Friday, 1 March 2013

St David's Day

St Non's well. 
With the thoughts of Benedict's last tweet  still very much in my mind St. David's day  takes on a  new immediacy and relevance for the 21st century.  It seems to me that a saint is a human being who is - through the Grace of God- able to put Christ at the very centre of their whole life.  When Benedict asks us to put Christ at the centre of our lives he is asking us to learn from the saints who did exactly that.   And when that happens human beings can experience true joy.  This reminded me of St David's last words which urged  his followers to be joyful in their faith.  Related to this is a key symbol in the life of David, and in the devotion to the Heart of Christ: water.  Benedict in his letter to  Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. in 2006 , observes that ' the gifts received from the open side, from which "blood and water" flowed (cf. Jn 19: 34), ensure that our lives will also become for others a source from which "rivers of living water" flow (Jn 7: 38; cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 7)' .  In this, as in other respects, the devotion to the Sacred Heart is, as he argues, as 'old as Christianity itself'.   Legend has it that when David was born (circa 598-601 AD)  a stream of water came gushing out of the ground.  The resulting well - St Non's well - has been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries- and when I was there last there was group of people from Brittany who blessed themselves with the water and left  flowers by the well and in St Non's Chapel.

St Non's Chapel
I have some  water drawn from the well last summer and I was able to bless myself with it today. Deo Gratias.  All over Wales there are holy wells which are associated with saints. It is not too difficult to understand why.  Given that a saint has Christ alive and flaming in their hearts, it is not so surprising that people associated someone who was full of the Holy Spirit with flowing water.  They were channels of  the love of God and the fullness of God's love literally bursts out of the earth as a symbol of the living water that flowed from the heart of Christ.  My ancestors who revered these wells did so because they saw all things in Christ. Water, a powerful symbol of the Holy Spirit, was therefore a central aspect of their Christian spirituality.  Sadly, with the Reformation, the people of Wales were to lose contact with this important aspect of their Catholic inheritance. We can only hope and pray that the joyful faith of David the 'waterman' will continue to flow into the life of the nation.

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