16th July

Barrels Full

Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands – all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you. Luke 6:38

Dubtach, despairing of Brigid’s generosity with his goods, arranged a marriage of his beautiful daughter to a member of a noble family. Brigid refused; Dubtach allowed her to become a nun and gave her a dowry. When Brigid took the veil an old bishop was so awe-struck by the holy fire he saw above her, that he unintentionally read the words of the consecration of a bishop over her. He told a colleague who objected: ‘I have no power in this matter; this dignity has been given by God to Brigid.’

Brigid resolved to establish a community where women could work and pray together. The king in Kildare refused her request for a grant of land, but relented when she said she would accept a plot of land as small as the size of her cloak. Once Brigid had a foothold, however, the area of land never seemed to stop growing. The church was built in a place that had been set aside for pagan worship, where a sacred flame was always kept alight. So the nuns, too, kept a fire of resurrection burning outside the church, night and day, and this was not extinguished for a thousand years.

Brigid needed priests to perform the sacraments, so she chose Bishop Conleath to govern with her, but there was no doubt who was in charge! Through Conleath there came monks and many skilled craftsmen, and a double monastery of men and women was established under Brigid’s leadership. Sick people came to the monastery and were healed, lepers were given barrels full of apples, bishops, kings, and saints, such as Finnian, came for advice.

God wants to prosper our work, too; but our attitude is all important. It must be done God’s way. In the following prayer, let the lumps stand for something that you contribute to the world through your work.

Come, you rich lumps, come!
Come, you rich lumps, come!
Come, you rich lumps, masses large,
Come, you rich lumps, come!
Carmina Gadelica