it is difficult to know where to start with brigid, or where to end. she is a wonderful and fascinating person in her own right: patron of milkmaids--i used that as an excuse for extra milk in my oatmeal this morning, and wished i had thought about her in time to have bought cream; the only woman bishop consecrated by st. mel(notice the crosier in her hand in her icon); dweller as much in eternity as in time, being claimed as a wet nurse to christ. but brigid is also an example of the continuity of celtic beliefs and practices as the celts came into christianity. her monastery, killdare, is the church of the oak, continuing the celtic appreciation of trees (which of course is but a continuation of the old testament appreciation of trees: think of the appearance of the holy one to abraham under the oak of mamre). the holy fire at killdare was tended until the monastery was destroyed by the neo-heathen puritans; it has lately been rekindled.
oddly enough, it has only very lately that there have been propers for st. brigid's feast. st. ignatius of antioch has tended to bump her from the altar. but i find that the common of a monastic seems to have been chosen with st. brigid in mind:
the epistle: philippians 3:7-15.
howbeit what things were gain to me, these have i counted loss for christ. yea doubtless, and i count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of christ jesus my lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of christ, the righteousness which is of god by faith: that i may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means i might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. not as though i had already attained, either were already perfect: but i follow after, if that i may apprehend that for which also i am apprehended of christ jesus. brethren, i count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing i do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, i press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of god in christ jesus. let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, god shall reveal even this unto you.
the gospel: st. luke 12:22-37
jesus he said unto his disciples, herefore i say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. the life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and god feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? and which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? if ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. if then god so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? and seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. for all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your father knoweth that ye have need of these things. but rather seek ye the kingdom of god; and all these things shall be added unto you.
fear not, little flock; for it is your fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom. sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
so, i will end with the collect:
oh god, by whose grace the blessed abbess brigid of kildare, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy church: grant that we may be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love, and ever walk before thee as children of light; through jesus christ our lord.