2nd April

Seeds That Sprout New Life

Jesus asked his disciples ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?… Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets of pieces did you pick up?’ ‘Twelve’, they replied. ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets of pieces did you pick up?’ They answered, ‘Seven.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’ Mark 8: 19 -21.

Once Ninian sat down for dinner with his brothers and realised that there were no green vegetables on the table. ‘Run down to the garden and pick some of the vegetables that are springing up’, he asked someone. The chief gardener intervened: ‘There won’t be any growth yet, I was still planting seeds this morning.’ ‘In that case’, said Ninian, ‘go in the faith of the Lord to search for vegetables, for God Almighty can accomplish anything’. The gardener quickly made his way to the heart of the garden, and to his surprise found all sorts of vegetables springing up and sprouting. He returned to the brothers and was able to share vegetables with them all.

Ninian was given a gift of faith for a particular occasion. This was possible because he constantly cultivated an attitude of faith. We, too, can cultivate an attitude of faith, by frequently meditating on Scriptures and stories like those for today. As we do this, we will be given promptings that are in fact a gift of faith for a particular need. Look out for such an occasion today.

May the blessing of the five loaves and the two fishes,
which God shared out among the five thousand, be ours.
May the King who did the sharing bless our sharing.
May the food we eat restore our strength,
give new energy to tired limbs, new thoughts to weary minds.
May our drink restore our souls
give new vision to dry spirits,
new warmth to cold hearts.
And once refreshed, may we give new pleasure to you
who gives us all.
Celtic Graces

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1st April

I Rise Up In The Strength Of Christ

You have died with Christ … you have been raised to life in Christ .. you have taken off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. Colossians 2: 20; 3.1, 9, 10

The people say that the sun dances on Easter day in joy for a risen Saviour.
Alexander Carmichael

The glorious gold-bright sun was after rising on the crests of the great hills, and it was changing colour – green, purple, red, blood-red, intense white, and gold-white, like the glory of the God of the elements to the children of men. It was dancing up and down in exultation at the joyous resurrection of the beloved Saviour of victory.
Old Barbara Macphie told this to Alexander Carmichael
Risen Christ we welcome you.
You are the flowering bough of creation;
From you cascades music like a million stars,
Truth to cleanse a myriad souls.
From you flee demons, omens and all ill will; Around you rejoice the angels of light…

I rise up clothed in strength of Christ.
I shall not be imprisoned, I shall not be harmed
I shall not be down-trodden, I shall not be left alone
I shall not be tainted, I shall not be overwhelmed
I go clothed in Christ’s white garments
I go freed to weave Christ’s patterns
I go loved to serve Christ’s weak ones
I go armed to rout out Christ’s foes
A Celtic Eucharist, Community of Aidan and Hilda

Christ of the Easter morning
Hope is one of your best gifts to us
So teach us to give it to others
A Prayer from Brazil.

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31st March

Consistency

The father asked his elder son to work in his vineyard that day. ‘I don’t want to’ he said; however, later he changed his mind and went. The father said the same thing to his second son, who replied ‘Yes, I’ll go’, but he did not in fact go. Which of the two did what his father wanted? Matthew 21: 28 -31

After Cuthbert reluctantly agreed to become a bishop ‘he continued with the utmost constancy to be what he had been before. He showed the same humility of heart, the same poverty of dress, and, being full of authority and grace, he maintained the dignity of a bishop without abandoning the ideal of a monk or the virtue of the hermit…

His discourse was pure and frank, full of gravity and probity, full of sweetness and grace, dealing with the ministry of the law, the teaching of the faith, the virtue of temperance, and the practice of righteousness … He followed the example of the saints, fulfilling the duty of peace among the brothers; he held fast to humility also and the excellent gift of love without which every other virtue is worth nothing. He cared for the poor, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, took in strangers, redeemed captives, and protected widows and orphans.
The Life of Cuthbert by an anonymous monk of Lindisfarne

The silent power of a consistent life
Florence Nightingale

Long obedience in the same direction.
Frederick Nietzsche

I make Christ’s Cross over my face
Each day and each night
That I place myself under his keeping
I shall not be overwhelmed
I shall not be destroyed
I shall not be imprisoned
I shall not be cast down.
Black thoughts shall not lie on me
Confusion shall not lie on me
No ill-will of enemy shall lie on me.

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30th March

Integrity

We have given up underhanded ways; we refuse to manipulate or to misconstrue God’s word, but by the open statement of truth we commend ourselves to every person’s conscience. 2 Corinthians 4: 2

When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire Christians fell into the temptation to adopt double standards. Aidan’s example, however, was different from the model of Christianity that was being expressed in the church elsewhere. Integrity was a hallmark of Aidan and the Celtic saints.

