...the body of the church, enriched by the splendour of its Founder, is augmented by the hosts of saints and is made resplendent by religion and learning, so that those who come after draw profit from the concourse of the learned.
- The Monk Jonas, Life of St. Columban (Italian, 7th century)
...be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Ephesians 4.23, 24
Those like Columbanus, who led the Celtic revival through nearly four centuries of world-transforming mission and ministry, were taught from their earliest years to be diligent students. They believed that God spoke through His Word and the creation, as well as through the writings of the Church Fathers, and they hungered to learn as much as they could, throughout the whole course of their lives.
The communities they began - in Ireland and beyond - benefited greatly from their commitment to learning and scholarship. Celtic Christians had a deep sense of the presence of God, a firm commitment to the pursuit of holiness, and a ready resolve to be witnesses for Christ. They were taught well and they learned well; but to be taught well they had to have a learned clergy instructing them.
Everyday Christians truly profited "from the concourse of the learned," because learning among Celtic Christian leaders was not an end in itself and not for the sake of participating in some gnostic cult of the learned. Learning was to adorn one's profession of faith, to enable one better to equip the saints, and to engage bold missions in the Name of Him Who spoke to them everywhere and in every situation.
God wants a learned clergy, and He wants learned leaders to serve with that clergy, to equip the saints for the work of ministry unto the building-up of the Body of Christ. The more we learn, if we learn aright, the better equipped we will be for seeking and advancing the Kingdom of Jesus - the most learned, most brilliant, most self-denying One Who ever lived.
Would we be like our beautiful Jesus? Would we follow in the footsteps of this altogether lovely and powerful King and Savior? Then let us pursue learning. We have the mind of Christ! It's time we fed that mind and trimmed and readied it for greater service to the Lord for the profit of His people and our neighbors.
In today's ReVision I comment on the opportunity before us for equipping the saints to a more serious and effective walk with the Lord. Check out Three percent? Really?
And let me encourage you to order a copy of The Legacy of Patrick from our bookstore. If you want a good overview of the period of the Celtic revival - if you want to learn more about this inspiring period and why it matters so much to us at The Fellowship of Ailbe - this little book is the place to start.