Blog Post - February 1st
S. Ignatius of Antioch| S. Brigid of Ireland| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Ignatius of Antioch
Born in Syria, Ignatius converted to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome.
Ignatius is well known for the seven letters he wrote on the long journey from Antioch to Rome. Five of these letters are to Churches in Asia Minor; they urge the Christians there to remain faithful to God and to obey their superiors. He warns them against heretical doctrines, providing them with the solid truths of the Christian faith.
The sixth letter was to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was later martyred for the faith. The final letter begs the Christians in Rome not to try to stop his martyrdom. "The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ."
Ignatius bravely met the lions in the Circus Maximus.
Ignatius's great concern was for the unity and order of the Church. Even greater was his willingness to suffer martyrdom rather than deny his Lord Jesus Christ. Not to his own suffering did Ignatius draw attention, but to the love of God which strengthened him. He knew the price of commitment and would not deny Christ, even to save his own life.
"I greet you from Smyrna together with the Churches of God present here with me. They comfort me in every way, both in body and in soul. My chains, which I carry about on me for Jesus Christ, begging that I may happily make my way to God, exhort you: persevere in your concord and in your community prayers" (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Church at Tralles).
Also today, in the Latin Calendar, we commemorate the Feast Day of S. Brigid of Ireland. A story about this Feast Day can be found below:
Saint Brigid of Kildare or Ireland - the Mary of the Gaels
A Short Biography of Ireland’s Second Saint
Saint Brigid (or to be really correct Saint Brigid of Kildare) is a saint of many names:
Brigid of Ireland, Brigit, Bridget, Bridgit, Bríd, Bride, Naomh Bhríde or "Mary of the Gaels."
But who really was this Irish Saint Brigid, venerated in churches up and down the country, and giving her name to many a townland (as in "Kilbride," or literally "Church of Brigid")?
Living from 451 to 525 (according to hagiography and the consensus of the faithful), Brigid was an Irish nun, abbess, founder of several convents, held the rank of bishop and soon generally venerated as a saint. Today, Brigid is considered to be one of Ireland's patron saints, ranking only (and by a small margin) behind Saint Patrick himself in importance. Her feast day, Saint Brigid's Day, is February 1st, also the first day of spring in Ireland. So who was Brigid and well is she so widely celebrated in Ireland today?
Saint Brigid – A Short Biography
Traditionally, Brigid is thought to have been born at Faughart (County Louth). Her father was Dubhthach, a Leinster pagan chieftain, her mother Brocca, a Pictish Christian.
Brigid was named after the goddess Brigid of Dubhthach's religion, a goddess of fire.
In 468, Brigid left behind her half-pagan roots and converted to Christianity, having been a fan of Saint Patrick's preaching for some time. Her father was not pleased when she felt a longing to enter religious life, and tried in vain to keep her at home at first. Stuck in her own family house, she became known for her generosity and charity. She never refused any poor beggar who came knocking at Dubhthach's door, and the household needed a steady supply of milk, flour, and other essentials for her to give away.
Having nothing else to hand, she once even gave her father's jeweled sword to a leper.
Dubhthach finally gave in, and sent Brigid to a convent, maybe simply to avoid bankruptcy.
Receiving the veil from Saint Mel, Brigid embarked on a career as convent founder, starting in Clara (County Offaly). However, she is really known for her activity in Kildare, which became her most important life's work. Around the year 470, she founded Kildare Abbey, a co-ed monastery for both nuns and monks. Kildare comes from cill-dara, meaning "the church of the oak" because Brigid's cell was located under a large oak tree.
As abbess, Brigid held considerable power – in fact, she became a bishop in all but name (as women were not and still are not allowed to become Bishops within the Catholic Church). Nevertheless, the abbesses of Kildare had an administrative authority equal to that of a bishop until 1152.
Dying in or around 525, Saint Brigid was first buried in a tomb before the high altar of Kildare's abbey church. Later her remains are said to have been exhumed and transported to Downpatrick - to rest with the two other patron saints of Ireland: Patrick, and Columba (Columcille).