The highest recommendation of (Aidan’s) teaching to all was that he and his followers lived as they taught…

Such was Aidan’s industry in carrying out and teaching the divine commandment, his diligence in study and keeping vigil, his authority, such as became a priest, in reproving the proud and the mighty … To put it briefly, so far as one can learn from those who knew him, he made it his business to omit none of the commands of the evangelists, the apostles, and the prophets, but he set himself to carry them out in his deeds, so far as he was able. All these things I greatly admire and love in this bishop and I have no doubt that all this was pleasing to God.
Bede

I would be true, for there are those who trust me.
I would be pure, for there are those who care
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
Howard Arnold Walter

Sift me, O Lord.
Bring all that is false in me into the light
And take it away.
Give me strength to be true
In all I say and think and do.

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29th March

Growing In Goodness

We all reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord, and are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. 2 Corinthians 3: 18

Whenever I give moral instruction, I first try to demonstrate the inherent power and quality of human nature. I try to show the wonderful virtues which all human beings can acquire. Most people look at the virtues in others, and imagine that such virtues are far beyond their reach. Yet God has implanted in every person the capacity to attain the very highest level of virtue.

But people cannot grow in virtue on their own. We each need companions to guide and direct us on the way of righteousness; without such companions we are liable to stray from the firm path, and then sink into the mud of despair. At first a companion who has achieved a high level of virtue can seem utterly different from oneself. But as friendship grows, one begins to see in the companion a mirror of oneself. The reason is that, in moral capacities, God has created us all the same: we are each capable of achieving the same degree of moral goodness. Once people perceive this truth, they are filled with hope, knowing that in the fullness of time they can share the moral virtue of Christ himself.
Pelagius in a letter to Demetrius.

The best thing we can do is to prepare for the five encounters we shall all have: an encounter with disappointments, an encounter with death, an encounter with God’s people, an encounter with devils, an encounter with resurrection on Judgement Day.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

God, I am bathing my face in the sun
In the nine rays of the sun
As Mary bathed her Son
In generous milk fermented
Love be in my countenance
Benevolence in my mind
Dew of honey in my tongue
My breath as the incense
Carmina Gadelica

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28th March

Humans And Creation

Because of what you have done the earth shall be cursed. Genesis 3: 17

The person who tramples the world tramples themself.
Columbanus

The high, the low
All of creation
God gives to humankind to use.
If this privilege is misused
God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity.
Hildegaard of Bingen

I am Eve, great Adam’s wife
It is I that outraged Jesus of old.
It is I that stole heaven from my children
By rights it is that should have gone upon the Tree,
It is I that plucked the apple.
It overcame the control of my greed
For that, women will not cease from folly
as long as they live in the light of day.
There would be no ice in any place
There would be no glistening windy winter
There would be no hell, there would be no sorrow
There would be no fear
Were it not for me.
Early Irish lyrics

Since the beginning of time our task has been to harmonise the spiritual and material realms. We were intended to be mediators between God and creation, but have been disobedient. In our failure, God, in human form, fulfils this task by uniting to himself his creation in the closest possible way, taking the form of that which he created.
Tim Cooper, Green Christianity

There is enough in the world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.
Mahatma Gandhi

O one God, O true God, O chief God,
O God of one substance, O God only mighty in three Persons
truly pitiful, forgive.
Attributed to St. Ciaran

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27th March

Persevere

I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, I have kept the Faith. And now the prize of victory is waiting for me. 2 Timothy 4: 7, 8

Why were the saints saints? Because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful, patient when it was difficult to be patient; and because they pushed on when they wanted to stand still, and kept silent when they wanted to talk, and were agreeable when they wanted to be disagreeable. That was all. It was quite simple and always will be.
Anon

Wales’ saint David is a fine example of somebody who persevered in and out of season. The wife of the local chief tried to get rid of his monastery, then to corrupt his monks, who pressed David to move it elsewhere even though God had clearly led them to that site. As we have seen, David stood firm, and in the end, due to this promiscuous woman over-reaching herself, she herself had to flee. David’s biographer observed that his purpose ‘was neither dissolved nor softened by prosperity, nor terrified when weakened by adversity’.

The four securities of the children of Life: the wearing away of the passions, fear of the pains, love of the sufferings, belief in the rewards. If the passions were not worn away, they would not be left behind. If the pains were not feared, they would not be guarded against. If the sufferings were not loved, they would not be endured. If the rewards were not believed in, they would not be attained.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

Never give up. Never never give up. Never, never, never give up.
The entire speech Winston Churchill gave at a school prize-giving.

