19th September


Jesus said: I came to bring fire to the earth. Luke 12: 49

From the age of eight until he entered a monastery Cuthbert was brought up by a Christian nanny named Kenswith, a widow who had become a nun. Cuthbert always called her ‘mother’ and often visited her in her old age. Once when he was lodging in his ‘mother’s’ village a house on the eastern edge caught fire and a fierce wind blew the flames towards the houses, looking set to cause a conflagration.

A panic-stricken Kenswith ran to the house where Cuthbert was staying and begged him to ask God to save their homes. Cuthbert calmly turned to her with the words ‘Don’t worry, the flames will do no harm’. Then he lay prostrate on the earth outside the house and prayed silently. As he was praying a strong, fresh wind arose from the west and drove the flames away from the houses, so that no harm was caused. The people were not ungrateful; they took the trouble to give thanks to the Lord.

Fire is a powerful force and, as this story illustrates, can destroy; but it is also a positive force, and is a biblical symbol of God’s Spirit. The term ‘Celtic fire’ is used to describe the living faith at the heart of the Celtic peoples. This was symbolised by the fire that, in monasteries, as in homes, was kept alight night and day. It was said that the fire at Brigid’s monastery at Kildare was kept alight for a thousand years.

Thank you, Father, for your free gift of fire
because it is through fire that you draw near to us every day;
It is with fire that you constantly bless us.
Our Father, bless this fire today.
With your power enter into it.
Make this fire a worthy thing.
A thing that carries your blessing.
Let it become a reminder of your love.
A reminder of life without end.
Make the life of this people be baptised like this fire.
A thing that shines for the sake of people.
A thing that shines for your sake.
Father, heed this sweet smelling smoke.
Make their life also sweet smelling.
A holy thing.
A thing fitting for you.
A Masai prayer