Chad of Litchfield: Obvious Simplicity and Always Prepared

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Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4

“Chad and his brothers were early pupils in Aiden’s school of Lindisfarne. Chad continued his studies by journeying to Ireland; but when his brother Cedd died, he returned to take his place as abbot of Lastingham. Then for a time he was bishop at York, but was soon removed over a technicality. This he accepted with no reproach, and was sent instead as bishop to the people of Mercia. At that time, Chad spoke warily of the honor of being recognized as a bishop: ‘I never thought myself worthy of it,’ he said, ‘but, though unworthy, I consented to undertake it for obedience’s sake.’ Even as a bishop he lived in a small cell and travelled barefoot. His obvious simplicity embarrassed Bishop Theodore of Canterbury, who often urged Chad to ride, not walk. Once he was so frustrated that he bodily lifted Chad onto a horse and sent him on his journey! For just three years Chad lived among the Mercians as their bishop, and then he died. Addressing his community, he urged them always to be prepared for death, ‘for death may call for us any time.'”

Chad of Litchfield (c. 634-672) in Celtic Daily Prayer (New York: Harper Collins, 2002) 162.

Only when we embrace how short and fleeting life is, do we grasp how to live each day to the fullest. Chad of Litchfield models the way for us. He lived with obvious simplicity, and he also urged those around him to always be prepared to meet the Lord.

When Chad ascended to the post of bishop, he rejected special treatment, but served in obedience. And when sent to serve among the mighty pagan people of the Midlands, known as the Mercians, we learn that he won them not by power by with simplicity and humility.

May our generous service follow Chad’s example. God help us appear with humble simplicity and always be prepared to meet you face to face. Each of us will have to give an account for our lives before God. Now is the time to prepare for that day.

I am thinking of the brevity and fragility of life today. I am battling back pain. Think: ice, stretch, walk, repeat. On top of that, our daughter Sophie just tested positive for COVID. At present she has a headache, fatigue, and fever. Hopefully she will recover soon. Lord have mercy.

In her honor I must quote J.R.R. Tolkien from The Lord of the Rings. “Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

God, help us choose wisely how to use the time given us. Let us be people whose generous service exhibits obvious simplicity and always live ready to meet You. May we embrace good gifts as well as cups of suffering knowing that nothing happens to us outside your love and care. Amen.