I've been away from this for a while for various reasons, but it's good to be back at it. Even if this doesn't get much readership, it's a good way for me to appropriate the daily readings and Saints! Today's Saint was a great example of what Jesus meant when he said we'd be gatherers of people (fisher of men!).
Feast: September 5
Abbot of St. Omer, b. near Constance about 615; d. about 709. He entered the monastery in France at a young age. under the austere Rule of St. Columban (559-615), he prepared himself for his future missionary career. In 638, he set out with some companions for the northern part of France in order to assist his friend and kinsman, Bishop St. Omer (d. 670), in the evangelization of the Morini, a heathen people of the North. The success of their labor was so rapid that they eventually had to build a Monastery to accommodate a new community of faithful where the city of St. Omer now stands. When nearly the whole neighbourhood was Christianized, and the marshy land transformed into a fertile plain, Bertin, knowing that his death was not far off, appointed Rigobert (d. 743), a pious monk, as his successor, while he himself spent the remainder of his life preparing for a happy death.The abbey church that bore his name, now in ruins, was one of the finest fourteenth-century Gothic edifices. In later times its library, archives, and art-treasures were renowned both in and out of France.
Reflections: There was an image about the Saint's account that sort of mesmerized me today: I could imagine him and his companions building a monastery that became a center of safety and hope for the local population during the Dark Ages of European Civlization, when there seemed to be so much hopelessness. To me this was a testimony of his deep faith. I imagine that in those days, after the recent collapse of the Roman Empire, many were beginning to believe it really was the end of the world, and that Christ's return would be just around the corner. They may have taken that opportunity to simply sit and wait for that return. But those who opted for monastic life were much more spiritually mature than that (surprise surprise!) They lived for the opportunity to labor in God's vineyard here on earth, not sit and dream about some promise in the after life. For that reason, St Bertin was a perfect example of someone who wasn't afraid to follow Jesus' advice to cast his net into the deep.
The strength in his faith is what allowed him to not give up hope as he confronted the darkness of his age. That same strength is one of the signs of God's wisdom working in us that Paul speaks about in Colossians. That wisdom is expressed through a freedom that allows us to be available: Available (and therefore, FREE) to pray, but also to laboring for the Kingdom, and freedom to grow in in our knowledge of God.
This is heavy language, but I believe we can boil it down to this: God loves us and sends us Jesus and the Holy Spirit that we may be transformed into beings devoted to God through the great love of our hearts; but before that transformation can take place, we need to dispose ourselves to the Great Divine. If our response is not an intentional Yes (like Mary's Yes to the Angel at the Annunciation), then no, we won't fully experience God. If our response is rooted in a 'lackadaisical' reaction to God, then we will not feel the work of the Spirit within us, and will never feel that itch to recognize the Glory of God in our lives.
However,when we do get to that point of recognition, everything changes..maybe not suddenly, but gradually, with time. We don't have the luxury of seeing what Simon Peter saw that day as they were fishing, but we do experience God's power in us in a myriad of ways everyday. The question always becomes, what will we do with our knowledge of God's power in our lives? For Peter, the response was twofold: 1) Be embarrassed by his own sinfulness, and even feel unworthy to stand before such a man as Jesus. 2) Once he understood how loved and forgiven he was -as we all are!!- he was ready to suddenly drop everything he had known, and follow this mysterious but enticing man we call Jesus.
|Colossians 1: 9 - 14|
|9||And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,|
|10||to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.|
|11||May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,|
|12||giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.|
|13||He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,|
|14||in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.|