Brigid of Kildare: A Call to Recklessness

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“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51

“Many legends and few facts survive about this Irish woman who founded a community of Kildare, primarily for women. She was famed for her generosity and hospitality, and her influence was widespread; but she remained eminently practical.

As a young woman, Brigid was in the habit of giving freely of her father’s possessions and food to the poor and needy. Her father became so frustrated that he decided to sell her to the king and bundled her into his chariot. He left her at the castle gate while he consulted with the king, and Brigid was approached by a beggar asking for alms. She gave him her father’s sword. Brigid’s father and the king were so amazed, and the king said he could not buy her from her father: ‘She’s too good for me — I could never win her obedience.’

Once Brigid was teh guest at a house where lepers came begging for food. Brigid could find no one about but a young dumb boy. She asked him for the key to the kitchen. He turned to her and was able to say, ‘I know where it is kept,’ and together they fetched food and attended to the guests.

Brigid led a group of women who had decided to become holy nuns, and she asked Bishop Mel to bless their taking of the veil. Brigid held back out of humility, but the bishop saw the Spirit of God desceneded upon her, he said, ‘I have no power in this matter. God has ordained Brigid.’ And so it came to pass that by the intervention of the Holy Spirit the form of ordaining a bishop was read over Brigid.

A poor leper came to Brigid one day and asked her for a cow. Brigid looked at him and asked, ‘Which would you rather — to take a copw or to be healed of your leprosy? The man chose ‘I would rather be healed than own all the cows in the world.’ So Brigid prayed, stretched out her hand, and the leper was made whole.”

Brigid of Kildare (c. 450-523) in Celtic Daily Prayer (New York: Harper Collins, 2002) 144-145.

I love reading these historical accounts. This one celebrates Brigid and her reckless and radical faith. It struck me that in giving away her Father’s things for those in need she was embodying the childlike and generous faith Jesus calls us to exhibit. The post about her in this wonderful little book, ends with this prayer.

May God our Father, our strength and light, bless you with what you most need, beyond even all you would ask. For the weather is always right for the sowing of good seed.

So rich to be able to ask our Father for what we most need, which is beyond what we often ask for. What do you need today? Like the leper, I pray we will ask big. And do you have the courage to give away your Father’s possessions to those in need? I pray like Brigid we will be reckless and radical in our generosity.