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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Teaching and Example

Think of the worthies who led you to Christ. Multiply that.

Remembering the Saints (3)

He was a fair garden full of herbs of virtue. He was the crystal fountain whereby were washed away the sins of the people whom God entrusted to him to be bettered by the transparence of his teaching. He was also a heavenly cloud wherewith was fructified the ground of the Church, that is, the souls of the righteous with the drops of his peaceful and virtuous teaching. He was the golden lamp lighted by the Holy Spirit, from which flee darkness and sin in the house of the Lord, that is, in the Church.
    - Life of Bairre of Cork (17th century, from an earlier ms.)

And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
    -  Acts 20.18-21

The saints we remember from generation to generation are those whose life and work were a seamless cloth. They faithfully lived what they taught and taught others to live as lights for the Lord.

Certainly, we see this in the apostle Paul. As he reminded the elders from the churches in Ephesus, he had faithfully instructed them in everything they needed for serving the Lord, and he backed up that instruction by the example of his own life. He served with humility, bearing the trials and sufferings of his flock as though they were his own, and working to make sure he was not a financial burden on anyone (Acts 20.33-35). He supported the weak, taught the people publicly and house to house, and thoroughly instructed them in all the counsel of God.

No wonder they wept at the thought that they would not see him again (vv. 36-38).

Bairre of Cork flourished in his ministry shortly after the beginning of the 6th century. Like Paul, he led the flocks of the Lord by his teaching and example. “He was a fair garden full of herbs of virtue.” Evidently, Bairre lacked none of the fruit of the Spirit, and he demonstrated a life of humility, love, and service.

By his teaching, many improved in their walk with the Lord. His teaching was like gentle rain drops of virtue and peace, and it brought forth fruit from all the various churches he started and served the fruit of Christian life and witness. The Holy Spirit used Bairre’s teaching and example to bring sanctifying grace to the people he served and the light of the Kingdom to the region around Cork.

Just as we should learn from the example and instruction of Paul, so too the saints of old can help us grow in the light of truth and the heavenly dews of virtue as we study their example and listen to their teaching.

Those who serve in the ministry of the Word – and, to a certain extent, that includes every believer – have been given three indispensable tools for the work of making disciples. The first is prayer (cf. Acts 6.4). It is often mentioned of great saints from the Celtic Revival that they were people of prayer. They prayed the psalms at regular intervals throughout the day. They often spent whole nights in prayer, interceding for the people they served. For special or urgent needs, they prayed extended, strenuous prayers, their arms stretched out cross-shaped in a vigil of supplication and praise called crosfigell. We can learn much about the importance of prayer and how to practice it by studying the example of our forebears in the faith.

The other tools with which we have been equipped for the work of making disciples are the Word of God and our personal example (cf. Acts 6.4; 1 Pet. 5.1-3), as we have already mentioned. Bairre of Cork excelled in all these tools, and it pleased God to use him to win many souls to Christ, start many churches, and construct various foundations and schools for training church leaders.

I have often thought it would be interesting, in a manner not unlike the current genealogy craze, to trace my spiritual lineage backwards in time. I know who led me to the Lord, but that’s as far as it goes. Others had a role in that – parents, a great aunt. And others have prayed a part in your coming to faith as well. But I feel certain that for me and you, and for every follower of Jesus, if we could trace our spiritual ancestry back far enough, sooner or later, and probably more than once, some great saint of the Lord would show up in our family tree.

But even though we don’t know who those saints are, we know they have contributed to our having come to faith in the Lord and enjoying all the blessings of His salvation. For that reason and more, they – all those God used in bringing us to Himself – are worthy of our remembering them.

Give thanks for the apostles Paul and Peter and all the rest. And give thanks for Bairre of Cork and all the saints who are in the earth. Their faithfulness in life and ministry stands as a beacon and challenge for us in our own callings from the Lord.

For Reflection
1. How consistent are you in using all the tools you have been given for making disciples?

2. How can you consistently improve in using those tools?

Sing Psalm 143.5, 6
(Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
I recall the days of old; on Your works I meditate –
all the wonders of Your mighty hand, works both small, O Lord, and great.
Lord, my thirsty soul cries out to You! To You, Lord, I reach my hand

in a dry and weary land.

Today, Lord, following the example of Paul and Bairre, help me to…

The Celtic Revival

To learn more about the Celtic Revival, order a free PDF copy of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by clicking here. You might also order a free copy of our book, The Legacy of Patrick, by clicking here.

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T. M. Moore, Principal
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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.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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