The Spirit led Jesus to go into the desert, where he stayed for forty days, being tested by Satan. Mark 1:12
Even the busiest Celtic Christians made time to get away for prayer vigils, especially during the weeks before Easter. Samson used to keep Lent by taking just three small loaves and withdrawing to a remote spot for the forty days. Sometimes Samson would eat nothing for six days, but refresh himself with food on Sundays, the day that celebrates Jesus’s resurrection. Sometimes he would stand throughout the night in prayer, with his staff which had dropped from his hands.
What do ordinary mortals do on a vigil? Some of us may emulate these aspirations of an unknown Celtic hermit:
A remote, hidden little cabin for forgiveness of my sins
A conscience upright and spotless before Heaven.
Making good the body with good habits
Treading it boldly down
Feeble tearful eyes for forgiveness of my passions.
Eager wailings to cloudy Heaven
Sincere and truly devout confession
Fervent showers of tears …
Dry bread weighed out, well we bow the head
Water of the fair coloured hillside
That is the draught I would drink.
Stepping along the paths of the Gospel
Singing psalms every hour
An end of talking and long stories
Constant bending of the knee.
Sorry Lord –
For the shabbiness of my living
For the shoddiness of my working
For the shallowness of my praying
For the selfishness of my giving
For the fickleness of my feeling
For the faithlessness of my speaking
For the dullness of my hearing
For the grudgingness of my sharing
For the slothfulness of my thinking
For the slowness of my serving
For the coldness of my loving