Weaned From Idols
Do not abandon me and worship idols. Leviticus 9: 4
An idol is any thing which I put before God. It may be a car or a custom, a person or a passion, a lottery or a horoscope. In Cuthbert’s day an idol often took the form of a power of nature that it was thought could create a windfall or good luck.
After Boisil died Cuthbert was made prior of the Melrose monastery:
He not only taught those in the monastery how to live … he also sought to convert the neighbouring people far and wide from a life of foolish customs to a love of heavenly joys. For many of them profaned the creed they held by wicked deeds and some of them, too, in times of plague, would forget the sacred mysteries of the faith into which they had been initiated and take to the false remedies of idolatry, as though they could ward off a blow inflicted by God the Creator by means of incantations or amulets or any other mysteries of devilish art. So he frequently went forth from the monastery to correct the errors of those who had sinned in both these ways, sometimes on horseback but more often on foot; he came to the neighbouring villages and preached the way of truth to those who had gone astray …
None of those present would presume to hide from him the secrets of their hearts, but they all made open confession of their sins because they realised that these things could never be hidden from him; and they cleansed themselves from the sins they had confessed by fruits of repentance. He used especially to make for those places that were far away in steep and rugged mountains, which others dreaded to visit and whose poverty and ignorance kept other teachers away. Giving himself up gladly to this devoted labour, he instructed them with such devotion that he would often leave the monastery for a week, and sometimes for up to a month.
Now robed in stillness
in this quiet place
emptied of all I was
I bring all that I am
your gift of shepherding
to use and bless.
Cuthbert’s Prayer, St. Aidan’s Chapel, Bradford Cathedral