a priest's musings on the journey

Thursday, May 17, 2007

St Brendan's Day 16 May

Yesterday was the feast day of St Brendan the Navigator. I had totally forgotten about it until I was reminded of his feast day at Fr Peter's blog. (Surely he is still on the Episcopal Ordo Kalendar). Brendan was a dedicated missionary in 6th century Ireland and Scotland, but he is best known for his fantastical 7 year voyage to the Island of the Saints (possibly Newfoundland). This wild tale is told in the Navigato Sancti Brendani , written around 800AD (can I still use A.D?) During this journey he met St Patrick, Judas Iscariot, said prayers with talking birds, and sailed to the mouth of hell, where they saw a river of fire flowing from furnaces from which demons attaked them with burning slag (this is a thin place I'd gladly skip). Once on this voyage, he celebrated Easter Mass on the back of a whale- my Zac loves his story.

I love telling these stories to my son- partly because they are fun, partly because he is still young enough to know they are true. Zac reminds me that God and the Sacred Divine can be experienced not only in "churchy" ways, but also in wild imagination. Zac still knows how to see God in everything around him. He still knows how to carry on a converation with St Patrick and how to listen to birds speaking to him; he can find a thin place wherever he finds himself.

When did we lose that ability? How do we get it back?

By the way go here for a great blog about whales in medieval popular belief.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:39 PM


Saw my friend Brendan on Wednesday - he didn't know it was his saint's day! lovely story and Zac is lucky. I reckon we lose that ability pretty young these days and it's all linked to father Christmas!
Blogger John the organist, at 3:55 AM  
Padre, I believe you can still use A.D. Although the ever popular C.E. is what is recommended. I am not sure it matters.
Blogger Fr. Peter, at 5:25 AM  
I still talk to birds and squirrels and the like as I walk through the neighborhoods in Chicago, on my way to a bus or train or grocery store. So, maybe I never quite lost what your talking about. However, it seems to me it is at least as an adult taking time to care for the little things, and pay attention to the flowers and the birds.
It may be though that we don't do this to not see where evil and hell lurk in our world. I have found speaking to birds and squirrels easily leads to confronting the hellish realities that are on those very same streets I walk.
Thanks for the thoughtful post, and the reminder of St Brendan.
Blogger Larry Kamphausen, at 7:23 AM  
Lovely post, Rob. Thanks.

Blogger Jane R, at 8:27 AM  
I think you're right, Larry. I never thought about that connection before.
Blogger PadreRob+, at 9:31 AM  

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