Brigit (451-525 AD) is a Celtic saint who exemplified the wonderful gift of hospitality that Celtic Christians believed was not only meant to be a custom in their homes, it was a key into the Kingdom of God. To offer hospitality was seen as receiving Christ into their midst and fulfilling the law of love.
Brigit, who presided over the monastery at Kildare, was particularly known for her generous hospitality. As a child she often gave away her parents possessions. At Kildare, Brigid often made butter for visitors. Tradition has it that when churning the butter she would make thirteen portions – twelve in honour of the apostles and an extra one in honour of Christ which was reserved for guests and the poor.
The hospitality of Saint Brigit is reflected in the beautiful prayer, Brigit’s Feast:
I should like a great lake of finest ale
for the King of Kings
I should like a table of the choicest food,
for the family of heaven
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith
and the food be forgiving love.
I should welcome the poor to my feast,
for they are God’s children
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
for they are God’s joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus
at the highest place
at the sick dance with the angels.
God bless the poor, God bless the sick,
and bless our human race.
God bless our food.
God bless our drink,
all homes, O God, embrace.
(ancient Celtic prayer attributed to St Brigit)
Brigit reminds us that the hospitality of God is a welcoming of Christ into our midst. Reflect on the times that you have offered hospitality to friends and strangers. Where have you been aware of Christ in your midst at those times?
Celtic Christians, like Brigit, often saw themselves as guests of the world, living lightly on this earth and not becoming attached to possessions or place. Every encounter of life revealed to them the God who they believed was both host and guest. Life was seen as a pilgrimage of revelation, each step drawing us closer to God.
Take a moment to pause and look around you. What do you notice that speaks of the generosity and hospitality of God? At home your attention may be caught by the dining room table, around which family and guests gather to eat and celebrate. Or photos and the gifts of friends and strangers to whom you have offered hospitality. Of maybe you are in the garden where even the wild brambles, and thistles – all the weeds you so diligently work to get rid of – are gifts from God and can produce the most delicious and nutritious food we can eat.
Sit in silent prayer to remind ourselves of the incredible hospitality of God who invites us, together with all creation, into the divine presence and into the eternal family.
Now watch the video below. What else is God saying to you about your need to be hospitable to those around you?
(Source: Christine Sine, Godspace)