Lenten Meditations: Tuesday 21 March
|Jere 7:21-34||Rom 4:13-25||John 7:37-52|
THIRD TUESDAY OF LENT – St. Cuthbert, Missionary Bishop and of Lindisfarne, 697
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: Cuthbert was a native of the Lammermuir Hills, between Lothian and the Scottish Borders. He spent some years as a soldier fighting for the kingdom of Deira against the kingdom of Mercia until one day he rode into the monastery on horseback with spear in hand. He had decided to became a monk. Cuthbert’s fame for piety, diligence, and obedience quickly grew. When Alchfrith, king of Deira, founded a new monastery at Ripon, he brought Eata from Melrose as prior and Cuthbert went with him as his guest-master. After some time, when Roman usage was being imposed in place of Celtic practice at Ripon through the influence of St Wilfrid, Cuthbert and the monks, who followed the Celtic tradition, returned to Melrose After the Synod of Whitby, Cuthbert reluctantly accepted the Roman customs, and his old abbot, Eata, now at Lindisfarne, called on him to become his prior and introduce the Roman customs at Lindisfarne. This was a thankless task, but Cuthbert’s patient and loving nature disarmed the opposition and successfully completed the change over.
In 676 Cuthbert resigned as prior and became a hermit on Inner Farne. At first, he received visitors and washed their feet, but later he confined himself to his cell and opened the window only to give his blessing. While on the Farne Islands, Cuthbert instituted special laws to protect the eider ducks and other seabirds nesting on the islands; these may have been the first bird protection laws anywhere in the world. Consequently, eider ducks are often called cuddy ducks (Cuthbert’s ducks) in modern Northumbrian dialects.
In 684, Cuthbert was elected bishop of Lindisfarne, and was consecrated at York by Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury and six bishops, on 26th March 685. After two years, however, he returned to his cell on Inner Farne Island (two miles from Bamburgh, Northumberland), where he eventually died. He was buried at Lindisfarne with final rest at Durham Cathedral.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY: The psalm is often called historical, and it is an instruction or meditation in poetic form about how to live a godly life. The theme of the psalm is the relationship between God and his people. As we read the Psalm, you would have noticed that the over-riding concern of the Psalmist is that the children know the history and be taught it. How do we avoid apostasy and falling away from the faith once delivered and the life of the church? Not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren? This is a major concern of the Psalmist for Israel and should be one for us and the future of the church.
The answer is, a return to catechesis and hand the faith on that has been once delivered to the saints. The Psalmist would not say those words but he does echo that sentiment. We in the West must admit that we have abandoned serious catechesis as a normative practice. Sunday school replaced the vocation of pastor and catechists with volunteers sharing Bible stories that may or may not have a grounding in the basic beliefs, practices, and ethics of the catholic faith. The early church began catechesis to provide a thorough grounding in the Christian Faith before Baptism. It sought to take converts to the Christian Faith and establish in them a Christian worldview different from the culture of the day. At that time, the insight of Christianity was profoundly distinct from the teachings of the culture–so distinct that it sometimes took many years of learning to understand Christian teaching. The Psalmist of ancient Israel tried to wake up his own people to a lost vocation and perhaps is doing the same for us in this Lenten Journey.
PRAYER OF THE DAY: “Father of all, you provide many gifts and ministries for your Church Give us faithful men and women to fulfill the vocation of catechesis. Help us raise up men and women rooted in your Word, and open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit using especially the gifts of faith, hope, and love, to serve your church as a witness to your promises for all. In Jesus Name, we pray. Amen
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “The specific aim of catechesis is to develop, with God’s help, and yet initial faith, and to advance in fullness and to nourish day by day the Christian life of the faithful young and old…Catechesis aims therefore at developing understanding of the mystery of Christ in the light of God’s word, so that the whole of a person’s humanity is impregnated by that word”—John Paul II, Bishop of Rome
Lenten Discipline – St. Cuthbert was well known for his affinity for nature and was given to the protection and gentle especially of birds and sea creatures, which is derived from the Celtic tradition. Today take an opportunity to spend some time in nature and where possible make an act of preservation of God’s gift to us in his creation. Also, consider the time in Nature as a vehicle that God may reveal his truth and use that reflection as a source of catechesis to others.