One of the most lasting qualities of the saints of Scotland over the centuries has been the air of heroism that filled their lives and deeds. They sailed off into unknown territories and faced perils both physical and spiritual with a bravery and steadfastness of soul that the warriors in the service of earthly rulers (particularly in the West) would stand in awe of and strive to emulate in succeeding centuries.
These saints were true spiritual warriors whose lives and deeds have a power to exalt the soul. Written in a way that is “larger than life,” their Lives almost involuntarily lift one (especially the Western reader) out of the chokingly small-mindedness and stinginess of soul that often characterize our daily lives. Directing the inner eyes of the attentive reader to the freedom, breadth, and grandness of living a life of self-sacrifice in carrying one’s cross, these saints can impress on one’s heart the reality of the living Christ, making him yearn to be consumed by the fire of His grace, His beauty, and His love.
These were men and women who deliberately went into solitude to enter into open spiritual combat with demons after many years of repentance, patience, and humility, being prepared in spirit by the grace of God for such labors. Many of the Church Fathers, who had extensive personal experience in these realms, write of the impossibility to describe all the wiles and cunning that these unseen enemies use against the soul.
Yet the Fathers say that it is likewise just as impossible to describe all the blessings and fruits of the spiritual victory that God accomplishes in one to be victorious in battle. Often the Fathers describe these blessings in poetic terms, telling of the mysterious, unseen activity of God’s grace that takes place in the hearts of the saints and that is the potential inheritance of all Orthodox Christians.
May the newly born seedlings of Orthodoxy in the West come to know and treasure their own spiritual heritage more fully, entering into its essence step-by-step through the carrying of one’s cross in patience, humility and love of God and neighbor. Amen.
--Monk Nicodemus, Saint Herman Calendar 2001: Saints of Scotland, Platina, Cal., p. 4
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!