23rd January

Cheer Up!

To the pure all things are pure. Titus 1: 15

Some years after the death of Kevin at Glendalough a very pious monk there named Moling used to miss meals in order to pray in the place of worship. Not only did he despise food, he never allowed himself the pleasure of listening to music. Until God sent someone to cheer him up.

One day a young man arrived and asked if he could play his harp to the brothers while they were in the refectory. They welcomed this. Since Moling, who was praying in church, missed this, the young man then went to the church to play. Moling, who was kneeling, did not lift his head, but took from his pocket two balls of wax and stuffed them in his ears.

The young man smiled and continued playing. To Moling’s amazement the wax in his ears began to melt. Try as he might to push it back into his hears, it just trickled down under his habit.

At that moment the young man took a stone and started to scrape the harp. Moling found this excruciating sound unbearable. Then the young man threw the stone away and played music so sweet that Moling was filled with a joy greater than he had ever known.

When the harpist had finished playing Moling asked him ‘Are you a devil sent to tempt me or an angel sent to bless me?’ ‘You must make your own judgement’ the young man replied. ‘When I scraped the harp it made the noise of the devil, and when I played it with my fingers it made the sound of an angel. Music, like food and drink, can be an agent of evil or a source of goodness’.

The young man then left. From that day Moling welcomed all musicians to play at the monastery, and he gave up undue fasting, abstaining from food only on those days when everybody fasted. His brothers could not help noticing that from that day onwards he became more gentle and kind, and even acquired a sense of humour.

O Son of God, change my heart.
Your spirit composes the songs of the birds and the buzz of the bees.
Your creation is a million wondrous miracles, beautiful to look upon.
I ask of you just one more miracle:
beautify my soul.
From a traditional Celtic prayer