Today is the feast of a great Irish saint, Brigid of Kildare, who died in 525.
Little beyond legend is known of her life. Probably baptized by St. Patrick, she was the abbess of a double monastery – with both monks and nuns.
But what comes across is her compassion and generosity to the poor. There is a legend that she was a slave when she converted to Christianity, but her owner soon freed her because she was giving away so much to the poor.
Each day I try to read about the saints in Richard McBrien’s Lives of the Saints and Robert Ellsberg’s All Saints. What strikes me is how often the saints, especially bishops, are noted for their generosity to the poor.
Brigid is no exception. She is said to have wanted “to satisfy the poor, to expel every hardship, to spare every miserable person.”
One year she distributed beer for 18 churches out of one barrel, from Holy Thursday until Pentecost. Another time a women with leprosy asked for milk; Brigid had none but gave her water which turned into milk; when the woman drank the milk she was healed.
So today, if it is your custom, have a beer in memory of Saint Brigid but, more importantly, find a way to share with a poor person.
In this way we can live – and not only pray – the prayer of Saint Brigid:
I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal. I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety. I should like flails of penance at my house. I should like the men of Heaven at my house; I should like barrels of peace at their disposal; I should like vessels of charity for distribution; I should like cheerfulness to be in their drinking. I should like Jesus to be there among them. I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around us from all parts.