able to put it out. Amos 5: 6

When Fursey (in an out-of-the-body vision) had been taken up to a great height, he was told by the angels who were conducting him to look back at the world. As he looked down, he saw some kind of dark valley immediately beneath him and four fires in the air which were to kindle and consume the world. One of them is falsehood, when we do not fulfil our promise to renounce Satan and all his works as we undertook to do at our baptism. The second is covetousness, when we put the love of riches before the love of heavenly things; the third is discord, when we do not fear to offend our neighbours even in trifling matters; the fourth is injustice, when we think it a small thing to despoil and defraud the weak. Gradually these fires grew together and merged into one vast conflagration. As it approached him, he cried out in fear to the angel, ‘Look, sir, the fire is coming near me.’ But the angel answered, ‘That which you did not kindle will not burn you; for although the conflagration seems great and terrible, it tests each person according to their deserts, and the evil desires of everyone will be burned away in this fire.’

….the angel then went on to give helpful advice as to what should be done for the salvation of those who repented in the hour of death. When Fursey had been restored to his body, he bore for the rest of his life the marks of the burns which he had suffered while a disembodied spirit; they were visible to all on his shoulder and his jaw. It is marvellous to think that what he suffered secretly as a disembodied spirit showed openly upon his flesh.

An aged brother who is still living in our monastery relates that a truthful and pious man told him that he had seen Fursey in East Anglia and that, although it was during a time of severe winter weather and a hard frost, and though Fursey sat wearing only a thin garment, yet as he told his story, he sweated as though it were the middle of summer, either because of the terror or else the joy which his recollections aroused.
Bede

From deceit, greed, strife and dishonesty
good Lord deliver us.

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