Celebrating St Brigid’s Day
Lá Fheile Bríde, or St. Brigid’s day, on 1st February traditionally marks the beginning of the Celtic spring. For the ancient Celts, the festival of Imbolc marked the return of the life giving forces of spring. The dark days of winter would soon give way to the light of spring. Nature would awaken once again from its winter slumber and begin to show signs of new life and vitality. Imbolc was indeed a time to celebrate!
There is much legend and folklore associated with St. Brigid. But what is most important for us as Christians, is Brigid’s of a follower of Christ. Brigid emerges in Irish literature in many guises. But is as Muire na nGael, or Mary of the Irish that we honour her most. Like Mary, Brigid was woman of determination and courage, untiring in her endeavor to carry the light of Christ into the lives of others.
One of the best known and most favoured of all stories of Brigid is the gentle manner by which she brought a pagan chieftain to Christ as she kept vigil with him on his death bed. Brigid didn’t use any words. A simple gesture of hers proved much more effective. Brigid took some rushes from the floor and began to weave them into a cross. The pagan chieftain noticed Brigid as she quietly weaved the rushes together and he asked her what the cross meant. Brigid told the chieftain about Christ and according to tradition, the chieftain asked to be baptized just before his death.
St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said to his followers : “Preach often, but use words only if necessary”. St. Brigid then was a powerful preacher. By her life, Brigid gave witness to the transforming love of Christ in our world. It is no wonder then that Brigid has often been described with imagery associated with light.Her example of Christian living shone the light of Christ’s gospel into the lives of many others. For it is the light of Christ’s love alone that shines can dispel all our the darkness. It is Christ’s light alone that can bring us new into a spring-time of new life and fresh hope.
So as we witness the radiant light of spring dispel the darkness of another winter at this time of year, let us ask for the grace to be receptive to the light of Christ’s love in our own lives, so that like St. Brigid we will bear His light into our homes, into our communities and into our workplaces.
Most Holy Brigid, Excellent Woman, Bright Arrow, Sudden Flame;
May your bright fiery Sun take us swiftly to your lasting kingdom.