February 1st is the celebration of the feast of St. Brigid. Second only to St. Patrick, she is one of the most venerated saints of Ireland. She lived in Kildare in the late 5th and early 6th century. Many legends and tales have emerged from this era which has little documented history. Some have suggested that much of what is known about her is the blended stories of Celtic Christianity.
As best as can be known she was someone who cared deeply for the poor. She started and led a monastery for both men and women; something obviously quite rare. She also may have the first female bishop. Though, possibly ordained as such by accident, she still managed the monastic community with the authority of a bishop.
What is important for the community around which many of us gather here in Tempe, Arizona is that we hold up St. Brigid as someone to model. A woman who led a monastic community of women and men. She provided episcopal leadership for her community that existed to serve and care for the poor of Kildare.
It is this model that reveres and respects the leadership of women in communities of women and men that we admire. Especially Christian communities that exist to serve others. We seek to emulate her Celtic understandings of prayer and practice. And we desire to call others into this experience with us.
In the next few months we will begin reaching out to create St. Brigid's Community. It will be a group of people who may meet regularly to worship, prayer and serve together - as well, it will be nourished by those who can not meet regularly with us but instead are a part of internet community.
St. Brigid's Community will be Benedictine and follow the Rule of Life. We will pattern ourselves after St. Brigid's monastery of women and men. We seek to worship, pray and serve.
If you're interested in such a community check back here and then let me know and I will send along more specific information. The Lord be with you.
Oh yes, how could I forget - St. Brigid said, or at least some believe she said, that paradise would be to find God and all the saints in a huge lake of beer. Well tonight, celebrate as a saint with Brigid and all the saints and have a cold one.