The Anglican Communion recognizes all the great and Holy Early Church fathers, just as our Orthodox and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters do. But we do hold a special place in our hearts for St. Ninian, a pioneer in the Christian faith during the fourth century who established a monastery in a remote isle location in Scotland.
I found a little thumbnail on the Internet that I couldn’t seem to enlarge. It was what is left of the Chapel of Ninian at the Isle of Whitby (Whithorn in his native language). Bishop Ninian is considered Scotland’s first Saint (see my Homemaking in Lent post about the very brief history of Christianity in Great Britain to understand how Christianity was pushed into Wales, Scotland and Cornwall).
There is not much known about St. Ninian. It is almost certain that was a Briton and that he traveled to Rome for training – so therefore, he was more tied into the Roman Church of the time than the Celtic Church. His monastery was a center of learning and it was called the Candida Casa, the “white house”. From there, he went out to the Picts and other neighboring tribes and took the news of Christianity with him. Part of the legend around him stipulates that he sowed seeds that grew so fast they became mature plants in a day and that is how the monastery received its food and survived. He planted his ideas and faith in those studying with him, and St. Kentigern, or Mungo as some of you may know him, became one of the most famous.
Whithorn is a site of pilgrimage for Christians, both what it is left of the chapel and also Ninian’s Cave, where legend holds St. Ninian went to pray.
In your homemaking, I ask you where is your cave? Where do you go and touch intimately and deeply within yourself and with the Divine, so you can lead within your family? How do you do this? If you are part of a religious community, your community can help you find the tools to do this and get in touch with the Divine of all Creation.
Be the forerunner in your circle of friends or family or neighbors who perhaps are not spiritual or religious, just by being you with the peace you find. I personally am not always the best “evangelist” in that I don’t go around and mention the name of the Triune God with every breath. Perhaps I should. But it is my hope, in my quiet way, that if I can be who I am, if I can be what God wants with His help, then others may decide to quietly seek their own way to the God of our Hearts as well. Just as we don’t know much about St. Ninian personally, we do know about him through his works and deeds. Could people say that about you? What are your works, what are willing in your life, what are you actively doing?
I always enjoyed this from the Carmen Gadelica, a collection of Scottish folklore, hymns and prayers in the Celtic tradition. Please use it for inspiration this week:
Peter has come and Paul has come,
James has come and John has come,
Muriel and Mary Virgin have come,
Uriel the all-beneficent has come,
Ariel the beauteousness of the young has come,
Gabriel the seer of the Virgin has come,
Raphael the prince of the valiant has come,
And Michael the chief of the hosts has come,
And Jesus Christ the mild has come,
And the Spirit of true guidance has come,
And the King of kings has come on the helm,
To bestow on thee their affection and their love,
To bestow on thee their affection and their love.
To you my affection and love during this season of homemaking in Lent. May you find renewal in the practical of life, and in the deepest spiritual wells,