The Religious Impact of Saint Brigid
In Ireland, Brigid was quickly and still is regarded as the holiest native saint after Patrick – a ranking that secured her the somewhat ambiguous name of "Mary of the Gaels," even though she is not at all associated with a virgin birth. Because of her venerated position in Irish religious life, Brigid remains a popular name in Ireland and there are hundreds of place-names honoring Brigid found all over Ireland. Her popularity as a saint also seems to extend to neighboring Scotland where you can find the ever-popular Kilbride (Church of Brigid), Templebride or Tubberbride, just to give a few examples.
Irish missionaries made Brigid a popular saint for converted pagans all over Europe too – especially in pre-reformation times Brigid of Kildare had many British and continental followers, though the distinction to other saints of the same name is occasionally blurry.
The Sign of Saint Brigid's Cross
According to legend, Brigid made a cross from rushes for a dying man she was trying to convert to Christianity. Though the origins of this story are unknown, even today many households in Ireland have a Saint Brigid's Cross in honor of the saint. The cross may take several forms, but in its most common appearance it bears a (distant) resemblance to a fylfot or even swastika. These crosses are often remade and rehung in homes as part of the celebration of her saint's day and to prepare and protect the house for the arrival of spring.
Apart from religious reasons, keeping a Saint Brigid's Cross in its traditional place is prudent for practical purposes: It is believed that hanging the cross from the ceiling or the roof itself is a sure-fire way to preserve the home from fire. Note that one of Brigid's innovations in Kildare was an eternal fire. And that the pagan goddess she was named after was a fire goddess.
Saint Brigid as a Goddess
Indeed, Brigid she could have been a goddess first, as legend says, she was named after the pagan goddess Brigid, and a lot of her Christian mythology reflects aspects of this goddess (like the obsession with fire). So some folks insist that Brigid was just a sanitized version of the earlier goddess, not an actual living saint. Well, you can make up your own mind about this because the hard evidence is sorely lacking. However, Saint Brigid's popularity is now what lives on in Irish common belief.
There comes a point in life when we might just have to really strip ourselves of our contol over our bodies. We have to completely abandon our hearts and say, "Creator God, be with me now. I feel alone and vulnerable, but I have your companionship."
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Do not turn in on yourself... in the midst of the trials which may afflict you...
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook One: 11-111
The first notebook of Saint Faustina begins her private revelations given from the Heart of Jesus to her. She writes in a beautiful and simple way. Though, as mentioned in the introduction, her actual words are not quoted in these reflections that follow, the messages that she received and articulated are presented.
In truth, her messages are those contained in Sacred Scripture and in the Tradition of our Church. And if you were to read through the lives and teachings of the saints, you would find the same revelations. God has always spoken to us throughout the ages. He speaks the one Message of Truth, and He reveals that Message in love. The revelations to Saint Faustina are one new way that God continues to speak and reveal Himself to us, His sons and daughters.
The reflections based on her first notebook, are intentionally short and focused. They are a way for you, the reader, to slowly and carefully listen to the Heart of God spoken to this great saint. Read these reflections slowly and prayerfully. Ponder them throughout the day and allow the Lord to speak to You the message He wants to give.
Reflection 31: The Unfathomable Nature of God
We cannot come to know God in His essence. He is beyond us and is unfathomable. But we can get to know God by seeing His actions in our lives and in the world. Look at His attributes. Look at His works. Look at what He has done in your life and in the lives of others. He is Omnipotent, All-Knowing, All-Loving and bestows all that is good in superabundance (See Diary #30).
Reflect, today, upon the unfathomable nature and essence of God. Knowing that we can never fully comprehend the perfection of God is the first step in coming to know Him more intimately. Humble yourself, this day, before the great mystery of our God and let His untouchable nature touch you in your heart.
Lord, You and Your ways are beyond me. Yet in the mystery of Your divine presence I come to know You. Help me Lord, as I ponder Your divine essence, to be drawn into a deeper love of You. Jesus, I trust in You.