Cloud of Witnesses

Do you see them, seeing you?

It is a commendable practice joyfully to accept tribulations and to be patient with them at all times, mindful of the folk in heaven.

  - The Rule of Carthage, Irish, 7th century[1]

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…

  - Hebrews 12.1, 2

“Mindful of the folk in heaven.” Don’t you love that idea?

Saving and sanctifying faith issues in unshakeable assurance of the reliability of God and His Word, which bears the fruit of good works, following the pattern of “things unseen” (Heb. 11.1). The writer of Hebrews followed that first verse of chapter 11 with a kind of hall of fame of faithful saints, whose lives stand for us as examples of how we should live by faith.

Carthage wanted his monks to bear in mind at all times that the sufferings and trials they had to endure in this life were no different from those which the saints of previous generations had to endure. They had their trials, and we have ours. By remembering theirs, we can find strength to bear up under ours.

The saints who have gone before us to glory bore up under hardship, depravation, suffering, and persecution for the sake of the Gospel, so that the Good News could continue to the next generation. And the next, and the next, even to our own. They had faith in the unseen city to come, and the assurance that they would arrive there one day. Their lives gave evidence of that faith by the uncompromising and courageous ways they persevered for the Lord.

The “folk in heaven” surround us and observe our doings. There is even some indication that they make our prayers more “fit” for the Lord’s heavenly court. As we pray, the folk in heaven carry our prayers before the Lord like sweet incense (cf. Rev. 5.8; 8.3, 4; cf Ps. 141.1, 2). I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I’m grateful that it is so.

The more we know about the folk in heaven, the better we will appreciate their sacrifices on our behalf. The more we study their lives and works, the greater will be our gratitude to the Lord for making us part of this one great, universal, ages-spanning people, the Church of Jesus Christ.

Celtic Christians studied the lives of great saints, to learn from their trials and to emulate their example. The calendar of saints called “The Martyrology of Oengus” (9th century) offers a saint to be thankful for every day of the year. Being mindful of the folk in heaven can inspire and challenge us, fill us with humility, determination, and courage, lead us to give thanks and praise to God in the midst of all our trials, and empower us to persevere in following and serving Him.

Theologian Tara K. Soughers urges readers to discover the value of cultivating “soul friendships” with saints of the past, as with those of the present (“Friendship with Teresa of Avila: Spiritual Companionship Across Time and Space,” Spiritus, Fall 2014). How can you do that?

Well, not by praying to your chosen saints, but by reading about them, consulting their works, meditating on their lives and trials, and thanking God for them day by day.

I find that meditating on the likes of Patrick, Colum Cille, Columbanus, Brendan, Kevin, Aidan – besides the great saints from other periods of Church history – can lift my spirits, renew my resolve, and keep me focused on the particular race the Lord has set before me.

Do you practice this important discipline of being “mindful of the folk in heaven”? Should you?

For Reflection
1. Can you think of a saint from the past who might be a helpful “soul friend” for you?

2. Think about the great saints of Scripture. How could you be more “mindul” of them throughout the day?

Psalm 113.1-3, 8, 9 (Armageddon: Who is On the Lord’s Side?)
Praise the Lord, O praise Him, all who know His Name!
From this day forever, magnify His fame!
From the time each morning when the sun is raised
To its evening waning let His Name be praised!
  Praise the Lord, O praise Him, all who know His Name!
  From this day forever, magnify His fame!

Seated now with princes ‘round Your glorious throne,
we by grace are lifted to become Your own.
Barren women, joyous, glad their children bear;
joining in the chorus, they Your praise declare.
  Praise the Lord, O praise Him, all who know His Name!
  From this day forever, magnify His fame!

Unseen Things
Your faith will grow stronger, and you will bear more fruit if you will give yourself to a clearer vision of and more consistent communion with the unseen things of Christ and His Kingdom. Four resources can help. First, write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you our free 28-day reader, Glorious Vision. Based on Psalm 45 and the hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus,” this daily reader can help you see more clearly into that glorious realm of unseen things. Then, order our workbook, The Landscape of Unseen Things, and get a fuller look at all that’s going on there. Our devotional guide, Be Thou My Vision, will unite you with Celtic Christians in 28 meditations of Jesus and the heavenly realm. And our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth?, can help you see Jesus more fully in His majesty and work.

Thank You
We pray that, if Crosfigell ministers to you, you’ll consider sharing with us in the financial support of our ministry. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All Psalms for singing from
The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Ó Maidín, p. 68.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore