My seminary needs a patron saint, and I think I’ve found the perfect one:
- She’s a “she,” which satisfies our feminist sensibilities.
- She’s international, which appeals to our internat’l, multicultural hearts.
- She does miracles of “labor helps” (i.e., helping people do their work easier & better!), which we desperately need around midterm week.
- She has control over nature, including stopping floods, taming a wild boar and a fox, and moving a river… which is just sweet.
- She would challenge Rev. Mr. Wesley’s “Do No Harm” specifications, which Candler students and professors also love to do (see the relevant “Dear Candler” blog post!).
- Her feast day is February 1st, which is just far enough into the semester that the workload is getting heavy but not unbearable (yet). (This would ensure that she could be properly celebrated.)
And to “properly celebrate” her, of course, is to remember one of my favorite saint stories:
‘I do not think it fortunate now,’ Brigit told her virgins, ‘not to have beer on Low Sunday for the bishop who will preach and say Mass.’
As soon as she had spoken, two virgins went to fetch water with a large churn, though Brigit was not aware of this.
Brigit saw them when they returned. ‘Thanks be to God,’ said Brigit. ‘God has given us beer for our bishop.’
The nuns became frightened then. ‘May God help us!’
‘Whatever foolish thing I said, I have not said anything evil, my nuns.’
‘God did what you desired, and the water that was brought in, since you blessed it, was immediately turned into beer with the fragrance of wine, and better beer than has ever been brewed in all the world.’
The one churn was enough for them with all their guests and the bishop.
From “The Irish Life of Saint Brigit,”
trans. by Oliver Davies in Celtic Spirituality, page 147
Yes, my friends, St. Brigit should be the Patron Saint of Beer-Drinking Seminarians.
You know who you are.
One of the young adults in my church came to worship last week extremely hung-over. He felt—and looked—horrible, so I didn’t see any need to point out to him the negative ramifications of his decisions. Rather, I quoted Jimmy Buffett:
“There’s a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.”
used the phrase “all things in moderation,” and informed him that since Jesus turned water into wine, some people joke that drinking wine is a way to “celebrate Jesus’ first miracle.”
(I think my Methodist forebears might be turning over in their graves right now. America, you can thank us later for Prohibition. –>Side note: did you know that 19th-century feminists advocated Prohibition as a means to cut down on domestic violence? The theory was that sober men would be less likely to beat their wives or spend the family’s resources on alcohol/gambling/other vices instead of food. Unfortunately, stopping violence against women & children was not that easy…<–).
Although I told my church-member about Jesus’ first miracle, I didn’t tell him about St. Brigid/Brigit. If I had, I would have emphasized her imitatio Christi (imitation of Christ — embodying the good news for her own people) in the water to wine/beer miracle, and her other miracles of “provision,” like Jesus’ feeding the 5000. These provisioning miracles reflected the ideal of womanhood in 5th-6th century Ireland. Irish women were household managers, and brewing beer was women’s work. As a dedicated celibate, her sainthood is thus represented as the household manager of God’s universe.
I didn’t tell my hung-over congregant any of that. I just watched the continued misery on his pained face as his sister (who had forced him to wake up for church that morning) cheerfully responded,
“You celebrated Jesus so much last night that now you get to celebrate him again!”
So today, February 1st, St. Brigid’s Day, let’s celebrate Jesus… just not too much 😉