The Life of Devotion
10 May 2010
So then after writing the rule of the saints, and their customs, and devotion, Brendan returned to Bishop Erc, and received orders from him...It was after this therefore that there grew up in his heart a great love to the Lord, and he desired to leave his land and his country...
- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, after an earlier ms.)
...train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
- 1 Timothy 4.7, 8
Brendan's parents devoted him to the service of the Lord. In order to accomplish this, they fostered him, at a very young age, to the school of Ita, who inculcated the virtues of love and piety in the child. After that, he was returned to his pastor, Bishop Erc, who taught him the Scriptures, the disciplines of grace, and the practices which would be required of a minister of God's Word. Only one thing remained before Brendan could be ordained to the Gospel.
He had to study and learn the "rules" of the saints of Ireland. The great saints who had gone before in the two generations since Patrick had encoded their daily disciplines and practices in various "rules." These summarized their practices in seeking and serving the Lord and outlined the rigors of a life consecrated to the service of King Jesus. Before a young man like Brendan could be considered ready to enter that life, he had to make sure he understood what it required, and that he desired to submit to it for the rest of his days.
It is interesting to note how our hagiographer observes that it was only after Brendan learned the rules of the saints "and their customs, and devotion" that he truly began to love the Lord and desire a ministry of his own. The lesson is clear: love for God and willingness to serve Him are not for the fickle or faint of heart. The life of devotion is a life of self-denial, cross-bearing, weeping and striving, and knowing the presence of the Lord in the midst of every situation. Only those most committed to discipline - to living by a "rule" - would be ordained to such a life, or would flourish in it.
Does your practice of spiritual disciplines lead you daily to love the Lord more, and to desire to serve Him faithfully? If not, then you have not yet found the "rule" that God intends for you. God calls each of us to a life of devotion to Him, but they only will find that life who are determined to train themselves for godliness so that they might gain the promises of God for this life and the next.
Today in ReVision: Neither/Nor, Both/And - Can we recover the true meaning of the Constitution?
This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - This document - recently revised and updated - can help put you on a path of devotion so that you love the Lord more and serve Him with great joy and effects.
Get your copy of The Ailbe Psalter and Voices Together from our book store, and let these lay a foundation of worship beneath your daily devotion to the Lord.