Daily Readings for Mass.
(Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2019)

01 February. Saint Brigid, Abbess. Feast

1st Reading: Job 31:16-20; 24-25; 31-32

Job's generosity towards the needy is reflected in St Brigid's works of charity

I have never withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the orphan has not eaten from it. For from my youth I reared the orphan like a father, and from my mother's womb I guided the widow. I have never seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or a poor person without covering, whose loins have not blessed me, and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep. I have never made gold my trust, or called fine gold my confidence. I have never rejoiced because my wealth was great, or because my hand had gotten much.. Those in my tent never said, 'O that we might dine upon his food!.' The stranger has not lodged in the street, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.

[OR] 1st Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

May you grasp the depth of Christ’s love, beyond all knowing

I pray that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory,
he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being
with power through his Spirit,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Responsorial: Psalm 106

Response: Remember us, O Lord, for the love you have for your people

Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
   and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
   for the image of a grass-eating bullock. (R./)

They forgot the God who had saved them,
   who had done great deeds in Egypt,
  Marvellous deeds in the land of Ham,
   terrible things at the Red Sea. (R./)

Then he spoke of exterminating them,
   but Moses, his chosen one,
  stood before him in the breach
   to turn back his destructive wrath. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 6:32-38

In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus calls for unselfish generosity

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."


Saint Brigid of Kildare, Abbess, Co-Patron of Ireland

We celebrate with pride and joy the generous, loving personality of Saint Brigid of Kildare. She ranks next to St Patrick as the icon of holiness in Ireland.

The Jewish ideals of loving concern for others are beautifully expressed in the book of Job. "I have never withheld anything that the poor desired.. The stranger has not lodged in the street, for I have opened my doors to the traveler." How perfectly these words apply to the generosity and compassion of Saint Brigid of Kildare. In reviewing his life, Job declares that he has "never withheld anything the poor desired." Like him, Brigid was whole-hearted in the ministry of helping people in need, convinced of the principle that "the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

Born in at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth, in the middle of the 5th century, probably in the latter years of Saint Patrick's ministry in Ireland, Brigid refused several offers of marriage, in order to become a nun in the service of Christ and his church. With seven other young women she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but moved then to the plains of the Liffey Valley, where under a large oak tree she erected her famous convent of Cill-Dara, that is, "the church of the oak" (now Kildare). She died there half a century later, on the first of February, 525. The most ancient life of St Brigid is by Broccan, (d. 650). Then the "Second Life" was composed in the 8th century by Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare. An interesting feature of this work is his description of the Cathedral of Kildare, whose Round Tower may date back to the sixth or seventh century.

Brigid's strong personality and her dynamic example ensured that her community served their neighbours, through various acts of mercy. Soon her small oratory at Cill-Dara became a centre of religion and learning, and later developed into a small city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and apparently held jurisdiction over both of them. According to her biographer, she chose St Conleth "to govern the church along with herself." For centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and abbesses, the abbess of Kildare being the leader of all the convents in Ireland.

During the Norse raids on Irish monasteries in the 9th century, Brigid's relics were taken for safety to Downpatrick, where they were interred in the tomb of St Patrick and St Columcille, and since 1190 they rest in Downpatrick Cathedral. The three, Patrick, Brigid and Columcille, have for centuries been regarded as the three main patron saints of Ireland.

Even after so many centuries, the iconic Brigid, affectionately called Mary of the Gael, is as dear as ever to Irish hearts. Brigid, Brid or Bridie remains a popular female Christian name in rural Ireland. Hundreds of place-names in her honour are to be found nation-wide, e.g. Kilbride, Brideswell, Tubberbride, Templebride, etc. While her main monument is in Kildare town, she is also keenly remembered in her birthplace at Faughart, in County Louth. The old St Brigid's well adjoining the ruined church in Faughart dates from antiquity and still attracts pilgrims on this feast day.