This coming Friday 16th September is the day we mark the life of St Ninian, Bishop of Galloway and Apostle of the Picts and so I thought that we might focus on St Ninian in this meditation.
Ninian was born in and about the year 360 and was the son of a Cumbrian chieftain who had himself converted to Christianity. It seems he visited Rome in his youth, where he received training in the faith. Ninian spent years living in the city, before it came to the knowledge of the Bishop of Rome that in certain western parts of Britain there were yet many who had not received the faith of our Saviour, and indeed some were sharing the word of the gospel from the lips of heretics and those poorly instructed in the law of God. Moved by the Spirit, the Pope with his own hands therefore ordained Ninian as the man of God to the Episcopate and having bestowed on him his blessing, appointed him as an apostle to the native land. Ninian was consecrated Bishop in the year 394 and returned to Britain, where he set up a community of monks at Candida Casa (Whithorn)
Straight away this diligent servant of God entered the field of his Lord, rooting out what had been wrongly planted, scattering what had been wrongly collected, and pulling down what had been wrongly built. Then, with the minds of the people purged of error, Ninian began to lay the foundations of the true faith, building with wisdom and grace. From Whithorn Ninian and his monks went out on missionary journeys as far as Perth and Sterling.
St Ninian fulfilled the demands of the great commission –
Matthew 28: 16-20
Jesus said to his disciples, “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
St Ninian influenced and inspired many people in their faith.
Who inspired and nurtured you? Pause and give thanks for them.
Whithorn has become a place of pilgrimage. I visited it last year as part of the clergy pilgrimage, what places hold a sacred and spiritual significance for you?
What words or phrases speak to you in the passage above from St Matthew?
Are there any words or phrases that unnerve you- why?
O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant and bishop Ninian you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we pray, that having his life and labours in remembrance we may show our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
HYMN– We have a gospel to proclaim