Mid Week Reflection – For the Saints…

For the Saints who from their labours rest

Over the last few weeks our reflections have drawn the life of saints from Ireland, saints whose names are perhaps new to new to you.

Celtic Saints or Pilgrims of Christ’, Latin ‘Peregrinari Pro Christ’, they were the ‘holy heroes’ of the day.

By saint I’m not referring to those who were canonised by Church authorities, this was not the Celtic way. The saints were men and women who stood out by the way they lived, worshipped and preached The Word. They were often itinerant monks walking through the countryside and spreading the Good News, some would settle in a location and form a monastery.

Our knowledge of the Celtic people, the saints and places comes to us through surviving texts written often in the form biographies of saints, written long after the event, oral history and folklore. We need to remember that this lack of written material is due to the circumstances of the period. The 5th to 7th centuries have been referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’ due to this lack of written material, the frequent incursions by the Vikings and burning of many early Christian records. What was far from dark were the seeds of faith that spread through Ireland.

The saints became saints through their lives, how they lived and the endorsement by local people. To use a modern expressed they were the ‘people’s saints’ first and foremost.

There are two significant Irish saints, among the many saints of Ireland, St Patrick and St Finnian. Their lives, teaching and missionary work were the bed rock of what was to follow in terms of Christian living in the Celtic manner.

Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was born into a clerical family in Wales. His childhood life was dramatically changed when he was abducted and enslaved in Ireland. After about six years he escaped slavery. He sailed to France only to end up in bondage, he escapes this and eventually returns to Wales. In a dream he receives his call to be a missionary to Ireland. You can find more on https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Patrick

Finnian of Clonard is called “the tutor of the Irish saints” and was responsible for training what are referred to as the 12 Apostles of Ireland. Finnian himself trained in England and France. He visited the monastery in Tours where he experienced the austerity of the monastic life at Tours. It was an environment suited him and he took it into the Monastery at Clonard. The monastery became a significant place of learning with upward of 3000 monks according to sum accounts. You can find more on https://www.catholicireland.net/st-finnian/


+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God of holiness,
your glory is proclaimed in every age:
as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,
inspire us to follow their example
with boldness and joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Common Worship Collect for All Saints)

The Word of the Lord
(Verses from the readings for All Saints)

Psalm 33.1-5
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, for it is good for the just to sing praises.
Praise the Lord with the lyre; on the ten-stringed harp sing his praise.
Sing for him a new song; play skilfully, with shouts of praise.
For the word of the Lord is true and all his works are sure.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord.


Matthew 5.1-12 The Beatitudes
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Familiar words! The beatitudes are distinctive statements, almost proverbs at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is talking about the values and blessings that will underline his followers.

The saints, that great cloud of witnesses of the past lived out these words, often under difficult circumstances. We know these words; they are familiar but with this familiarity can come a complacency! I invite you to take some time and read through the words of the beatitudes slowly, pausing after each one and thinking how they speak to you.

Bless the life that you live
Bless the peace that you bring
Bless the love that you give
Bless the love that you give
Bless the song that you sing (John Birch)

Bless to me, O God,
Each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God,
Each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God,
Each odour that goes to my nostrils
Bless to me, O God,
Each taste that goes to my lips;
Each note that goes to my song,
Each ray that guides my way,
Each thing that I pursue.
Each lure that tempts my will,
The zeal that seeks my living soul.
The Three that seek my heart,
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The Three that seek my heart.
(A prayer from the Scottish Isles collected in ‘Carmina Gadelica’)

Let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Local church and its leaders
wider community
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed
those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill
those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

The Lords Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

May the grace of God uphold you,
the peace of God surround you,
the love of God flow from you
and the strength of God protect
and bring you safely through this day (John Birch)

(*John’s prayers are from ‘Prayers of Life’ page 2 and ‘|God Beside Us’ page 48)

You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. You may also think about listening to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Derek Akker


Photo by Steije Hillewaert on Unsplash