O God
when we your servants are called upon
to undertake any task
whether it be small or great
help us to know that
it is not the beginning of the task
but the continuing of it to the end
which yields the true glory.
Inspired by words of Sir Francis Drake

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26th March

The Apple Of God’s Eye

The Lord said to his people ‘I scattered you in all directions … But now anyone who strikes you strikes the apple of my eye’. Zechariah 2: 6, 8

I did not go to Ireland of my own accord; not, that is, until I had nearly perished. This was for my good, for in this way the Lord purged me, and made me fit to be what I am now, but which once I was far from being – someone who cares and labours for the salvation of others. In those days I did not care for anyone, not even for myself.

On the occasion when several of my seniors rejected me God spoke to me personally. He did not say ‘you have seen’ but ‘we have seen’, as if he included himself. It was as if God was saying ‘Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye’.

Therefore I thank God who has strengthened me in everything … After this experience I felt not a little strength, and my trust was proved right before God and people.

And so I say boldly, my conscience does not blame me now or in the future: God is my witness that I have not lied in the account I have given you.

Enough of this. I must not, however, hide the gift God gave me in the land of my captivity, because there I earnestly sought him, and there I found him, and he saved me from all evil because – so I believe – of his Spirit who lives in me.
Patrick of Ireland

Father, you affirmed your Son at his baptism
before he entered a time of testing.
Father, you affirmed your servant Patrick
in the midst of his time of trial.
Father, affirm me in my time of need.
May I rest in the assurance
that I am the apple of your eye.

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25th March

The True Cross

God forbid that I should glory in anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galations 6: 14

The phrase ‘the true Cross’ has passed into the English language. What does this mean, and what should it mean for us today?

The Emperor Diocletian divided the government of the expanding Roman Empire between himself and Constantius, the Governor of Britain, who had a Christian wife named Helena. But owing to unforeseen circumstances, their son Constantine became Emperor of both east and west. Before a major battle against the last of his rivals Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky, with the words “In this sign conquer” above it. Ever afterwards, Constantine encouraged the church as an ally of a united Empire and the Cross became a popular symbol, though it is doubtful whether Constantine knew what the Cross meant in his own experience.

His mother Helena, however, became ever more devoted to Christ. Christians had as yet no written Gospels and they no longer had the test of persecution as a focus for their devotion. Helena went on journeys to the Holy Land to find, as a focus for devotion, a fragment of the Cross on which Christ had been crucified. The fragment she believed she found did indeed excite the devotion of many.

The story of Helena and her discovery of the True Cross became the subject of an epic medieval English poem. Some have attributed this to Cynewulf, the eighth century Bishop of Lindisfarne. But Celtic Christians realised that the ‘true’ Cross does not consist in the externals, but in the the experience of total self-giving and sacrifice: that is what Christians have to prize and adopt as their own way. Millions are confused about this. Muslims, for example, think that the Cross stands for the sword, which Christians used in the Crusades in order to re-capture the site of ‘the True Cross’.

The Celts loved another poem about the Cross, The Dream of the Rood. In this poem (which some also attribute to Cynewulf) the poet imagines that the cross-beam on which Christ was nailed (the Rood) could express its feelings. When the Rood has finished speaking the poet dreamer concludes: ‘This is my heart’s desire, all my hope waits on the Cross’. That is ‘the true Cross’.

Lord, make this my heart’s desire also.

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24th March

Be Content

Contentment with godliness is great gain. 1 Timothy 6: 6

So I must accept with equanimity whatever befalls me, whether it be good or bad, and always give thanks to God, who taught me to trust in him always without hesitation. God must have heard my prayer… Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, or whatever it may be; but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere. As the prophet says: ‘Cast your cares upon the Lord, and the Lord will care for you’.

And if I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg him that I may shed blood with those exiles and captives for his name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be torn to pieces. I am convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be conformed to his image; for of him, and by him, and in him we shall reign……..
Patrick of Ireland

To live content with small means
To seek elegance rather than luxury
And refinement rather than fashion
To be worthy, not respectable
And wealthy, not rich
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly
To listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart
To bear all cheerfully
Do all bravely
Await occasions, hurry never
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious
Grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.
William Ellery Channing

Grant me, Lord, the serenity of knowing that I do your will
and contentment with my lot.
Grant me the courage to change what I can change,
the grace to accept what I cannot change
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Adapted from Reinhold Niebuhr

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