Monday, March 05, 2007

Do The Little Things

March is a very important month to me because I am a Celt—not an Irish Celt, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, though I love St. Patrick’s wonderful hymn, St. Patrick’s Breastplate, and I think his use of the shamrock to teach the doctrine of the Trinity is excellent. No, I am Welsh; and St. David, the patron saint of Wales, is celebrated on March 1st by many patriotic Welsh people all over the world.

I have many childhood memories of St. David’s Day, including being dressed up, along with many other children, as a daffodil in a play about St. David. On this special day we were given a half-day holiday and we delighted in going home from school at noon instead of late afternoon. There were no lessons on that day! And the mornings were spent in song, dance and recitation and we listened, watched and performed with great gusto. When we arrived home, there would be a special treat of freshly baked Welsh cakes awaiting us.

St. David lived at the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth centuries. He was of Welsh royal descent and was born near Non’s chapel on the South-West coast of Wales. Non was David’s mother and, according to legend, niece of King Arthur. She was named a saint because of miracles received in her name.

It is written about St. David that he was a gentle person and that he lived a life of abstinence. Purportedly, his diet consisted of little more than bread and watercress, which was abundant in the many hillside springs. He was also known as the Water Drinker as, apparently, water is all he drank.

He was educated in a monastery by a blind monk named Paulinus, and St. David himself became a monk, abbot and bishop and, later, archbishop of Wales. During his travels, he spread Christianity throughout the Celtic tribes of Wales, and founded a monastery on the banks of the river Alun near the present day cathedral city of St. David.

As was to be expected, legends and stories grew up around the name of St. David. One of the best known of which is said to have taken place at the synod that was to decide whether he would become an archbishop. A great crowd had gathered to hear him speak and one member called out to say that they wouldn’t be able to hear or see him. Immediately, the ground elevated into a hill and, needless-to-say, David was elected archbishop then and there.

St. David died in 589 on March 1st. The Sunday before his death, he preached a sermon that included these words, “Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about.” The words Do the little things that you have seen me do, are very important, I think. We are to live like Christ, being faithful in the little things, and giving an example to others. This is what St. David did. He lived faithfully in the little things and set an example for all to follow.

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