Monday, January 28, 2013

St. Brigid's Well

Hello friends,

As many of you know, back in November Ramel and I spent two weeks in Ireland getting acquainted with our future WorldVenture Ireland Team colleagues and getting a general feel for the country.  While we were there we traveled around a lot, seeing all sorts of beautiful and fascinating places.  Close to the end of our time in Ireland, the field leader, Tim Cumings, and his dear wife, Joan, took us to see the area known as "The Burren." This is the rocky, barren part of County Clare that sits just south of Galway Bay.  It consists of 250 square miles of some of the roughest country I've ever seen in my life.

One of the places we visited there in County Clare was St. Brigid's Well near the little town of Liscannor.  It is a major pilgrimage site for Roman Catholic people who come in hopes of being healed of their infirmities or of receiving a blessing from the "Holy Saint Brigid."  In the lowest part of the site is a cave cut back into the hillside where pilgrims can leave their votive offerings and drink from the so-called miraculous waters.  To catch Brigid's attention they leave letters, signed photos, beads, candles, hair clippings, and many other things, all in the hopes that she will intercede on their behalf before God, not knowing that they can pray directly to Him without a human mediator.

I've seen other places like this when I worked in Brazil, where people come as a last resort, hoping to connect with something that will give them hope, but in reality it is a place of profound sadness because without truly knowing Christ there is no hope to be found.  But desperate people will do anything they are told if they think it might help them or their loved one get healed.

The following is the prescribed rite for having your prayer heard and your petition granted at Brigid's Well.  I'm not making this up.  If you doubt me you can look it up for yourself.

The Rite of St. Brigid’s Well at Liscannor, Co. Clare

(NOTE: Pilgrims should deposit their votive offerings on the wall before beginning the rounds.)
Introduction: Go on your knees in front of the statue of St Brigid and express your intention (e.g. you come to have your headache/arthritis healed). Then say: "Go mbeannaí íosa duit, a Bhrighid Naofa, Go mbeannaí Muire duit is go mbannaím Féin duit; Chugat a thána’ mé ag gearán mo scéil chugat Agus d’iarraidh cabhair in onóir Dé ort."
(Translation: "May Jesus salute you, O holy Brigid, may Mary salute you and may I salute you myself. It is to you I have come making my complaint and asking your help for the honour of God.") 
  • Go on your knees and say 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Mary’s, and 5 Gloria’s.
  • Stand and proceed to make a round of the Statue of St Brigid (sunwise/desiceal keeping the statue on your right)
  • Recite the creed while moving.
  • Do this 5 times.
  • Go on your knees at the Well.
San Ula Uachtarach (In the upper Sanctuary)
  • Go on your knees and say 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Mary’s, and 5 Gloria’s.
  • Stand and make a sunwise circumambulation on the long path while reciting the Creed.
  • Do this 5 times.
At the Cross
  • Make a circumambulation (sunwise/desiceal) of the Cross while saying once the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Gloria.
  • Kiss the Cross.
  • Do this 5 times.
At the Well
  • Descend the steps to the Ula Iochtarach (lower Sanctuary) and go to the Well.
  • Drink the water 3 times.
  • Go on your knees and express your intention again.
(This rite should be performed while barefooted if possible. According to holy tradition there is a fish in Liscannor Well and if the pilgrim sees the fish he is certain to obtain his request.)
I'm so glad that God does not require all these gymnastics just to attract His attention or get Him to care about our petitions.  However, Ireland is filled with people whose only concept of God and of Christianity includes this kind of mumbo-jumbo.  This is the norm, not the exception.  That is why we are excited to go there and begin telling Irish people that they do not have to twist God's arm.  He already loves them and gave His only begotten Son to prove it.  Won't you pray that God will raise up the partners we need to get us on our way as soon as possible?

In His service,
Mike & Ramel 

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