Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 4 - Peregrini

The year was 477, AD.  The location, some untamed an unnamed section of the barbaric European wilderness.

Mac Creiche was a Peregrini monk and student of the (later to be dubbed 'Saint') Brandan.
(Not to be confused with Saint Mac Creiche, nor Saint Brendan the Navigator, respectively.)

It can be common to think of all monks as inwardly-focused and cloister-bound.  The Irish Peregrini were anything but.  Though commonly poor and always celibate, these decisions more out of a practical necessity that their dangerous mission demanded.

Brendan and his team of twelve young disciples had set out from Ireland some years earlier with the intention of ministering in England.  After a reasonably short boat trip they made landfall in England, ready and anxious to begin.  Yet plans were already about to change for them.  They were surprised upon arrival to encounter the heresy of Pelagianism running rampant through Londinium's muddy streets.

These people preached that man's sinful nature was nothing more than a myth.  An error as rudimentary as this should be simple enough to correct with a mild dose of scripture - a nice, clean way to ease into their missionary life.  (Or, so thought young Mac Creiche.)

He soon learned that lies may be easy to refute, but when that happens, the liars turn nasty!

The team barely escaped with their lives from the hands of the heretics in control.  Many would literally bear the scars of that incident to their dying day.

Finding themselves trapped on the far side of the town, with an angry mob between them and home, they took the only path open to them:  forward.  They found themselves swept up with the tide of native Britons, escaping from the isle that bore their name, and crossed the English channel to the Gaulish coast.

The relative peace the Britons had enjoyed under Roman rule was now over and the Saxons had no remorse about driving them off their land.  To one group's thinking, the land was yours because you were born to it.  To the other, the land was yours because you conquered it.

After landing in modern-day Brittany in the central coast of modern-day France, the group wandered and preached their way across the barbarian continent.  They left a series of churches and monasteries behind them like bread crumbs to mark the way.  Those few churches already in wild Gaul were also revived from being irrelevant and stagnant political pawns to living and life-changing bodies.

The Peregrini life was crushing work, often done on empty stomachs, but they blazed a trail through the physical and spiritual wilderness that was ancient Europe.

As the years went by, the disciples of Brandan matured to the point where, they too, were ready to strike out on their own.  Brandan explained, "Just as every seed grows up t' be like its parent, so all Disciples grow t' become the next Teachers.  From thence comes great forests and churches."  Following his example, the new Teachers drew Disciples of their own from the converted barbarians.  Twelve, plus one more to fill the newly-created vacancy in Brandan's retinue.

Soon Mac Creiche found himself the only Irishman remaining out of the original twelve.

This day, his own time would come.  Quite unexpected, it was.  He just settled down for his breakfast: a hand-torn hunk of plain brown bread and a slice of cheese.  A pull of mulled cider (lovingly made from apples the nearby monastery) made it a finer meal than a monk could ask for.

Of course, the prayer of thanks for such abundant fare had to be long-winded. 

As he prayed, the monk lifted his eyes heavenward and was greeted with the sight of a lone, snow-white goose.  East, it flew, "Towards th' blessed city, all 'eaven be praised!", he commented aloud as the thought struck him.

He had been taught by his mentor to always be aware of the signs and revelations from the Lord Most High, but now that he had seen one, he doubted.  "What say ye, Lord?", he cried aloud to the clear blue sky, "Be this your hand, or but a bird like any other?"

Many other things he cried as well, calling to the heavens for answers to this perplexing new experience.  He got no response.

Once he finished beating his breast and ranting against the clear blue, the man looked down and smiled.  Just as patient as the Lord, the goose sat calmly watching the man vent his frustrations.

The new smile slowly drained from his face, however, when he realized that the animal had used the opportunity to nibble his bread down to nothing but crumbs.

"Infernal beast!" he declared, making a move to shoo it away.

Then he thought better of it.  "Ah, well.  I suppose e'en answers to prayer need t' eat."

He threw the goose his cheese, too.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!