The act of fishing, and the seas, for that matter are considered sacred by the Irish. This was a carryover that was melded into their Christian faith from their Druid and Pagan background. How this love for God’s creation is melded into Celtic Christianity is fascinating. On Christmas Day, men from towns in the Western Isles of Ireland would go out to fish. But this trip was an act of service to others, not for themselves. These fish that were caught on Christmas Day were sacred and set aside. What were they set aside for? They were set aside for the fishermen to live out the gospel. These fish were reserved for widows, orphans and the poor. The Christmas fishing time was a time of service through the work the fishermen knew. They sought to be a blessing to the hurting. We could take a few lessons from this.
The Day of Light has come upon us,
Christ is born of the Virgin.
In His name, I sprinkle the water,
Upon everything within my court.
Thou King of deeds and powers above,
Thy Fishing Blessing pour down upon us.
I will sit me down with an oar in my grasp,
I will row me seven hundred and seven.
In the Name of Christ the King of the elements,
The Poor shall have it at His wish.
And the King of Fishers, brave Peter,
He will after it, give his blessing.
Ariel, Gabriel and John,
Raphael benign, and Paul.
Columba, tender in every distress,
And Mary fair, the endowed of Grace.
Encompass ye us to the fishing bank of the ocean,
And still ye, to us, the crest of the waves.
Be the King of Kings at the end of our course,
Oh lengthened life and of lasting happiness.
A Tribute to Jesus Christ, or to Ourselves?
These fish that were caught were given to the needy in the Name of Jesus Christ to both honor God and serve those God had called them to serve. We modern Christians have lost this subtle art and it shows with how the needy view us. The needy and hurting rarely darken the door of churches today. What has changed that the very people Christ called us to serve are not comfortable in Christs house?
Simply put, we have decided the wealthy that can donate are more worthy of attention. The church has decided that figuring out the right ministry formula is far more important than figuring out how to feed the poor. We have exchanged love of the orphan for the love of the show. The Western church has traded the widow for the wealthy.
The broken do not come to us because the broken do not trust us. And here is the truth of the matter. People do not seek Jesus in the church building anymore because He departed from there years ago. There is not enough room for Jesus and our ego.
Our Work as a Blessing to Others
Have you ever considered how what you do as a career works into your faith? A deeper question: How can you be a blessing to those you are called to serve with talents you have been afforded by God? We really don’t ask these questions because we don’t want to bring parts of our lives we separate from spirituality back to Christ. In Celtic Christianity, there is an understanding that no part of the Christians life can or should be separated from another. Therefore, the work we are capable of doing is just as important to the worship of God as those new songs we pick out for Sunday service. Everything we do should be done to the glory of God. And when we are able, what we do should be given to those Christ has called us to care for.
The Fishing Blessing isn’t for the Fishermen
It is quite interesting when we see this blessing in context that the fisherman’s prayers were not for themselves, but for those they would be blessing. Praying for God to bless the broken through their labor to God’s glory was the real aim here. We need to learn that sometimes, the blessings we seek should be for others, not just ourselves. We must begin to learn that prayer is an avenue to propel someone to bless others, not just themselves.
In a world that eats, sleeps and even prays selfishly, look to the ancient fishermen of Ireland and seek to bless others with your thoughts, prayers and actions. Doing this expecting no personal glory or gain is the true way that God’s will “be done on earth as it is in heaven.