6th January

Soldier of Christ (EPIPHANY)

Take your part in suffering as a loyal soldier of Jesus Christ. A soldier on active service wants to please his commanding officer and so does not get mixed up in the affairs of civilian life.
2 Timothy 2: 3, 4

Two great saints, Samson and David (the patron saint of Wales), were pupils in the famous monastery of Illtyd, who may be regarded as the founder of the Welsh church, though holy hermits prepared the way. Illtyd was a very well educated soldier who came to Wales from Britanny, and, according to one medieval record, fought in the army of ‘King’ Arthur. But it was while serving the King of Glamorgan that he became a Christian.

One day Illtyd took a party of knights hunting, and became separated from them. They stumbled upon the hut of the hermit Cadoc, and treated him disgracefully, shouting obscenities at him. When Illtyd arrived he was shocked by his men’s behaviour, and riveted by Cadoc’s, for he refused to retaliate and smiled on them. Illtyd dismissed his men, and fell on his knees asking Cadoc to forgive their behaviour. Cadoc lifted Illtyd up and warmly embraced him.

That night, as Illtyd lay awake, his heart was filled with love for the old hermit. The life of such a man, who was victorious in the battle with Satan, seemed so much finer than that of a soldier, whose only battles were with other soldiers. When he had fallen asleep he dreamed that an angel spoke to him these words: ‘Until now you have been a knight serving mortal kings. From now on you are to be in the service of the King of kings’.

At dawn Illtyd crept out of the royal palace, leaving behind his sword and his armour, and set out, clothed only in a rough woollen cloak, to be a soldier of Christ. In his mind, he would spend the rest of his life as a hermit.
Teach me my God and King
to fight with all of my being
for the things that are good and true and peaceable
as a faithful servant and soldier of our Lord Jesus Christ