6th April

Angels Deflect An Epidemic

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds … and I saw another angel coming up from the east with the seal of the living God. The angel loudly called to the four angels to whom God had given power to damage the earth and the sea: Do not harm them until we mark the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads. Revelation 7: 1 – 3

Despite the advances of medicine, many people still live in fear of a sudden catastrophe or epidemic such as AIDS. In the period of the Celtic saints the deadly plague would suddenly sweep through and decimate whole populations. In such situations it is easy to lose sight of the fact that God is still in overall control. We feel so powerless; what can we do?

Columba set aside a day in the Iona woods for sustained prayer combat. As he began to pray an oncoming wave of deathly black creatures relentlessly attacked with iron darts, desiring to wipe out him and many in the Iona community. Columba linked this experience with the threat of oncoming plague. His biographer, Adamnan, writes:

But he, single-handed, against innumerable foes of such a nature, fought with the utmost bravery, having received the armour of the apostle Paul. The contest was maintained on both sides during the greater part of the day, nor could the demons, countless though they were, vanquish him, nor was he able, by himself, to drive them out from his island, until the angels of God, as the saint afterwards told certain persons, came to his aid, when the demons in terror gave way.

On his way back Columba informed some brothers that Iona would now be spared the plague, but it would invade the monasteries in the region of Tiree. This came only too true. Two days later Columba added a postscript, whose lesson for us is: Don’t leave the combat to somebody else. Baithen, the leader of one monastery in the Tiree region, had called his community to all-out fasting and prayer, and as a result only one brother there would die of the plague. This, too, came to pass exactly as Columba had foreseen.

Good angels, messengers of God,
Protect us from all that would plague our bodies
Protect us from all that would plague our souls.